Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Darling Clementine's Marmalade

It's hard to believe it was a year ago that I decided I was going to take on a new venture: canning. I really don't remember what gave me the idea, a craving for some childhood dish, a desire to save money, to preserve family heirloom recipes, or perhaps it was all wrapped up in something bigger.. Maybe this yearning for things ancestral was going hand in hand with another decision my husband and I were making at the time- the decision to start a family?
In any case, it was only a couple months after I recieved a blue-speckled canner from my grandmother that I was given a sonogram proving my healthy pregnancy.
The whole nine months was a blessing. I had an easy first trimester with little morning sickness, an energetic second trimester that I used to prepare for our little one (and stock the pantry with quite a few canned items), and a third trimester in which I was able to continue working right up until the end. I even spent the last night of my pregnancy making this marmalade in honor of the pending arrival of our precious Clementine Jane.
My Darling Clementines are a tiny citrus fruit that shows up in small crates around Christmas time. They are seedless and have a very floral scent, making them a great fruit for marmalade.

6 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings
1 case Darling Clementines
1 cup water
3 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 box pectin

Cut clementines in half through the equator, juice. Cut each half in half again and scrape out membranes with a knife, discard. Slice peel very thinly, about 1/16". Bring juice, water and peel to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Add sugar, vanilla and pectin and cook at a high boil until marmalade is set. Let sit for 5 minutes for the peel to distribute evenly, ladle into jars, attach lids and rings and process for 10 minutes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sundried Tomato Gazpacho Salsa

In the spirit of the holiday season- and our current "frugality"- we decided make our December Click for tigress can jam food blog challenge with things that we already had available to us, as opposed to going out and shopping for ingredients. (See also Spicy Pickled Watermelon Rind). It may or may not be a stretch to use tomatoes as a fruit; technically they are, and we had plenty to play around with. While consulting our trusty Flavor Bible, we came up with the idea for a gazpacho, but more concentrated. The flavor affinities kept bringing us back to this dish, especially because Gazpacho almost always contains lemon juice,and/or vinegar. We increased the acidity so we could can it and balanced it with brown sugar to give it a really nice, rich depth of flavor. Can be used as a condiment (maybe for a nice piece of fish or chicken), salsa or it could also be made into a great bowl of gazpacho with the addition of some V8.

4 sterilized 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings

1 medium green bell pepper
1 sweet vidalia onion
1 large fresh tomato
8 sun-dried tomatoes
1 medium cucumber
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
pinch black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper

1 6oz. can tomato paste
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar

Small dice pepper, onion, tomatoes, and cucumber; mince garlic. In a 4 quart pot heat oil and saute veggies on medium. Add salt, pepper and cayenne and continue cooking just until vegetables have softened, about 10. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan mix tomato paste, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer while whisking to incorporate. Add vinegar mixture to vegetables and mix well. If mixture is too thick and might contain air bubbles, feel free to add a little tomato juice,red wine or a little water to loosen it up. Remember to adjust your seasonings to taste when diluting recipe for canning. Ladle into sterilized jars, wipe rims, attach lids and rings; process 10 minutes.

Spicy Pickled Watermelon Rind

This is one I've been wanting to try since way back in July when we canned cucurbits for Click for tigress can jam food blog challenge. Once again, I'm stretching our ideal of "fruit" to include peppers, because I had the brine (leftover from these hot peppers), the watermelon rind (normally gets thrown out at work every day), and spices (always a cabinet staple), all available to me at no cost. I'm quite excited to taste the results, as I've never tried pickled watermelon rind, before!

3 sterilized pint jars, lids and rings

3 cups sliced watermelon rind

2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp canning salt
1 pinch fresh nutmeg

6 Indian dried chili peppers (red chilies from India similar to cayenne)
1 stick cinnamon (broken into 3)
1 star anise (broken into 3)
1 1/2 tsp fresh chopped ginger
3 allspice berries

Bring vinegar, water, brown sugar, salt, and nutmeg to a boil. Cover and set aside. Divide peppers, cinnamon, star anise, ginger and allspice berries among 3 sterilized jars. Stuff watermelon rind tightly into jars and fill with brine. Wipe rims, attach lids and rings and process 10 minutes.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pom-Apple "Sauce"

As a chef, I'm always striving to improve my culinary abilities. While I think I have the flavor component of jam and preserve-making down, I've got a lot to learn in the "set" department. Practice makes perfect, thus I endeavored to create a preserve which would stand in for they typical cranberry jello that adorns many a Thanksgiving table; a "sauce" in the old-fashioned sense of the word, one recognizable as a traditional dinner accompaniment, but that people want to eat.

I do enjoy a chunky cranberry sauce, and wanted to include apples- this month's Click for tigress can jam food blog challenge ingredient- to add to the texture of the jam. Originally intending to make my jam cranberry-based, I changed my mind when searching for an appropriate juice, I couldn't find a single one that didn't contain extra sugar or additives. And then I saw it: 100% pomegranate juice. It seemed to be exactly the tart flavor base I was looking for- original, yet basic enough to dress up the way I liked. For a third flavor and floral scent I threw an orange into the mix, and then laid it down with traditional holiday spices.

5 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings
24 oz. 100% pomegranate juice
3 green apples, peeled and diced
1 orange, juice and zest
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 stick cinnamon
1/4 star anise
1 clove
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cups sugar
1 box ball powdered pectin

Tie cinnamon, anise and clove in a small sachet. Combine juice, apples, orange, ginger and spices in a medium pot. Bring to a low simmer, cover and cook until apples have poached and are dark pink in color, about 15 minutes. Add sugar and pectin, turn up the heat to a medium simmer and cook until "set", about another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let the jam rest for 5 minutes. This step will ensure the apple will be evenly dispersed in the jam, instead of floating on the top of the jar. Remove sachet, ladle into 1/2 pint jars, attach lids and rings and process 10 minutes.

I am extremely happy with this jam! The balance of sweet-tartness, and the flavors of orange and traditional spices are perfect. The jars are a beautiful garnet color, with gems of apple suspended within. The set is lovely, and I'm already imagining spoonfuls of pom-apple "sauce" on turkey, stuffing and biscuits. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thai Curry Pickled Pears

The mission here was simple- a deconstructed Thai red curry paste cleverly disguised as a brine for pickled pears. While most of the ingredients in a curry paste are transferable to this sort of application, some (namely, shrimp paste) simply would not work very well. The main components are lemongrass,ginger, dried Thai bird chilies,shallots,garlic,coriander root,lime juice/zest and/or kaffir lime leaves and shrimp paste. There may be subtle differences from kitchen to kitchen but for argument sake, we picked the elements that work the best with this recipe. The fully frontal citrus notes from the ginger,lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves give these pickles an otherworldly goodness. These assertive flavors stand up well to the heat of the Thai birds and the sweetness of the brine. The aroma is fresh and the flavors are irresistible. This recipe is adapted from pickled pears in the Joy of Pickling which calls for a syrupy sort of brine so keep that in mind when building a flavor profile. The addition of coconut water is designed to compliment the red curry as it is usually paired with coconut milk in curry bowls in Thailand. If you're looking for a heavier essence of coconut, I would suggest coconut extract as it is a clear liquid like coconut water and won't make the brine cloudy. We've already munched through a jar of these addictive pickles!

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6 pint jars, lids and rings
2 red anjou pears
2 green anjou pears
2 bartlett pears
2 bosc pears
1 tbsp lemon juice

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups coconut water
1 1/2 cups rice vinegar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp canning salt

6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tbsp ginger, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp lemongrass, sliced
12 Thai bird chilies
12 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp cracked coriander seeds
1 tbsp cracked peppercorns

Cut pears into 6 slices each, remove seeds and hold in water acidulated with lemon juice. Bring water, coconut water, rice vinegar, white vinegar, sugar and canning salt to a boil, cover and hold. Divide garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chilies, lime leaves, coriander seeds and peppercorns among 6 jars. Stuff jars with pears alternating colors with the skin side out and top with brine. Attach lids and rings and process for 15 minutes.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pa Sportman's Club Sweet-Hot Wax Peppers

When I was a very young child, living in a small coal-mining town in Western Pa, my mother helped the family scrape-by serving at the local sportsman's club. I can barely remember the place, only the lake out front which hosted local fishing contests and giant bullfrogs. But she remembers a pepper relish that was served at every table with white bread and butter, and has been asking me to make it for months now. Well, peppers are in season and the subject of this month's Click for tigress can jam food blog challenge, so I gave it a shot, and gosh-darn is it good!

5 pint jars, lids and rings, sterilized
1 1/2# hungarian wax peppers
1/2# baby sweet peppers (added for color)
1/2 sweet onion, julienne
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp canning salt

Slice peppers into rings, removing seed pods. Mix with garlic and onion. Bring vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a boil. Tightly pack pepper mix into sterilized jars, fill with brine, and attach lids and rings. Process for ten minutes. Here, I'm having mine on wheat bread with cream cheese.

Kashmir Chile Pepper Chutney

Once again, I'm amazed at how different my husband and I can be. While I cooked up twelve half-pints of apple butter and 5 pints of hot pepper rings (both very simple recipes from my childhood), Joe lovingly labored over two half-pints of pepper jam, grinding his own Garam Masala in a mortar and pestle, tasting and re-tasting until perfection was achieved. And I must say, it was worth it. This chutney is incredibly well balanced in sourness, sweetness and heat, and set quite beautifully, as well. We could build an Indian feast around this jam, and probably soon will.

2 1/2 pints, lids and rings, sterilized
1# mixed peppers, including Red Bell, Poblano, Cubanelle, Serrano, Finger Hot, Jalapeno and Habanero
1/2 sweet onion
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp garlic and ginger paste
1 Tbsp garam masala spice mix (see note*)
2/3 cup rice vinegar
juice of 2 limes
1 cup sugar

Small dice peppers and onions, removing the seeds and membranes (or not for a much hotter version) from all but the fingerhot and serrano peppers. We sliced these two into thin rings. Heat oil in a small pot and sweat vegetables on medium-low heat, about ten minutes. Add garlic and ginger paste and cook another five minutes. Add spice mix, lime juice, vinegar and sugar and reduce until the chutney is thickened, about ten more minutes. Ladle into jars, attach lids and rings and process for ten minutes.

Click for tigress can jam food blog challenge

Note* Garam Masala is a warm (not hot) spice mix typical of the northwest region of India, including Kashmir and Punjab. You could buy it in an Indian market, but blending your own spices gives you a much more fresh and intense flavor, and you may also alter it according to your own tastes. Ours included, in order of mass, largest to smallest: cardamom, allspice, anise seed, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, fennel, and cloves.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Old Fashioned Apple Butter

Okay, I've got something to fess up to: I miss autumn. I miss the leaves changing colors, and that crisp feeling in the air. I miss pulling out a cozy sweater to visit the nearest pumpkin patch and drinking fresh apple cider at Reeger's Farm fall festival. But since winter and snow inevitably must follow, I will stay here in perpetual summer and honor the season the best way I can- with food.
I will make chili and roast chicken, bake pumpkin pies and zucchini bread and slather it with apple butter just like the Amish make at Smicksburg. Of course, no one here sells good old fashioned homemade apple butter, so I had to make it myself. Here's how-

12 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings, sterilized
10# sweet apples (I used NY Honey Crisp)
2 cups water
1-2 Cups brown sugar (depending on the sweetness of your apples)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground clove

Wash and cut apples into one inch chunks. I removed the core, but left the skin on. In a large pot, cook apples with two cups water on medium-high heat until very soft. Pass apples through a Foley food mill into a medium size pot. At this point you could add the sugar and spices and process as apple sauce. For butter, cook apple puree on very low, just barely a simmer, stirring every fifteen minutes, until reduced by half. Mine took about three hours to reach this point. Make sure to partially cover it as you cook, as it tends to splatter quite a bit, but also needs an opening for steam to escape.
As it reaches the appropriate thickness add the sugar and spices. Begin with one cup sugar, adding more to taste. For the last step, to make it more apple buttery, I used a hand-held immersion blender to smooth it out. You could also use a blender. This is an important step so do not skip it. Otherwise, your apple butter will just look like very thick apple sauce. Ladle into sterilized jars and process ten minutes.
Because this is so time consuming, and creates a lot of dishes to wash, I do not recommend making any less than ten pounds at a time. You could even double it, provided you have pots large enough to cook that many apples. And given your family is all going to want a jar, that would probably be a good idea.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September Stonefruits

There's something about stone fruits that reminds me of the far-east, spices, tea and whimsical settings.

When I took on canning, I had in my mind images of my parents canning shelves, filled with spaghetti sauce- enough for a year- and my grandma's basement pantry bursting with peaches in syrup, pickled peppers and enough applesauce for the entire family to take some home when we visited.
And though I still hold these lofty goals of putting up an entire year's worth of, well, anything, every month my Click for tigress can jam food blog challenge projects seem to morph into more of a creative experiment than a canning project.
Here I would like to insert some intelligent, Taoist Lao-Tzu quote, but instead I keep thinking of one of my former Chef's favorite sayings, which just seems to say it best- "It is what is is."

Imperial Stone Fruit Preserves
6 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings, sterilized
6 pounds mixed stone fruits
(I used 3 peaches, 2 nectarines, and an assortment of 6 plums)
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp 5-spice powder
1/2 tsp ginger sea salt (substitute 1/8 tsp ginger powder and 1/2 tsp sea salt)
3 green tea teabags
1 cup sugar

Blanch fruit in boiling water for 30 seconds to one minute, move to ice water bath and remove skins. Cut fruits into thin slices. In a medium pot, bring fruits, zest, juice, and spices to a low simmer. In a small pot bring 1 cup water to a boil, add tea bags and let steep four minutes. Remove teabags and reduce tea to 1/2 cup. Add tea and sugar to fruit and let simmer until syrupy and passes a set-test, about 40 minutes. Ladle into jars, wipe rims and attach rings and process 10 minutes.

This one is Joe's creation- dark, rich and mysterious in flavor, this confiture would pair with sweets as well as a glass of Cabernet and a thick slice of manchego cheese.

Cherry Cacao Confiture
1 1/2 pint jar and 1 1/4 pint jar, lids and rings, sterilized
1 3/4 pounds dark cherries (1 1/2 pounds pitted)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves, ground
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
dash sea salt
1/2 cup sugar

Wash and pit cherries. In a small pot combine cherries, balsamic vinegar, clove, cinnamon, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt and bring to a low simmer. Let simmer until confiture begins to thicken. Add sugar and stir often, until it reaches a syrupy consistency, about 25 minutes. Ladle into jars, wipe rims, attach lids and rings and process for 10 minutes.

And just in case you wanted to know how to make the scones- here's the extremely easy recipe for those, too.

Whole Wheat Almond Scones
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup sliced almonds, plus 2 Tbsp
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
3/4 cup milk, plus 2 Tbsp

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift flours, baking powder and salt together. Cut in cold butter. Incorporate almonds and 1/3 cup sugar, then stir in 3/4 cup milk. Bring together dough on a floured surface and form into a large disk. Cut into eight pieces, brush the top with 2 Tbsp milk, sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar and 2 Tbsp almonds. Move pieces to a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Remove and serve with an assortment of jams and whipped cream.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Joe's Giardiniera

With two chefs in our kitchen, there are always two ways of doing everything. As a married couple, you would think that the spirit of compromise would lead us to something of a hybrid recipe for the dishes we create, but somehow it never works out that way. Normally, one of us will come up with an idea and bring it to life, with the other tweaking it and offering insight along the way. While I really like to be the "chef", it is also interesting to be the "sous-chef", and see what comes out of the mind of another person when left to their own artistry.
Here, for example, is Joe's Giardiniera (compare to my version several months ago). It is miraculous to imagine these two very distinct recipes came from the same basic ingredients.

8 pint jars, lids and rings
1 bunch celery, sliced
1 head cauliflower, cut to florets
2 large hungarian wax peppers, sliced (with seeds for hot, no seeds for mild)
4 small onions, quartered
1 large zucchini, sliced
1 lb. carrots, sliced
1/2 lb. green beans
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 bulb garlic, sliced
1 Tbsp. peppercorns
5 Cups water
5 Cups vinegar
2 Tbsp. canning salt
2 Tbsp. sugar

Mix all vegetables except garlic in a bowl with oregano. Bring water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil to dissolve salt and sugar; cover and hold. Sterilize jars, lids and rings. Divide garlic and peppercorns among jars. Pack vegetables into jars and top with brine. Attach lids and rings and process for ten minutes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

¡Fire Roasted Salsa Verde!

I have a fantasy of opening my pantry to find 52 jars of plain diced tomatoes, one per week for a whole year. Since finding out store-bought tomatoes contain high levels of BPA due to the acidity of the contents, we have sworn off canned tomatoes- a former staple of our pantry. Fresh tomatoes have replaced them, but won't be in season forever. It was my intention to do this project for the can-jam, but local Florida tomato prices are still a bit high, so I've decided to put off the larger venture until fall when tomatoes are both juicier and less expensive..
So, for this month's Click for tigress can jam food blog challenge here is a fun version of Salsa Verde, and because we were already grilling corn, we threw the chiles on, too, for some extra fire roasted flavor. My only regret is not doubling the recipe!

3 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings, sterilized
5 tomatillos
segments of 1 giant lime (or 3 small ones)
1/2 large white onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 poblano chile
3 jalapeno chiles
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar (optional, depending on sweetness/sourness of your tomatillos)
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

Grill or broil chiles until charred, steam in a bag and remove skin; dice with membranes for hot salsa, remove membranes for mild salsa. Puree 3 tomatillos and lime segments in a blender then push through a sieve, reserving juices. In a medium pot reduce juice to about 1/4 cup. Dice remaining 2 tomatillos and add to juice with onion, garlic, chiles and spices. Bring to a low simmer (just enough to cook out a bit of the rawness) and stir in cilantro. Ladle salsa into sterilized jars and process for 10 minutes.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pregnancy Pickles: Round 2

After opening the previous batch of pickles Joe and I realized that maybe we had gone a bit overboard in the spice department (the horseradish pickles could cure a toothache). So I went easy on these ones and made a very simple pickling spice mix. I also lowered the amount of salt, as the previous pickles were just a little salty for our taste, though the vinegar was perfect. So here is my revised version of pregnancy pickles, which, as you can see, may be used for more than just cucumbers.

Plain Ol' Pregnancy Pickles
4 cups vinegar
3 cups water
3 Tbsp canning salt
3 tsp sugar

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
1 Tbsp mustard seed
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried dill leaf

Sanitize jars, lids and rings. Divide spice mix among jars and fill with product and brine. Wipe rims, attach lids and rings and process small jars for 5 minutes, large jars for 10 minutes.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mango Salsa and Mango-Mint Preserves

When I was a young girl in Pennsylvania, every summer my mother would buy two crates of mangoes- one for the family and one just for me. I remember sitting in the yard with a knife and sticky bare-hands eating sweet, ripe mangoes until I couldn't stuff myself any more. They seemed to be the best thing I ate all year, and now that I live in Florida they are still my favorite food in this world.
But there is a limit to how many mangoes even I can consume everyday, and my father-in-law's tree is well exceeding that limit. He attacked us with a mango hit and run, left a grocery bag full on our doorknob, texted us to check our front door and then disappeared. I ate as many as I could, fed some to company, and then pulled out the canner.

Mango-Mint Preserves:
6 cups diced mango
2 cups water
2 Tbsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp salt
zest from 2 limes
1/2 cup lime juice
2 cups sugar
1 package pectin powder
1 Tbsp mint, chopped

Sterilize 8 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings and hold in a 200 degree oven. Combine mango, water, ginger, salt and zest in a pot and cook on low for 20 minutes. Add lime juice, sugar and pectin and bring to a heavy boil for at least one full minute. Remove from heat and test jam for set point on a frozen plate. If needed, cook longer until set point is reached. Stir in mint at the last minute. Ladle into jars, wipe rims, attach lids and rings and process for 10 minutes.

Joe's Mango Salsa:
1 diced green bell pepper
1 diced red bell pepper
2 minced jalapenos
1/2 diced Vidalia onion
4 minced cloves garlic
5 cups diced mango
1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp pickling salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
dash each white, black and cayenne peppers
1 cup lime juice
1 cup rice vinegar

Sterilize 3 pint jars, lids and rings, hold in a 200 degree oven. In a small pot, sweat peppers, onion and garlic until onion is translucent. (I'm adding this step in hindsight, as we canned all of the ingredients fresh and ended up with a lot of air bubbles in the middle of the jar. I think cooking the vegetables will prevent this from happening.) Add all ingredients together and mix well. Ladle into jars- we had a little extra- wipe off rims, attach lids and rings and process 10 minutes.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pregnancy Pickles

July was quite an exiting month, and I have to admit that even though I've been wanting to make pickles for a long time now, it really wasn't at the top of my list of things to do..

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A family vacation took us to an old farmhouse so far out in the boonies of western Pa that our cell phones took a vacation, too. We made a trip to a bison farm and later that night had bison burgers with what I believe must have been the best tomatoes and sweet corn cultivated in the eastern United States.

Upon arrival back in Florida we anxiously awaited the ultrasound that would tell us if we are to have a precious baby boy or girl. Despite all the old housewives tales, and my own "woman's intuition"- I really was sure it was a boy- it's a girl!

I realize I've only been posting one recipe a month for a while now, and would like to start stepping it up. With a totally blank August calendar, fall produce appearing at market and my father-in-law's mango tree exploding to fruition I'm hoping to get a few more posts than usual, so keep checking in!

3 lbs. pickling cucumbers

Horseradish Pickles:
2 tsp. horseradish
2 tsp. black peppercorns
2 cloves
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. mustard seeds
2 dried chilis
1/2 onion
4 garlic cloves

Dill Pickles:
2 tsp. dried dill
1 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. dried basil
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. mustard seed
2 dried chilies
4 cloves garlic
1/2 onion

3 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
4 Tbsp. canning salt
4 tsp. sugar

Wash and quarter cucumbers into spears. Bring brine to a boil to dissolve salt and sugar, cover and let stand. Sterilize 6 jars, lids and rings (we only yielded 5, but I always do one extra to be safe). Divide seasonings into jars, then stuff with cucumbers and top off with brine. Wipe rims, screw on lids and process 10 minutes.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Raspberry Mango Jam

Yes, my energy and appetite are finally back- with a vengeance! And just in time to enjoy the things in life that make me truly happy: summer thunderstorms, reading at the pool, long evenings listening to waves, grilling out with Joe, and ripe berries.

I took this month's Click for tigress can jam food blog challenge opportunity to experiment with one of my very favorite summer fruits, the mango. With the aid of my Chef-husband (who has taken quite an interest in my canning adventures), and my new go-to book "The Flavor Bible", I came up with a ginger and pepper combo that was destined for greatness.
Like tiny gems, sweet bits of mango lie suspended in the tart, red raspberry jam. Fresh ginger and ground pepper give it an underlying bite of spice. Both fruity and tangy, this jam encapsulates summertime in Florida so well I can easily see it becoming a classic in my jamming repertoire. I've already had Christmas gift requests for it! I'm pretty sure I'm going to be making a bigger batch of Raspberry-Mango Jam in the future...

3 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings
1 mango
3 Cups raspberries
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP fresh grated ginger root
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 package pectin

Sterilize jars and rings in boiling water, and lids in hot water. Peel and dice mango; wash and sort through the berries to remove mold, stems and bugs. In a medium sauce pan add mango, raspberries, lemon juice, ginger, salt and pepper. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until raspberries are broken down and mango begins to soften. Add sugar and pectin and bring to a boil for one minute. Let cool for five minutes and pack into sterilized jars. Process five minutes.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Last-Minute Pickled Asparagus Spears

You know, they say time goes faster once you have kids, but what they don't tell you is that begins at the moment of conception. I swear, the first trimester has flown by so fast my head is spinning; or maybe it just feels like that from the morning sickness and fatigue this whole life-making business causes.
April ended with overtime at work for spring break. May began with us moving to a bigger place. After that came overtime for Mother's Day (how ironic?) and overtime for the shuttle launch. Then I caught a cold, which, when you can't take anything but Tylenol, just really sucks.
I'm not complaining, but when I would normally have spent one of my days off happily going to the market to obtain produce, researching and canning, now I lay in bed watching t.v., ordering pizza and looking at the sink piled high with dishes, the cat hair-laden carpet, and the full laundry basket of clothes.
Up until now, I have had my
Click for tigress can jam food blog challenge
projects planned, executed and a blog future-posted and ready to go on the first posting day. Now here I am, at the last minute, throwing asparagus and whatever in a jar, snapping some pics and calling it a post.
So anyways, my doctor says the fatigue goes away in the second trimester, which-Hallelujah!- starts tomorrow. I still hold high my dreams of throwing holiday parties (and a shower, too) in which my pickled vegetables and lovingly made condiments will take an honored place on the hor'dourve table.
A special thanks to all the other food and canning junkies who's blogs have given me something to read on those days in which I haven't been able to do better than a bowl of cereal with milk!

Last-Minute Pickled Asparagus Spears:
2 12 oz. canning jars, lids and rings
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 TBSP canning salt
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed to jar length
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 onion, thinly sliced

Sterilize jars and rings by bringing to a boil in the hot water bath. To make brine bring water, vinegar and salt to a boil. Remove jars from boiling water, fill with asparagus, onion, garlic, and top off with brine. Place on lids and tighten rings. Process for five minutes.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Strawberry, Rhubarb and Lavender Jam

Okay, so major props go out to my husband, Joe, who pretty much did all the prep-work, dishes and cleanup for this recipe (and also these spicy beans). Only he knows how much being a part of this
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means to me, and would basically make the whole batch, while I dictated from the couch, nauseated and exhausted.
I was amazed at how quickly we went through the first batch of strawberry jam; and because Floridian strawberries were shamefully rotting in fields due to a cheap influx of California strawberries, we decided to make more strawberry jam. We were careful to purchase local strawberries, though for the price I can't imagine the farmer made much profit. If only more people supported, or were even aware, of the locavore movement, such wasteful tragedies would not happen.
The rhubarb was thrown in just for fun, and lavender was the only herb from our herb garden that survived this Florida's winter.

5 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings, sterilized
2 # strawberries, hulled and halved
1 # rhubarb, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 1/2 cups sugar
2 TBSP lavender, minced

Add strawberries, rhubarb, lemon juice and sugar in a pot. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer. Cook down until syrupy, skimming off foam as it collects. Mine took about 40 minutes. At the last minute stir in lavender, ladle into jars and process 5 minutes.

The jam is classic, with a perfect "set". The lavender tricks your taste buds into thinking you may be eating honey. We had it on crackers with cheese and it was delicious. I could also well imagine it on pancakes or waffles. It is very sweet, though. If I made it again I might cut down the sugar and use pectin.

Joe & Elle's Spicy Green Beans

I made these with pretty much one intention for their destination: as swizzle sticks for Bloody- or virgin ;)- marys. Here it is:

4 pint jars, lids and rings- sterilized
2 1/4 cups white vinegar
2 1/4 cups water
2 TBSP pickling salt
1 1/2 # green beans
1 onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic, sliced
4 hot dried chili peppers
4 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp peppercorns

Trim beans; bring water, vinegar and salt to a boil. Divide beans, onion, garlic, chilis, mustard seeds and peppercorns among the jars. Fill with brine and process 5 minutes.

Pickled Jalapenos and Jalapeno Jam Fail

So, I'm getting pretty good at this pickling thing, and I love that I can use a basic 50/50 water to vinegar ratio and add whatever spices strike my fancy. I busted out these pickled jalapenos just like an old pro:

4 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings- sterilized
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
1 TBSP + 1 tsp canning salt
1 TBSP sugar
4 cloves garlic
12 peppercorns
12 jalapenos, sliced

Bring vinegar, water, salt and sugar to a boil. Cover and set aside. Divide garlic, peppercorns, and jalapenos into the jars. Fill jars with brine and process 5 minutes.

The jam, however, is a very different story. All I can surmise is that I did the "cold plate" test incorrectly. I dutifully put the plate in the freezer before I began the jam. When I thought it may have reached the proper consistency, I removed the plate and placed a drop on, then pushed my finger into it. No wrinkle. Cook some more. Again, no wrinkle. Several times I did the test, as the jam was becoming more and more thick. But still no wrinkle. Finally, the jam turned brown and I ended up with what was, essentially, jalapeno hard-rock candy.
Upon recollection, I should have placed the test jam BACK into the freezer for a minute, before performing the push-through. Other things could have gone wrong, as well, and if you have any suggestions please let me know! I really want to be able to do this!
I should have thrown it out then and there, but being a stubborn Capricorn I processed it anyways. The end result (only 2 small jars by the time I cooked it down that far) was so utterly disgusting and inedible that I really would have thrown it out- jars and all. My husband, though, would not let those two jars go to waste, and decided to clean them out. I wasn't around for it, but he tells me it took three minutes in the microwave just to get the substance malleable enough to put down the drain.
No big loss, and better luck next time!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pennsylvania Pickled Easter Eggs

These eggs are a neccessity for any Pennsylvania-Dutch Easter dinner. My mother used to pickle almost a week before Easter, and we weren't allowed to have any until that day- with good cause, they would have soon been gone! I like to think of them as my grown-up version of dying eggs. And while I'm on that subject, let me mention, one drop of beet juice will stain a counter or carpet forever, so beware! The onions would make a great addition to left-over sandwiches.
I highly recommend doubling the recipe for a crowd.

1 dozen hard-boiled and peeled eggs
2 cups red wine vinegar
1 jar pickled beets (including brine)
1/2 red onion, sliced into rings
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp canning salt
1 Tbsp peppercorns
1 Tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
1/2 stick cinnamon
2 cloves

Place eggs in a large, glass jar. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Pour over eggs and delicately mix together. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pickled Okra and Pickled Beets

What can I say? I was a weird kid- when everyone else was looking forward to Cadbury Eggs and Jelly Beans, I was looking forward to Mom's pickled eggs. She always started them a week before Easter, and by Easter Day I was ready to scarf down my share of those purple beauties. Then it was just yesterday that I realized Easter is early this year, only three weeks away- I better get my beets in a pickle!
And to get my husband off my back, I made some okra in the same shot.
Recipe adapted from the USDA Guide to Home Canning's Pickled Okra:

4 pint and 4 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings, all sterilized
1.2 #okra, washed and trimmed
6 beets, peeled and sliced

4 Cups Distilled White Vinegar
4 Cups Water
3 Bay Leaves
3 Cloves
1 Tbsp. mustard seed
1 Tbsp. peppercorns
1 tsp. pepper flakes
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1/2 Cup salt

Begin heating all ingredients for brine. Pack okra into pint jars and beets into 1/2 pint jars. When brine comes to a boil, ladle into jars (herbs and all). Process jars for 10 minutes. Follow all regular canning procedures.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sweet Onion and Lime Pickle

If I could spend my birthday anywhere in Florida, it would be Disney's Animal Kingdom. Really! I'm not a huge fan of theme parks, but it is quite a beautiful place. Two years ago, I decided to take advantage of the free birthday park pass, and this past January my Aunt Dot and Uncle Bob took my husband, Joe, and I as a wedding gift, along with the rest of the family.
On my first visit I was exited to see every attraction, from Asia to Africa. However, it wasn't until my recent trip that I was exposed to the phenomenal food that Animal Kingdom has to offer.
My cousin, Oona, a life-time vegetarian took us to her favorite Tusker House Restaraunt. The exotic buffet here blew us away! As hard-to-impress chefs, Joe and I couldn't believe the variety and fresh flavors they had to offer. But it was at the Kidani Village, a Lodge within Disney where wild animals roamed freely outside our balcony, that I had the absolute best middle eastern bread service I've ever had in my life! A simple handmade naan, in plain and spinach was served with raita, cilantro sauce, and an unforgettable onion and lime pickle.
It was sweet, tart and spicy, the perfect condiment! I savored and analyzed that pickle down to the last bit, in hopes that I could recreate it at home, and here it is!
Or a pretty darn close version of it:

2 sterilized 8 oz. canning jars, lids and rings
3 large sweet onions
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. table salt
4 Persian limes
1/4 Cup light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cinnemon
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
1/8 tsp. ground clove
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
3 swift grates of nutmeg
1 tsp. chili flakes
1/4 Cup lemon juice

Julienne onions, add to a large pan with oil and salt and sweat over medium low heat for one hour, stirring occasionally. In this time zest the limes. You could use a microplane, but I prefer my 5-hole zester, which makes lovely little strands of peel. Now cut off the rind and cut out the segments- this is called the 'supreme'. Squeeze the juice out of what is left of the limes and reserve. Combine spices in a small bowl and check for flavor. This particular pickle was heavy in turmeric and chili, but you can alter it to your taste. Once the onions are cooked out and very broken down, add the brown sugar, lime supremes and spices. Stir constantly until sugar darkens and becomes thick, about 1-2 minutes. Add reserved lime and lemon juice, stir through and turn off heat. Pack into jars following all normal canning procedures and process 10 minutes. Makes about 12 oz., I ate the extra right away.
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*Warning* this is not a tested recipe, but I'm pretty sure the heavy doses of lime juice and lemon juice made it acidic enough to withstand time.