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.