Monday, September 28, 2009

A Peck of Pickled Peppers

Well, sort of. The farm share has had all sorts of peppers lately, and I found a recipe I wanted to try for red and green pepper relish from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving. My challenge today was to figure out the volume that 4 red and 4 green peppers and 4 onions, when chopped, would have made and compare it to the volume of peppers I had (all sizes and shapes) and guess how much onion and liquid to add. I think I did OK. It's a multi-step thing where you have to boil the vegetables in water and vinegar, drain them, and then add boiling vinegar/water/sugar/salt solution. I ended up multiplying the first round of liquid by 6, and the second round of ingredients by 3. Probably that was too much, as my final product was only twice the expected yield of the original recipe. But I don't think it hurt anything to have extra liquid which just didn't get used in the end. Regardless, I now have 4 pints of red and green pepper relish. And, since I worked all weekend, I'm too tired to do anything more!

Friday, September 25, 2009

"OK, Now You've Gone Too Far"

This is what my husband said when confronted with my next canning project: potatoes.
Really! The farm share this week was full of tiny little potatoes, so I got it in my head that I could can them whole. I didn't want to peel them, and I hope that isn't a fatal flaw or anything. But I did scrub them, boil them, and the processed them a little longer than recommended just in case. This was the first time that I got the heat adjusted for the pressure canner right away and didn't have to fiddle with it for 10 minutes, which is good which means the pressure never dipped during the processing time.
I ended up with 5 pints of little red and gold potatoes. Perfect for a quick side dish!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Thanks, Kitchen Arts!

We had a great time yesterday at the canning demonstration at Kitchen Arts. They have a really nice set up - great big table upon which to work, lots of light, and a steady stream of interested customers. I was really impressed that a lot of people stayed for the whole 3 hours! People asked excellent questions, tasted the jams and pickles I brought, and seemed really interested. My mom came with us and joined in the conversation, and my 7 year old helped by passing out the extra cucumbers for snacks and pouring the sugar for the jam.

Owen had purchased really cute little jars from Quattro Stagioni which I had not used previously. They have 1 piece lids, and so we decided to try some of them. For the most part they worked (one didn't pop, but the others did, and that was just for the jam), and I brought a few boxes home because they are adorable and I want to experiment with them a little more. We learned that the boiling water canner is just TOO BIG for hotplates. In 3.5 hours it never did come to a rolling boil, so we felt that the pickles, while they did pop, were best left in people's refrigerators until ready to eat.

I also have photographic evidence that I talk with my hands.
Thanks, Owen!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Today's The Day!

Kitchen Arts. 3:00!

I am bringing jars of sangria jam, strawberry jalapeno, mango-banana jam, and dill pickles to share with the guests who can nibble while I demo. This is going to be fun!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Pot Runneth Over

It seems to be a theme. Tonight's batch of grape jelly spilled over the sides during the all-important minute when the pectin boils. There was nothing I could do but let it boil over and burn. While I like the smell of burnt sugar, I'm not so fond of the cleaning up part. But let's back up..., wait, further back...

2 years ago, I found a notice on our town email list that someone was giving away grapes which grow in her backyard. I connected with her, got 3 pounds of concord grapes, made jelly and gave her a few jars in return. Last year, for whatever reason, we didn't connect, but I made another batch from *gasp* store-bought grapes.

Yesterday, I noticed that she was posting on the email list again with more grapes. I immediately called my friend, since I was stuck at work, and asked if she could pick some up for me. I came home to a bag full of grapes, just enough to make the 4 cups of juice required for the jelly. (Thank you!) I washed and boiled the grapes, let them drain through a cheesecloth, and put the juice in the fridge because I was too tired to make the jelly.

Tonight, after everyone was asleep, I made the jelly, and had the above-mentioned boiling over incident. I still got 7 half-pint jars plus a little more which is in tupperware. But I still had a little time on my hands, and had just picked up today's farm share, so I set about to find something else to do. Hmmm. Maybe the daikon radish?

Actually, I know people use daikon in cooking, but I was looking forward to making those little yellow radish pickles you get at Japanese restaurants. I found this recipe, and the only difference was that I processed the pickles in boiling water for 10 minutes and let them sit for 5 before I took them out. I'm so excited to try them!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Farm Share Canning

Just got back this morning from a visit with my in-laws, a whirlwind trip that was lots of fun. My house is still full of food from last week's farm share because, in my absence, my family ate out a lot. SO, guess what? Bring out the canner and...

...1/2 peck of apples, boiled and run through the food mill, makes not quite 2 quarts. In fact, enough "not quite" that I had to convert to 1 quart and 1 pint and just put the rest in the fridge. This batch was: food mill (and therefore smooth) with brown sugar. Mmm.

The beets I had been hoarding for 3 weeks, until I got enough to can, worked out to 3 quarts, but I had to double the liquid part of the recipe to fill the jars. There were 3 "mystery roots" in with the beets; I thought they might just be funny looking red beets, but it turned out they were golden beets. Those got eaten by me for lunch. They were not as yummy, not sure why.

Everything was processed together for 30 minutes and the jars are cooling on the counter. Boy, I'm tired! (Maybe it's because I got up at 5 am to make my flight?)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ground Cherry Pie

One of our farm share items has been husk cherries, aka ground cherries. My niece and my sister-in-law love them. We haven't been so enamored with them - tried them plain, in salads, just couldn't get used to the taste. Until I found this recipe for PIE. Everything is better when it's baked in a pie!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


When I was a kid, in the fall my father would make toorshi in great big jars. I don't remember much about how he made it, but I remember it smelled good and was too spicy for me to eat. A couple of years ago I asked him for the recipe; he laughed and asked, "Why do you want to make that?"

Well, just recently we all got together and I opened up the last jar from last year's batch. He seemed to really enjoy it. So, in answer to his question, "That's why. Because you like it."

Today's batch should be spicier, as I included a rainbow of farm share hot peppers: 1 small green scotch bonnet, 6 cherry red peppers, one really long and evil looking chili, and a couple of yellow hot peppers. Also in this year's batch: farm share carrots, garlic, and cabbage. I had to buy the cauliflower and celery at the store.

This is the only thing I make which does not get processed. I use the half-gallon jars, and they don't fit in the canner. But processing makes the veggies too soft anyway so, after cooking the veggies in the hot liquid for a few minutes, and packing the veggies in the jars, I boil the liquid again and pour it over the top. This extra heat makes it seal without processing. And it seems to be enough; last year's batch was fine on the shelf for a full year. As an added precaution, I washed the jars in the dishwasher and let them sit in there until I was ready so they would be hot and sterilized.

And, for the record, we love it, too.

Brazilian Treat

A dear friend returned from her annual trip to Brazil with a present for me: a jar of Jaboticaba jam made by her family. It tastes a lot like cranberry but with a little more bite. What a treat!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Last night I brought a jar of pickles, a jar of bean salad, and a jar of the Mangorine jam into work since we planned to have a sort of holiday party. After all, if you have to work the holiday, you might as well enjoy yourselves, right? Well, the Mangorine jam was really yummy, and I was really excited about it, and made sure everyone tried it.

When the doc replacing me came in, I dragged her into the break room, spooned some jam onto a graham cracker (the ubiquitous food fare of every self-respecting ER) and popped in into her mouth, saying, "Guess what's in this?" Well, she got the nectarine part, but couldn't name the other flavor. Very excited, I said, "Mango!"

Her smile faded.

"Oh. Mango. Hmm. I'm allergic to that."

As of this morning, she reported she only itched for an hour or so.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Edgy Tomatoes


I received a box from my mother (Thanks, Mom!) containing 24 pounds of B-grade tomatoes for canning. She bought it on the 27th. I received it on the 30th. I wasn't able to get to can them until yesterday so, yes. Edgy. A little squishy. But not impossible to work with or really gross or anything.

I worked on the sauce in 2 batches because my pots were not large enough to accommodate all 24 pounds of tomatoes while they cooked. Evidently I'm not very good at splitting things evenly because the second batch was heaped into the pot (see picture) and in danger of spilling over on multiple occasions. So, yes, in this regard as well. Edgy. But I got everything processed through the food mill and simmering on the stove. I let the sauce simmer for several hours to reduce in volume. More patience led to thicker sauce.

Edgy also means "having a bold, provocative or unconventional quality." I ended up with 8 pints of Persian-spiced tomato sauce: 5 teaspoons cardi and 1 tablespoon of ground dried lime per jar. (Cardi, for those of you who are wondering, is an equal mix of cumin and coriander. The dried lime is really lime or lemon, left whole and dried. I beat them with a mallet and run them through the blender to make a powder. That part is pretty fun.)