Archive for the ‘Food preservation’ Category

Old-Fashioned Tomato Ketchup, but I made mine spicy.

It has been a great summer for tomatoes.  Last year was awful.  I only had the small cherry types.  This year they are everywhere, big heirlooms, new roma types, all colors of cherry tomatoes, hybrids that actually taste good.  I’ve canned about 12 quarts of quartered tomatoes but the thing I have really wanted to do since last summer, is to make ketchup.  I never buy regular ketchup, it just seems like the total opposite of what I am about; high fructose corn syrup, highly processed, coming from who knows where.  There are probably organic versions out there, but it just did not seem worth it.  But every now and then someone eats with us who asks for ketchup and I have none to offer.  Well, now I do.  I can also put it on my purple hull peas and dry beans like my daddy did.  It is not hard to do; it just takes a really long time and a lot of stirring.  The tomatoes, bell peppers and onions came from the local farmer’s market.  The lone jalapeno came from my garden.  After finishing my batch, I read on the internet about someone who used a crockpot with the lid off, to do the long slow cooking.  I think I will try that next time.   The recipe I used was from Well Preserved by Mary Anne Dragan.  I made a few changes, but not much.

Old-Fashioned Tomato Ketchup

For Spice Bag, gather:  2 cinnamon sticks, broken; 1 tsp whole cloves; 1 tsp whole allspice; 2 Tbsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp celery seed.  Tie all up in a cheesecloth bag.

10 lbs Roma type tomatoes

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup red or green bell pepper, chopped

1 red jalapeno pepper, chopped with seeds (this was my addition)

The cooked tomatoes in the food mill.

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp salt

Quarter tomatoes and put them and peppers and onions in large pot.  Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer for about 30 minutes.  Let cool some.  I actually put mine in jars in the refrigerator at this point and went to bed.  It was late.  The next afternoon, I put all the veggies through the food mill into the heavy enameled dutch oven.  You could go for the crock pot at this point.  Add the brown sugar, salt and vinegar, put the spice bag into the pot and cook.  The recipe says 1 hour, but I must have had mine at a much lower temperature than they did.  I cooked it for at least 5 hours.  I did not want to have to stand over it constantly to keep it from scorching.  When it as thick as you like it, take out the spice bag, spoon into half pint jars and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes.  I got 7 half pints.  The recipe says 6.

Spice bag in place.

The ketchup is delicious, much better than anything out of a bottle.  I may actually come to like ketchup.

The lids have popped.

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July Can Jam – Zesty Zucchini Relish

Cooking in the pot.

Cucurbits.  They are some of my favorite things.  I remember lovely watermelon rind preserves from my childhood.  I thought that would be good to make.  My mother never would make them.  She said they were too much trouble.  When faced with the reality, the thought of peeling and chopping all that watermelon suddenly made me understand how she felt.

Zucchini Relish.  That sounded yummy to me.  All the vegetables, except the onion and carrots were grown in my yard.  I found the recipe in Well Preserved by Mary Ann Dragan.  If you only knew what I’ve been through this past week, you’d be amazed that I did this at all.  But in an effort to restore a sense of normalcy to my life, I set about to grate and chop a bunch of veggies into a tasty, spicy treat.  I have already eaten a big spoonful on my purple hull peas and it is very good.  So here goes with the recipe:

  • 6 cups grated, unpeeled zucchini
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 – 3 finely chopped, seeded jalapeno peppers
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups herb vinegar
  • 2 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp, each, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry English mustard

Combine the vegetables and pickling salt in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Cover with ice and let sit in refrigerator overnight. 

The next day, prepare the preserving jars.  Drain the vegetables, rinse well and squeeze out, using cheesecloth lined colander. 

Combine sugar and 1 1/2 cups of vinegar and spices in preserving pot.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Stir in the drained vegetables.  Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often.  In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and mustard.  Pour in the remaining half cup of vinegar and stir ’til smooth.  Pour into relish.  Cook another 5 minutes, stirring, until liquid thickens.

Remove from heat.  Spoon into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Wipe the rims and put tops on jars.  Process in hot water bath 15 minutes.  Makes 4 pint jars.

I love the color.

Can Jam Strawberries

 

Well, it turned out more like Strawberry Syrup than Jam, but it tastes really good and I think pancakes with Strawberry Balsamic Syrup will be delicious.  The vinegar adds a really nice layer of flavor.  The strawberries were locally grown and organic.  The process went quite smoothly, but one thing I would do differently is to crush the berries.  The recipe never says to do that and so they really float in the syrup.  I hope the challenge for next month will be something. . . . . oh, I don’t know; they say you should be careful what you wish for.  I’ll just wait and see.

Strawberry Balsamic Jam

from Eugenia Bone’s Well-Preserved

  • 8 cups washed and hulled Strawberries
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp unsalted butter
  • 5 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

Pour the strawberries into a large, deep, heavy pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Once the strawberries are boiling, add the sugar and stir until it is dissolved.  The sugar tends to burn on the bottom, so keep it moving until it is thoroughly dissolved.  Bring to a boil and then add the butter.  (The addition of butter keeps the foam volume down.)  Turn the heat down to medium low and boil the jam gently for 40 minutes, until thickened to a loose, soft jam.  Stir in the balsamic vinegar.  Pour into half pint jars and process 10 minutes in boiling water bath. 

Jars of Jam.

Tigress’ Can Jam Asparagus Pickles

Cold pack asparagus spears.

Asparagus pickles.  What else could it be?  I live in the south.  Rhubarb doesn’t grow here.  Asparagus does.  It was all that I could get.  And I could not find a recipe for anything other than pickles.   It turns out, I’ve got a lot of pickles so far in this Can Jam.  I wonder what will be next.  I have tasted the pickled carrots, I guess I should go taste the pickled scallions.  Now that I have my mouth back again, I could do that.  My front teeth still aren’t right.  They will have to have crowns and that will take a while.  I don’t have sharp front teeth anymore.  They don’t incise very well.  They kind of mush stuff up.  I have to wait a month to try these.  They look very nice though.   And so here is my version of the recipe from Eugenia Bone’s Well Preserved:

3 bunches of asparagus
1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar with 5 percent acidity
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 garlic cloves whole
1 teaspoon dill seed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
Trim the asparagus to fit in wide mouth pint jars to allow for 1/2 inch head space.  Place about 2 inches of water in a wide pot.  Heat to boiling.  Lay asparagus in pot and cook til it comes back to a boil.  Remove asparagus and dunk in ice water.  Set aside.
Prepare 2 jars for preserving.  Pack with asparagus and garlic cloves.  Combine vinegar and other ingredients with 1 1/2 cups water.  Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve salt.  Pour into jars with 1/2 inch head space.  Place lids and rings on jars.  Process in hot water bath 10 minutes.In the hot water bath.

In the hot water bath.

 

Rosemary and Red Wine Jelly with Orange

This one comes directly, as written from Well Preserved, by Mary Anne Dragan.  The color is beautiful.  The flavor is amazing.  And, the rosemary came from my bush that is on its last legs this year.  I am going to have to replace it.

Finished Jelly and Flowers from the yard.

Finished Jelly and Flowers from the yard.

This went about as smoothly as could be expected.  Considering everything else has gone crazy, I guess I should be grateful for that.  You may have read earlier posts wherein I fainted and broke my jaw.  That is getting better but lots of other things seem to be going wrong, but those are my problems, not yours.  What follows is the recipe for this absolutely delicious jelly.  The flavors are so complex and interesting.  I have never had jelly quite like this.  It turned out clear and dark, a beautiful jewel tone.

  • 3/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves
  • the zest of one orange, use a vegetable peeler to get thin slices
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 – 3 oz. pouch liquid pectin

Rinse the rosemary under running water, shake well, then pat dry.  Strip the leaves from the stems, measure and chop coarsely. 

Place the rosemary leaves in your perserving pot.  Twist the strips of orange zest into the pot to release the oils.  Drop the zest into the pot.  Add the wine and vinegar and bring to a boil over high heat.  As soon as it begins to boil, remove from heat, cover and let steep for 30 minutes.

Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with a double thickness of cheesecloth, pressing on the herbs to release as much liquid as possible.  Discard the herbs and prepare the jars.

Combine the liquid and sugar in the preserving pot.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often.  When the mixture reaches a full boil, stir in the pectin.  Cook and stir until the mixture reaches a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.  Boil hard for exactly one minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, stir and skim off any foam that has formed. 

Pour the jelly into the hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.  Wipe the rims and seal.  Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

Pickled Scallions, Blah!

Me, pulling green onions from my garden.

Wow!  Finally the food of the month is something I have in my own garden.  I don’t have to go to the store or anything.  After foreign oranges and carrots, I can do something local.  See, that’s me right there, pulling them up myself.  I was so happy to be able to do this one right.  I pulled up all the remaining green onions I had in a bed, that had once grown irises, yarrow and coreopsis, among many other things.  My current desire for more local food has forced me to convert several flower beds to vegetables.  Over the winter, I also had carrots and beets out in that same bed, but, unfortunately, I had eaten all the carrots before the carrot challenge was announced.

In a very busy weekend I worked half a day on Saturday, worked in the garden in the afternoon, supervising my young helper, Holmes, while he was turning compost and spreading it on my asparagus bed; then, on Sunday, a friend came out to hang out and make two batches of mozzarella.  We went out to the dairy that is about 20 minutes from my home , got the milk and made the cheese.  After she left, taking a jar of the Rosemary Pickled Carrots with her, I also made a batch with Patrick, my DH, who wants to move right ahead to gouda and cheddar.   We made ricotta from all the whey left from all that cheesemaking.  Then I pulled those onions and washed them about 10 times.  I kept remembering that botulism spores reside in the soil.  I don’t want botulism, so I kept washing.

Prepared for the soak.

The only canning recipe I could find for scallions or green onions was Pickled Scallions on several websites.  So I went with that.    After they were washed, I cut them to fit the 1/2 pint jars and stacked them in layers in a bowl with salt, covered them with water and allowed them to sit overnight.

That leaves me where?   Monday morning to make pickles before, I say before, I go to work.  I was up at 5:00 and moving slowly.  My first problem, was realizing that the tiny little half-pint jars would not sit in the rack in my water bath canner.  Now what do I do?  So I got out my Revere Ware stock pot.  I only had enough for 4 jars, so they would fit in that, but how to keep them from jostling into each other.  Somewhere I had read that someone put a dish towel in the bottom of the pot and that kept them steady.  It sounded half-baked, but I was desperate at that moment.  I had to get this done and go to work.     So I put the water on to boil.

I then prepared the spice bag to boil in the vinegar.  The recipe called for pure vinegar, no water to dilute it.  That made me feel better about the botulism.  It had only 2 Tablespoons of sugar in 3 cups of vinegar.  It called for white, I had cider and besides, what I had was organic.  Who knows what is in that white vinegar.  The recipe called for whole allspice, which I did not have, mustard seed and whole peppercorns, which I did.  I punted and used whole cloves instead of the allspice.  I hung the bag on the pot handle and draped it into the caramel colored vinegar and turned on the heat.  Then I packed the jars with the onions, a garlic clove and a bay leaf; then placed them just so on the counter.

So far, all was well.  Or, at least so I thought.  I poured the vinegar in and put on the lids.  Now, how do I get these jars in a pot of almost boiling water with a dish towel floating around in it.  It was supposed to lie on the bottom and behave, but that is not what it was doing.  It was flapping about crazily and there was no way it was going to protect my jars from jouncing around in the hot water.   The other thing I noticed was that there were suds in the pot.  My dish towel apparently had not been rinsed thoroughly in the washing machine.  I don’t want sudsy tasting pickled scallions.  It is now about 6:30.   I have to be at work at 8:30.  I dumped out the pot rinsed it several times and refilled it with clean clear water and waited for it to heat up.

Busted jars.

It took longer than you would think for that to happen.  I just sat and watched the pot come near a boil.  I never thought about how much the jars had cooled down by this time.  I also had nothing in the bottom of the pot to cushion the fall of the first jar that slipped from my jar tongs and banged into the bottom of the pot turned over and popped.  The entire bottom sheared off.  I fished it out.  Somehow the onions all stayed in.  The next jar went as peacefully as you please.  The third jar was going good, but then I heard that pop again.  The bottom had broken off that one, too.  All the vinegar rushed out while I held the jar with the scallions remaining suspended in the jar tongs.  I sat it down beside the other broken jar and crossed my fingers.  The last one was no problem.  They sat on opposite sides of the pot and I put the lid on and set the timer.  15 minutes I had to wait.

Finished!

They rattled away in the pot, but no pops or crashes.  At fifteen minutes, I took off the lid, lifted the two jars out  and set them on the towel to cool and seal.  It occurred to me then that I did not know what one did with pickled scallions.  Do you just eat them out of the jar like the pickled carrots?  Do you put them in cocktails?  Do you just admire them on the shelf?  The thing that  I was really wondering about, was what I was going to do with the mountain of green onion tops that I had left over.  I wrapped them up and put them in the refrigerator to use in salads and such, but would we really be able to eat them all before they wilted?  This seems like one of the more wasteful kinds of pickles that you could make.  I still had to get ready to go to work, but I was really hungry by this point, and what is better in scrambled home grown eggs than green onions?  I chopped up some of the tops and made me a lovely plate of scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast.

 

The Recipe – Pickled Scallions

To make 4 half-pint jars

48 green onions

3 cups apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup salt

2T sugar

2 T whole cloves

1 T whole mustard seeds

1 T whole peppercorns

4 bay leaves

4 cloves garlic

Wash and trim scallions to fit in jars.  Remove the tough outer layer of skin.  Wash again. Place the scallions in layers in a bowl, sprinkling each layer lightly with some of the salt.  Cover the cold water and let stand 12 hours or overnight, making sure scallions stay submerged in water.  Drain the scallions, rinse then in fresh water and drain again.  Combine the sugar and vinegar.  Add the spices together and tie up in a cheesecloth bag.  Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes.  Discard the spice bag.  Pack the scallions, standing upright into sterilized jars.  Add one bay leaf and one clove of garlic to each jar. Fill the jars to within 1/2 inch of the top with the boiling liquid and place the covers on loosely.  Place the jars in hot water bath and process for 15 minutes.  Remove and let them cool and seal.Buy a mini canning rack from Amazon that fits in a Revere Ware stock pot.  These pictures won’t line up like I want them to, but here they are anyway.  That’s my blood orange marmalade on the toast.  A lovely breakfast and off to work.

Can Jam February

The Hot Water Bath steaming away

Pickles…it had to be pickles.  What else can you do with carrots in a hot water bath.  Well, I had found some recipes for carrot chutney, and even marmalade, but I’ve already done marmalade, and besides, there is only so much sweet stuff that is reasonable for a person who is eating to stave off type 2 diabetes to have around the house.  So, something that would be good snacky food, with not too many calories, was what I needed and I found the recipe in the newest edition of Well Preserved:  small batch preserving for the new cook, by Mary Ann Dragan.  Pickled Rosemary Carrots.  That sounded perfect.  Only the tiniest amount of sugar.  I had made something very similar that was not jarred up and sealed.  It just stayed in the fridge until you ate it up, which did not take long.  I liked them and felt sure I would like these.  The recipe was not challenging at all, at least compared to the marmalade from last month.  This one was pretty much old hat.  Cold pack, pour in the vinegar, put on the lids and hot water bath.  It was almost too easy. or so I thought.

Finding the carrots turned out to be the hard part.  I really wanted local, organic carrots for this round.  I thought it would be easy.  I know lots of local farmers.  I have access to some markets that are still open, even in the dead of winter.  Surely I could pull this off.  I called all my farmer friends.  No one had carrots.  The extremely cold weather we have had this winter had slowed them down to a crawl.  Some had carrots, but they were no bigger than a very slender pencil.  I was forced back to the grocery store, but I did get organic carrots.  So I have gotten something right.  And the rosemary did come from my own herb garden.   I did not have pickling salt, so I substituted sea salt.  The recipe also called for mixed peppercorns.  I could not find those but I did find some special Tellicherry black peppercorns and some green peppercorns, so I used them.

Chopping the carrots.

So I peeled and cut and packed them into the jars.  It didn’t take as long as I had thought it would, even doing 4 pounds of carrots.  And, they fit exactly into 6 wide mouth pint jars.  I put in the garlic, chili pepper and sprig of rosemary and they were ready for the vinegar.  My dear husband helped with getting the hot vinegar solution poured in and I put on the lids and set them in the steaming hot water bath.  They stayed in there for 15 minutes and were done.   The lids started popping almost immediately after I got them out.  I was very surprised at how quickly they were all sealed.

So here is the recipe.  Directly from the book except with a few minor changes:

Pickled Rosemary Carrots

  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon each Tellicherry black and green peppercorns
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 6 hot chili peppers
  • 4 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
  • 6 – 3 inch sprigs of fresh cut rosemary

Prepare the preserving jars.  Combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt and peppercorns and bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer 5 minutes.  Place one clove garlic and one chili pepper in each jar.  Pack carrot sticks tightly in the jars standing them upright.  Slide one sprig of rosemary into each jar.  Carefully pour the boiling vinegar solution into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.  Wipe the rims clean and place lids and rings on the jars.  Place the jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

packed jars awaiting the vinegar solution

It was very satisfying to see how easily it all went together.  Kind of zen-like in its simplicity.  I’m looking forward to tasting them.  I will let them sit for about a week before I take a taste and give them time for all the flavors to “swap around” as Huckleberry Finn would say.  I think they turned out quite lovely.  The green and orange complement each other in a satisfying kind of way.  I hope that they will be as delicious as they look. 

Now, I eagerly look forward to the challenge for March.  I hope that I can get the ingredients for it locally and organically.  I had thought that I was really good at that.  After all, the pick up for our local CSA is on my front porch.  I did not count on the weather knocking me for a loop.  But I guess that is what we all have to live with in reality. 

The finished product.