Category Archives: Canning

Loquat Cardamom Jam

Loquat Cardamom Jam | Pook's Pantry
Loquat jam is sweet and tart, slightly floral and absolutely delicious.   Loquats are more commonly referred to as “Japanese plum” and they are high in pectin, which makes them ideal for jams.   

Three months after I moved to Florida, I went to visit my aunt and uncle who live here part of the year.  My Aunt Ramona made loquat jam and asked if I would like to try it.  Of course I replied with a resounding “YES”, as I am never one to refuse food.

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Can All The Things!

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I met Rebecca Lindamood a few years ago at a food blog conference in Orlando.  One day, we were talking about trading goods with each other (local food for local food).  A few weeks later, much to my delight, a quart of Grape Pie Filling (p.31) shows up on my doorstep.  I had never tasted grape pie filling before, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.  I was in for gastronomic bliss of epic proportions. If you pay attention to things I swoon about, you know THIS is at the top of my list.  Think of the juiciest, “grapiest”,  most luscious grape you’ve ever had.  Now multiply that by 10.  That’s Rebecca’s grape pie filling.

When there was talk of this book happening, I was beyond thrilled for my friend.  Her food is amazing and creative.  It is beautiful and yet,  practical.  As a former cook and Mom of 5 boys, she knows a thing or two about feeding people.   I couldn’t wait to get this book and review it because I knew it was going to be one of my “go-to” guides for canning.   I’ve made chutneys and jams, pie fillings and pickles,  chow chow and pickled beans… and then they sit there. Sometimes I get around to actually using them and sometimes, I give it all away because I can only eat so much of it.  Here’s where Rebecca saves the day:  there is a corresponding recipe for all of the things you’ve just canned!!!  I can’t even begin to explain my excitement about that!  

After all, a beautiful jar of something sitting on the shelf doesn’t do anyone any good unless you know how to use it!   -Rebecca Lindamood

If you or someone you know enjoys canning, get this book! There is something for everyone. It would make a great present for any occasion.  Or just because it’s Tuesday. I can’t recommend it enough.  It’s written in a way that makes it accessible for beginners and at the same time, appeals to experienced canners as well.  The recipes are unique and so varied!  Everything from the aforementioned grape pie filling to cardamom extract.   Make the cherries in red wine syrup this weekend (while you can still get this little ruby fruit) and enjoy the fruits (see what I did there ;)) of your labor in the fall or winter when you use those cherries to make Filet Mignon with Red Cherry Wine Sauce!  Make a batch of Ginger Peach Butter now, enjoy Peaches and Cream Baked Oatmeal later!   The entire book is like this!!!  Can you tell how much I love that?  It’s brilliant!

My dream pantry is lined top to bottom with beautiful jars containing their jewel colored treasures.  This book has me on my way to achieving that dream.  Thank you Rebecca, for reintroducing me to my love of canning.

Here is an affiliate link to Amazon to make getting your book even easier!

Happy Canning!

Cherry Chutney

Cherry Chutney
I’m on a serious cherry kick lately.    I can’t get enough of them…  We have gone through almost 10 pounds in the last month because they always seem to find their way into my cart.  You know, just in case I need more.  I’ve been putting them in everything from cakes to oatmeal and this week, I decided to go a savory route.    If you are unfamiliar with chutney, let me give you a quick description.  It’s like a relish, it has sweet and sour ingredients, usually coming from sugar or fruits and vinegar.  It is a blend of sweet and savory.  It’s a great condiment to use with grilled meats or vegetables and this chutney went splendidly with a grilled flank steak.Cherry Chutney

This chutney was paired with grilled meat, but it can also be a great addition to a cheese board or a charcuterie platter or even as a tasty spread on a hearty sandwich.cherry chutney

Cherry season is nearly over, so don’t wait too long to grab a couple of pounds.   I’ll be making another big batch before the summer is over to put up on the shelves so I can enjoy them long after they disappear from the stores. 

Let’s Cook!

Cherry Chutney
Serves 8
A sweet & sour condiment made from fresh cherries, perfect on grilled meat.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/4 lb. fresh cherries, pitted and roughly chopped (approximately 3 cups)
  2. 1/2 small red onion, diced
  3. 1/3 cup dried currants
  4. 1 clove garlic, minced
  5. 1 1/2 tsp. grated ginger
  6. 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  7. 1 TB whole grain mustard
  8. 2 TB light brown sugar
  9. 1 tsp kosher salt
  10. 1 TB canola oil
Instructions
  1. In a medium pot, heat oil over medium low heat then add onions and garlic. Cook until softened, but not browned (5 minutes). Add red wine vinegar and cook a few minutes more.
  2. Add in cherries, currants, ginger, brown sugar, mustard and salt.
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked down and thickened.
  4. Cool completely then pack in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Notes
  1. I served this with grilled flank steak, but it would be a great addition to a cheese or charcuterie board!
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/
Cherry Chutney

Pickled Vegetables aka Curtido

9.9I have been waiting for this supposed “cauliflower shortage” to work itself out because I have been craving these pickled vegetables and I was not about to pay $7 for a head of cauliflower… Call me crazy.

I had completely resigned myself to the idea that I was not going to fulfill my craving anytime soon because the price of cauliflower was not budging and i just could not bring myself to pay three times the normal price.   However, that little  (ever-present, annoying, extremely loud)  nagging voice in the back of brain said “Hey, let’s just walk over there and check”.   Gah, I hate when she’s right…  well, maybe just this once it’s okay.

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Strawberry Key Lime Jam…

Strawberry Key Lime Jam

I was spending my birthday weekend in the Clearwater area and it just so happened to coincide with the Strawberry Festival in Plant City.    I was ecstatic because I happen to know that A LOT of strawberries come out of that area and are shipped all over the east coast.

When I was still cheffing (yes, that’s now a verb) in NYC,  all of the strawberry flats were from Plant City so I knew there were good berries to be had.    Slathered in sunscreen for a day of walking around in the blistering sunshine, we got in the car and drove an hour to have our fill of strawberry everything…  or so we thought.

Perhaps it was my own fault, I envisioned strawberry pies, strawberry jams & jellies, strawberry malts, strawberry pastries, strawberries in every way imaginable and I was practically frothing at the mouth in anticipation.    I was looking forward to the creativity of locals, presenting strawberries in ways I had never thought of, I was so ready to have my mind and taste buds blown!  One would assume if it’s a “Strawberry Festival”, that’s exactly what you’d find, no?   The short answer:  no.  

There were 2 places to get strawberry shortcake, each with a line at least 100 deep and a handful of other booths were strawberry items could be purchased.   It was quite a let down, but there is a BIG silver lining!  

Local farms were set up in tents, like a farmer’s market, along the streets leading into the festival.  I scored an entire flat (that’s about 12 pounds) of the most gorgeous, bright ruby red strawberries you’ve ever laid your eyes on for…  wait for it….  seven dollars!    Seven.  Dollars.      I was over the moon!  I happily lugged that box all the way back to the car.   I also had a glazed doughnut roughly the size of a baby’s head fresh from the oil, so it wasn’t a total loss 😉

Would I go to that festival again?  Probably not.  Would I drive the hour to buy 12 pounds of perfect strawberries for $7.00?   You bet.

Strawberry Key Lime Jam
Yields 8
Basic Strawberry Jam recipe, slightly tweaked with a South Florida flair
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Ingredients
  1. 2 quarts strawberries, washed, hulled and roughly chopped
  2. 1 1.75 oz pkg + 2 tbsp. powdered pectin
  3. 1/4 cup fresh key lime juice
  4. 3 tbsp. key lime zest
  5. 7 cups sugar
Instructions
  1. Place 9 half pint (8 oz) mason jars in a very large stock pot/lobster pot/canning pot. Add enough water to cover the jars and bring to simmer. Place the lids into a small saucepan and simmer those in a bit of water as well. No need to warm the rings, just the lids. Make sure you are using new lids every time. It's best not to reuse them.
  2. That being said, I have reused them when in a pinch, but it's not standard practice.
  3. Combine strawberries, pectin, lime juice and zest in a large stock pot. (You'll want plenty of room at the top when the mixture starts boiling)
  4. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, then add sugar all at once and stir until completely dissolved. Return to a rolling boil and let it boil HARD for 60 - 90 seconds, stirring constantly.
  5. Remove from heat and skim off as much foam as you can without taking too much of the jam.
  6. Using canning tongs (or regular tongs with a dish towel wrapped around them) remove one of the jars from the water, pour the water out and set a wide mouth funnel inside the jar. Using a measuring cup, scoop jam and pour into warm jar leaving 1/4" of space at the top. Repeat until all the jars are filled, then wipe the rim of the jar with a damp towel, making sure the thread of the jar is clean.
  7. Remove the lids from the simmering water, screw on the rings but do not tighten all the way. Enough to secure the lid, but not completely tightened. Repeat with remaining jars.
  8. Place jars into a canning rack if you have one and lower into water in canning/lobster pot. If not, use tongs and lower the jars one by one (fairly quickly) into the water. Make sure water covers the jars by at least an inch, two if possible. Bring water to a full boil. Boil for 10 - 12 minutes, let jars "rest" in the water for a couple of minutes, then remove from water. I always place my hot jars on top of a dishtowel on the counter so nothing slides around.
  9. Leave jars for 24 hours, you will hopefully hear that beautiful "PING" sound fairly soon after they've come out of the water, but it may take a little while. After 24 hours, tighten the rings all the way and check to make sure they have all sealed. Press on the lid. If it has ANY give whatsoever, that guy gets to live in the fridge. Otherwise, your jam is good to go!
Notes
  1. I don't remember where I learned this trick, but a pat of butter help keep the foam to a minimum. If you are so inclined, drop a pat of butter into your strawberry mixture while it's cooking to keep the foam under control.
Adapted from Ball Blue Book
Adapted from Ball Blue Book
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/
My Love 054 My Love 057 My Love 060

(Pear) Butter Me Up…

Pear Butter

Recently I found myself with about 7 pounds of pears that were ripening faster than I could consume them.  Normally, this would never happen as pears are one of my favorites and generally don’t last long enough to even get mushy,  yet here we are.

There were ideas swirling around in my head as to what I could do with them, but none of them really thrilled me so I put out a call on the Facebook page for ideas.   Sometimes you just need to get out of your own head, you know?   Get some fresh ideas and perhaps learn a thing or two…  As usual, my friends came through.  I had a dozen great ideas in under 5 minutes.  It pays off to have “foodies” for friends!  Then, my “wish-she-were-really-my-sister” came through with “you could use this as a filling for sweet rolls”.  Well, that girl knows just how to get to me.  From that point on, it was all I could think about. 

I rushed to make it, take photos and write the recipe;  then life got in the way and it took me two weeks to write it up.    So much for planning…   I am still swooning over the idea of this being used as a filling for sweet rolls.  (That Jenni is a bit of an evil genius)

Now that I had decided on the fate of the pears,  it was time to get everything set up for canning.  Let me preface this by saying it is not imperative to can the pear butter.  Feel free to store it in the refrigerator if you are certain it will be consumed within a week or two.   I happen to get giddy over that “ping” of the lids sealing and thus am drawn to canning like a moth to a flame.   It adds 15 minutes to the process and I can leave them in the cupboard or give them to friends as gifts, well worth an extra fifteen minutes if you ask me and your friends will be impressed with your kitchen prowess…  they needn’t know it wasn’t all that difficult.

pear butter 001

pear butter 009

 pear butter 008

Pear Butter
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Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 5 pounds very ripe pears (Bartlett or Anjou), roughly chopped (do not peel or seed)
  2. 1/2 cup Elderflower liqueur (or Bourbon)
  3. 1 cup brown sugar
  4. 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  6. 1 star anise
  7. 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. In a large, deep pot, combine pears, elderflower liqueur or bourbon and 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook over medium high heat for approximately 30 - 40 minutes until fruit is falling apart.
  2. Run mixture through the fine mesh of a food mill to remove seeds and skin. Return puree to pot and stir in brown sugar, lemon juice ginger and salt.
  3. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until thick and amber colored. (about 2 - 2 1/2 hrs)
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
  5. Makes 6 half pint jars
  6. If you want to can the butter, sterilize jars & lids, spoon butter into jars and process in a water bath for 10 - 15 minutes.
Notes
  1. The original plan was to use bourbon with this... Only to discover I had none and did not feel like going out to buy some. I happened upon elderflower liqueur and it was quite the happy accident. It worked beautifully here.
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/

Sticky Sweet Bacon Goodness

It’s bacoooon!  Who doesn’t love bacon?! (besides vegetarians and even some of them come to the dark side for the love of the slab)

My Mom had come across a recipe for bacon jam and being the good Midwestern woman she is, promptly got my Dad to make it.  When she called raving about how delicious it was, I knew it had to be shared.

I will forewarn you that while the bacon jam is simmering away in the crock pot you may want to focus your energy elsewhere.  The smell is incredible and the hours waiting for it to be done feel like years.

This is something that would make a great gift sealed in pretty glass jars or a topping for crostini for a holiday party.  I took my Mom’s lead on how I chose to enjoy my bacon jam…

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