Tag Archives: canning

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!

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/
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A Peck of Pickled Peppers

 

Banana Peppers

My banana pepper plants have been rather prolific and for this I am grateful.  As most of you who are regular visitors to this little space already know,  I went a little overboard in planting.  I have a tendency to overdo things and this was no exception. 

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Spending so many years living in an apartment with zero outdoor space, I may have gone a little crazy when I realized that I could grow some of my own food.  This had been a goal of mine for a very long time (growing food, not going crazy… that ship has sailed).  

I am fascinated by the entire process of planting a seed, taking care of it and watching it grow into something that will actually feed you.  

The very first time I had a banana pepper was on a pizza, my Freshman year in college.  A small group of us had descended on the pizza place next to campus.  We were there under the pretense of “studying” I’m sure.  There were pool tables, dart boards (which I became quite skillful at playing), air hockey tables; all the things one thinks of when looking for an appropriate place to “study”.

Anyhow, there we were and one of the guys went to order our pizza and when the waitress came to the table and set it down in front of us, I noticed that it had peppers on it.  Not wanting to draw any attention to myself, I dug right in but in my head was this little voice shouting “are you nuts?!”. 

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Gettin’ Figgy With It…

I LOVE figs and lucky for me I live in a predominantly Italian neighborhood where fig trees are the preferred lawn ornament.  Now is the time when the branches are heavy with fruit, hanging low enough that plucking them from the tree does not prove to be very difficult.
(and don’t think I haven’t contemplated enlisting my friends for a little late-night recon mission to “obtain” said fruit)

Figs are in season from late summer through early fall, so if you happen upon them at the farmer’s market or the grocery store,  get them while you still can.

I had never made fig jam before but I figured since I  love the fruit, the jam would be a sure hit (it was) and with this recipe,  canning season for me comes to a close.
While this is a sweet jam,  it can be used as a base for other add-ins…  caramelized red onions or bacon for example.  This can be turned into a topping for crostini with a little fresh goat cheese or perhaps on a half bagel, with some crispy crumbled bacon and then topped with a fried egg for breakfast?  (just brain-storming here…)

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