Friday, July 30, 2010

Trying something different

I have a couple ripe peaches and wanted to experiment.  I used the same recipe for canning liquid that I used in the pickled cantaloupes and ended up with 2 pints of pickled peaches.  I have enough of the liquid mix leftover to make more if these turn out ok, or it will be used on another cantaloupe if they don't.  We'll see.

A half bushel of tomatoes

Sounds like a lot doesn't it?  But it's not, especially once all the seeds are removed and they are cut up.  That was my day today... tomatoes, skinning tomatoes, seeding tomatoes, chopping tomatoes.....
So what did I can?  Salsa, Italian tomatoes and just plain tomatoes.  No big ground breaking recipes here, just your normal things from the Ball Complete Book of Preserving.

Salsa, 5 pints:
Regular old canned tomatoes, 4 quarts:

 Italian Tomatoes, just plain tomatoes with a little basil, oregano and garlic added, 6 pints:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Banana Butter

Was at the grocery store and found a nice big bag of reduced price bananas that were starting to turn brown, still good, but needed to be eaten or used straight away.  At 15 cents cheaper than normal, the price was decent.  I have several banana jam recipes but they are all overly complex and I don't have half the ingredents so I did a search and came across this one.

banana preserves!
so we had four bananas that were going bad and were into the banana-bread range, but we had no flour or eggs, so i found this recipe instead:

banana preserves:
4 bananas
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 c sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice / few shakes of cinnamon, ginger and cloves

mash up the bananas with the lemon juice
put the mash into a pan and bring to a boil, stirring so it doesn's splatter all over and kill you
once it thins out and breaks down some, throw in the sugar and the spice and bring back to a careful, non-killing boil
reduce heat and stir for 15 to 20 minutes while it simmers and thickens
jar up and seal (i do the boil-the-jar-while-everything's-cooking method)
made two moderately-sized random jar fulls
ate the last tablespoon or so on toast and it makes the regular bread taste like banana bread

oh, and i threw in the last maybe half-teaspoon of light rum which really didn't change the flavor at all, but maybe brandy or sherry would be a nice addition.

First off, I love the humor in the recipe and the simplicity is great!  I didn't add the rum though.  I tripled the banana count but only used 3 cups of sugar (seriously, why does everything have to be so ridiculously sweet?) and 6 tablespoons of lemon juice.  Once it started cooking down I took out my hand blender and pureed it. Let it cook down by half and it was sheeting off a spoon.  Processed 10 minutes.
Landed myself 7 half pints.

Pickled Cantaloupe

I managed to land myself 2 free nearly ready to eat cantaloupes yesterday.  I'm not a fan.  Hubby already had a large amount of watermelon to eat and probably would not get to these before they were past edible.  So what to do?  Hit the books and google searches.  I didn't like most of what I saw, especially the ones where you cook it for an hour.  Then I found this little gem
Source:   Southern Living July '99 (Carolyne M. Carnevale, Ormand Beach, FL

    lemons -- thinly sliced
    2 cups water
    2 1/2 cups white vinegar -- 5% acidity
    cinnamon sticks -- 2 inches each
    whole cloves
    2 large cantaloupes -- cut into bite-size pieces

  • Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan; reduce heat, and simmer 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Pack cantaloupes into hot jars; add hot syrup, filling to within 1/2 inch from top. Remove air bubbles; wipe jar rims. Cover at once with metal lids, screw on bands.
  • Process in boiling-water bath 10 minutes. Yield: 6 pints
This one I had to try.  I didn't have any cinnamon sticks on hand and wasn't about to pay a fortune for that amount so I used ground cinnamon instead, 3 tablespoons.  And apparently I had extra large cantaloupes because I ended up having to double the liquids to fill all the jars.  Ended up with 6 pints and 6 half pints.  I made sure to add a lemon slice or two to each jar as well.

Pickled Red Onions

So we were sitting there watching Food Network and Throwdown comes on.  Caught a glimpse of a pickled onion recipe and had to try it, it was the Oaxaca Dog episode.  Though I had to make it can-able.  So I tweeked Mr. Flay's recipe a bit.

The original:
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons super fine sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 serrano chile, slit down center
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 large red onion, peeled, halved, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
Combine lime juice, vinegar, sugar, salt and chile in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Put the onion slices in a small bowl. Pour the warm vinegar mixture over and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 48 hours, stirring the mixture a few times.

My version:
  • 1 cup lime juice
  • white vinegar to cover onions by about an inch
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano leaves
  • 3 pounds red onion, peeled, halved, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (we used the last of ours straight out of the garden after they had been cleaned up and dried a few days)
Toss it all together in a large plastic bowl, cover and let sit overnight.
Next day, bring to a boil, ladle into jars and process for 15 minutes.  Any liquid left that did not fill a jar would be great for pickled eggs!  This gave us 3 pints and 3/4 pint of extra soaking liquid.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Taking a stab at gardinere

We lived in Chicago for 5.5 years.  One of the condiments hubby liked was the gardinere served on top of the roast beef sandwiches.  I haven't wanted to even try this due to the amount of oil in most recipes that would prevent water bath and possibly even pressure canning so I passed.
That is until this year.  I decided to do this my way, which is ignoring all the directions and making it up as I go.  This is what I ended up with:
Want to know what I did?  Yeah, well so do I!
Here's the general gist:
Veggies.  All different types, diced and placed in a bowl with salt to draw out water.  What veggies did I use?
Hmmmm...... cauliflower, yellow squash, onion, celery, green bell peppers, jalapenos and carrots
After letting the veggies marinate for a few hours, I didn't count, I was working on everything else I was canning, I drained and rinsed them well before tossing them in a stock pot where I covered them by an inch of white vinegar.
To this, while the mix was heating up to a boil, I added celery seed, dried whole chilies, red pepper flakes, mustard powder and dill powder (yeah, having to wait on those to arrive in whole form) and about a cup of sugar.
Once this hit a boil I ladled into jars and started processing, the pints and half pints for 10 minutes and the quarts for 15.

I'll add olive oil to these as needed once the are opened.  For now though they get to sit and marinate for a few weeks.

Plum butter crazy

I was lucky enough to be given 2 of those plastic shopping bags nearly full of plums, most of which were on the border of over-ripe.  What to do with so many?  2 words.  Plum.  Butter.
I don't have a recipe for this, it's one of those things you kinda learn by watching reading and experimenting but here's an idea of what you do.
Grab the largest stock pot you own, well in my case I had to, but it still didn't hold all the plums at first.
Turn on burner to medium add a tiny bit of water to keep fruit from burning at first and start piling in the plums, whole or pitted, I decided to do them whole and fish out the pits later.  Cook until they begin to break down stirring occasionally and add more if you have them.
Once all are added, reduce heat to medium low, possibly even low, and just cook until the plums have reduced by half.  At this point I fished out the pits with my fry spider then pulsed a few times with my stick blender to break up any large skins.
Keep cooking this down until it starts to sheet off a spoon, this is where I add sugar to taste, usually only 1/4 the total mass of total fruit.  If I have about 8 cups of fruit mush I'll only add about 2 cups sugar, but this is our taste, we don't like things too sweet.  Cook until it gels on a cold plate, you can find directions for this in most canning books and sites, ladle into jars and water bath can at 15 minutes for quarts.
Whole fruit, not a lot of sugar.  Great for sandwiches, toast, or anything you want to spread a little fruit on.

Once our peaches start ripening we'll do the same with them.

More bread and butter pickles

With more of our very own cucumbers we decided we'd like to try bread and butter pickles, the same recipe I used for the zucchini.  Not as big a batch this time only 5 quarts and 2 pints.
These look a bit cloudy for a reason.  I am waiting on mustard seed, I ran out in the middle of the season!!  Shame, shame, shame.  But then again I wasn't planning on doing that many pickle recipes that called for it!  So in order to get these preserved before it was too late (my spice order should be here Monday as we don't have Saturday service for large packages) I used powdered mustard seed instead.

Crisis averted and veggies saved for later use.

A time to shrivel

Well I tried my hand at one of my grandmothers pickle recipes and learned a lot.  I've always heard people talk about lime pickles and decided to give her recipe a try.
This is the recipe:
    * 7 1/2 pounds Cucumber
    * 2 cups pickling lime
    * 2 gallons cold water
    * 2 quarts white vinegar
    * 4 1/2 pounds sugar
    * 1 tablespoon pickling Salt
    * 1 tablespoon pickling spice

Dissolve lime in water. Pour over cucumbers and let sit 24 hours.
Drain, rinse let soak in fresh water for an hour and repeat 2 more times for a total of 3 hours.
Mix together vinegar, sugar, salt and spice, bring to boil and let cool.
Pour over cucumbers and let sit overnight
Boil in vinegar mix 35 minutes and then pack into hot sterilized jars

This is what I ended up with:
A bit shriveled no?  Well, I did them whole, didn't slit them or take off the little bit at the blossom end, that was a crucial step not known at the time.  I'll know better next time though!
These are our very own cucumbers from our very own garden.  Many things are coming in now so it's time for stocking the pantry!!  Stay tuned for more kitchen stuffs!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

When the garden gives you zucchini... or not....

So our garden isn't cooperating fully this year.  We have had NO squash of any type, none, zip, zilch.  Which is a pity really since I actually love zucchini.  What to do?  Well you go visit a farmer's market on a Saturday and start asking around for a large amount, someone there is bound to have enough for a decent price.  In my case, I landed two very large boxes full of zucchini for $10, at least 2 bushels worth!

What to do with all that zucchini before it goes south?  Well you divide it in half, surf the internet and all your cook books for ideas then decide to make zucchini bread and butter pickles.  Two days worth of prepping and canning later you end up with 8 quarts and 11 pints of pickles (unfortunately one of those pints exploded in the water bath on me so technically only 10 were finished).  The picture is only a small portion of what I canned.

What to do with the other half?  Save some out for fresh eating and slice the rest up for stewed zucchini, spend a couple of hours cooking it all down and toss it in the freezer.

Want the recipes?

Bread and Butter Zucchini Pickles:,1636,148176-228207,00.html

As for the stewed zucchini?  Well.... we've never written it down, never measured anything, so here's the best rendition I can figure...
3 to 4 medium to large zucchini, trim ends and slice supper thin.  I do this on a little 70's style plastic mandolin.
1/2 medium onion diced
about a tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste.
Toss it all in a sauce pan and cook on medium low until basically mushy, usually 30 to 45 minutes.  Eat or dump into freezer containers.

This can be done with yellow squash as well.  Add as much zucchini or squash as your pan can hold if you want.