Showing posts from October, 2011

Canning: Roasted Tomato Passata

Tomatoes are one of the quintessential canned foods in my life, lined up nicely in the pantry with jars of peaches, pickles and green beans. The luscious red fruits are eye candy when they make first appearances at the farmers market, beckoning to be purchased and sliced, served fresh on toast with bacon and tender greens. Always seeming too soon, winter rushes tomatoes from the vine and into glass jars for soups, stews and sauces to carry us through the cold. I crave tomatoes year round and seeing the fruit stands in Willard lined with the end-of-season tomatoes gave way to passata.
The River Cottage Preserves Handbookwill make your mouth water with the savory photo on page 165 of the American edition, a picture of roasted tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs calling to become your dinner. I knew this recipe would find its way into my larder the first time I flipped through the book. Here is my ode, plus the view of a quadruple batch (one sheet was one batch according to the recipe amo…

Canning: Honey Lemon Lavender Jelly

Once upon a time I met the new guy in the office and we connected over our shared interests in food and farmstuffs, so I invited him over to put up a batch of preserves together. You might laugh that my first date with someone would be over a day of canning but I feel it's quite appropriate. :)

Honey Lemon Lavender Jelly was an easy recipe I found online after a little google search provided me with ideas to use fresh lavender. The Seattle Interbay P-Patch holds an annual sale of their lavender and I'm lucky to be within close distance, so it was easy to swing by the Ballard Farmer's market for honey and buy the sweet-smelling herb on the way home.

We used liquid pectin and it jelled nicely, though we didn't bother to strain. Also, I would recommend letting the lavender tea steep as long as possible (overnight would be good) to get the maximum flavor; mine is a little weak on the herb, a little strong on the lemon. Still very, very tasty. We doubled the recipe and en…

Canning: Blueberry Lime Syrup/Jam {giveaway}

In canning there are two possible outcomes: Good or not quite so good. Ever an optimist, I do understand there can be bad outcomes (i.e. broken jars or botulism) but the reality is 100% of my canning experiences have been educational, rewarding, tasty and productive, if not exactly right. Sometimes things just don't turn out as planned, even with a tested recipe and the best intentions and that's okay.

Such as my Blueberry Lime Jam. No. Blueberry Lime Syrup. Well, maybe it's a sauce.

One of the ladies in my knitting group was eager to get canning experience under her belt and I was eager to jump back into action after a few months off in the late spring, so we settled on two different batches in one day. We doubled this batch (against all jam/jelly recommendations) and had fun with it, taunting her children with the goodness of the fruits we were putting up. Alas, no set was achieved in the end.

Truth is, this jam has too much sugar for my taste to keep all 5 jars so I'…

Canning Peaches in Light Syrup

As autumn's warmth turns cool and harvest is over, winter begins to make its first appearances in my hometown of northern Utah. Dry grass and leaves crunch underfoot with the first frosts and I remember the air being chilled and my breath visible when I waited for the bus as a child. These are the memories of seasons gone-by, as the glowing leaves are replaced by glowing fire; as night games in golden fields populated by straw bales are exchanged for cups of hot cocoa, novels, and snowsuits.

In my heart there exists a fondness for the days my mom would send us out to romp in the snow. She encouraged us to get out, to play king of the mountain atop the massive mounds of snow from clearing neighborhood driveways. My older brother and I (plus the neighbors, cousins, and later my younger siblings) would make snow tunnels on the north side of the house, build snowmen, and scream with delight while sledding downhill in the pasture, always afraid we'd glide too far or fast and land …

A lost hand knitted sock.

Knitters, grab a tissue for I am about to share the saddest and most shameful knitting story I own....

Back on July 2nd I began knitting a beautiful pair of Malabrigo green merino socks for myself. The first sock was started while I attended my friend’s birth as a doula so it has all these beautiful memories that go with it. Touching, sappy, blah blah blah. I know. Sentimental knitting is over the top and I’m guilty.

I wrapped up the first, started the second. Whenever I knit socks I always carry the pair together because when people ask what I’m knitting I like to be able to show a finished sock and one in progress. I think it’s inspiring to wannabe or beginning knitters. So, time passed as I slowly worked the 2nd sock, and after finally wrapping it up on my trip to Utah I thought YEAH! Time to wash and block! I finished sewing the toe up the day before a big knitting/spinning social get together at a yarn store which essentially requires handknitted goods to be worn (oh, the…

Canning: Crabby Brine Jelly

I know, the idea of canning leftover pickle brine into jelly might seem unappetizing but the syrup produced from pickling foraged crab apples was delightful. The cider vinegar brine was spiced with cinnamon, allspice and cloves and contained a fair bit of sugar, making it a tasty sweet/sour treat. I added some pectin to thicken the brew with only mild success.

It's runny, not quite spreadable yet. With a couple weeks of age under its lid the consistency may improve but only time will tell. For now I'll plan to use it as a sauce for meats; we glazed baked ham with it for dinner two nights ago. Delicious!

PS. I'm still trying to get caught up on my canning posts. I know I have at least ten additional posts of different canning adventures to get on here so stay tuned.

Foraging and Canning Spiced Pickled Crab Apples

As I was planning for the trip to Utah my little sister informed me that a crab apple tree was running rampant on the grounds of her house/apartment and going unused. Cue excitement! Being sweet, she and her husband kindly picked something like 7 pounds of those tart beauties and indulged my canning whims by simply handing them over. Deciding between crab apple jelly or pickled fruit was hard but ultimately I settled on the pickles for two reasons. Firstly, I'm up to my ears in jellies and jams and truth is that I don't eat many sandwiches, biscuits or breads to act as a base for these spreads. And secondly, I mentioned pickled fruit in a previous post about nectarines and couldn't wait to try another adventure.

So, I made a brine of cider vinegar, sugar and spices and took care to simmer down the apples. If you look closely you'll see the stems are still on the fruit; this gives a nice little handle for eating the pickles and adds charm. I love charm. Another peculiari…

Canning Peach and Wild Plum Jam

I wish this photo would accurately show the color of the jam, a brilliant shade comparable to the beets you see in the background. Every morning when the sun rays shone on the canned goods this jam stood out as a true beauty-- slightly translucent with floating bits of fruit matter.
But what really makes this jam special is the origin of the fruit, wild plums that my grandparents picked from the old plum bushes at the farm. Those bushes have stood along the canal bank longer than I've been alive, surviving unintended attacks from farm machinery and wild attempts at pruning back the masses. I have fond memories of riding my bike to grandma's house via the canal road and stopping to pick a plum on the way to 4-H Cooking Class. The peaches were a great deal picked up in Willard, UT on the drive home. Memories. Some days when I was going to school in Brigham City I would drive up to the fruit stands just to grab a peach and call it lunch.

Using instructions from the yellow box of …

Home again, Home again.

A trip to Utah to see family? A list of happiness, of course.

Driving the back roads home from Willard.Purchasing an entire *bushel* of peaches. That's roughly 50 pounds. And a 1/2 bushel of tomatoes. Chickens in the yard, eggs in the basket. Lots of hugs and happiness.Grandparents. Old wisdom.Family dinner. All my siblings, nephews, parents and even all my grandparents. 14 people full of love, shepherd's pie, hot rolls, fresh cucumber pickles and tomatoes from the garden.Canning madness.Spiced Crab Apple Pickles (7 pints)Crabby Brine Jelly (4 half pints)Roasted Tomato Passata (27 pints and 12 quarts)Peach and Wild Plum Jam (21 half pints)Halved Peaches in Light Syrup (16 quarts and 13 pints)Mom's Pickled Beets (24 pints)Just Plain Tomatoes (29 pints)Peach Butter (3 pints)Yellow Tomato & Lemon Jam (10 half pints)Green Tomato Refrigerator Pickles (1 quart and 4 pints)Table 1: Table 2: Jumping on the trampoline with my nephews, playing "Chicken and Bugs." One of u…

Canning Plum Jam

The same day nectarines begged to be pickled a few weeks back I overheard some plums at the farmers market asking to be jammed. How could I refuse? The The River Cottage Preserves Handbookhas a very simple recipe (pg. 61 of the American version) that involves cooking down the plums with water and sugar and adding a couple sticks of cinnamon to move it  from a ho-hum fruit preserve to a mouth-watering treat. It wasn't a problem to do both batches in the same day as the pickles were quick and the jam effortless.

With one half-jar leftover that I refrigerated rather than water bath canned, I've been spooning embarrassing amounts over vanilla ice cream. It is delicious. I can't stop. If I'd been smart I would have quadrupled the batch and given it as gifts because it's my favorite. Instead I am hording it all to myself...

PS. Wonder what the floating bits in the jam are? The recipe called to crack the plum pits and remove the seed, adding it to the preserves to provide…