So, yes, dried fruit. I've just started enjoying dried fruit again (mainly in my morning oatmeal) after years of rejecting those mini raisin boxes everyone hated and my mom's annual giant dried fruit platter she got every year. I bought a package of chili dried mango intended to can with it, only to find my fiancee and I had eaten them all before I picked out a recipe. I was completely, utterly and totally uninspired by this one. I've already made three chutneys this year with mixed results. But I went through the ball book and found this red onion marmalade and thought it looked interesting enough to give it a try.
Thinly slice 1.5 cups of halved red onion. Dice up half a cup of dried cranberries (I used craisins because I hate seasonality. Or I'd rather use what I have than go try to source local dried cranberries in DC). Sautee on medium heat with 1/4 cup brown cider and 1/4 cider vinegar for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
Combine in a large saucepot with 3 cups unsweetened apple juice (I used apple cider) with two tsps orange zest (I used 2 tsps of diced clementine peel since I was out of oranges) and 1 package of pectin mixed with 1/4 cup sugar (the sugar helps keep the pectin from clumping). Bring to a boil, add the remaining 3.75 cups sugar (I used 3 1/3 cups and didn't notice a difference), bring back to a hard boil for one minute (while furiously skimming foam), ladle into hot jars (while NOT burning yourself) and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. Makes 5-6 half pints.
The Verdict: Y'all, I'm not sure I did this right. First, I halved the onion wrong , then I sliced the onions way too thick, so then I ended up pulverizing everything a bit with an immersion blender and then everything floated to the top of the jar once processed. But still, this is quite tasty and will be delightful as an appetizer on bread with some cheese. Like everything I've made for the can jam. Happily, I love to entertain. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to ice my hand.
I sat down this month not sure what to do. The fiancee is allergic to pears and I've eaten almost all of the 30 lbs of apples we picked in October (so much for apple butter). I already made apple chutney, pear sauce seemed like something I wouldn't use, apple jam seemed boring and I just kept coming back to Lelonopo's pear chutney.
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I have to admit, I was positive that I thought this month's can jam was going to be apples. I'd planned on going apple picking anyway and making apple sauce and apple butter and was wondering how I could experiment with it for the jam. When Kaela busted out hot peppers instead, I was a little stuck. I love spicy foods, but I don't particularly make them. The pickled okra I made in September had half a (seeded) scotch bonnet in it and my salsa had jalapenos in it, but that was about the extent of my experimentation. Really, I've had far, far too many bad experiences where I make things using jalapenos or cayenne pepper without gloves and then go to take my contacts out. And it doesn't end well. And EVERY TIME I go back to hot peppers, I think this time will be different and that I just won't touch the peppers. And EVERY TIME I end up with burning fingers. I finally stopped that trend after I made August's salsa and my hands burned afterwards enough that I remembered to buy gloves when we went to Target that night. So I managed to pickle my okra killing myself. But I found myself stumped for this one. Despite my constant making of it, my household is not a jam or chutney house hold, so hot pepper jelly didn't seem like quite the thing. And we certainly weren't pickled pepper people. I made some marinated/pickled peppers last year which I need to throw out because we haven't eaten them because we really haven't liked them.
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I love a good tomato. Last summer, when I imparted on this crazy canstravaganza, we went to my favorite pick your own, Larriland Farms, and came home with 20 pounds of tomatoes, 20 pounds of peaches, 4 pounds of raspberries and 4 pounds of blackberries. And some apples. I came home and canned all of it. Well, most of it. Some became cobbler, sorbet and other immediate deliciousness. But I cracked open my my canning book to the tomato section and immediated canned five pints of diced tomatoes and 6 pints of tomato sauce. The diced tomatoes were gone within 3 months. So, when we visited Larriland two weeks ago, I came home with 42 pounds. I immediately canned 11 quarts of diced tomatoes. I decided to play with the rest.
However, I didn't take a single picture! Don't ask me how or why this happened, but it didn't. The picture above is actually from a miserable failure of a tomato jelly I made.
This is the fresh vegetable salsa from the Ball Book. I did a test batch before I canned this and it turned out pretty well. It's a good, all purpose salsa that works with chips or with cooking, though you may want to add some salt to it. Still, this is pretty delicious and made about 5 and a half 12oz jars. Yum!
Because of the white vinegar, no further acid needs to be added to your jars.
7 cups chopped cored peeled tomatoes
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper
8 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can (6oz) tomato paste
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup loosely packed finely chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened. Add to jars, leaving 1/2" of headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
Can I make a confession? You won't judge me, internet, will you?
I don't like cucumber pickles. There, I said it, I don't like 'em, let the stoning commence!
Perhaps I should amend that to I don't like store-bought cucumber pickles. I just don't like the way they taste. Which is why discovering my love of pickled carrots, beets, kohlrabi, etc.. has been so surprising. It's not the pickling process that I don't like, it's the spices. Which is why I approached this can jam with a heavy editing eye. My fiancee, however, loves pickles and is allergic to melon, so... time to pickle pickles!
Disclaimer the First: Now, there's been some discussion in canvolution about editing/messing around with recipes. Let me just put it like this. Have you put up more than (arbitrarily) 5 recipes? No? Then don't mess around with your recipes. You know what's not fun? Botulism. Once you get an idea of how the process works and how to put things together, then you can start tinkering, but ONLY tinker with spices. (The addition of spices won't alter the pH of your recipe, so you should still be safe) Around here, you can also start working on changing sugar content of recipes, but be warned that sugar is one of the preserving agents and if you use less sugar, it may not last as long/have as good a texture. (I personally would rather eat something quickly than wait 10 months to eat oversweet jam, but that's me)
Disclaimer the Second: Have you noticed that all of my recipes for can jam have included some aspect of 'do as I say, not as I do?' Yeah, me too. I keep ignoring guidelines and then being annoyed when the recipe doesn't turn out as planned. I know, it's crazy talk. Anyway, what I'm saying is that I used the wrong kind of cucumbers to pickle with. Everywhere talks about using small, warty pickling cucumbers. When I was out at my favorite pick your own last weekend picking up plums, beets and blueberries (recipes coming when I have time, really, I swear!), I saw that they have cucumbers for sale in their store, so over I went. The cucumbers were lovely, long smooth cucumbers. Faced with the prospect of buying these or storebought, I bought these. Then I went home and got really into my pickled beets and plum chutney and left the cucumbers in the crisping drawer until yesterday. The sooner you pickle your cukes, the crisper they'll be. So, I haven't had a chance to try these pickles yet (and I won't for a month, stupid mellowing time), but from packing the jars, I know they won't be as crunchy as I like. But such is life and you know, I can always reuse the brine to refrigerator pickle more cukes if I need to.
So, adapted from the Ball Book Grandma's 2-Day Dill Pickle Recipe (halved and added some spices to it), I give you... the pickles.
To start, chop your cukes into spears at about the right size for the jar and deseed. Place your spears in a clean, stainless steel bowl or crock (I used a large saucepot). Dissolve 1/2 cup pickling salt in 4 cups of water and pour over the cucumbers. Add cold water to cover, if necessary. Place a clean, inverted plate on top of the cucumbers and weigh the plate down (I used 2 pint jars filled with water). Let sit in a cool, dry place for 12-18 hours. I did this in the morning and then put it in the fridge while I went to work. I pulled it out after dinner when I was ready to pickle!
(I looked at a lot of different recipes to figure out what I wanted to do - some wanted you to presoak, some didn't. None of them explained why. I decided that since I had the time, I might was well try it. From what I can tell, how the cukes react to water is how they'll react to pickling long term, so soaking now means you don't have to worry about swelling or shrinkage later)
Next, combine 4 cups (filtered) water, 3 cups white vinegar (5% acidity, no botulism please), 1/3 cup pickling salt (or kosher, but NOT table salt), 2 tbsps sugar and 1 tbsp of pickling spice (in a jelly bag, though a reusable teabag also works) in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Discard spice bag.
At the same time, sterilize your pint jars and prepare the lids. I also prepare my spices for each pickle jar here, so when the jars are hot, I don't have to worry about measuring. If you're the same way, divide out 1 tbsp dill seed (or 1 head of dill), 1 tsp mustard seed, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 bay leaf and 2 cloves of garlic (whole) for each pint jar. Admire how pretty it is and take a picture.
Once you're done with your spices, pull out your cucumbers. Drain the brine and rinse the cucumbers well. Then rinse them again. Once your jars are sterilized, pull them out of the water and pack the jars with cucumbers, leaving 1/2" of headspace to the top of the jar. Pack them tightly, now. Like, squeeze 'em in until you can't squeeze any more. Then add your bay leaf and garlic and dump your seeds on top. (I try to get garlic cloves and bay leaves on the side for maximum pretty). Your brine should be ready by now, so discard the spice bag, grab your wide mouth funnel and pour the brine over the pickles, leaving 1/2" of headspace from the top of the jar. Wipe the rims, add your lids, put back in your hot water bath, bring the hot water to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool overnight. Voila! Pickles!
Pickles usually need 3 weeks to a month to mellow before they reach perfection. It's kind of killing me not to be able to try it. (Ditto my pickled beets)
A Note on the Brine - I halved what the recipe called for, which was supposed to be enough for 7 pints. I filled 4 pint jars and made a jar of just pickle brine (I'd sterilized and prepared spices and a lid for a fifth jar just in case, and there is nothing sadder than an unused, simmered canning lid in Christina land) and still had enough left over for probably another jar or two. So while this made 4 jars for me, that's only because I ran out of vegetables. This could easily make 7 well packed pint jars. Just be prepared to have leftover brine is all I'm saying. Either save it for future pickles (you can keep it in your fridge for a few weeks, then reheat to use in further canning), can it for forays into picklebacking or whatever. Also, the red pepper flakes dye it a lovely orangey color, something that didn't happen when I made carrots in February. Iiiinteresting.
Without the Bajigeddy - Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles
small pickling cucumbers (lots)
1/2 cup & 1/3 cup pickling/kosher salt (divided)
8 cups water (divided)
3 cups white vineger
2 tbsps sugar
1 tbsp pickling spice
dill seed or fresh dill heads
red pepper flakes
Wash your cucumbers, trim and cut into appropriately sized spears, deseed and put in a large crock or stainless steel bowl. Dissolve 1/2 cup pickling salt into 4 cups water and pour over cucumbers. Add more cool water to cover if needed. Cover with a clean inverted plate, weigh the plate down (bags/jars of water work well) and keep in a cool place for 12-18 hours.
Combine 4 cups water with 3 cups white vinegar, 1/3 cup pickling salt, 2 tbsps sugar and 1 tbsp pickling spice (in spice bag) in a large pot. Heat over medium-high heat to boiling, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Discard spices. Remove cucumbers bowl, discard water and rinse cucumbers well twice. Pack cucumbers into hot, sterilized jars tightly, leaving 1/2" of headspace to top of jar. Add 1 tbsp dill seed (or 1 fresh head of dill), 1 tsp mustard seed, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 2 cloves garlic and 1 bay leaf per jar. Add hot brine to jars, leaving 1/2" headspace to the top of the rim. Add lid and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
I went a little overboard with this can jam. I'd originally planned to do 3 projects - this juice and a chutney and a jam using the leftover solids from this juice. As it turned out, I had enough rhubarb to do a half batch of the juice and the 2 cups needed for Apple Rhubarb Chutney, so we did that instead. I still have the solids from this hanging out in my fridge, but they've been around the bend and then some. I may mix them into some yogurt this week, but I don't think they're fit to cook with.
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