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Posts Tagged ‘Canning’

It’s undeniable even here in Southern California, fall is in the air. Though the temperature is nowhere near nippy, there’s a hint of a cool breeze, a different cast to the light, and a particular smell that all come with the changing of the season.

That means that we need to start cleaning up the garden. Some of my trials have punked out — believe it or not the nasturtiums I started from seed never really took off. I blame the crappy soil. I’ll remove the crispy remains and start planning to add lots more organic amendments to my beds in a few weeks.

Once I get things cleaned out, I’ll start thinking about starting seeds for a few cool weather crops. I won’t do many, again because of my heavy clay soil, but I’ll certainly plant lettuce and spinach in some containers. I might even do a small raised bed.

Hints of fall also make me want to preserve a bit of summer to brighten up gloomy winter days. So I’m going to put up some peaches. The easiest way to preserve peaches is to freeze them. Blanch (see recipe below) then peel and slice the peaches, placing slices on a cookie sheet. Put them into the freezer until completely frozen, then transfer into a storage container. (Smaller fruits like blueberries or strawberries can be washed and frozen whole.) Sometime in the depths of winter you are going to be so happy that you can whip up a pie or cobbler with that just-picked summer taste.

Canning is a little more time-consuming but not at all difficult. Most canned fruit recipes are too sweet for my taste, but I just found what seems to be a great recipe in the AARP Magazine that uses fruit juice in place of sugar syrup.

No-sugar Canned Peaches

  • 6 one-quart canning jars with rings and self-sealing lids
  • 11 pounds of ripe peaches
  • 1 package ascorbic or citric acid
  • 2 quarts unsweetened apple or white grape juice
1. Sterilize canning jars and rings by simmering them in hot water for at least 10 minutes. Leave them in the hot water until ready to use. Lids should be in hot, but not boiling water, until ready to use.
2. Mix ascorbic or citric acid with water according to package directions.
3. Boil water in another saucepan to blanch the fruit. Dip fruit, a few at a time, into boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds until skins loosen. Dip quickly into cold water and slip off skins.
4. Cut fruit in half, remove pits and slice. Coat peaches with acid water to prevent darkening. (Acidifying the peaches also helps preserve them. Do not skip this or any other steps.)
5. Pack peach slices in jars, almost to the top. Be sure to leave the top 1/2″ free.
6. Bring the juice to a boil and ladle it over the peaches, leaving 1/2″ of headspace.
7. Make sure there are no big bubbles in the jars. If there are, slip in a knife to release them. Wipe jar rims clean of any bits of fruit or juice. Put lids on and hand-tighten.
8. Process jars in a boiling-water canner with jars covered by 2″ of boiling water for 20 to 25 minutes.
9. Remove jars from canner and allow to cool for 12 hours. You should hear each jar “ping” as it cools and the seal forms.
10. Unscrew rings to make sure jars are sealed. The lids should be firmly attached and slightly indented in the center. (If a jar isn’t sealed properly, you can refrigerate it and eat the peaches within a few days.)
Store in a dark, cool place for up to one year. (Recipe from AARP Magazine with some edits.)
Happy canning!
Just a heads-up — posts might be a little erratic for the next 2 or 3 weeks. My daughter is getting married soon and Mary Beth just started a great job. It’s all good and very exciting, but we’re both a little over the top with things to do.

 

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Tuesday’s second tip!!!

Here I go doing things a little bit backwards again. We’ve been doing canning posts for a few weeks now and even though high season for canning is pretty much over, we thought that it would be nice to provide you with some resources and links to more information about canning.

This idea was prompted by some research I’ve been doing for Catherine who responded to our applesauce canning post with a great question about whether or not it was safe to leave the peels in her applesauce — an issue  I also had been wondering about and that I had a very hard time finding an answer to. (For the answer, kindly provided by the OC Master Food Preservers, click here and look in the comments below the post.)

In my research journey I ran across a lot of really helpful sites that I want to share with you. Mary Beth and I have books that we’d like to recommend as well.

The first place we’d recommend you look for information is in a cookbook. Preserving food is fun, saves money (if not time) and can be creative. But as I’ve said before, there are rules that can’t be broken and they vary depending on what you’re preserving and the method of preservation. Here are our recommendations.

Canning and Preserving Books

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

Preserving Summer’s Bounty

The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving

I found some great information and basic recipes in The Joy of Cooking and there are probably other general cookbooks that include similar information. Just be sure your cookbook is a recent edition. If it’s too old you might be getting outdated information. For instance, it used to be that preserves were topped off with a layer of paraffin wax, but that has since been shown to be an unsafe method.

Canning and Preserving Blogs

Food in Jars

Saving the Season

Put Up or Shut Up!

Tigress in a Jam

Canning and Preserving Info Online

Ball Canning

Cornell University Extension

National Center for Home Food Preservation

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (takes some searching, but they have free downloads with great info)

There’s a lot more on the web, but if you need more (which I can’t imagine, this list alone would take you months to get through) follow the links that are on many of these sites.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, the bulk of most people’s canning and preserving is done by now, but you can preserve food in small batches all year round. As a matter of fact, small batches may be where you have your most fun and can be your most creative. Happy Preserving!

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When we were children, we would go to Connecticut to visit my mother’s parents. Granddaddy Foster was a farmer in his bones and his retirement years were spent perfecting the most beautiful little farm in Ridgefield. On his acre or so of land he grew tons of vegetables and flowers. My very favorite area was a little mini orchard full of fruit trees — mostly apple as I recall.

My grandparents were great “putter-uppers.” They canned all manner of fruits and vegetables, most notably Bread and Butter Pickles and Pink Applesauce. Eating that applesauce was one of the highlights of my visits with them. The pink color came from cooking the apples with the skin on, which is actually the best way to get all of the nutrients from the fruit.

I’m sharing my grandmother’s delicious recipe. It really isn’t all that different from other applesauce recipes that I’ve seen, but to me it’s special because of the memories it brings back.

The only thing I’ve changed is substituting honey for sugar. If your apples are really sweet, you might not even need the honey. I prefer to use organic Macintosh apples, but they are really hard to find and a bit pricey, so I’ve been substituting Fujis which are really good too. You can use any naturally sweet apple. Try combining different types of apples to create your own special mix.

Another tip is to remember that the apples don’t have to be perfect. You can often get a good deal on a bulk buy of less-than-perfect apples at the farmers market if you ask (nicely, of course).

Grandmother Foster’s Pink Applesauce

  • 16 cups of apples, cored and cut into wedges, peels on
  • 1 cup of water (start out with this, you can add more towards the end if necessary)
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons honey, or to taste

Sterilize your jars, bring your canning pot to a boil and put your lids in a small pot to simmer. Place the apples, lemon juice and water in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until the apples are soft.

When apple are nearly done, add the spices and the honey. Cook for a few minutes more.  If you want smooth applesauce and are using a food mill the skins will be left behind in the mill. For immersion blenders or if you want a chunky applesauce, remove the skins while the apples are cooking. Blend for a smooth sauce, or smash the cooked apples with a wooden spoon or potato masher for a chunkier sauce.

After putting the apples through the mill or blending, return the applesauce to a boil and ladle into your prepared jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims completely clean and put on the lids.

Put jars into the hot water bath and process for 15 or 20 minutes — start timing when the water returns to a boil. If you’re at an altitude higher than 1,000 feet above sea level, process 2 extra minutes for each 1,000 feet of altitude.

Remove from hot water bath and listen for the lovely “ping” of the lids as the jars cool and seal themselves.

Leave the jars to cool for 24 hours. Wipe them to remove any sticky traces, remove the rings, and check the seal. Then label the jars and store them in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

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Authors’ note: We’ve really neglected our Honey in the Kitchen section, but we’re about to remedy that by posting our favorite recipes for canning and preserving some of this season’s bounty. We’ll post them in Tuesday’s Tips from time to time and then archive the recipes in Honey in the Kitchen along with tips for canning and preserving.

Mary Beth: My plum tree is overloaded with fruit and some branches look like they’re ready to snap. Every day I’ve been picking almost-ripe plums to prevent them from ripening on the tree in hopes of keeping the bears away.  So far we haven’t had the pleasure (?!) of their company.

My kitchen counters are filled with beautiful plums and I can’t let all this goodness go to waste, so I’m canning plums this week. Today I packed whole fruit in boiling honey water. It’s something I never tried before, but my interest was piqued when my sister sent me a link to the wonderful Food in Jars blog a few weeks ago. There I found a great recipe for whole plums preserved in honey syrup. I put out a Tweet asking for plum recipes last week and I got a response from Hello_Kitty suggesting the recipe from the same blog.

It turned out to be very easy and it’s good way to get my ever-growing pile of plums a reasonable size, although I’ve been doing a pretty good job myself by eating at least 30 plums a day! These little jewels are perfect size to pop in your mouth — so sweet and delicious.

I wish I could tell you what kind of plums they are, but the tree was here when we moved in so I’m not sure — maybe Italian Plums?  Can anyone identify the variety from my picture? Whatever they are they make a delicious treat.

Whole Plums Preserved in Honey Syrup (Recipe from Food in Jars)

1 1/2 cups of honey
4 cups of water, enough plums to fill four quart jars (I used three of my four quarts)
4 cinnamon sticks, a vanilla bean sliced into four pieces or four star anise bits*

In a medium saucepan, combine the honey and water and bring to a boil.

Bring a canning pot or large stock pot to a boil. Put your lids into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Clean canning jars and pack the plums in as tightly as you can. Insert your cinnamon stick, vanilla bean or star anise. Fill jars with honey syrup, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.

Wipe rims to remove all traces of any spilled honey syrup, apply lids and tightened rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 25 minutes (start timing when the pot returns to a boil after the jars have been placed inside).**

When processing time is up, remove the jars to a cutting board or towel-lined countertop (as they cool and seal, they might spit out a bit of sticky syrup, so don’t let them cool on any surface that can’t handle that). Let the jars cool undisturbed for 24 hours.

When jars are completely cool, remove the rings, check the seals and wipe the jars down to remove any sticky residue. Label and store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

*I tweaked the recipe by adding crystallized ginger to a few jar. I added cardamom to another jar. You can probably think of other good flavorings to try.

**I had insomnia the other night and I was reading one of my canning books — Preserving Summer’s Bounty. Good thing or I would have missed an important step for canning in high altitudes!  You must increase the processing time by two minutes for each 1,000 feet above sea level. So if you live 3,000 feet above sea level, process six minutes longer than the recommended time. If you’re at 4,000, then process for eight minutes, etc…

I’m still looking for plum preserve recipes if anybody has a good one. I’ve got lots of plums, so I would like to try a few. If you’d like to share, just add your recipe to the comments.

This week Durango is celebrating Eat Local Week and I’m planning on celebrating by looking for some  fruit and vegetables for canning at the Farmers Market this Saturday. I want to capture a bit of summer in a jar to savor during the coming winters months…burrrr!

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