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Dilly Pickled Onion Slices on Punk Domestics

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    I have attempted to share safe preserving methods however you alone are responsible for your health & safety in your own kitchen or location. Be aware of current safety recommendations. Please see "Full Disclaimer" page for suggested preserving resources.

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    International Food Blogger Conference 2011 NOLA

    Sunday
    Dec022012

    Pear Honey

         Even though this is called Pear Honey, there's no honey in this recipe. I'm not sure where it originated, but judging from the number of older people who remember their grandparents making it, I think this recipe goes back a few generations. I believe it's called "honey" because of it's silky-smooth texture and nectar-like taste, but your guess is as good as mine.

        I did quite a bit of research in old cookbooks and on the internet while testing this recipe. All of the recipes called for varying amounts of pears, and always canned pineapple, not fresh. I prefer Bartletts for this, but you could try other pears if you so desire. If you don't want to make such a large batch, cut the recipe in half, using a small pineapple, or half of a large one. 

       While the ingredients list is short and the directions appear simple, this is a real winner. It's amazing to me that with a bit of skill and plenty of heat, 4 common ingredients can be turned into something so lusciously delicious.

    Makes ~12 half pints

    • 6 pounds fresh ripe Bartlett pears (about 12 pears)
    • 1 fresh ripe pineapple (any size works!)
    • 2 fresh lemons, juiced or 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
    • 8 cups sugar

    Note: Prepare canning jars and keep hot until ready to use; prepare lids according to the manufacturer's instructions. (If macerating the fruit & sugar mixture overnight, you will want to wait until the next day to prepare the jars.)

    1.) Peel, core and cut pineapple into chunks, trying to retain as much juice as possible and place chunks and any juice into a large bowl. (I cut chunks on a cutting board with an outer groove that collects the juice.)

    2.) Cut the lemons in half and squeeze their juice over pineapple in bowl. (Or add bottled lemon juice.)

    3.) Peel, core and cut pears into chunks, and add them to the pineapple & lemon juice.  You should have approximately 12-14 cups of chopped fruit. 

    4.) Add sugar to the fruit mixutre, stir well to combine and cover. Let it sit on the counter at least one hour, but preferably 8 hours, or even overnight. The longer it sits, the more juices will be pulled from the fruit, forming a wonderful syrup in the bowl. 

    5.) After letting the mixture sit the desired time, stir mixture together well, scraping any sugar that might have collected on the bottom of the bowl.

    6.) Place pineapple/pear mixture in a heavy-bottomed non-reactive pan (don't use aluminum or cast iron). Bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the fruit from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir the fruit gently while cooking to reduce foaming.

    7.) After about 20 minutes the fruit should be softening and you can use an immersion blender  or potato masher periodically mash the chunks and create a smooth  texture.

    8.) Boil for 5-15 more minutes, stirring, until the jam either thickens to your liking or until it reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. You can also use the sheeting test, as shown in my blog post. (Link at bottom of recipe.)

    9.) Ladle jam into clean hot jars, leaving 1/4" headspace, wipe rims spotlessly clean with a damp paper towel and place a lid on top of jar. Next, screw a band onto the jar until it's "fingertip-tight".

    10.) Process for 10* minutes in a Boiling Water Bath. (Time given is for sea level.)

    11.) Turn kettle off and let jars rest in kettle for 5 more minutes.

    12.) Remove jars from kettle using jar-lifter tongs, and gently set aside to cool on the counter, on a kitchen towel, in a draft-free place. 

    13.) Let rest for 24 hours, then check jars for a proper seal before storing.  

    14.) If jars lid seals it will easily keep for one year in a cool, dark place. If jar doesn't seal, place it in your refrigerator and eat within 3 months, and within one month after opening. 

    Important: Check lids for a proper seal by pressing  down on the middle of the lid with a finger or thumb. If the lid stays down, it is sealed and will easily keep for up to one year in a cool dark place. If the lid springs up when you release your finger, the lid is not properly sealed. 

    *0-1000 ft: process 10 minutes

     1,001-6,000 ft: process 15 minutes

     Above 6,000 ft: process 20 minutes

    *Check lids for a proper seal by pressing  down on the middle of the lid with a finger or thumb. If the lid stays down, it is sealed and will easily keep for up to one year in a cool dark place. If the lid springs up when you release your finger, the lid is not properly sealed. 

     Step-by-step Photos and article about Pear Honey

    Tuesday
    Sep252012

    Apple Pie Preserves

         I grew up in Wenatchee, which bills itself as the "Apple Capital of the World", so apples are near & dear to my heart. One of my favorite things growing up was apple pie, but I don't always have time to make a pie when I get a craving for one so I came up with a solution. I make apple pie-inspired preserves with fresh apples when I DO have a couple hours for a project, then I simply seal it in canning jars. Now apple pie is as close as my pantry. I can enjoy the familiar taste of my Grandma's hot apple pie any time I'd like, either on toast, stirred into plain yogurt, or spread lavishly on pancakes & waffles. Tastes like home to me.

    Makes ~6 half pints

    • 3 pounds fresh tart apples (about 8 or 9 medium apples)
    • 1 lemon, zested and juiced (about 1 TBS zest and 1/3 cup juice) OR 1/3 cup bottled lemon juice
    • 3 cups white sugar
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon 
    • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/8 tsp ground cloves

    Note: When choosing apples, it is best to use a 2:1 ratio ripe fruit to slightly-unripe fruit. The unripe fruit has more natural pectin, which improves gelling. You should have approximately 4 cups ripe fruit and 2 cups unripe fruit.

    1.) Prepare canning jars and keep hot until ready to use; prepare lids according to the manufacturer's instructions. (If macerating the fruit & sugar mixture overnight, you will want to wait until the next day to prepare the jars.)

    2.) Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. (Bigger if you like your preserves chunky, smaller if you like it smoother, like jam.) You should have approximately 8 cups of fruit.

    3.) Combine chopped apples, lemon zest (if using), lemon juice and sugar in a large bowl and stir well to combine.

    4.) Cover and let the mixture sit on the counter at least one hour, but preferably 8 hours, or even overnight. The longer it sits, the more juices will be pulled from the fruit, forming a wonderful syrup in the bowl. If it's warm in your kitchen and you're going to let the mixture sit overnight, consider putting the bowl in the refrigerator so the macerated fruit doesn't begin to ferment. 

    5.) After letting the apple mixture sit the desired time, stir mixture together well, scraping any sugar that might have collected on the bottom of the bowl.

    6.) Place apple mixture in a heavy-bottomed non-reactive pan and add remaining spices.

    7.) Bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the fruit from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir the fruit gently while cooking to reduce foaming.

    8.) After about 10 minutes the fruit should be softening and you can periodically mash the chunks with a potato masher if you want smaller pieces.

    9.) Boil for 5-15 more minutes, stirring, until the jam either thickens to your liking or until it reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. 

    10.) Ladle preserves into clean hot jars leaving 1/4" headpspace.

    11.) Wipe rims spotlessly clean with a damp paper towel and place a lid on top of jar. Next, screw a band onto the jar until it's "fingertip-tight".

    12.) Place jars on rack in boiling water bath canner or large stockpot, and be sure jars are covered with at least 1" of boiling water. You might need to add more HOT water; it helps to have a tea kettle simmering on the back burner for this.
    Never pour cold water over hot glass jars! The jars can crack, break or shatter.

    13.) Cover with a tight-fitting lid, and bring water to a boil.

    14.) Process for 10 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath. Adjust times* for sea level - see chart below.

    15.) Turn kettle off and let jars rest in kettle for 5 more minutes.

    16.) Remove jars from kettle using jar-lifter tongs, and gently set aside to cool on the counter, on a kitchen towel, in a draft-free place. 

    17.) Let rest for 24 hours, then check jars for a proper seal before storing.  

    18.) If jars lid seals it will easily keep for one year in a cool, dark place. If jar doesn't seal, place it in your refrigerator and eat within 3 months, and within one month after opening. 

    Important: Check lids for a proper seal by pressing  down on the middle of the lid with a finger or thumb. If the lid stays down, it is sealed and will easily keep for up to one year in a cool dark place. If the lid springs up when you release your finger, the lid is not properly sealed. 

    *0-1000 ft: process 10 minutes

     1,001-6,000 ft: process 15 minutes

     Above 6,000 ft: process 20 minutes


    Wednesday
    Aug012012

    Apricot~Vanilla Bean Jam

         I'm not sure there's anything better than the way the ingredients in my Apricot~Vanilla Bean Jam come together. Maybe I'm partial because orange is my favorite color, but trust me on this one....if you combine fresh apricots and sugar, plus fresh lemon zest & juice and then, as the final touch add a vanilla bean, you'll have a bright sparkly mixture that smells even better than it looks.
        And the taste? Well it might just be the best thing you ever put on sliced bread (or scones or yogurt or ice cream or oatmeal or....)
        Try it...you'll see.

    Makes ~6 half pints

    • 3 pounds fresh apricots, pitted
    • 1 lemon, zested and juiced (about 1 TBS zest and 1/3 cup juice)
    • 3 cups white sugar
    • 1 vanilla bean* (preferably Singing Dog brand)

    Note: When choosing apricots, it is best to use a 2:1 ratio ripe fruit to slightly-unripe fruit. The unripe fruit has more natural pectin, which improves gelling. You should have approximately 4 cups ripe fruit and 2 cups unripe fruit.

    1.) Prepare canning jars and keep hot until ready to use; prepare lids according to the manufacturer's instructions. (If macerating the fruit & sugar mixture overnight, you will want to wait until the next day to prepare the jars.)

    2.) Cut apricots in half. Remove the pit. Chop apricots into chunks. (Bigger if you like your jam chunky, smaller if you like it smoother.) You should have approximately 6 cups of fruit.

    3.) Combine chopped apricots, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar in a large bowl, stir well to combine then add the vanilla bean. Stir just enough to cover the vanilla bean.

    4.) Cover and let the mixture sit on the counter at least one hour, but preferably 8 hours, or even overnight. The longer it sits, the more juices will be pulled from the fruit, forming a wonderful syrup in the bowl. If it's warm in your kitchen and you're going to let the mixture sit overnight, consider putting the bowl in the refrigerator so the macerated fruit doesn't begin to ferment. 

    5.) After letting the apricot mixture sit the desired time, stir mixture together well, scraping any sugar that might have collected on the bottom of the bowl.

    6.) Place apricot mixture in a heavy-bottomed non-reactive pan.
    At this point you can decide whether or not to split the vanilla bean. If you want to split it, you will need a steady hand and a sharp knife. Remove the vanilla bean from the fruit/sugar mixture and give it a quick rinse. Hold the vanilla bean on a cutting board, and slowly slice it length-wise. Next, scrape the zillions of sticky brown seeds onto a piece of wax paper, then add them back into your jam. Of course you'll have little specks of seeds in your finished jam --  I love that! Throw the split vanilla bean back into the mixture too. Don't worry; if you don't split the vanilla bean, just toss it back into your mixture and continue onto the next step. Your Apricot~Vanilla Bean Jam will still taste fantastic, even without the seeds.

    7.) Bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the fruit from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir the fruit gently while cooking to reduce foaming.

    8.) After about 10 minutes the fruit should be softening and you can periodically mash the chunks with a potato masher if you want smaller pieces.

    9.) Boil for 5-15 more minutes, stirring, until the jam either thickens to your liking or until it reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. 

    10.) Remove vanilla bean* and set aside, then ladle jam into clean hot jars leaving 1/4" headspace.

    11.) Wipe rims spotlessly clean with a damp paper towel and place a lid on top of jar. Next, screw a band onto the jar until it's "fingertip-tight".

    12.) Place jars on rack in Boiling Water Bath Canner or large stockpot, and be sure jars are covered with at least 1" of boiling water. You might need to add more water, using a clean jar or water pitcher.

    13.) Cover with a tight-fitting lid, and bring water to a boil.

    14.) Process for 10 minutes in a Boiling Water BathAdjust times** for sea level - see chart below.

    15.) Turn kettle off and let jars rest in kettle for 5 more minutes.

    16.) Remove jars from kettle using jar-lifter tongs, and gently set aside to cool on the counter, on a kitchen towel, in a draft-free place. 

    17.) Let rest for 24 hours, then check jars for a proper seal before storing.  

    18.) If jars lid seals it will easily keep for one year in a cool, dark place. If jar doesn't seal, place it in your refrigerator and eat within 3 months, and within one month after opening. 

    Important: Check lids for a proper seal by pressing  down on the middle of the lid with a finger or thumb. If the lid stays down, it is sealed and will easily keep for up to one year in a cool dark place. If the lid springs up when you release your finger, the lid is not properly sealed. 

     *When you are finished using the vanilla bean for the recipe (and you didn't split it to remove the tiny seeds already) you can use it again! Rinse it off, let it dry and put it in a big jar full of white sugar. The result? Within a few days you will have Vanilla Sugar, which is something you can buy already made, but why would you when it's so easy to make it yourself? 

    **0-1000 ft: process 10 minutes

     1,001-6,000 ft: process 15 minutes

     Above 6,000 ft: process 20 minutes

     

    Wednesday
    Jun132012

    Bread & Butter-style Pickled Jicama

    Note: I copied this word-for-word from the print-out of the USDA recipe I was given in my MFPC class. It's written a bit differently than my usual recipes, but I thought it was important to note this fact. It is called "Bread-and-Butter Pickled Jicama" in their bulletin.

    The only exception? I added salt, but you can leave it out if you wish.

    The following italicized head-note is my own:

        I've never thought to pickle jicama, but I'm not sure why. I've always like the fresh texture of jicama root, and that very quality is what makes them perfect for pickling. They keep their satisfying crunch, even after being processed in a boiling water bath canner. The classic sweet-tart brine known as Bread & Butter-style is always a hit for family get-togethers and gift-giving, so make extra if you have access to good quality jicama. Serve them like you would any other type of pickle. All you really need to enjoy these tidbits is a toothpick.

    Yield: about 2 pint jars. 

    • 4 2/3 cups jicama, peeled and cubed 
    • 1 cup onion, thinly sliced
    • 1/3 cup red bell pepper, chopped
    • 1 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar (5%) 
    • 1 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2/3 Tablespoon yellow mustard seed
    • 1/3 Tablespoon celery seed
    • 1/3 teaspoon turmeric
    • (1 teaspoon kosher, sea or canning & pickling salt - optional)

    Procedure:

    1.) Wash and rinse canning jars and keep hot until ready to use; prepare lids according to the manufacturer's instructions.

    2.) Combine vinegar, sugar and spices in a 12-quart Dutch oven or large saucepot. Stir and bring to a boil. Stir in prepared jicama, onion slices, and red bell pepper. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

    3.) Fill hot solids into hot pint jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cover with boiling cooking liquid, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel. Apply two-piece metal canning lids and process.

    4.) Process in a Boiling Water Bath Canner according to USDA recommendations*. Let cool, undisturbed, 12-24 hours and check for seals.

    *0-1000 ft: process 15 minutes

    1,001-6,000 ft: process 20 minutes

    Above 6,000 ft: process 25 minutes

    Bread & Butter-style Pickled Jicama blog post


    Friday
    Mar302012

    Spicy Carrot Sticks (refrigerator pickles)

      Since carrots grow well in the Pacific Northwest, they are fairly inexpensive, even the organic ones. I love 'em raw, roasted, sauteed, and creamed in soups, but it seems everyone loves them pickled. These spicy carrot sticks are a snap to make, and since you just store them in the fridge, there's no need to break out the canning kettle. You can make them spicy, or completely omit the chile peppers. They'll still have plenty of zip.
       Try them whole with sandwiches, chopped in salads, or minced in salad dressing & chip dips. 

    Makes 2 pints or one quart

    • 2 pounds carrots, washed. If organic, you can leave the peels on.
    • 2 peeled garlic cloves, whole but ever-so-slightly smashed 
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 2 whole (fresh or dried) small chiles (optional)
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1 tsp black peppercorn 
    • 1 cup vinegar (apple cider, white or rice wine)
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 Tbs sugar
    • 1 Tbs kosher salt 

    1.) Trim stem end from carrots, then cut into pieces about 1 inch shorter than the height of the jar/s. (Depending on the carrots you use, the carrots for pint jars will probably need to be cut in half and the carrots to be packed into a quart jar can be left whole. Make sense?) Save the measured carrot to use as a guide, and cut the rest of the carrots.

    2.) Cut carrots in halves or even quarters length-wise. Carrots can be left whole but they will take longer to absorb brine. If you're handy with a knife, cutting whole carrots into sticks can be tricky, but they will have a dramatic effect when packed into a quart jar! 

    Note: some people find it's easier to pack the carrots as they work, others like to trim all the carrots first, then pack them. It's up to you. 

    3.) To pack the jar, hold the jar mostly horizontal with your non-dominant hand.  First place a few carrot sticks in the jars, then add one bay leaf, one whole garlic clove and if choosing to make these spicy, one whole chile pepper. I like to put them along the side where I can see them, then fill in the rest of the jar with the carrots. Pack the carrots tightly - if you hold the jar upside-down and the carrot sticks stay put, they're tight enough!

    4.) When jar/s is/are packed, add cumin seeds and peppercorns evenly to the jars. 

    5.) In a large pan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring & cooking just long enough to dissolve sugar and salt, then remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Pour over the carrots, covering the contents of the jar by ½ inch.

    6.) Cover with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator for up one month.

    It might take several days for the carrots to begin absorbing the flavors, but I usually can't wait more than a day to start eating them. Whole carrots will take longer to absorb the flavors. If you want them to pickle quicker, cut them into skinny sticks!