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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

    Wednesday
    Feb292012

    Pear Jelly Candies

     

    • 1 lb ripe pears (Bartlett, D'Anjou, Bosc)
    • 1 cup Chardonnay (or water), divided into 1/2 cup portions
    • 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
    • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for dusting

    1.) Line 8-inch square pan with parchment paper and grease with oil or spray with non-stick spray. Set aside.

    2.) Pour 1/2 cup of wine (or water) into a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

    3. a.) If using a food processor for this recipe, peel pears, using vegetable peeler, then quarter, cut out cores, and add to saucepan. b.) If using a food mill, just chop the pears into large chunks and add pear chunks to wine in pan.

    4.) Bring pears to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook pears for about 15-20 minutes, or until soft, then remove from heat.

    5. a.) If using a food processor for this recipe, let pears cool for a few minutes, then puree pears and any remaining liquid until smooth. b.) If using a food mill, set food mill over a bowl, then spoon pears and any remaining liquid into food mill. Turn crank on food mill until pears are separated from their peel, seeds and cores. Discard or compost any solids that remain in food mill.

    6.) Return pear puree to pan, add sugar and bring to a boil for approximately 10-15 minutes, stirring to dissolve sugar, until mixture is reduced by about 1/3. 

    7.) While pear mixture is reducing, pour 1/2 cup of wine (or water) into a small bowl and sprinkle with gelatin. Stir lightly to mix, then set aside so gelatin can soften. 

    8.) When pear mixture has reduced, add gelatin mixture and stir until smooth. Bring mixture back to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes.

    9.) Pour mixture into prepared pan. Let cool to room temperature. Transfer to refrigerator and chill until set, about 3-4 hours.

    10.) Invert pear mixture onto a work surface (cutting board or a parchment-lined sheet) which has been sprinkled with sugar.

    11.) Use a sharp knife to cut candy into small squares, or use small decorative cutters to cut candy into shapes. 

    12.) Store candies in layers separated by wax or parchment paper in airtight container for up to 2 weeks. You may need to dust with sugar again before serving.

    Step-by-Step Photos

    Wednesday
    Feb292012

    Canned Pear Halves

        Just like Grandma used to make. This is a medium-weight syrup: sweet but not too heavy. I always keep a jar of Canned Bartlett Pear Halves in the fridge, for dressing up a salad or going old school and serving it atop cottage cheese.

       When the pears have all been eaten, I like to drink the remaining ice-cold syrup, which is  infused with the delicate slighlty-floral essence of beautiful Barlett pears. Aaaaahhh.

    Makes ~6 pints  

    • 6 pounds Bartlett Pears (ripe or slightly green; not soft, mushy or bruised)
    • 3 quarts water (divided 2 cups + 1 cup)
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 lemon, for the juice

    Variation: Try tucking a 1" piece of cinnamon stick into each pint jar of pear halves before putting the lids on, or use 100% pineapple juice, white grape juice, or apple juice instead of sugar & water as your syrup solution!

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

    2.) Bring the water in the kettle to a boil while preparing the rest of the recipe.

    3.) Make a large bowl of acidified water by cutting the lemon in half and squeezing the juice into two quarts of water. As you prepare each pear half, you'll place it in this water to keep it from browning.

     

    4.) Prepare pears:

    1. Peel one pear, using a vegetable peeler. 
    2. Cut pear in half.
    3. Scoop the core out of each half using a melon baller.
    4. Trim the stem ends and discard them.
    5. Place pear half into bowl of lemon water. 
    6. Repeat with remaining pears, and set aside.

     

    5.) Prepare the syrup:

    1. Combine remaining quart of water and sugar in a large (5 or 6 quart) pot.
    2. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.

    6.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears from the lemon water to the boiling syrup. Bring to a boil again and cook pears in syrup for 2 minutes.

    7.) Using a canning funnel, pack pears into wide-mouth pint-size jars. 

    8.) When all jars are full, pour the remaining syrup over the pears to cover them, leaving 1/2" headspace in jars.

    9.) Wipe the rims of the jars clean with a slightly-damp paper towel.

    10.) Set lids on jars, and screw rings on finger-tight.

    11.) Place jars on rack in canning kettle or large stockpot, making sure jar tops are covered with at least 1" of hot water. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, bring to a boil and process in a Boiling Water Bath for 20 minutes. Turn off heat, remove lid and let jars rest for 5 minutes in the kettle.

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

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

    14.) If jars lids seal, store them in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

    Helpful tip: Check lids for a proper seal by pressing 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 unsealed. Place unsealed jars in your refrigerator and eat within 3 months, or within one month after opening.

    Thursday
    Jan122012

    Pickled Seckel Pears

        Seckel Pears are tiny pears, with a chubby, round body, small neck, and short stem.  They are green in color, with a soft maroon blush. The smallest of all commercially grown pears, Seckels are exceptionally sweet. So sweet in fact, that the bite-size morsels are sometimes called "sugar pears."

        After pickling, the pears can be eaten right away, but they'll continue to become more flavorful over time. These petite pickled pears taste best when firm, so be sure to eat them within one month. After that the flesh will become softer and might start to discolor. 

       These lightly-spiced pickled pears are a beautiful addition to a cheese plate, and wonderful with roast meats, especially milder meats like chicken and pork. 

    NOTE: This recipe calls for adding the cloves to the brine, but you can stud the pears with them if you'd like and then they'll look like the Seckel pears in my Spiced Pickled Seckel Pears blog post. You will, however, need considerably more whole cloves then is called for in this recipe.

    Makes about 1 quart, depending on the size of the pears

    • 1 1/2 pounds Seckel pears (about 9) 
    • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
    • 1 cup water
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
    • 1 tsp black peppercorns (or mixed peppercorns such as pink, green, white and/or black)
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 star anise 
    • 6 whole cloves

    Note: First prepare canning jars and keep hot until ready to use; prepare lids according to the manufacturer's instructions.

    1.) Wash pears well. You can use a vegetable peeler to peel them if you'd like, but they look very pretty in jars with their peels left on.

    2.) Make a brine in a non-reactive pan by combining the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugars, then reduce to a low heat; just enough to keep it warm while you finish prepping the pears.

    3.) Prick a dozen holes in each pear, so their skins won't crack or burst in the hot brine. No need to make it perfect. Just rotate the pear while quickly poking holes in the surface of the pear, here & there, with a toothpick or skewer.

    4.) Add all of the pears to the hot brine at once. Bring the liquid back to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the pears seem soft when pierced with the tip of a knife.

    5.) Remove the pan of pickled pears from the heat and let them cool. Once cool, gently spoon the pears into a jar and then carefully pour the brine over the top of them. 

    6.) Place a lid on the jar and store it in the refrigerator for up to one month. (They can be processed in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes and then stored in the pantry, but they tend to shrivel up after about one month. They still taste good, but they don't look too pretty!)

    Monday
    Dec122011

    Pear Mincemeat (Vegan-friendly)

    Mincemeat traditionally contains beef and/or beef suet, but this recipe contains neither.

    It uses pears instead of the more traditional apples, and has a few shortcuts to make this an easy project on a weeknight. All of the ingredients are added to one pan and cooked 20-30 minutes until thick. Most mincemeat recipes also contain brandy or other spirits, but you can leave it out if you'd like. The main ingredients that give mincemeat it's festive flavor are still here, like cinnamon, cloves and citrus.

    Use this recipe to make one pie, or for a variety of baking projects, like cookies, tarts and turnovers, or served with cheese & crackers. 

    Makes one big pint (about 18-20 ounces)

    • 4 medium-size unripe pears, cored & chopped (peeling optional)
    • 2 medium or 3 small lemons, zested and juiced
    • 2/3 cup white sugar
    • 2/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup currants (or raisins)
    • 1/3 cup apple cider
    • 1 Tablespoon candied orange peel*, chopped
    • 1 heaping Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice** 
             * Can substitute fresh orange peel

             **IF YOU DO NOT HAVE Pumpkin Pie Spice, add:
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ground ginger (or 1" long piece of fresh ginger root, peeled & chopped)
    • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
    • 1/2 tsp ground allspice 
    • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
    • Optional: 2 Tablespoons brandy

    Note: First prepare canning jars and keep hot until ready to use; prepare lids according to the manufacturer's instructions.

    1.) Place all ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pan. 

    2.) Stir well to combine.

    3.) Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until thick.

     4.) If desired, add a splash of brandy. If you add brandy before cooking, the alcohol will cook out. If you add it at the end of cooking, it will retain more of the booziness.  

    5.) Store mincemeat in the refrigerator for up to 3 months, or in the freezer for 6 months.

     6.) If you'd like to store this in your pantry, spoon the mixture into a pint jar, leaving 1/4" headspace, then remove air bubbles using a chopstick or plastic knife blade.

    7.) Wipe rims spotlessly clean using a slightly-damp paper towel. Place a seal on the jar, and then screw a band on until it's finger-tight.

    8.) Process for 10 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath then turn off heat, and let sit for 5 more minutes. Remove the jars from the kettle using jar-lifter tongs and place on a towel, in a draft-free place, on your kitchen counter.  Let them sit 24 hours before testing for seals and storing for up to one year in a cool, dark place.

    Article & photos: Making Pear Mincemeat and Pear Mincemeat Turnover idea

    Saturday
    Nov122011

    Bosc Pear-Cranberry-Orange Sauce

       For a new twist on traditional Cranberry Sauce, it couldn't be much simpler than this. Once you make this fresh version, you probably won't buy canned or pre-made cranberry sauce ever again. I especially like the way the cranberries crackle & pop as they're cooking!

      I've made the Cranberry~Orange Relish recipe on the back of the bag of some brands of big-name fresh cranberries, but this recipe is much different because it skips the step of chopping the orange peel (yet still has that great orange flavor.) It offers plenty of variations. And it contains pears, which I adore. Oh, one more major difference: this recipe includes cooking the cranberries, which reduces their acidity and results in a smoother consistency -- better for spreading on those post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches. 

      I have plenty of other ideas for using Bosc Pear-Cranberry-Orange Sauce...see below*.

    Makes 3 pints, or 6 half pints

    • 1-12 ounce bag fresh or frozen whole cranberries (~3 cups)
    • 3 fresh pears, cored and chopped, peeling optional (~3 cups)
    • 1-1/2 cup white sugar
    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    Optional, add one or more of the following:

    1 tablespoon raisins or currants, 1 tablespoon orange or lemon zest, 1 tablespoon candied (chopped) orange peel, 1 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger root, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice, pinch of ground cloves

    ~~~~~~~~~

    Note: Prepare canning jars and keep hot until ready to use; prepare lids according to the manufacturer's instructions.

    1.) Rinse cranberries and pick through them, discarding any that look old/shriveled.

    2.) Combine all main ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pan. In other words, don't use an aluminum, copper, or cast iron pan when cooking with high acid foods. If you are using any of the optional ingredients, add them after you have finished mashing (step 4).

    3.) Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

    4.) Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Once the cranberries start to pop, you can mash them a bit with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon, but it isn't necessary. If you want a chunkier sauce, stir but don't mash the mixture.

    Because of the high levels of natural pectin in the cranberries, the sauce thickens quickly once the cranberries skins have started to (audibly) burst. The sauce should be finished cooking within 5 minutes after the cranberries have popped, so be prepared to remove your pan from the heat.

    The cranberry sauce will keep for 3 months in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator, or 6 months in the freezer.

    5.) To process: If you would rather process the jars fro shelf-stability, ladle the sauce into clean hot jars, leaving 1/2" headspace 

    6.) Carefully remove any air bubbles using a chopstick or plastic knife.

    7.) 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".

    8.) 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.

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

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

    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

    *Ideas on how to use Bosc Pear-Cranberry-Orange Sauce in other recipes:

    • Whir in a blender with your favorite vinaigrette recipe to make a sassy salad dressing.
    • Incorporate a bit into a smoothie for extra Vitamin C.
    • Put a dollop on your non-fat yogurt.
    • Spoon over vanilla ice cream.
    • Add a dab to dress up a slice of plain cheesecake.

    Step-by-step photos for Bosc Pear-Cranberry-Orange Sauce

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