Friday, February 26, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 2/26/10

Small Measure has announced the ingredient for March's Can Jam (March Can Jam: Alliums!).
From tender, green scallions, chives, scapes, ramps, and leeks to papery, husky onions, shallots, and garlic, the Allium family is the vegetable world equivalent of the guest who shows up at 6:50 p.m. for the cocktail party that begins at 7:00-by showing up early and as motivated as possible, they get the party started. Alliums are ready for the good times to begin again.
As noted in the announcement, be sure to use a tested recipe or properly acidify your alliums for water bath canning as they aren't acidic enough on their own.

Kevin West discovers the awe-inducing fragrant properties of bergamot a little too late (Bergamot: What Not To Do).
While cutting the fruit, I got an inkling of its strength and added only one of the two [bergamots to six pounds of oranges]. But after the heat of cooking unleashed its full fury, even that one fruit proved to be 99 parts too much. Its intensity burned the lips, and its smell—so alluring in the infinite dilution of eau de cologne—caused me the same panicky, suffocating feeling as do certain industrial cleaning products.
Read the whole thing.

The Paupered Chef hates vodka. It isn't my favorite, but the Paupered Chef despises it. So, when he ended up stuck with a partial bottle of the stuff, he turned it into an infused, or compound gin (Homemade Compound Gin (No Bathtub Required)). The results aren't the equivalent of a high-quality distilled gin, but good enough that the vodka-hating chef may actually buy some vodka just to make more homemade gin. Might I also suggest making some homemade aquavit as well?

Of course, this is only for home use. Unfortunately, according to Grubstreet San Francisco, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is cracking down on housemade infused spirits - tarragon-infused vodka one of the victims (Bars Running Scared as Alcohol Board Cracks Down on Infused Booze). Apparently, the law was meant to prevent bars from increasing the alcohol content of distilled spirits, but is now being interpreted, broadly, to prohibit altering the spirits in any way. Heaven forbid bars make good, interesting drinks.

Anarchy in a Jar alters a blood orange marmalade recipe they posted last year - removing the meyer lemons, since they were overwhelmed by the flavor of the blood oranges (Blood Oranges Zest My World).

Put a Lid on It makes a "real jam" for her honey with strawberries from the market. I'll note that last week was the first time since last season that the strawberries at the market started tasting like strawberries again, instead of pretty, but tart and fairly flavorless berries. Still, being a chef and all, there has to be a twist, and PaLoI turns to a chef's not-so-secret helper, Culinary Artistry. Everyone should have this book. It is an encyclopedia of flavor pairings. Look up an ingredient and the book will let you know what flavors go well with it. From this, PaLoI gets the idea of pairing the strawberries with balsamic vinegar (Strawberry Balsamic Jam).

The sequel, The Flavor Bible, is also a must have. When you want to change up a jam with an additional flavor, consult one (or both) of these books for some flavor ideas. I also use these books to cook from the pantry. When I have an ingredient and I'm not sure what to do with it, I look it up in one of these books and I am usually inspired to make something with it.

The New York Times continues coverage of the tomato bribery scandal - and the details keep getting worse (Bribes Let Tomato Vendor Sell Tainted Food):
In addition, prosecutors say that for years, SK Foods shipped its customers millions of pounds of bulk tomato paste and puree that fell short of basic quality standards — with falsified documentation to mask the problems. Often that meant mold counts so high the sale should have been prohibited under federal law; at other times it involved breaching specifications in the sales contracts, such as acidity levels or the age of the product.

The scope of the tainted shipments was much broader than the bribery scheme, touching more than 55 companies. In some cases, companies detected problems and sent the products back — but in many cases, according to prosecutors, they did not, and the tainted ingredients wound up in food sold to consumers.
The prosecutors say the product wasn't a health risk, but read the whole article. Seriously, read the whole thing.

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