Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 3/30/10

The Emergency Food Storage Pros explain why a food storage book is a great asset in properly storing enough food for your family in event of emergency (Using a Food Storage Book to Make a Food Storage List). While you may not be interested in storing enough food for your family for a year, the information you can gain from these sorts of books on how to stock and cook out of your pantry is very useful for nearly everyone.

Hot Water Bath takes a more improvisational approach to pantry-filling (Maintaining My Amateur Status).
It wouldn't do at all to set your heart on the peaches only to find out that, this year, you're more gifted in the hot pepper area. Better instead to focus on ideas - maybe you could use more jam or sandwich enhancers or fruits suitable for side dishes. Focusing on concepts allows you to bop and weave with your canning - you'll get your jam, but maybe it'll be blackberry instead of strawberry. Pickles might end up as green cherry tomatoes rather than hamburger dills. See what I mean? Bop and weave right around whatever the garden, the weather or your mood throws at the affair. For my part, I'm focusing on finished items rather than ingredients - salsas over plain tomatoes, brandied fruits over plain berries, for example, things I can use more or less as-is without further massaging after the jar is open.
I couldn't agree more in being flexible and open to possibility when canning.

Speaking of possibility, my friend and fellow Master Food Preserver Delilah Snell made a cameo appearance on an upcoming segment of Good Food, as part of a report on local foraging (New Friends, Old Friends and KCRW's Good Food??). The radio segment came about thanks to a foraging class and cooking demo held at Delilah's shop, the Road Less Traveled Store. There is another class coming on April 25th. Wouldn't some jam or jelly flavored with foraged herbs be perfect for this month's Can Jam? I'll let everyone know when I find out when the show will be broadcast.

Ithaca's Food Web reports on a very interesting sounding widget that allows food preservers to bulk order straight from farmers (New Web Widget Developed in Ithaca will Connect Local Farmers and Home Food Processors).
Harvestation will create an opportunity for farmers to link up with the growing home food processors market using web tools designed specifically for this task. Home food processors require bulk quantities of farm products in order to can, freeze, ferment, dehydrate, and root-cellar food. The harvestation widget will match produce growers and meat producers with food preservers and vice versa.
Sounds pretty darn interesting. This is a tool I'll be following closely.

Finally, some photos of the abundance at last week's Hollywood Farmers' Market:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 3/29/10

Mere hours after I posted my weekly email on making homemade vinegar using "Two Buck Chuck," a cheap an inexpensive, but decent wine, I got the news that some people are suggesting a ~$5 tax per bottle of wine here in California, according to LAist (Initiative to Tax Alcohol Could Bring California Billions — That's Because Your Vodka Will Cost $17 More).
A new initiative that would increase the tax on alcohol was cleared for signature gathering today by the Secretary of State's Office. And it's not a modest tax increase, it's huge. Tax on a six-pack of beer would increase from 6-cents to $6.08. And say goodbye to two-buck chuck--a tax on a 750 ml bottle of wine would go from 4-cents to $5.11
Hopefully they won't get enough signatures to get on the ballot and, if they do, I hope Californians realize what a bad idea this would be, not just for homemade vinegar but for cooking and eating in general.

Know Whey is celebrating sugar making time in the Northeast with a breakfast cake that features two preserved foods: homemade applesauce and yogurt (Sugaring Time: Maple Sugar Applesauce Breakfast Cake). It looks delicious.

I'm wondering if you alter the recipe and substitute in any fruit butter (with a little liquid) in order to alter the flavor and look.

Speaking of breakfast cake, Kevin West reports on the breakfast he makes as a preserver (A Preserver's Breakfast). Here's hoping he feels better soon.

They always say the toughest step is admitting you have a problem, and it appears as if Hitchhiking to Heaven has taken that step (I Need a Canning Intervention).
This will be my first time entering anything in the [Marin County] fair and I'm kind of spazzed out about it. I'm pretty well set in most of the categories I want to enter: I have three marmalades, three jams, and a conserve, which are the things I do best -- and you'd think that would be plenty. Except I got it in my head that I want a jelly. One really nice jelly.
H2H is having a few problems with the jelling point. This isn't an uncommon problem, especially when you are working with new recipes. Experience really helps, so just keep at it!

And a reminder for my local readers - don't forget to get ready to enter preserving judging at the LA County Fair (Time to Prepare for the Oscars of Food Preservation - Weekly Email).

The Waterbury, CT Republican American profiles Tom Wallace, a local gardener/canner (A Year-Round Gardener Cans It in Seymour).
Last year, the Wallaces canned 237 quarts, 220 pints and 57 half-pints. Since 2000, they have canned 4,336 jars. He stores them in his basement, except the peppers, which he keeps in the freezer.
I'm such a slacker.

The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports on a "Spring Gleaning" (Spring Gleaning: An Evening of Hope and Bounty).
Spring Gleaning was an inspiring event held Sun., Mar. 21, 2010. Hosted by Slow Food, Slow Harvest, Farm to Pantry and Susan and Lou Preston, it was a celebration and collaboration of sustainable farming, gleaning, canning, caring and community
Sounds like a cool idea.

Finally, Nelson's Home Canning Tips makes some loquat jam (Loquat Jam). Loquats are coming into season in Southern California. They are rarely seen in the markets, because they go bad so quickly and don't travel well. They are sometimes seen in the farmers markets, but not often.

Of course, if you live in LA, you've probably seen an incredibly fecund tree or two in the neighborhood. Enjoy the fruit fresh, but preserving them is the only way to enjoy them outside that two or three week window. More on the loquat in a later post.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sour Wine - Vinegar - Weekly Email


As of last Sunday, spring is officially here. And although we are dealing with our usual morning overcast, it is neither too hot, nor too cold - great for a nice walk (fantastic wildflowers right now) or working outside. And it is a good thing too, since it it time to plant those tomatoes! Don't forget to plant some extra for canning next August.

I was so busy planting last week (among other things) that I couldn't get to the weekly email. Sorry.

A quick announcement:

We do have some local food preservation classes scheduled in April. Not by yours truly, but local chefs and artisans.

Certified Master Food Preserver trainee Kevin West and Valerie Gordon of Valerie's Confections will be holding a class on sweet and piquant preserving (jams and pickling):

The sustainable supperclub Chicks with Knives will also be holding a pickling class:

Now, when I think spring, I think fresh spring greens. When I think fresh spring greens, I think salad. The thought of salad leads to thoughts of vinaigrette. Vinaigrette --> vinegar. Time to refresh my vinegar stocks!

Making your own vinegar couldn't be easier or result in higher quality than you can get in the average store.

Preservation Link Roundup 3/27/10

Food in Jars announces the Can Jam for April: Herbs (April Can Jam: Herbs!). With a few exceptions (herb jellies are the only one I can think of off hand), herbs are supporting flavors in pickles and preserves. The possibilities are infinite. I look forward to seeing some awesome flavor combinations I would never have thought of.

What Julia Ate has been saving the pith of her citrus peels for some time ... enough time to gather 2 1/2 pounds of pith. What does she do with it? Turn it into pectin for a jelly (it is the jelly-rific WJA, after all) (Strawberry and Orange Pectin Jelly). Most excellent, with some good lessons learned on making your own pectin.
There's a definite orange taste to the jelly, and a slight but noticeable bitter bite. But it's not overpowering at all. The set is firm and jammy, and it's not crystal clear even though I strained the pectin twice. The puree was dark and opaque, admittedly. I wonder if I stuck to pith only, or left out the pits, or peels, what the outcome would be.
The LA Times' Market Watch report by fruit detective David Karp spends some time at the Corona del Mar Farmers' Market (Market Watch: Corona del Mar Farmers Market is Small but Mighty). I haven't been to that market, but I'm intrigued by this description of a citrus:
Low acidity is not a defect in the fruit that Eli's Farm of De Luz is marketing, rather inventively, as "strawberry oranges." These are naturally acidless sweet oranges that have an odd mild flavor reminiscent of orange Creamsicle. Other farms also give this variety made-up names such as "mango orange," perhaps because its proper name, Vaniglia Sanguigno ("Vanilla Blood" in Italian), is a bit of a mouthful. It's not really a blood orange, anyway, since instead of being pigmented red with anthocyanins, like Moros and Taroccos, it derives its pink from lycopene, which colors pink grapefruit and tomatoes.
The Kitchn has a seasonal preparation for sauerkraut, the traditional Polish Easter dish Hunter's Stew or bigos, "a hearty stew filled with smoky sausage, tangy sauerkraut, and plenty of garlic" (Easter Diner: Make Bigos!).

Anarchy in a Jar is getting inspiration from cocktails nowadays - riffing off their flavor profiles. One experiment in the works is a pear-based version of an Aviation (Aviation Pickled Pears). Makes me want to run out and buy a bottle of crème de violette myself.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has an article on eating sustainably through the winter. Two of the recommendations incorporate two types of food preservation: Freezing and Canning (Eating Sustainably All Winter).
Go frozen – Yes, a freezer does use energy, but likely, you have a freezer already pulling power as part of your fridge. If you are ambitious in the summer and fall, freeze fruits and veggies from the Farmers Market when they are fresh. Or buy U.S. grown or better yet, locally-grown organic frozen produce to get you through the winter. Frozen goods are nutritious because they are picked and frozen at their seasonal best.

Have a canning party – Proper storage can ensure that fruits and vegetables will last through the winter months allowing you to take advantage of local goods when they are in season and inexpensive. Canning with family, friend or neighbors is a fun activity and many hands make it possible to can a winter’s worth in a weekend.
Healthy Green Kitchen made some lovely three-citrus marmalade, but is afraid to can it (Marmalade and My Fear of Canning). Does anyone have any suggestions for her to get over her fear of canning?

Finally, Prepared, Not Scared has a recipe for canning shepherd's pie (Preserve It ... Canning Corner: A Jar of Shepherd's Pie). You don't actually can the whole pie; the mashed potatoes and cheese are made just before the pie is baked. It is the ground meat filling that is canned. Sounds like some wonderfully convenient comfort food to me.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Slate on Fresh Food - Doesn't Quite Get the Point, Again

Once again, Slate has an article that touches on food preservation (Not So Fresh). In this case, the point of the article is to defend preserved foods from the recent emphasis on fresh and local food.
Take a close look at the policy approaches listed above—farm-to-school programs, foodstamp discounts at green markets, and tax credits for grocery produce sections—each one is designed in large part to improve access to fresh produce. Not just any old produce, but fresh produce—unprocessed, uncooked, and untarnished by industrial machinery. School cafeterias already have frozen carrots and canned peaches. Our kids need fresh, fresh, fresh!

This strategy may seem unobjectionable. Why challenge this devotion to plants just tugged from the warm soil? A single-minded focus on fresh produce distracts us from the bigger problem: Our children are suffering from a lack of any fruits or vegetables whatsoever. Canned, frozen, dried, juiced—anything would help
Well, I agree that preserved foods shouldn't be dissed and should be an important part of our diet. Nevertheless, I understand the emphasis on fresh food.

Nutritionally, preserved foods can be as good as (in most cases) fresh foods and, occasionally, better. So, yeah, we don't need things to be fresh in order for them to be nutritious. Heck, I'm a promoter of (home) preserved foods.

But that isn't really the point of fresh and local. First, fresh usually means unprocessed, which means that real cooking must take place. Cooking is a real key to eating better and more healthy. Learning to cook is a key benefit of fresh. Sure, you can learn to cook with frozen and canned foods, but you learn more by starting from scratch. Once you've learned to cook from fresh, then you are much better equipped to incorporate some processed foods in your meal.

Second, wherever they sell even minimally processed foods, they also sell ultra-processed foods. One of the advantages of encouraging people to shop in farmers' markets is that it keeps them out of the supermarkets where the temptations of industrially processed foods are too great. You can't buy a frozen pizza in any of the farmers markets I've ever been to.

Even within a supermarket, more time and money spent in the produce section means less time and money spent on processed foods. Sure, some of minimally processed foods are a good deal, but too often they are also right next to the ultra-processed foods that, while inexpensive, are not so good from a nutrition point of view.

Third, while processed foods are more convenient, you can take that argument too far, and we have. After all, fast food is the ultimate in convenience and we've seen how well that has worked out. The emphasis on "food deserts" is an attempt to somewhat level the convenience playing field a bit. Fast food and heavily processed foods are conveniently available even in the poorest neighborhoods. Food that you actually have to cook - not so much. So not only does home cooking have an inherent inconvenience factor (you actually have to cook), but access is inconvenient as well.

Fourth, although preserved foods may lead to less wastage, sitting on a shelf for years isn't that great an improvement over the status quo. What is important is knowing how to stock a pantry (fresh and preserved) and how to cook out of one. If you know how to cook, then much less goes to waste. Most of my cooking is actually figuring out how to put what I've already got to use - bits and pieces of this and that, combined into soups, hashes, frittatas and other leftover classics. I am efficient at this because I know how to cook. So, it comes down to cooking again.

Fifth, fresh connects us closer to where our food comes from. Community gardens and farmers markets are excellent examples, but even simple, fresh produce ties us closer to the origins of our food than a can or a waxed frozen carton (not to mention ultra-processed foods). Although the author of the Slate article complains that we are confusing nutrition and culture, that is sort of the point. Preparing and eating food is, inevitably, a social act. Food is a huge part of our, of every, culture.

The more we rely on industrially processed foods, the more we undermine our connection to the social and cultural elements that kept human beings on a healthy diet for thousands of years. Frozen and canned food is less than 150 years old. Our social and cultural relations to food were built on fresh, not processed. Although processed foods have become part of our culture, we've gone a little bit overboard and an emphasis on fresh is a welcome corrective.

Sixth, and finally, as a promoter of home food preservation, you need to start with fresh in order to preserve in the home. So, let's bring preserved foods into the pantry, but let's also learn how to make them ourselves. I use plenty of commercially preserved foods in my cooking. But it is my cooking, and I know how to preserve many of the foods myself. Knowing how to preserve fresh, makes me more efficient at using the fresh as well as the preserved results.

So, yeah, I think that Michelle Obama should invite me (or any food preserver) into the White House Garden to demonstrate some old-school food preservation techniques. But that doesn't mean I think the emphasis on fresh is wrong.

You can go overboard with the emphasis on fresh, true, but the pendulum is a long way away from going to far in the other direction.

What the emphasis on fresh needs is an equal emphasis on cooking. I think it is sort of assumed sometimes, but it needs to be more explicit.

Preservation Link Roundup 3/26/10

Sharon Astyk, author of Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Preservation and Storage, will be hosting an online course in food preservation starting April 15th (Food Storage and Preservation Class!). The cost is $150 (there are some scholarships) and you can pay with barter.

The New York Times Fashion & Style section provides yet another article on the growing popularity of kombucha (A Strange Brew May Be a Good Thing). Although you can buy kombucha more readily, making it is so inexpensive, costing nothing more than brewing tea with a little sugar and having some patience.

Food Forward, a group that gleans or harvests otherwise unused fruit in Los Angeles, reports that they're "Can It" initiative has its first product - preserved meyer lemons (CAN IT’s! First Vintage is here).

If you recall, about a week ago Put a Lid On It pickled some beets - but not simply for the beets, but so that the beet brine could subsequently used to make pickled eggs. Well, now the pickled eggs are ready (Pennsylvania Pickled Easter Eggs). Looks like a great recipe. I'll be writing more on pickled eggs next week.

The Pickle Blog from Rick's Picks (an artisan pickle maker in NYC) has an interesting book to read, Pickled Potted and Canned, a history of food preservation (Pickled, Potted and Canned). I look forward to Rick's forthcoming review, but it is definitely going on my wish list right away.

This is cool. The LAist reports that urban farming has taken a big step towards legality in Los Angeles (Fruit & Flowers Go Legit: Ordinance on Urban Farming Approved). What this means is that (hopefully) soon small-scale urban farmers will be able to legally sell their produce and flowers in Los Angeles. This can only be good for food preservation.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 3/25/10

The New York Times is starting a new series on certain "power" ingredients (Making a Foreign Staple Work Back Home).
This is only one of the many potent flavor boosters that can be appropriated from relatively unfamiliar cuisines. Over the next few months, we’ll check out a number of them, exploring how they are used traditionally and how they can be slipped into your daily cooking. The more you use them, the more uses you’ll find for them.

In other words, we’re going to exercise a little benign culinary imperialism, appropriating ingredients and adding them to our larder. No one gets hurt, and dinner becomes more interesting.
The first ingredient they note is pomegranate molasses, a thick syrup of pomegranates with some sugar and lemon. This versatile stuff you can make and can at home, if you access to a pomegranate tree. Last year I made and canned grenadine, which is basically a less-reduced version of pomegranate molasses.

As a matter of fact, I broke out a pint of my grenadine to make "pink" lemonade (lemons from my backyard tree) last night.

Know Whey has had a number of good food preservation posts over the past week or so.

Last fall, KW purchased a beautiful hand-thrown pickling crock. I have one of the same design, but from Germany. They're relatively expensive, but well-designed for their job. To justify the expense, though, they've been making a lot of sauerkraut (Sauerkraut and Vermont Choucroute Garni).

When you have sauerkraut a classic preparation from Alsace is choucroute garni. "Choucroute" is a Francophile version of the German word "sauerkraut." The dish is usually a braised sauerkraut served with various sausages and/or cured meats. WK recommends a good Riesling with the dish, but look for a dry one, which is more typical of the style of Alsace.

Bonus: they provide a homemade sausage recipe for the dish.

KW also has a recipe for Seville Orange Marmalade that is very similar to Kevin West's (Marmalade). There are some excellent photos of the process.

Technically, apparently, if you make a clafoutis with anything other than cherries, it is called a flaugnarde. KW passes along that tidbit of information, as well as a recipe for using frozen blackberries and her home canned peaches in a flaugnarde (Almost Spring: Peach and Blackberry Clafouti). What a great idea for using all sorts of home canned fruit.

The Kitchn uses Weck canning jars for dry storage. What is really interesting is that they use a white indelible ink marker to label the jars which, if you have good penmanship, looks like a pretty cool way to label jars in general (Pantry Style: Weck Canning Jars and a White Pen). The only problem?
The ink can easily be removed, but only by using solvent based removers (like nail polish remover) or by carefully scraping with a razor blade, both which require extra caution.
Food in Jars is inspired by the Passover Seder to make a jam based on the traditional dish, charoset (Charoses Inspired Jam for Passover). Brilliant! Sounds delicious!

There is some discussion as to whether this is a jam or conserve but, since charoset can contain various dried fruits, add some and you're definitely in conserve world.

The LA Weekly's food blog Squid Ink keeps you up-to-date on what is in season in Southern California in their Farmers Market Report. This week, the focus is on sorrel (What's in Season at the Farmers' Markets: Sorrel). Although the article focuses on sorrel's use as a leafy green, it is also frequently used as a flavoring herb. Sorrel jelly, anyone? It will lose some of its flavor when heated, but it has an affinity for grapes and mustard, and would certainly be good as a flavoring for vinegar. Taste some and consider some of the other flavors it would pair well with or enhance.

Speaking of flavored vinegars, the EpiLog fears canning, but will happily preserve the flavor of tarragon in vinegar (Flavored Vinegar: Saving Tarragon In A Bottle).

Need a t-shirt to show off pride in your canning? How about this one from JP Harris' shop on Etsy (YES WE CAN - Just Food - Green Print on Natural Organic Tee)? via The Kitchn

The Penny Pantry - "Recapturing the Old Fashion Art of Pantry Building While Drastically Reducing Your Grocery Bill!" - discusses growing and canning your own greenbeans (Canning Greenbeans in the Garden). Greenbeans alone must be pressure canned, but pickled dilly beans are always popular and can be waterbath canned.

Local Kitchen continues her exploration into canning pumpkin preserves (not recommended by the USDA) by trying a recipe from the lauded Mes Confitures (Christine Ferber’s Pumpkin Jam with Vanilla Bean). Not only is she disappointed in the tooth-achingly sweet results, the error in the recipe translation (700g ≠ 2.25lbs), and the recommended non-processing, and the fact that the acidity level is questionable (read her analysis). The USDA recommendations are conservative, of course, but do you really want non-conservative rules where potential botulism is involved?

Anarchy in a Jar is experimenting with apple jelly flavored by juniper berries (Apple Jelly with Juniper Berries). We'll have to wait to hear the results.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 3/24/10

Tigress in a Pickle provides the full roundup for the March Can Jam (Can Jam March Round-Up: Allium). A must read, but that pun "can i officially change the name to all-yums?", ouch. ;-)

Keep an eye on Food in Jars for the secret ingredient for April's Can Jam.

All Types of Cooking, and a Whole Lot of Canning Here! explains how easy it is to pressure can chicken (Chicken Breast). Yep! Jane chooses chicken breast because they prefer it. I prefer legs and thighs myself (dark meat is more flavorful, IMHO), but when I can chicken I use breast. White meat seems to can better: less fat and looks better in the jar. Probably that is why you usually see "white meat" in commercially canned chicken.

Big Black Dogs makes a classic flavor combination for a spicy pepper jelly (Savory Cheddar and Pepper Jelly Cookies). There are other ways to go as well. Instead of just flour, use a cornmeal based cheddar cookie. I've made spicy jelly tarts, with a cheesy tart crust - you get a higher jelly-to-crust ratio. Or match the cheese and jelly inside a mini-turnover. There are many, many options for this flavor pairing.

What about a cornmeal cake with pepper jelly filling? It would be an interesting alternative take on a Victoria Sponge (aka Victoria Sandwich), which is a two-layer sponge cake separated by jam. The Atlantic Food Channel provides history, background and recipe for this classic tea cake (Victorian England: Age of War, Politics, and Cake).

In another post related to using home preserved foods Cold Cereal and Toast makes another classic: applesauce cookies (Baking Gems: Applesauce Cookies). Apple sauce is one of those things that should really be a pantry staple as it can be used in numerous sweet and/or savory recipes as well as in baking. And compared to things like marmalades, it is very, very easy to make and can.

Farm to Table has an excellent post on the great health benefits of nettles (Stinging Nettles are Good for You). One thing I didn't know before reading this article was that nettles could be dehydrated.
You can also dry the nettle for tea or tinctures either by hanging bunches of it upside down in a cool, dry place, or by using your dehydrator. Either way, wash the leaves right after harvesting.

If dehydrating, remove the leaves from the stem. Allow the leaves to air dry for about 30 minutes or pat dry with paper towel. Place the leaves in a dehydrator, spreading them out on the rack in single rows, making sure to not pile the leaves on top of each other. Keep enough space between each leaf so there is good air circulation.

Dehydrate for 8 to 10 hours or until the leaves are completely dry (to avoid mold). If necessary, rotate the tray a few times through out dehydrating. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Hmmm, nettle tea. Sounds good to me.

Two great posts yesterday on making labels for your jars.

Wendolonia made some Lemon Ginger Marmalade and some very impressive labels to go with it. Now she has generously shared the template for download - and in three color combinations - excellent for orange, lime or lemon-based preserves (Printable Marmalade Canning Labels).

Hitchiking to Heaven gives step-by-step instructions for how she makes some simply beautiful labels (Easy DIY Canning Labels). I'd never thought of using stamps on labels before. What a brilliant idea. She also uses a color wash to add more interest. Again, gorgeous.

Thanks to both for providing their labeling info.

The Kitchn links to a Princeton study that High Fructose Corn Syrup is more likely to cause obesity than regular sugar (Scientists Finally Prove High Fructose Corn Syrup Risks). All the more reason to cook at home and preserve your own foods. Although jams and jellies shouldn't be a major part of one's diet, many commercial versions contain HFCS, while home preserved ones generally don't. The same goes for such things as bread-and-butter pickles and similar. Every little bit helps.

Molecular gastronomy might not be for everyone, but I find the concept of perfect, relatively labor-free citrus supremes quite intriguing. The mad cooking scientists of Cooking Issues use enzymes to remove the pith from citrus, leaving perfect supremes behind, as well as pith-free skin (Enzymatic Peeling? Hell Yes!).

And, finally, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal picks a canner as their cook of the week (Tupelo, Mississippi, Cook of the Week: Mantachie Mother Makes Time in Busy Day to Preserve).
"Canning and putting up vegetables is my passion," said Moore, who works in the central billing office for North Mississippi Medical Clinics. "I just love looking at them."

Last year, the 45-year-old put up pepper jelly, hotdog slaw, muscadine jelly, raspberry fig preserves, blueberry syrup, canned tomatoes, canned green beans, tomato relish, pear preserves, banana peppers, apple butter and canned okra.
Wow. I'm such a slacker.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 3/23/10

Regrettably, marmalade canning season is past its peak. Though there is still great citrus in the markets, many of my favorite citruses are on the wane. The LA Times' Market Watch report by fruit detective David Karp can help you figure out which fruit is still good and which is not quite what it was just a couple of weeks ago (Market Watch: When Citrus is Past its Prime).

Of course, just because a fruit is a bit overmature doesn't mean it won't still make a great preserve. In fact, such fruit may be better in a preserve than for eating out of hand. Ideally, you want perfectly ripe fruit for preserving, but if the choice is whether an overmature fruit should be eaten out of hand or preserved, preserving might be the answer.

Be assured though, that while some citrus is making its exit from the farmers markets, some citrus is just hitting its own peak. The Kitchn notes the wonderful (grapefruit or pomelo)/tangerine hybrid tangelos that are in markets right now (Farmers' Market Report: Tangelos).

Master Food Preserver candidate Kevin West and artisan preserve maker Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections will be doing a series of preserving classes starting in April (Sign Up for Private Preserving Lessons!). Space is limited, so sign up now.

Can't get to the class? Try some self-instruction as Kevin also shares his favorite recipe for Seville Orange Marmalade (Recipe: Seville Orange Marmalade).

If you're looking for a more difficult marmalade recipe Leite's Culinaria has a recipe for blood orange marmalade from Mes Confitures (Blood Orange Marmalade). Blood oranges are reaching their peak of color about now, so they are a good choice for a spectacularly colored marmalade.

My friend Rachael Narins of the sustainable, private supper club Chicks with Knives is also holding some classes, one on pickling and the other on basic knife skills on April 17th (Cooking Classes).
If you have ever attended a CWK dinner, you know we love anything pickled. Join us for this event and learn to make your own! We will start with a brief lecture on the different types of preserving methods, equipment and safety. We will learn to make quick, brined and fermented pickles using seasonal, farmers market ingredients to create several treats for you to try. At the end of the class you will have samples to take home, along with some basic tools, ingredients and equipment.
Yummy Supper makes dandelion jelly (Dandelion Jelly). If a flower is edible, you can make jelly from it and capture that floral essence in a jar. Just be careful, however, since even if a flower is edible, the rest of the plant may not be.

Chickens in the Road is giving away a copy of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving (Ball Blue Book Giveaway). Post a comment for the chance to win.

Rurally Screwed was having some difficulty getting good flavor from pickled eggplant (What is Up with Pickling Eggplant???).
The other day I made eight different versions of pickled eggplant, trying to find one worthy of the canning cookbook I’m writing with Brooklyn chef Kelly Geary. And the consensus was that all eight versions more or less sucked. That’s right, I’m touting myself as a canning pro and my pickled eggplant was no good. You won’t find any of these recipes in the cookbook, that’s for sure.
But pickle and all-around preserving guru Linda Ziedrich stepped in to comment on the difficulties of pickling eggplant. The result? A delicious garnish or addition to salads (Pickled Eggplant Postscript).

The National Center for Home Food Preservation has only one recommendation for canning pumpkin: cubed in a pressure canner (Resources for Home Preserving Pumpkins). Local Kitchen set out to prove to herself that at least some canning recipes featuring pumpkins are safe (Pumpkin Cascabel Marmalade).

Obviously, I can't say that this recipe is safe, but I do think that LK's analysis is interesting, informative and well worth reading. There are some tests that can be done with the resulting marmalade, for example, puréeing the canned marmalade in a couple of weeks and checking the pH level. Of course, I would be interested in seeing what data the NCHFP based their analysis on as well; to see if LK is missing anything in her analysis.

Smoking cheese isn't really about food preservation. But, if you already have a smoker for preservation, smoking cheese is a great way to add flavor to all sorts of things. Savory TV demonstrates this with a recipe for (Smoked Cheddar Grits). I smoke a lot of cheese: pepper jack, cheddar, gouda, mozzarella, etc. Anywhere you would normally use cheese, substitute in some smoked cheese and you've got some amazing flavor.

Nearing the last of the March Can Jam:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 3/22/10

Yeah! We will soon have another Master Food Preserver in Los Angeles County! Kevin West of Saving the Season is making the long commute to San Bernardino every week in order to complete the Master Food Preserver certification course, which is only offered in three California Counties, two up North and one in SB (MFP). Yet another step closer to reviving the program here in Los Angeles.

Serious Eats highlights a video from Food Curated (highly recommended web series) about an artisan maker of "bacon marmalade" (Bacon Marmalade, from 'Food Curated'). The idea is very interesting and I know people who are making bacon jams. However, I am uncertain of the safety of canning such recipes, as opposed to merely refrigerating them. I was surprised that, near the end of the video (5:56), the artisan was shown merely screwing on the 1-piece lid for the jar with no processing at all. Perhaps there was processing that was not shown, but it is certainly not clear whether they were processed or not.

Wow, hasn't What Julia Ate been busy? She has a new flock of chickens, and still had time to stuff a trout with some tangelo lemongrass jelly which was accompanied by homemade ricotta cheese (a wonderful way to preserve milk) (Trout with Vegetable Hash and Fresh Ricotta Cheese). Wonderful choice. Lemon-y jellies of all sorts (I made a lemon/lemongrass jelly last year) go wonderfully with fish (and chicken). Stuff, as Julia did, use as a glaze, or an accompaniment.

Wendolonia is very happy with the results of her "easy" lemon ginger marmalade - easy because it uses powdered pectin (Actually Easy Lemon Ginger Marmalade). That is one of my very favorite flavor combinations (try it in lemonade). There are a lot of fish dishes this would pair well with.

As you may recall, last week Well Preserved dehydrated some beets, onions and celery root. This week, they used the dried onion and some other homemade spices as a rub for ribs (Homemade Ribs – Preserved Dry Rub Included…). Quite a bit more satisfying (and flavorful) than buying one of those stale rubs at the store.

Ground spices, because they have so much surface area, lose their flavor much faster than whole spices. Since a rub is usually mostly ground spices, depending on how long they've stayed in a distribution center or store, commercial dry rubs are often much less flavorful than a freshly ground one made at home. Try it yourself and see the difference.

Just last week I was noting the beautiful rhubarb in the local farmers markets. Hitchhiking to Heaven makes the first rhubarb preserve of the season that I'm aware of (Rhubarb, Pear, and Vanilla Jam). She also explains a little bit about substituting Pomona's Pectin into the recipe.

If you haven't tried rhubarb yet, the simplest thing in the world is to grab a stalk (only! the leaves contain dangerous oxalic acid), dip the end into some sugar and bite. The original sweet and tart. Brown sugar is also an option, or get fancy and dip it into vanilla sugar - makes an elegant, yet simple and fun dessert at your next dinner party.

A few days ago Eugenia Bone shared her recipe for pickled fennel. Now she shares two recipes for using it (Two Recipes that use Pickled Fennel). Use these recipes as inspiration for some of the things you can do with any sort of pickle.

I've been pretty harsh on Slate recently, but they published a good article on a story I've posted about a couple of times here, in this case the ongoing canned tomato scandal (Rotten Tomatoes: Scandal Strikes the Tomato-Paste Industry). The article is the best I've seen yet on the structure of the tomato industry, a brief history and how the scandal fits into all of it. Read the whole thing.

Here is a somewhat lengthy response (for a blog post) to that Slate article I disliked so much from the Ethicurian (Yes We Can ... and We Relish It!). Wow, two puns in a single title. The article is a great description of Preserving Traditions:
Preserving Traditions was begun in February, 2009 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as a way to keep alive (and re-teach) "traditional" foodways, including preserving and cooking food from scratch.
Very cool.

What is it with knitting and canning? Detroit Knitter made Jalapeño Apple Spread on St. Patrick's Day. - which is what most would call jelly (Jalapeño Apple Spread).

More March Can Jam:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 3/21/10

The March Can Jam entries came fast and furious as the deadline loomed.

Nina Corbett, of Puts Up, was looking for ramps with no success when she was inspired by a wide variety of farmers' market produce (Rhubarb Fennel Chutney).

I actually spoke with an award-winning home canner (Los Angeles County Fair, natch) today who was looking unsuccessfully for some ramps to pickle. I suggested he try some green garlic instead.

Inspired by pickling guru Linda Ziedrich, Food in Jars makes a "bread and butter"-like onion pickle (Can Jam: Sweet and Sour Pickled Red Onions).

Oh, Briggsy... makes a Salsa Criolla, a traditional Peruvian condiment (March Can Jam: Salsa Criolla). Read the whole post for the meandering path she took to the recipe she choose. She also makes the following point:
It’s kind of like a simple red onion in vinegar, which I almost made but thought would be anticlimactic, but the ante is really upped by the lime and cilantro, which makes these pickled onions different and what I was going for. There’s only so much veggies sitting in vinegar that one can eat, am I right?
Pickles anticlimactic? Perhaps, for some, but really there are so many options for vinegars, spices and base that pickles need never be anticlimactic.

Doris and Jilly Cook make classic pickled cocktail onions - and discover the secret to easily peeling the little buggers (Pickled Onions for Cocktails).

Yes! I was hoping someone would make cocktail onions for this Can Jam. I'm a huge fan of what I call "cocktail canning"; syrups, pickles and mixes can all be canned at home for some wonderful drinking options.

For example, Food GPS reviews a restaurant owned by the first family of caviar (Petrossian -- West Hollywood). The first item reviewed? A champagne cocktail featuring candied hibiscus flowers in rhubarb syrup. If you want rhubarb syrup this summer (wouldn't that be nice on a warm Sunday morning in August) ... you're going to have to can it.

And what about flavored vinegars in cocktails? Sounds strange, but the Paupered Chef would disagree (The Strange Appeal of Vinegar in a Cocktail). You can make flavored vinegars and can them ... break out that peach vinegar for a winter party. Why not?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 3/19/10

Big Black Dogs makes carrot cake jam and pairs it with carrot bread (Carrot Bread with Carrot Cake Jam). That sounds great ... it also makes me think of other things it would go well with. How about carrot cake pancakes with a smear of cream cheese and carrot cake jam? Or simply use it as a glaze for caramelized carrots? I like doubling (or even tripling) down on flavors sometimes.

Well Preserved is canning multiple alliums, onions and leeks (Pickled Onions – Coming to a Sandwich Near You and I’ve Sprung a Leek ... a Pickled Leek). There are some very interesting things going on here. I think the use of malt vinegar in the pickled onions is an excellent idea. Malt vinegar isn't used much in pickling, because of its intense flavor and color, but with the right ingredients it can be genius. This sounds like one of those cases.

Malt vinegar is basically made from beer (sans hops), so it has an affinity for ales and things that go with ale. I'm thinking sharp cheddar, sausages, that sort of thing. How about as a garnish for a cheddar/ale soup?

The other thing that is interesting is that WP pickled not only the white/light green parts of the leeks, but the leaves as well. I've never actually used the leaves of the leek for anything other than a flavoring agent in soups and stock. I didn't really think they were edible due to their fibrousness. I would love to find out whether pickling changes the texture enough to make them readily edible.

What Julia Ate is also working with alliums. Coincidence? I don't think so. A great flavor combination is the result (Roasted Garlic and Candied Ginger Jelly). Originally, though, it wasn't a jelly ... it was a syrup. Julia explains why her original didn't set and why. You always learn more from your mistakes than your successes. And then, she reprocesses, and success! I usually don't recommend reprocessing, but this was definitely a good call.

Tea for Joy hosts a craft evening for her church group and they make some beautiful jars of lemon curd (A Lemon Curd Craft Evening). Once again, we see that canning is a great social activity. However, I must note that the recipe for the lemon curd they use calls for sealing with wax and no processing. This is not recommended. The National Center for Home Food Preservation does have a tested recipe for Canned Lemon Curd.

Guava paste, like dulce de membrillo, is a fruit cheese that has a number of culinary uses. The Kitchn lists ten ways to use it (Fun to Say, Fun to Eat: 10 Ways to Use Guava Paste). Of course, you can buy your guava paste, or membrillo, but when the fruit is in season, it is easy to make your own. You can also make fruit cheese from stone fruits (mmmm .... plum cheese), apples, pears and probably some others I can't think of off hand. So, consider the list as a stepping off point for using other fruit cheeses as well.

The OC Weekly's food blog, Stick a Fork in It, notices the local sugarcane showing up in farmers' markets (At the Farmers' Market: Sugarcane). Juice, strain and use as a syrup for canning local fruit for a locavore delight. Sugarcane isn't that difficult to grow either. Thirty years ago when I was growing up, my grandmother grew it as a treat for us grandkids.

The female half of Those Mathiases and Their Adventures in Kansas did a lot of canning with mom when young, but didn't take it up as an adult. Until now, that is, sort of (On Canning).
I. Do. Not. CAN.

And then I realized something.

We don't have moms or grandmas that live closeby to gift us with such delicacies. Fail.
We don't live under the old landlords that brought down the best raspberry jam ever made. Fail again.
And, the result? We don't have freezer jam. And it's not coming anytime soon. Epic fail.

So I did what any girl would do. I made my husband do it.
If my blogging is a little shorter, slow or otherwise not up to my usual standards, I have an excuse. I have been building some raised bed planters so that I can more easily grow and harvest more food, some of which will definitely end up in cans.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 3/18/10

Well Preserved learns some lessons from something that will happen to every canner, eventually (I Coulda Been a Contenda…Broken Mason Jars…). There is only one common jar breakage scenario I would add ... processing in a boiling water bath without a rack to keep the jars off of direct heat. WP also has some great tips on what to do after you have a jar shatter.

Rufus and Clementine provide another lesson for cannners - label those jars (CurseWorthy Cooking | That Mystery Marmalade).
I made a peanut butter and spiced citrus marm sandwich. I got so excited and angry to the point of letting the expletives fly mid-bite. It was ecstasy in my mouth and I still don’t know how to get it back again.
The minimum you should put on a label is the name of the preserve and the date. I make a habit of putting the ingredients (in order of weight) and the processing time. Recently, I've also taken to add the source of the produce ... such as "Mud Creek Ranch Citrumelo Marmalade." Keeping a preserving journal (paper or electronic) is also a very good idea, especially if you are experimenting with recipes.

Rhubarb is sometimes called "pie plant." I think it should be called "preserving plant."

The LA Weekly's food blog, Squid Ink, notes that some beautiful rhubarb is showing up at the local markets in their weekly Farmers Market Report (What's in Season at the Farmers Markets: Rhubarb). I saw some amazing looking rhubarb at the Santa Monica market yesterday. By itself, with a variety of fruits (not simply strawberry) in a jam, or in a compote (sublime), rhubarb is an excellent addition to your preserving repertoire. Its tartness is a great match for the high sugar content of many preserves.

The New York Times' Minimalist Cook explains, simply, how to thicken yogurt into any consistency from Greek to cheese (A Recipe Secret Wrapped in a Towel). Save that whey! Use it for fermentation or drink it (high in protein and probiotics).

Food in Jars has opened an Open Sky store (Find Food in Jars at Open Sky). Her store is here: OpenSky: Food in Jars.

Tigress in a Jam is excited to soon receive Ashley English's new preserving book Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More. Tigress also lists a bookshelf worth of new preserving books coming soon (A Lot O' New Preserving Books!). Which ones are worth getting? Who knows at this point.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 3/17/10

Another great March Can Jam update:

Local Kitchen adds alliums to a classic sweet jam and finds that it has "a depth of flavor that must be tasted to be believed" (Strawberry Rhubarb & Caramelized Onion Jam). If onions were as rare as truffles, onions would be more expensive. They are savory, yet work surprisingly well with sweet. Perhaps it is all their inherent sugars that only come out through long, slow cooking.

I just noticed citrumelos for the first time at last Sunday's Hollywood Farmers' Market and, apparently, so did The Kitchn (Citrus Spotlight: Citrumelos). Check out the nice photos and description (and find out why they're also called "marmalade fruit").

Delightful Country Cookin' has a photo-rich description of making a berry-citrus jam, excellent for those just getting started in canning (Blueberry-Lime Jam). And, hey, plenty of blueberries and limes in our farmers' markets right now.

Put a Lid On It is in the process of making classic pickled eggs, pickled in beet brine. Of course, that means first you have to pickle some beets. To keep her husband happy, she also pickles some okra (Pickled Okra and Pickled Beets). Here in Los Angeles, if you want some classic pickled eggs and don't want to have to pickle beets first ... you can find the purplish delicacies at Philippes; they go great with the French Dips.

On her blog for the Denver Post, Well Preserved, preserving guru Eugenia Bone pickles that underutilized aromatic, fennel (Pickled Fennel). I use fennel whenever I have the option. There is hardly a dish that uses mirepoix that I don't think can be improved with fennel. Pickling provides even more options for me to use fennel.

Cooking in Someone Else's Kitchen makes a chile jam from chiles they froze last fall (A Little Summer Heat). The recipe they used was a British recipe and called for "jam sugar," which is sugar combined with pectin. They made the recipe with regular granulated sugar and, of course, it failed to set. They reprocessed with pectin and it worked.

The conversations started by Sara Dickerson's Slate article continue.

The Art of the Rural agrees with the Dickerson (Putting Up).
I often make pâté and have cured different meats (duck prosciutto, bresaola, etc.) and I like having a cabinet full of pickled onions, green beans or bread and butter pickles to have on hand for the occasions when I can slice open a new celebration of pork fat. But last fall I went to Whole Foods to buy 5 lbs of cucumbers for my pickles only to discover that conventional cucumbers were $2.50 each! There was nothing frugal or practical in pickling these and, in fact, it was an expensive little project.
Ummmm ... duh? What did you think would happen if you buy all your produce at Whole Paycheck? Try this for an experiment ... buy some all-beef patties, special sauce (mayo and thousand island), lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and a sesame seed bun at Whole Foods and you'll (surprise, surprise) discover that Big Macs are less expensive.

Well, I guess that it's it for the food revolution. Back to fast food it is.

Amazon blog Al Dente is a little less gullible when it comes frugal canning (The Inevitable Canning Backlash).
Now, the author here is a generally fabulous food writer. I normally nod my head at her sharp and astute articles, but this one had me shaking it the other way. I can't argue with the assertion that buying a slew of new canning equipment and jamming up a ribbon-wrapped collection of $5/lb heirloom tomatoes isn't particularly frugal. The process does pencil out nicely, though, if you re-use those cans year after year, and choose tomatoes from the cheapie seconds bins, or grab 20 pounds of inexpensive fruit from the U-Pick, or if you do belong to that not-particularly-endangered category of zealous gardeners with too many cucumbers.
On the other hand, Dining@Large, the Baltimore Sun's dining blog, joins Dickerson's canning backlash trend (Top Ten Retro Foods We Wish Would Stay in the Past).
2. Home-canned anything

I love the whole locavore logic behind canning and, honestly, I'd like to try it. But Sara Dickerman in Slate nails what's wrong with this homespun hobby's becoming "ridiculously trendy." She calls it "showy industriousness." "These culinary trophies are emblematic of a project-based food relationship that we urban food junkies are prone to indulge these days: athletic all-weekend bouts of cheesemaking or bacon curing or jam and pickle making are so much more bloggable and boastworthy than making a decent brown-bag lunch five days in a row." And then there's the botulism thing.
I'm beginning to think that pampered food writers only know "showy industriousness" and are unaware that many people are actually industrious. Being writers, the concept of industriousness is probably foreign to them. For example, instead of writing lame and lazy top ten lists (really, how bereft of ideas do you have to be in order to resort to a 1990s-style top ten list?), perhaps salaried food writers could share what brown bag lunch they're bringing to work five days in a row, since they seem to be so hot on the concept.

Oh, and speaking of retro things that should stay in the past, perhaps you could get rid of the "@" in your blog name? Those were cool back when modems were.

Plate to Plate lets one of the commentators on the Slate piece do the speaking for them (Much Ado About Canning).

Dickerson thinks canning $5/lb tomatoes is not very frugal. I agree, but finding inexpensive canning tomatoes is not that difficult. For example, one CSA has a good bargain for those who join by the ides of April: free canning tomatoes (Join our CSA by April 15. Receive Free Canning Tomatoes).
No matter how efficient we get as a farm, there will always be "extra" tomatoes at the end of the day between mid-August and the end of October. Some are too ripe. Some are seconds that got bruised or damaged in the picking process. Some have a bug bite or two. Some are just not quite right for selling. Our breeding rows are also the source of tomatoes that don't fit into our markets.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 3/16/10

Well, we've been hit with another, thankfully mild, earthquake this morning (Preliminary Earthquake Report: 4:04AM PDT: Pico Rivera, CA). Looks like the Whittier Narrows Fault is active again, which gave us so much trouble back in 1987. Lucky me, I live only a few miles away - on the Montebello side in 1987 and the Whittier side today.

I'm not going to go too much into earthquake preparedness. But food preservation is an important part of it. Not only do you have to worry about losing electricity (and, therefore, your freezer), but natural gas may also be unavailable (no cooking). Having precooked food you can eat out of the jar (beans, meat, soups) would be a good thing.

Chickens in the Road is giving away a copy of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and all you have to do is leave a comment on her post (read the whole thing for details) (Ball Blue Book Giveaway).

Putting By has a beautiful photo of their canning pantry as well as an inventory of what they have (or should have) in their stocks (Inventory :: March 1, 2010). Is there a specific word, perhaps German, for organization envy?

Another organization tool is the preserving journal. Susan Busler, an extension agent for Douglas County in Oregon, writes about pantry organization and how a preserving journal can help in the Douglas County News-Review (Extension Spotlight: Spring Cleaning Applies to Edibles as Well).

Churches are a good place to share information on food preservation. In Hurley, Mississippi a church is hosting a public class on food preservation (Can You Can? Homemaker's Lost Art Finds a New Audience in Hurley Church).
Debra Dickson, women's ministry director at Full Life Assembly of God in Hurley, decided to arrange educational courses for members of her church.

When she polled church members to see what subjects interested them, canning was a popular choice.

As a result, Full Life has partnered with the George County Cooperative Extension Service to offer a class called "Getting Ready to Can."
What church or other organization do you belong to? Perhaps you can get your local county extension to have a Master Food Preserver do a food preservation demo or class.

They probably don't need extension agents in Sweden:
The peoples of Scandinavia are masters of food preservation – techniques won through difficult and hard winters in which many bellies went hungry. From necessity and practicality, a heritage of cultured, naturally fermented foods was born. They bring us gravlax, pickled herring, cheeses and sourdough breads, inlagda rödbetor (a type of pickled beet) and, of course, a wide variety of yogurts such as viili, piimä, filmjölk and skyr.
Ah, Swedish cultured milks. Nourished Kitchen breaks down the universe of Swedish fermented dairy products, keeping you from confusing your viili with your skyr (Sour Milk: Lessons from Scandinavia). If you're ready to jump into the world of Swedish cultured milks, there is a culture giveaway as well (Giveaway: Win a Scandinavian Yogurt Starter (and How to Make Raw Milk Yogurt)).

Food in Jars disdained jelly for some time, but is rediscovering how wonderful they can be (Orange Jelly Recipe). That's wonderful because, for me, jellies are elegant in the way they can express color and flavor. There is a purity to their shimmering texture that is both old-fashioned in its composition and fresh and new in its flavor. A great thing is that you can pretty much make a jelly out of anything that can be used for an infusion. Herbal jellies (tarragon or basil definitely bring something special to the plate), tea jellies can be incredibly varied, and wine jellies can be amazing; your imagination is the only limit. This past weekend, I served thumbprint cookies with a hibiscus (jamaica) jelly.

And, as FiJ notes, fruit juices combined with other flavors creates an exponential number of options.

Speaking of jelly, The Kitchn wants to know what to do with mint jelly, other than serving it with lamb (What Can I Do With Leftover Mint Jelly?). There are some good suggestions in the comments, but it really is just about using your imagination. One very simple option: stir it into your hot tea. Similarly, you might consider adding it to a soup or curry. Or, when watermelon comes into season, cube the melon, melt some of the jelly, toss, chill and serve for dessert.

In other jelly related news, Scrumper is planning to make more scrumped Cornelian Cherry Jelly this summer (Scrumped Cornelian Cherry Jelly).

March Can Jam update:

Big Black Dogs uses onion in her pepper jelly - sounds good to me (Basil Banana Pepper Jelly *** The Hot Stuff!). And her onion jelly sounds pretty good too. I guess this is just jelly day on PreserveNation.

Bread Experience found a recipe for an onion relish that the recipe author suggested would be good on pizza. So, not only did she make the relish, she made the pizza too (Caramelized Red Onion Relish and Pizza: Tigress Can Jam).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 3/15/10

The March Can Jam entries continue to roll in.

Mother's Kitchen modifies a tested barbecue sauce recipe to more closely match a favorite of hers (Can Jam: Alliums Barbeque Sauce). Read this post for some great tips on modifying a tested recipe safely.

What Julia Ate makes one of those really involved canning recipes that Slate hates so much (Shallot Confiture). But you know why you go through so much effort for this recipe? This is why:
How can you be so good? To be honest, I haven't really thought of how I'm going to eat this. This is no work horse chutney or every day jelly. This is something that deserves the spotlight. The suggestion is warm or cold, with meats. I'm thinking with a pork roast, or a salad even? On top of ice cream? I don't know, help me out. I'm a little star struck at the moment.
Thinking Out Loud thought she had all the ingredients for her marmalade when she discovered other members of her household sneaking into the dried cranberries and apple juice (Red Onion Marmalade). Luckily, she was able to get resupply and finished her entry in this month's Can Jam.

Serious Eats picks chamomile as a secret ingredient (The Secret Ingredient (Chamomile): Seared Sea Scallops with Chamomile Beurre Blanc). It can be the secret ingredient for jams and jellies too. Lemons, honey, ginger and apricot are some flavors that go well with chamomile.

Leda's Urban Homestead explains how she participated in a food-swapping tea party tweet-up (Food-Swapping Tweet-Up).
The way the gals set up the swap was that we each filled out tags with the name of what we had brought plus our name. Then several other people each wrote one of their items on the bottom of our tag, offering it in exchange for our item. Each of us got to decide which of the items offered we wanted to accept in trade. Kind of like a silent auction for edibles.
Sounds very cool.

Well Preserved has a two-part post on dehydrating beets, onions and celery root (Dehydrating Beets, Onions and Celery Root and What to do with Dehydrated Beets and Celery Root). SPOILER ALERT: They make powders with beets and celery root. Beet powder is one of those ingredients you usually find only in fancy restaurants. And it is so easy to make at home. You an be creative as you want to be with powders. Use them for garnish, or make unique and interesting combinations ... why not try some celery root powder on fresh homemade french fries or potato chips?

The Seattle Times profiles gardener and country living author Lorene Edwards Forkner (Growing Your Own Veggies Fills the Larder and the Soul). She has revised two of Carla Emery's books, Growing Your Own Vegetables: An Encyclopedia of Country Living Guide and Canning and Preserving Your Own Harvest: An Encyclopedia of Country Living Guide.

The Local Beet has a good overview article on all the various means of food preservation, freezing, cold storage, dehydrating, canning and fermenting (Making the Most of the Seasonal Bounty).

Purposefully Mom has some suggestions for using Mason jars for purposes other than canning (Endless Uses for Glass Canning Jars.....).

Finally, a photo for Sara Dickerson: 18 pints of chicken I canned yesterday.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 3/14/10

March Can Jam Update:

All Types of Cooking, and a Whole Lot of Canning Here! wanted to work with a more unusual allium and ramps weren't available, so she searched and found cipollines to pickle (Allium......Yum!). Cipollines are an Italian pearl onion with a saucer-like shape. They're small and sweet and add a distinctive look to any plate. I usually use them whole in braises and stews or roasted as part of mixed roasted vegetables, but they are very versatile - just keep them whole (or mostly whole) for their unique appearance. Pickling them is a great idea.

Kitchen Jam riffs on a red onion marmalade by adding blood orange juice and rhubarb (March CanJam: Red Onion & Rhubarb Jam).

Miss Can Jam herself, Tigress in Pickle, silences some red onions with extreme prejudice (Onionz Limone Chutney).
this little chutney packs a powerful punch, and definitely has an eastern flair. i would say skip the ubiquitous chutney & sharp cheese pairing with this one and go right for the curries, stir-frys and one dish indian and southeast asian inspired meals. or simply use it stirred into a rice or grain as the exotic flavoring agent.
Not every preserve is a success. Case in point: Hitchhiking to Heaven had to leave the room while cooking her entry in the Can Jam (Garlic and Green Chile: Never-Again Jelly).
Yielded only 3 half-pints of jelly and one slightly nauseated cook.
Yeah, I guess you'd have to be a garlic lover for that one.

Although the result wasn't exactly what they wanted, at least Three Clever Sisters wasn't nauseated by their onion-fennel-red pepper pickle (Can Jam March Challenge: Alliums). If they didn't like red pepper, they could have simply left it out.

As a Disneyland Resort cook, I was happy to hear that Put a Lid on It (a chef herself) was impressed with the food served at our sister park, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and decided to recreate a pickle (actually, more like a chutney, I think) that came with the bread service (Sweet Onion and Lime Pickle).

A couple of quick notes. Although this pickle is most likely safe for canning it hasn't been tested. Also, the processing time seems a bit short. And, if you are processing for only five minutes, the jars must be sterilized prior to use. Jars do not have to be sterilized (only clean and hot) if the processing time is ten minutes or longer.

Other notes. If you are ever at a Disney park and like the food, you don't have to reverse engineer the dish, unless you want to. Please feel free to ask for the recipe. You will get it. They might have to email or mail it to you later, but they'll get it to you.

Also, Disney's California Food & Wine Festival will be taking place April 16 - May 31. Not a bad way to spend the day. And I'm not just saying that because I work there.

The Atlantic's Food Channel publishes an ode to homemade fruit wines (In a Fruit Wine, Comfort and Validation).
I swear to God, if you blindfolded me I would not be able to tell it apart from a decent Amontillado. Smooth, a little caramel, but with a bright acidity I did not expect in a wine that looked like maple syrup. It is, for all intents and purposes, a fine sherry. Made from Costco raisins. In a plastic bucket.
Fruit wines may sound sort of weird, but you can actually make some darn fine stuff. Even from Costco raisins.

Rufus and Clementine really wasn't bothered too much by Slate's condescending take on the revival of canning (Market.Watch | 12Mar10 & The Slam Reax).
The Slate article got under my skin, primarily, because it hurt the feelings of people I’ve come to respect, who felt attacked for practicing the traditions they hold dear. I had less of a problem because I kind of knew who she was talking to and about. It didn’t bother me, personally, because I’ve come to really enjoy doing it. Period. Whatever.
Mahlzeit (a German salutation, often preceding a meal, especially lunch) isn't so sure that food preservation is part of the solution (Apostate).
Food preservation, also, struck me as naive in its economy of scale. Is it really better for a million local households to each have a dehydrator ($80) and a couple of freezers ($200 to $350 each), and a pressure canner ($200 to $600), and a vacuum sealer ($150)?
Investing in these devices doesn't make sense unless you're going to use them, sometimes for several years. So, yeah, if everyone used them and account for the cost over several years, I think it does make sense.

Last week I pickled and canned local asparagus for a demo at the Hollywood Farmers' Market. Now, fruit detective David Karp reports in the LA Times that California's asparagus growers are shrinking in the face of Mexican and Peruvian competition since asparagus is a labor-intensive crop (Market Watch: Hard Times for California Asparagus).

The New York Times Magazine runs an interesting article with a feminist take on locavorism, what one author calls Radical Homemakers (aka a manifesto for "tomato-canning feminists") (The Femivore’s Dilemma).

Local artisanal canner Valerie Confections gets some press from NBC Los Angeles Feast - not only are they making farmers' market sourced preserves, but they will be doing some classes in the near future (Canning with Valerie Confections). Very cool.

Finally, with Easter right around the corner, Within My Means makes a kumquat chutney that she has fond memories of serving for the holiday (Easter-y Kumquat Chutney). Although it isn't a canning recipe and should be refrigerated, it sounds good to me.