Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 3/10/10

Bakers are all about the precision of a recipe - they take their measurements seriously. Chocolate and Zucchini shows this trait in her formula for converting commercial yeast recipes to a sourdough starter (Converting Yeast-Based Recipes To Use A Sourdough Starter). I'll have to give this a try.

Local Kitchen brings the first post I've seen on March's Can Jam (It's Alliums!) with some pickled shallots, even though she is not a fan of pickles - though maybe she is learning to appreciate them a bit (Pink Pickled Shallots).

Pickled shallots are absolutely delicious. If you can them, let the flavor develop at least a week. Most quick pickles that are canned will improve in flavor over a week or two. Most importantly, don't forget to save the brine! That shallot-flavored vinegar can be the base for delicious vinaigrettes or a gastrique. Or use it to dress a soup or beans.

Speaking of flavored vinegars, Small Measure, who picked "Alliums!" for this month's Can Jam, shows how easy it is to make beautiful and delicious infused vinegars for home and gifts (Bottled Bliss). More ideas for flavored vinegars: marinades, salsas, tartar and ceviche.

Paper Dolly Girl canned an awful lot in 2009, and reflects on what she has left, what she needs, and what she learned (Planning for 2010 Canning).

The LA Times has a nice article on how local restaurants are trying to be more green and sustainable (Serving Up Sustainability). There are a lot of good ideas that I hope other restaurants will take up, but one that isn't mentioned is food preservation. Fresh is great, but processed isn't always bad, especially when you are the one doing the processing. Food preservation has been an important (and sustainable!) aspect of human meals since the dawn of humanity.

Of course, many types of food preservation are labor intensive. Most restaurants will have a difficult time making enough preserved food for their customers, especially if they are doing stove-top processing. What might come in handy is, one guess, a community canning center, which would have the commercial retorts, steam kettles, filling equipment and other tools that would allow efficient and effective processing of significant amounts of food. In other words, a community canning center could be a great resource for sustainable restaurants.

For the professional cooks and chefs out there ... any comments and ideas on how you might use such a resource would be appreciated.

Food & Think from the Smithsonian, has discovered pickling (In a Pickle).
Salty and crunchy cucumber pickles have been a mainstay in American refrigerators for decades. But The Daily Beast recently listed pickling as one of its top trends for 2010. And the trend isn’t just for cucumbers—you can pickle just about anything. At the restaurant where I work, we serve pickled red onion on our burgers and pickled beets in our salads.
Although F&T visited the website of a PreserveNation favorite, Food in Jars, they didn't really discuss canning pickles.
Although I didn’t end up choosing a recipe from [Food in Jars], mostly because I wanted an in-season quick pickle, I learned a great deal about the basics. For instance, when pickling vegetables, it’s important to use a vinegar that has at least 5 percent acidity. In the brine, this can be diluted to one part vinegar, one part water.
This is actually only important if you are going to be canning the pickles. If you're only making refrigerator pickles, you have much more flexibility ... use that rice wine vinegar (at 4.3% acidity) if you want.

The Kitchn provides a recipe for preserved lemons and a recipe for using them (How to Make Preserved Lemons and Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon). Tagines are great, but don't think that preserved citrus is only for Moroccan food. Be creative; they can punch up just about any dish.

Serious Eats provides an inexpensive recipe for a Salvadoran staple: pupusas with curtido (Eat for Eight Bucks: Papusa con Curtido Recipe). Their recipe for curtido uses vinegar, but traditionally, curtido is basically a mixed vegetable and latin-spiced sauerkraut. You can use vinegar for a quick version, but you'll get better flavor with a 3-5 day fermentation. Try the pupusas with some black beans that you've pressure canned.

Ideas in Food has a good discussion of the differing varieties of juicers, and a few ideas of their use (Juicers).

I'll end with one more entrant in this month's Can Jam. Hitchhiking to Heaven decides to give chutney a chance (Carmelized Onion and Apple Chutney). She has a good tip on determining the right consistency for chutney.


  1. I'm sure you realize this, but just to be clear, in the post they reference, where I talked about the 5% rule, I was discussing the rules for pickle improvisation, when the final product was intended for canning.

  2. I do realize that. I was just trying to clarify the F&I post, which seemed a little confused. They talk about quick pickles and refrigeration, but they didn't specifically mention canning and how that is different. There are many quick pickle recipes out there that don't follow the 5% rule. They are excellent pickles, but shouldn't be canned. I just wanted that to be clear.

    Thanks for reading here and thanks for your excellent site, it is one of my favorites!

  3. Hooray! Everything is clear! ;)

    I really liked your response to the Slate article. I just didn't have the energy to write something in reply this week and I appreciated that you (and others as well) did.