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.

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