Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 3/9/10

Doris and Jilly Cook decide to go a little tropical in the middle of winter; they couldn't resist buying a beautiful 3lb papaya and drying it (Dried Papaya). The flavor was a little cardboardy.

There are several potential reasons for this. One is that it simply wasn't a sweet fruit. Peak papaya season in the Northern Hemisphere is from early Summer to early Fall. The papayas obviously have to travel a long distance to make it to Philadelphia, and there is a good chance they came from the Southern hemisphere. Consequently, it is a fair probability that the papayas were picked unripe and firm. Although they will eventually turn yellow, the flavor and sugars will simply never develop properly. Also, in general, the larger the fruit, the more subtle the flavor.

When ripe, the fruit is soft to the touch, like an avocado. This is the perfect time for drying. Overripe, not so good. Underripe, also not good. A good sweet fruit, properly ripe, is very nice dried all by itself. It is common to soak them in a sugar syrup as well, or to even candy them. What Julia Ate suggested some lime juice, and that is an excellent suggestion, as is a little salt. Add some chile powder to the salt and lime and you have papaya pico de gallo. Delicious, absolutely delicious - fresh or dried.

Papayas work well in fruit leathers in combination with other fruits such as orange, kiwi, passion fruit, mango and pineapple.

And don't throw away the black seeds. Clean them and dry them and they make a slightly bitter substitute for black pepper. Frequently they are used in salad dressings and soups.

Ithacan held a food preservation workshop and over sixty people showed up to learn canning, pressure canning, drying, fermenting and cellaring, reports Ithaca's Food Web (Home Food Preserving Workshop Attracts Interest). Props to the organizers in Ithaca! Keep up the good work!

Wouldn't a community canning center be a great place to host such workshops in Los Angeles?

The Cosmic Cowgirl is surprised that she likes carrot cake jam (Carrot Cake Jam, Wha?).

Do you like dollhouses and canning? Then perhaps you'll like this miniature canning set for dollhouses from Reutter Porcelain (Reutter Miniatures CANNING SET Kitchen Cookware, Dishes). You could probably craft a nice little gift or ornament for your favorite canner from this.

Joe Pastry has put together a great primer on the the science of and making of yogurt. If you are at all interested in making your own yogurt, get thee hence:We end today's post on a bittersweet note from Food in Jars, who savors the memories of a Southern California childhood as she finishes off some plum jam (Mourning the End of a Jar).

What memories is your food preservation building for your family (and children, if you have them)? One aspect of eating locally and seasonally that may not get enough attention is that we are building memories of place and time by doing so. How often do we associate holidays with particular foods? If you eat locally and seasonally, then different times of year will be associated with different foods and places in your memory.

Food preservation can let us access those memories through taste and smell, two of the most powerful memory senses as they tie directly into our hippocampus memory center.

I remember when I picked those tomatoes from the backyard. I remember when the orange tree was weighed down by bushels of fruit. I remember ...


  1. I was taught to make jams and jellies by a dear, dear friend, dead now some 30 years. I still use her canning kettle (although the quantity of hard-water scale that flakes off it every time is truly awful) and I think of her loving presence and the fun we had messing about in the kitchen every time I make preserves of some kind. It never fails to buoy my spirits.