Friday, April 9, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup - Catching Up - 4/9/10

Since last week I discussed pickling leftover Easter Eggs, I decided to share a "before" shot of some of the four dozen eggs I pickled this week. In a couple of weeks, I'll share a photo of the finished eggs and even a dissection (to see the color gradation inside). I tried the pineapple pickled eggs and a soy sauce/pineapple brine.

Master Food Preserver (and co-author of this blog), Delilah Snell, has finalized her food preservation classes for the near future - check them out! I'll be doing one, wish I could do more, but my new job means my schedule is uncertain right now: Food Preservation Classes, Workshops and More - FINAL

She also is on the lookout for free fruit to preserve, especially loquats (Adventure in Loquats and Other Backyard Fruit - and a Special Request for Readers of this Blog!):
if you have any fruit trees that you want me to pick or you can pick and hand over-i will give you a few jars of whatever i Spring!
I was a participant in "loquat-a-palooza" last year, they are a great preserving fruit (though a little labor intensive).

Food in Jars takes a look at Ashley English's new book: Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More (A Good Book for the Can Jam or Anytime). She discovers that it is perfect for providing some ideas for April's Can Jam.

Not everybody has the room for a backyard smoker, or even a backyard. The Chicago Tribune runs a nice story on stovetop smoking (Smoke Signals). If you haven't tried smoking food at home yet, the stovetop method is a great place to start. You'll be surprised by the flavors you can achieve. I love smoked foods, and what you can do easily at home beats the heck out of what is available commercially. Smoke is another one of those techniques that can be used to transform routine dishes and take them to a new level. Mmmmm ... smoked roasted chicken salad.

Leda Meredith of her eponymous Urban Homestead did a radio interview on the Heritage Radio Network's Hot Grease in which she discusses lacto-fermentation as a preservation method among other topics (Hot Grease Interview).

If you are lucky enough to have access to ramps (foraged or in farmers' markets), then you might want to read a bit about using and preserving them. Local Kitchen provides some excellent ideas and information (Ramps):
The Spring ramp season is short; to preserve your bounty for the coming months, blanche & freeze the leaves as you would chard or kale, or make pesto or infused oil or vinegar as you would with fresh herbs. Dry chopped bulbs and leaves in a dehydrator or low oven, or use in pickles, chutneys, or confit. For a host of allium preserving recipe ideas, check out the March Can Jam round-up. I have a big pile o’ ramps to cook with, and I hope to score some more to preserve, so I’ll update this post as I experiment. Stay tuned!
The Canning Doctor roasts a chicken and then makes and cans stock from the carcass (Pressure Canning Again). This is an excellent practice whenever you roast a chicken (one of the greatest, most versatile meals there is). If you don't have time to make the stock that day or the next, freeze the carcass and make the stock when you do have the time.

The Practical Preserver provides instructions for properly freezing strawberries (Strawberry Season). Though I'm a huge fan of canning, in my book, it is always a good idea to have some frozen berries available in the pantry - then you are ready for all sorts of quick desserts and sweet/savory dishes.

One Perfect Bite makes a versatile pesto (aren't most pestos versatile?) from homemade sundried cherry tomatoes (Red Pesto Sauce + Home-Style Sun-Dried Tomatoes). It'll be awhile before tomato season is back, but I'm lucky enough to have a stock of homemade sundried (actually, dehydrator'd) cherry tomatoes from last August to give this pesto a try.

What Julia Ate is clearing out her freezer by canning the contents, in this case combining summer stone fruit with her homemade pectin (Apricot Plum Jam with Orange Pectin). Once again, she shares her valuable experience in working with homemade pectin.

After learning how easy it is to make buttermilk, What Julia Ate also learns how easy it is to make crème fraîche (Crème Fraîche). Crème fraîche is basically buttermilk made from cream, so it is richer and thicker. It is an excellent substitute for sour cream in most recipes, and is incredibly useful in its own right. It doesn't curdle and it is a great addition to hot dishes, such as soups and sauces. Or use it to make your own "ranch" dressing.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup - Catching Up - 4/8/10

So, last week was spring break for many as well as Easter and I had to work six days. I work the afternoons/evenings and in the mornings I was driving an hour each way to interview for my new job. So far this week I've had to drive to my new job twice in order to sign all the paperwork that goes with starting in a new place. Unfortunately for me, I forgot that when you get a new job you need to show proof that you can be employed (passport or SSN card and Drivers License, etc.) so, I had to make that second trip to take care of that little detail. In any case, that is what has kept me from my updates. It'll take me a some time to get caught up, so please be patient. I've also got a few special posts planned (such as a book review), but those will have to wait as well. Oh, yeah, and I've got to get some studying in for my Master Gardener class (I dropped my studies for Advanced Sommelier for now, but will have to pick that back up in the summer).

The New York Times Magazine has a review of the Little House Cookbook, based on the cooking found in Laura Ingall Wilder's Little House books (Little House in the Hood). Preservation, of course, was an important part of life in the big woods and on the prairie, and it isn't clear how much preservation makes it into the book, though the review touches on it, but it would be interesting to learn more about preservation in frontier America.

The Jam and Jelly Lady provides a "semi-homemade" recipe for a trifle, layers of pound cake, cream (in this case, a tarter cream cheese mixture), fruit and jam (Strawberry Amaretto Trifle). The actual recipe is here: Jammin' Good Food. Trifles are simple, fresh and delicious. Garnish with some fresh mint and served chilled as they are wonderful warm spring evening or summer desserts. They can be prepared well ahead of time and don't require any cooking, unless you insist on making your own pound cake (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). They are wonderful for playing with flavors as well. Add your favorite liqueur, herb or even spice.

Well Preserved has just been going crazy with some wonderful spring preserving posts:
  • Dandelion Wine, Jelly and Coffee - A fine introduction to the possibilities of preserving dandelions.
  • Lamb Jerky - Something delicious that you are unlikely to find in your local megalomart or even gourmet food store.
  • Rhubarb Two Ways - Simple jams and a chutney. I can't recommend playing with rhubarb enough - it is another of those secret ingredients that can punch up so many different dishes without anyone knowing for sure what you've done.
  • Beech Tree Noyau (Infused Gin) - I'm not really sure if there are beech trees in Southern California, but if I find any, I'm going to give this a try.
  • Asparagus - Pickled and Pressure Canned - I'm a fan of pickling asparagus, of course, but haven't tried pressure canning them yet. I'll have to give it a try.
  • Pickled Fiddleheads - I used to forage these in New England, but haven't found many in Southern California (though last week on one of my walks I did find some Alpine Strawberries). They're delicious freshly steamed or sautéed, but pickling sounds delicious as well.
  • Wild Leeks (or Ramps) - There is very useful advice on foraging - making sure to leave enough after harvesting for the wild crop to flourish.
Serious Eats alerted me to the fact that I missed Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, which is held each April 2nd (Happy Peanut Butter and Jelly Day). What an opportunity to make something special to celebrate the holiday. It is going on my calendar for next year.

Tired of traditional scones? Looking for something a tad bit healthier? Why not try some oatcake bannocks? Serious Eats has a recipe for what may be the scone's wholegrain ancestor (Sunday Brunch: Bannocks). Delicious with clotted cream and your favorite jam or marmalade.

Food in Jars turns some whole preserved fruit into a delicious cake (Pear Cake). Sounds great, would probably work with a number of different fruits and FiJ recommends it with yogurt for breakfast ... sounds like my way to start the day.

Hot Water Bath comes home to a nearly empty pantry and improvises some Triscuit/chevre/pickled pepper snacks (Thank Goodness I Canned: Pickled Hot Peppers). They may not sound particularly fancy, but I bet they tasted pretty darn good. Hot pickled peppers are great to have around - and don't forget the brine:
The canning brine (I use a very standard 2 parts vinegar, 2 parts water, 1/2 part kosher salt) can likewise be used in marinades, drinks (yes! Really!), as a stir-in for plain rice or potatoes, or to punch up the flavor in all kinds of otherwise insipid dishes.
Leda Meredith's Urban Homestead makes a pizza chock full 'o local preserving goodness: tomato puree leftover from some home canned tomatoes, lacto-fermented garlic, in state cheese and foraged wild greens (Wild Pizza Improv).

Miia Monthly's sauerkraut is ready for eating (Sauerkraut is Done). She uses an interesting technique before putting the sauerkraut in the refrigerator, however - she removes the brine, boils it, chills it and puts the kraut back into the brine and refrigerates it.

Tigress in a Jam provides a little more guidance on April's Can Jam: Herbs (Preserving Herbs in Jars). Tigress points to some of her favorite herb books, some links, and provides these comments:
the rules state that the food in focus must be integral to the canned product. in the first few months when canning citrus, carrots and alliums it was easy to consider the chosen produce to be the main ingredient. this month's herbs are a little different and i would interpret integral as being essential to the flavor of the preserve but not necessarily the main ingredient.

this will open up a world of possibilities and i hope will allow those in zones where things are beginning to burst from the ground and jump off the trees to take advantage of what's springing in tandem with the essential herb. and for those of us who are still anticipating spring's abundance it may offer an opportunity to use up the last of the root-cellared produce.

finally, herbs are generally considered the leafy green parts of a plant (i would include flowers in here too) while spices are derived from other parts of the plant, particularly the seeds, berries, bark and roots. so while spices are certainly welcome in this month's entry they are not considered the food in focus and must be in addition to the integral herb.
Finally, for today, Two Frog Home shares a homemade pattern for knitting a cover for mason jars - perfects for gifts (Knitted Jar Pouch). Darn cool.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Martha Stewart joins the canning party

("Now remember to color coordinate your preserves!")

Sometimes i partake in a little Martha Stewart Living Magazine. I like the Good Things section and i love how she takes something i have collected (from yard sales and thrift stores) 10x's more expensive because she did an article about them :)
In last month's magazine, i noticed that there was a section about canning/preserves. i would have posted about it earlier, but i was trying to find links/images to post as well-couldn't find any, and got busy-hence a little late.
But late is better than never-and the Martha article has a beautifully photographed spread on making your own canned goods. While pressure-canning, diagrams of actually preparing/processing goods and tidbits that one would get from a Ball Canning Book are not really covered (heck, it's only a few pages!)...i liked the article for 2 reasons:
-new recipes like lemons with artichokes-have to try it!
-creative applications of the recipes beyond the cheese and bread.

below is one of the recipes from the article-if you end up making it, let us know!

OLD BACHELOR'S JAM (from Martha Stewart Living)
  • 2 lbs blackberries (7c)
  • 3 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 lemons halved
  • 2 lbs raspberries (7c)
  • 4 oz kirsh or other cheery-flavored liquor (1/2c)
bring blackberries, 1 3/4c sugar and the juice of 1 lemon in a large pot over medium heat. Cook until sugar dissolves and berries are soft. Press parchment on the jam and put in the fridge overnight. Do the same with the raspberries and same amount of sugar.
remove parchment, bring each pot to a boil-thicken (about 12-17 min). do jell-test to make sure it will set.
fill each jar, half with one jam, half with the other and top with 1/2 oz kirsch. Process in a water bath for 10 min.

NOTE: if you are interested in preserving classes, both Ernie and i have a few classes coming up in the next few months-again, let us know if there is something that you would like to see.
happy preserving!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter and Pickled Eggs - Weekly Email


Happy Easter! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday, spring break or just a beautiful Southern California weekend.

A couple of announcements.

First, I have accepted a new position as sous-chef at the Coto de Caza Golf & Racquet Club, effective in a couple of weeks. This will have a significant impact on my schedule, so my presence at the farmers' markets will certainly change. I will continue to be available to answer questions via email, but it may be awhile before I have a regular schedule of time at various farmers' markets again.

It will also likely take me some time and effort to get up to speed in my new position, so if these emails are shorter, or non-existent, please be patient.

Second, I have a class and a demo coming up. I will be teaching a class on fermentation (yogurt, vinegar, and kombucha) on Sunday, April 18th at Delilah Snell's Road Less Traveled Store in Santa Ana. Sign up for my class or one of the many other food preservation classes (sauerkraut and kimchi, working with chilis, foraging) here:

The demo will be on Sunday, May 16th at the Hollywood Farmers' Market to celebrate the 19th Anniversary of the market. Delilah and I will be demonstrating some food preservation techniques as well as giving out samples. I look forward to seeing many of you at the demo!

Today is Easter and for those of you who celebrate it, you will probably be left with a significant number of hard boiled eggs at the end of the day. There are many things you can do with fresh hard boiled eggs, but after several days, you might start getting a bit tired of them. You don't want the eggs to go to waste, though, so what do you do?

Pickle them, of course.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 4/1/10

All sorts of preservation news from Master Food Preserver Delilah Snell. First, she has a list of food preservation classes for the next couple of months. Most are at her shop, the Road Less Traveled Store, but a few are in other places (Food Preservation Classes, Workshops & Events April and May 2010). I'm doing one at her store on April 18th (fermentation: yogurt, kombucha and vinegar) and we'll be doing another demo together at the Hollywood Farmers' Market on May 16th. There are many classes, so check them out.

Delilah is also making some progress on her root cellar (Root Cellar Upodate). Root cellars are great preservation spaces. Many types of food (often root vegetables, natch) store very well in cool dry spaces and don't need refrigeration. They are also good spaces for many types of fermenation; Delilah will be using her for vinegar.

I haven't talked about cheese much on this blog, but making cheese is a food preservation technique, of course. It is actually appropriate to discuss cheese-making in the spring because we seldom realize nowadays that milk was (and still is, in some cases) a seasonal good. For example, due to seasonal breeding seasons, both goats and sheep produce milk a maximum of ten months a year and usually (much) less.

Slashfood provides some background on a traditional fresh cheese from Italy that is often a featured part of the Easter holiday feast (What is Easter 'Basket' Cheese?). Make your own basket cheese following instructions provided on eHow (How to Make Basket Cheese). It's simple, give it a try.

Not too different from basket cheese is fromage blanc. Know Whey shares a recipe for the cheese and also a wonderful use for it (Fromage Blanc Tart).

What Julia Ate tries another method of milk preservation (Buttermilk). Hers is a good story of how one can have a consistent supply of buttermilk without paying the outrageous prices at the supermarket every time you want to make biscuits, pancakes, fried chicken or any one of thousands of dishes improved by tart, fermented milk.

So, apparently, there is no refrigeration in space. Which means that NASA is big into food preservation for space travel. Slashfood has an interview with NASA's leading food manager for the International Space Station, Vickie Kloeris (NASA Chef Talks About Food in Space).
"All our food has to be processed because there is no dedicated refrigeration," Kloeris explained to Slashfood. "We use freeze drying and thermo-stabilizing, which is like canning but we use pouches. We also use natural form products like cookies and dried fruit."
Read the whole thing.

Oh, Briggsy... enjoys some salami from Mario Batali's dad and is intrigued and entranced by pickled sunchokes (Tuesday Night Pickling Club: Pickled Sunchokes).

Congratulations to Well Preserved on their first published article in Edible Toronto (Our First Published Article – Spring Preserves). It is beautifully layed out, a pleasure to look at. They will be doing an entire series - highly recommended.

I would love to see the various Edible Communities magazines featuring a quarterly preserving feature, preferably written by local preservers.

Backyard Farms publishes a photo of her father's humble preserving shelves and reflects on why she preserves (Where I'm From - Part One).
When I find myself getting too caught up in trying to make something exotic, or longing over designer jars, I think of this shelf with its plain jars and handwritten labels. I think of the long hot summers of work that go into making these, and how good they taste when we eat them in the dead of winter, and I remember why I do this.
Amelia Saltsman, author of the Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook, provides a market update for Eat LA: there are seedlings perfect for gardeners and also some beautiful purple baby artichokes - perfect for pickling (Spring "Starts" at the Farmers' Markets).