Monday, August 16, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 8/16/10

Sometimes I'm so jealous of Georgia. Seems like nearly every high school there boasts a community canning center. How come we don't have any in Los Angeles? The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that there will be tours of these canning centers (Georgia Organics Plans Special Tour on Canning).
The canneries, Croom said, are a unique public resource.

"We really want people to use them," said Croom, Georgia Organics' Farm to School program coordinator. "What can take eight hours in your kitchen can take two-and-a-half hours there; you can do huge amounts at once."
We need one of these centers in LA.

Doris and Jilly Cook answer a question about non-sealing jars of stock when pressure canning (Ask the Goats: Bad Seals in the Pressure Canner). There is some good advice on getting a firm seal, such as removing as much of the fat from the stock as possible. I like to chill my stock overnight in the refrigerator and remove the fat that has solidified on the top. It is easy to remove the fat in this way and I also get a better idea how fortified my stock is - does it seem just like a thick liquid or have I gotten a jelly-like flavor bomb?

And don't forget to save the fat. The fat from beef stock makes a nice frying medium, especially for potatoes. Or use it (instead of butter) to caramelize onions. Chicken fat is even better, I think, because what you now have is a flavorful schmaltz. I wouldn't make Matzah balls without it.

In any case, the main recommendation was to let the pressure canner cool down for at least an hour after turning off the heat. This is good advice for any pressure canning. Just be careful that with some models of canners, excessive cooling may create a vacuum seal making opening more difficult.

Speaking of pressure canning, Frugal Canning did what everyone with a pressure gauge canner should do every year: get that gauge checked (Pressure Canning Gauge Check). Unfortunately, we don't have a testing setup in LA County, but will see if we can't get that changed in the next couple of months. Of course, even if you don't need to get the gauge checked, don't forget to replace any rubber gaskets on an annual basis as well.

The Jam and Jelly Lady provides a little background on how she left office worker and became tJ&JL (My Journey to Becoming a Canning Mom).

Well Preserved is getting ready for some major tomato canning (The Tomatoes are Here – One of My Favourite Weeks of the Year). Sounds like a good time with family!
We`ve got our system down pretty good and the four of us can run through 6-8 bushels with a solid day of work. Even after 5+ years of doing this as a team we find there`s a few kinks that we can work out (last year we had 200 liters of sauce but no large pots left for the hot water bath) and will continue to learn from the process. One of the great joys has been learning to work as a team and having fun together with it. We now complete the entire task in less than half the time than what we took 5 years ago (with most of the same equipment).
The Kitchn laments that they haven't done enough preserving this summer (something I can relate to), but there is still plenty of time for tomatoes (Weekend Meditation: That Time of the Year ... or counting the jars in my pantry). Of course, while you are canning those tomatoes with friends or family, you might want to take a break for a refreshing beverage. Luckily, the Kitchn also provides a simple recipe for Ginger Ale, with bread yeast providing the fermentation for the bubbly (Try This! Easy Homemade Ginger Ale).

There is more to canning tomatoes than sauce and whole tomatoes, however. Mother's Kitchen makes a tomato salsa for the August Can Jam (Can Jam August: Salsa #5). This recipe features tomato paste and tomato sauce for a thicker consistency (Mother makes her own from scratch). Looks really good to me.

The Washington Post looks at whether you can make a good homemade ketchup with those excess tomatoes (Could Homemade Ketchup Beat Heinz?). It might seem that is an obvious win for homemade, but we expect certain things from out ketchups, and some homemade versions (including some I've made) just don't seem what we're used to. Good, yes, but not quite the ketchup you've grown up with. On the other hand, maybe we shouldn't expect so much consistency in our flavors. We're not five year olds afraid of everything different. So, let one thousand ketchups bloom. More later, but I will demoing homemade ketchup Aug. 29 at the Hollywood Farmers' Market.

Know Whey makes "spiced peaches," which I call "pickled peaches" (Spiced Peaches). This year I've made both pickled peaches and plums. Love 'em. So sweet and tart. Although it is wonderful to have these pickles in the winter or for Thanksgiving as Know Whey does, I really enjoy them in the summer as well. They go great with barbecue and taste like summer to me; they are very refreshing on a hot day.

Tartelette does something a little more traditional with her peaches, she makes several jams (French Word a Week - Confiture de Peche). What I particularly liked is that she varies the flavor with different spices and a bit of alcohol. Why not try the same with pickled peaches as well?

Putting By makes a favorite preserve of mine: Razzleberry Jam). Sometimes you don't have enough berries for a single berry jam, or you just like to add layers of flavor. Razzleberry jam it is then.

In My Kitchen provides some excellent lessons learned on storing fresh basil (Garden Journal 8/15/10: How to and, More Importantly, How Not to Store Fresh Basil). Of course, sometimes you have more fresh basil than you can use over a few days. Freezing is the best method of preserving basil, though you can dry it as well. You can chiffonade the basil and freeze it in ice cubes, freeze it on sheet trays and then bag it, chop it and mix with oil to freeze as a preliminary pesto, or freeze as an actual pesto (my favorite).

And feel free to play around with the pesto. Cold Cereal and Toast not only makes a nice mention of a recent report on food policy (Planting the Seeds for Public Health: How the Farm Bill Can Help Farmers to Produce and Distribute Healthy Foods) but describes making pesto from a CSA excess of basil - but without the traditional pinenuts, substituted peanuts (The Thing About Surplus: Easy Peanut Pesto).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the shout out Ernest! Glad to see you back at the console.