Canning in 2013

This is a photograph of the largest continuous cupboard in my kitchen.  Yes it isn’t very big, and yes, strangely it’s filled almost completely with canning jars.  It’s been this way (nearly empty of actual food) for multiple months now.  In the bottom left are the last few jars from last year’s canning fest; clearly the pickled carrots and beets were the least popular.  Notice, however, that the second and third shelves also have filled jars, which I’m very happy to announce are the first stuffs to be put up in 2013!  There’s still, clearly, a ways to go.  But with any daunting task, it helps to make a list (and then ignore it), so here is the canning plan for 2013.  Almost all of the recipes are from Canning for a New Generation, many of which I made last year, but there are also a couple newbies to keep morale high.

Jam

Pickles

  • Honeyed Bread-and-Butter Pickles (0/7 pints)
  • Quicker Kosher Dills (0/4 quarts)

Salsa, Hot Sauce, and other Tomato Things:

What am I missing???

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Rum Cherries

For my birthday, my lab-friend Ted gave me the makings of his drink-of-the-moment, the Dark and Stormy: a bottle of dark rum (Black Seal Bermuda Black), and a six pack of ginger beer. The drink itself was pretty good, but after we ran out of the ginger beer we didn’t have much call for the rum.

Until, that is, I came home from the farmer’s market with a few too many cherries. Anna suggested making rum cherries, and after a bit of googling I came up with a recipe. I can’t find any of the sites I pulled from, and it doesn’t actually matter that much, I think: I could find no definitive version of rum cherries, and I’m sure you could find a recipe for rum cherries with whatever ingredients you’re desire. Here’s one more to add to the pile.

Rum Cherries

1.2 lbs cherries
2/3 cup sugar
500 ml (2/3 of a bottle) of dark rum
1/2 of a very used vanilla bean

Sterilize the jar and lid by boiling (we used a 3lb honey jar) (I don’t know if sterilization is necessary). Cut the cherries in half and pit them (this was a bit laborious). Mix the sugar into the rum as best you can. Put the cherries in the jar and pour the rum/sugar mixture over, then add the vanilla bean (slice it in half, long-ways, if not done already). Top off with rum until covered, close, and refrigerate. You can then shake to dissolve as much sugar as possible.

We aged it in the fridge for one and a half months. At this point it was pretty darn delicious. Anna invented a great cocktail for it, as well:

Orange Cherry Lazy (so called because she was “too lazy to do anything fancy” and, apparently, too lazy to come up with a real name)

Juice of two squeezed oranges
Several tablespoons rum-cherry sauce
Several rum cherries

Combine and enjoy. Also, once you’ve had enough, “Orange Cherry Lazy” starts to sound like “aren’t you very lazy”.

Hot Stuff! Sriracha and Hot Pepper Pickles

Over the last few weeks there have been an increasing number of hot pepper experiments.  After making a batch of salsa verde to can, I made another with extremely spicy jalapenos that turned out to be too intense for the intended purpose of making enchiladas verdes.  And then this weekend, I attempted to make Sriracha with a combination of mystery peppers and jalapenos/serranos.  Turned out some of the mystery peppers were habaneros, and the Sriracha sauce turned out more like a very delicious hot sauce that is only tolerable in extremely small doses.  Thank goodness I learned what a habanero looks like before making the pickled hot peppers or they might have been completely inedible to my weak taste buds.

Sriracha (hot pepper garlic sauce)
(Makes 2-5 half-pints)
I followed the directions for making Sriracha here pretty much to the letter, except I only ended up with 2.5 half-pints instead of the expected 5.  This may have been due to the fact that I had the heat up too high as I was cooking the sauce down, but this was absolutely necessary as I had a fan blowing air away from the pot and out of the kitchen so that we could breathe properly while preparing the ingredients for the hot pepper pickles.  So yes, a word of warning: the sauce will fill the air with awful pepper and vinegar fumes if you, like me, try using extremely hot peppers.  While I may be hot-peppered out for the moment, I do want to try making this recipe with only jalapenos, in which case the fumes may not be so bad.  As a hot sauce, this is one of the first I’ve really liked, so I foresee much tinkering with the recipe next summer.  Another thought on making sriracha: I’ve seen recipes that involve fermenting the peppers before the sauce is cooked and pureed, which may lead to a more authentic Rooster Sauce than the more simple recipe I tried.  And as always, an immersion blender makes it all so much easier, no matter what recipe you follow.

1 pound hot peppers
9 medium cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 cup apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
3 tablespoons honey

To make the sauce:  Prepare the hot peppers by cutting off the stems and chopping them up into smallish pieces.  WEAR GLOVES to protect your hands from the hot pepper oils!  Leave in the seeds if you want to make the sauce spicier (perhaps if you only use jalapenos).  Prepare the garlic by peeling the cloves and crushing them with a flat knife.  In a medium pot, combine the chopped hot peppers, garlic, salt, and vinegars.  Bring the pot to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Take the pot off the heat and blend the mixture until smooth with an immersion blender (easily done right in the pot) or traditional blender/food processor (harder, and it may be easier when the sauce has cooled a little bit).   With the sauce in the pot (again), bring it to a boil.  You are now ready to can it!

To can the sauce:  Follow the more detailed directions in the recipe for dilly beans, with the following specifications.  Fill the half-pint jars with sauce leaving 1/4 inch of headspace at the top of the jar.  To process, boil the half-pint jars in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Pickled Hot Peppers (Adapted from Canning for a New Generation)
(Makes 4 half-pints of pickles)
Enough hot pepper rings to fill 4 half-pint jars
1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
3/4 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
4 cloves garlic, peeled

To make the pickles:  Cut up the hot peppers into rings about 1/8 inch thick and discard the stems.  WEAR GLOVES when handling the hot peppers!  Rinse the pepper rings in cool water to get rid of some of the seeds and set aside for the canning stage.  Peel the garlic and set aside for the canning stage as well.  Bring the rest of the ingredients (vinegars, water, salt, and sugar) to a boil in a pot and then take off the heat and proceed to the canning stage.

To can the pickles: Follow the more detailed directions in the recipe for dilly beans, with the following specifications.  Fill each half-pint jar with a clove of garlic and one fourth of the hot pepper rings, leaving one inch of headspace at the top of the jar.  Pour the brine into the jar leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jar.  To process, boil the half-pint jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  The hot pepper rings will shrink as they cook in the hot water bath, leaving ample space in the half-pint jars that is only full of brine.  Cooking the hot pepper rings in the brine before packing the half-pint jars would help solve this problem, and for an example of this method see the recipe for banana pepper pickles.

Charred Tomato and Chile Salsa

To finish up the series of summer salsas, here is a tangy and slightly sweet tomato salsa that is just as easy to make as salsa verde: you roast everything and then blend it to death.  Peter wishes it had more smoky flavor, but I’m glad it didn’t.

Just when I thought I was cut-off from canning until holiday gift-giving, my grandma sent me 12 half-pint jars.  Thank you grandma!  Perusing Canning for a New Generation and Food in Jars, I’ve narrowed the future contents of these jars down to:

  1. Strawberry jam with Thai herbs
  2. Sweet red pepper relish
  3. Spiced apple butter
  4. Pear and ginger preserves
  5. Concord grape jam
  6. Peach-plum ginger jam
  7. Sweet-spicy cucumber pepper relish
  8. Pear ginger ginger jam
  9. Peppered balsamic fig jam
  10. Sriracha sauce

Clearly I have to decide between these 10(!) recipes eventually, but as the weekend is still a little ways away, I don’t have to commit just yet.  If you must know, my preference is slightly wavered towards Sriracha sauce (the amazing spicy chile condiment), pear and ginger preserves (I’ve promised myself that only one pear recipe this year is sufficient), and either sweet-spicy cucumber pepper relish (if I have enough cucumbers from the garden) or concord grape jam (if I happen upon concord grapes in a moment of weakness).

Charred Tomato and Chile Salsa (from Canning for a New Generation)
(Makes 5 pints of salsa)
5 pounds tomatoes
10 jalapeno peppers, preferably red (8 ounces)
12 cloves garlic (2 ounces)
3 small onions (1 pound 6 ounces)
1/2 cup cider vinegar (5% acidity)
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar

To make the salsa:   Prepare the tomatoes by cutting out the stems and cutting the tomatoes in half.  Prepare the jalapenos by cutting off the stems and cutting the jalapenos in half length-wise.  Peel the garlic cloves and cut the onions into quarters.  Set the broiler to “high” and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Place the tomatoes cut side down on the baking tray and broil for about 10 minutes, until the skins are blackened in patches.  Move the tomatoes to a heat-proof bowl.  Then broil the other veggies (jalapenos, onions, garlic) until black in places.  When the other veggies are done, put them in a pot large enough to hold all the ingredients.  Now comes the only annoying part: when the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins, keeping only the blackened parts of the skins (this adds flavor).  Combine all the other ingredients in the pot (tomatoes, black bits of tomato skins, vinegar, salt, and sugar) and mix.  If you have an immersion blender, use it to blend the salsa in the pot.  Otherwise, use a conventional blender or food processor to blend the salsa.  Whatever the blending method, return the salsa to the pot and bring it to a boil for 5 minutes.  The salsa is now ready to be canned!

To can the salsa: Follow the detailed instructions for canning in the recipe for dilly beans, with the following specifications.  Fill the sterilized pint jars with salsa leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jar.  Process the jars in a hot water bath for 40 minutes.

Banana Pepper Pickles

Late this past week I was offered a pile of banana peppers from another gardener.  They said they had too many.  This must be an added bonus of gardening: in addition to eating food from your own garden you get to eat food from other people’s too.  Of course I said yes, but it wasn’t until I got back to my apartment that I realized I had absolutely no idea what one does with banana peppers.  The only time I can remember eating them is on Subway sandwiches, in which case they taste rather like they’ve been pickled.  A quick google search confirmed my worry that no one else knows what to do with them either.  The few recipes with banana peppers as a main ingredient involve frying them, stuffing and frying them, putting them into a casserole, and pickling or fermenting them.  As I’m not a huge fan of fried food, the choice was rather obvious: banana pepper pickles.  Perusing Food in Jars, I found the following recipes for hot pepper pickles and jalapeno pickles.  I ended up going with a mixture of the two recipes, using the brine from the jalapeno pickles (white vinegar, water, and salt) and the peppers cut into rings as suggested in the hot pepper pickles recipe.  In addition to the banana peppers, I added a single jalapeno for an extra bit of heat.  The unflavored brine should make these peppers very versatile, perfect for sandwiches or as an addition to salsa or guacamole.

Banana Pepper Pickles
(Enough brine for 2 pint jars)
Banana peppers (enough to fill two pint jars when cut up, about 4-5 cups)
1 jalapeno pepper
2 cups distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons salt

To make the pickle:  Cut the stems off the peppers and cut the peppers into rings.  Don’t worry about removing the seeds.  Place the peppers in a bowl while you make the brine.  Mix the vinegar, water, and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.  As soon as the brine reaches a boil, add the cut up peppers.  As soon as the brine plus peppers reaches a boil again, turn off the heat and proceed with canning.

To can the pickle:  Follow the detailed instructions for canning in the dilly beans recipe, with the following specifications.  Fill the pint jars first with the peppers using a slotted spoon, and then fill in the space with brine using a ladle, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jar.  Process the pint jars of pickle in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Salsa Verde

Normally I’m not a huge fan of salsa verde.  I don’t know why, now that I think about it, so it was only a streak of crazy that led me to make salsa verde myself.  By streak of crazy, I mean: deciding to make every salsa recipe in Canning for a New Generation after trying the peach cilantro salsa from a few weeks ago and after reading the recipe for Roasted Tomato and Chile salsa (more about that later).  I love how no sooner have I uttered any plan of action aloud than I’m forced to eat my words or contend with the unknown.  As luck would have it, I chose the latter and decided to make salsa verde with absolutely no idea of what it should taste like (other than “good”).  Well, it was good.  It may even have been GOOD.  And easy!  I probably only mentally blackmailed myself into trying it because it involved no dicing of spicy peppers: the immersion blender does all the work!

Salsa Verde (from Canning for a New Generation)
(Makes 3-4 pint jars of salsa)
3 1/2 pounds tomatillos
1 medium onion (4 ounces)
5 large serrano chiles
5 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup of roughly chopped fresh cilantro
2/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon salt

To make the salsa:  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.  Prepare the tomatillos by taking off the outer husk, twisting the stem off, and washing them well.  Cut the onion into cubes about one inch thick.  Cut off just the stems of the serrano chiles and whatever you do, DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES!  When the oven is preheated, place the tomatillos, onion cubes, serranos, and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes.  While the veggies are baking, squeeze the lime juice and chop the cilantro.  The veggies are done when the tomatillos are soft and oozing juices, at which point you should move all the roasted veggies into a largish pot and add the cilantro.  Now blend the heck out of that salsa using either an immersion blender (easy!) or a regular blender or food processor (made difficult by the hot liquid, so be careful).  With the blended salsa in the pot, add the lime juice and salt and bring the mixture to a boil.

To can the salsa:  Follow the detailed instructions for hot water bath canning in the recipe for dilly beans, with the following specifications.  Fill the sterilized pint jars with salsa leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of each jar.  Process the pint jars in a hot water bath for 5 minutes.

Cardamom Pluot Jam

In what has been a mad rush to can every fruit and vegetable in sight before the scary Santa Barbara winter drives us all inside (hoping we don’t drown in the impending winter floods), I somehow forgot about plum jam until last week and was a bit irked that there were no plums left to be had.  Fortunately, it was not a total loss, because one stall at the farmer’s market sells an absurdly large number of pluot varieties that seem to be available for nearly half the year.   What is a pluot and how is it different than a plumcot?  While wikipedia will tell you more about this than any sane person would like to know, the salient point is that, by combining plum and apricot genes, new fruit with a multitude of colors are possible.  New colors means awesome-looking jam.  I couldn’t pass up awesome-looking jam, now could I?  A very kind lady handing out samples of pluots pointed me toward the Dapple Dandy pluot variety, saying that they make a lovely pink jam.  I added two dark-skinned pluots to the mix, and the result was a deeply pink-purple jam with a serious kick of cardamom.

Cardamom Pluot Jam (adapted from Canning for a New Generation)
(Makes 5-6 half-pints of jam)
4 pounds of ripe pluots
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon ground cardamom

To make the jam:  Prepare the pluots by pitting them and cutting them into small pieces.  Mix the plums and sugar in a large pot and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.  You’ll probably want to stir the mixture frequently, as the fruit has an annoying tendency to stick to the bottom of the pot.  After 5 minutes, separate the pluot pieces from the juice by using a slotted spoon and transferring all the pluot pieces to a separate heat-proof bowl.  Try to keep as much of the juice in the pot as possible, perhaps spooning some back into the pot from the bowl of pluot pieces.  Bring the juices back to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes to thicken the juices into a syrup.  Then add the pluot pieces back to the pot of syrup, along with the lime juice and cardamom and bring the jam to a simmer for about 15 minutes.  You can test to see when the jam is thick enough by putting some on a plate you’ve stashed in the freezer and then returning said dab of jam on said frozen plate back to the freezer for a minute; the dab of jam should be thickened.

To can the jam:  Follow the detailed canning instructions in the post on dilly beans, with the following specifications.  When the jam is done cooking, pour it into sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Since jam is sticky and has a tendency to get everywhere, don’t forget to wipe the rims of the jars before putting on the lids.  To process the half-pints of jam, boil them in a hot-water bath for 5 minutes.