Thursday, August 20, 2009

Been busy canning

If you are wondering where I have been for the past couple of weeks, it's where I usually am: the kitchen. The current big project is fermenting cucumbers for kosher-style dills. It seems to be going fine, though a little slower than I would like. It is also a little labor intensive. I have to open up the 5.5 gal pail every day and skim off the scum that comes from the fermenting. Because of that, and the fact that it is a very heavy pail, it is living on the kitchen counter beside the sink. After almost three weeks it is getting a little old. But still kind of magic. A few hollow cukes but apparently to be expected. A little garlicy, a bit of chile burn. Probably need another week. I decided this year that fermenting pickles in the house might smell better than curing pork and beef in the wine cooler. That was one stinky project.

Other “fruits” of my labor:

- Honeydew syrup (left from candying honeydew melon. It really does taste like honey!

- Blueberry pie filling, dark cherry pie filling, and cherryberry pie filling. Was a bear to find ClearJel, and had to buy it in a 25-lb bag! ClearJel is a modified cormstarch that holds its jell even at pressure canning temps.

- Stone fruit compote. Just too much stone fruit in our Tiny’s CSA basket, hated to have it go to waste.

- Blueberry butter. Spiced like apple butter, you use the liquid component to make and can blueberry syrup. About a dozen of each.

- Jalapeno-mint jelly. It is made for pouring over cream cheese! Have done that for two parties and everyone sucked it up like kids at a party when they know the punch is spiked.

- Sweet-and-sour pickles. More vinegar in the syrup than for plain sweets, these are processed like you are candying fruit or making sweet gherkins. Avowed sweet-pickle haters are fans.

- I got a big pressure canner this year and so am canning my stocks, including lobster, shellfish, chicken, and beef as well as the "juice" for Italian beef sandwiches. I think I am also going to preserve my veal demi in half-pint jars.

- Tomato sauce. Just from one box of Romas but may pick up some more at Cash&Carry and do some more.

- Green chile salsa. Charred the chiles myself, mix of poblano and Anaheim. Muy delicioso!

I'll say it again: Preserving is just kind of magic. Despite the fact that I have picked all of the hottest days of the year to run my canners!

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