canning


Let me start this off by saying that this was an experimental batch.  I didn’t have a recipe for the combo, but since we were making Strawberry Jam anyhow and I had more excess Rhubarb in the back yard, I thought “what the hey…”

Um, yeah—-it payed off.  I only wish that I had done the whole 20 jars that way, instead of this small batch of 5-6 jars.  I feel very protective of them at the moment; wanting to hover over them like baby birds.  My sister went home with a jar (see how much I love you, Monkey?!!?!) and there are already a few requests trickling in.  I’ll have to make more soon, as I’m not quite comfortable with the level of selfishness I’m currently feeling.  I’m pretty sure that I could sit down and eat it with a spoon (or over ice cream, or in a tart, or …).  In other words: make this.  Make it now.  If you don’t like to can, or just flat out don’t want to, make it anyways and just stick it in the fridge.  Maybe you’ll feel more like sharing than I did if you know it will go bad if you hoard it.

1.5 lb. Rhubarb, diced
2.5 lb. Strawberries, cut in half
1 pkg. Low-sugar Pectin
2 1/2 to 3 C. Sugar
Juice of one Lemon (pref. a Meyer Lemon if you have one)

Makes: about 6 half-pint jars

Sanitize all of your jars.  Place everything in a large stockpot and bring to a boil, stirring all ingredients together as it heats.  After 5 min, take of the heat and mash with a potato masher or puree in a food processor/blender to desired consistency.  Place back on the heat and boil for another 10-15 min, testing every 5 minutes for desired firmness.*  Can according to instructions that came with your jars or pectin.

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applesauce2

I know it may seem like I’ve been canning a lot recently—probably because I have.  I only do this a few times a year for items that I love, but only love when they’re in season (e.g. tomatoes, salsa, tomato sauce).  Applesauce is the only true fall canning that I do.  I’ve become such a snob about it, I can’t really even eat supermarket varieties anymore (save Trader Joe’s Chunky). We all have our own ideas of what applesauce should be like.  I want mine to be chunky and spiced.  If you don’t, that’s fine, feel free to omit everything but the apples and water if you’d like.  I’ve added brandy before and that’s wonderful too.  The below recipe is my personal favorite and will make your whole house smell heavenly.

Mixed Apples (enough to fill an 8qt. stock pot)
2 T Cinnamon
1 t. Ginger
2 t. Nutmeg
2 t. Allspice
1 Orange, cut into quarters
1/2 C. Brown Sugar (optional)
1 1/2 C. Water

Peel and cut apples into chunks, place in a stockpot with remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil over med-high heat.  Once boiling, turn stove temp to low/simmer and cover with a lid.  Allow apples to cook down until tender (about 30-45 min).  Meanwhile, sanitize glass jars in dishwasher or over the stove.  Remove orange pieces and mash with a potato masher until it is the desired consistency.  Turn the stove back to med-high heat and bring to a boil again, leaving uncovered to allow the rest of the moisture to cook off.   Once enough moisture has cooked off, begin to can.  In a separate pot, boil jar lids for a few minutes.  With a funnel in place, ladle enough to come up about and inch short of the top of the jars, place lid seal on and screw ring on tightly, working quickly as you go.  Wipe any drips up and allow to cool, with out moving the jars for at least 24 hrs.  Bit by bit, you should hear the jars start to seal with a nice “pop.”  I personally love the pop.  It’s my favorite part of canning.  It’s as if the jars are each saying, “look at me, I’m done!”  If your cans came with canning instructions, please follow those instead, as I’m sure they make more sense.  If you have any questions about if one of your cans has sealed, don’t chance it.  Throw it in your fridge and eat it as soon as you can.  It will still be good, just not necessarily shelf-stable.

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Pasta Sauce5

Remember all those tomato plants I planted in the spring?  Well, they’re gone now.  We’ve said our goodbyes and parted ways.  They’ve found their final resting spot in the garbage “green” bin, and I’ve started to move on past tomato soup and pasta salad (e.g. pumpkin pancakes).  Yet, as a sort of standing tribute to the time we’ve had together this summer, I collected all the plants’ fruits and canned tomato sauce yesterday.  Now I can remember them all year and the fun, though brief, time we had together.  Tomato plants, R.I.P.

The Basics:

olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
a bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked and torn
3 x 400g tins of good-quality, whole plum tomatoes (or fresh if you have them)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Things I added:

A couple of glugs of dry Red Wine
A glug or two of Balsamic Vinegar
A Bay Leaf
A couple tsp. of dried Oregano
About 3 Red Chilies, Diced
1 Onion, chopped

(Adapted from Jamie Oliver)

For the sauce:

In a large stockpot, coat the bottom with a generous amount of olive oil.  Add the garlic, onion, and chilies and cook over med-high heat until nicely browned, about 5-10 min.  Then add the tomatoes, wine, and well, everything else.  Cook down for about 30 min or so and puree with an emulsion blender or food processor until just slightly chunky.  Season to taste.  Even with my amenities, this sauce is pretty basic and can be doctored up for just about any occasion (e.g. add crushed red pepper to add a nice kick and then throw in a handful of Parmesan).

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For the canning:

In your dishwasher, clean and heat dry your glass can bottoms (lids removed).  You can also sterilize them in a large pot of boiling water, but I find the first method much easier.  In a small saucepan, place the lids, just barely covering them with water, and bring to a boil.  Place an old (can get stained) dishtowel on the counter and with a sterilized funnel, ladle the sauce into the cans until it reaches about 1-2 inches below the top, sealing each one with it’s lid tightly before moving on to the next one.  If you find the cans to be too hot to touch while twisting the lids on, use an additional towel or wash rag to hold the base.  Once all have been filled and sealed, leave on the counter/towel until you hear/see all the lids pop.  The dot on top should be inverted if sealed.  This may take up to 24 hrs.  If any have not sealed completely (or you have any doubts), place in the fridge for immediate use, or the freezer for longer storage.  Now enjoy yourself some homemade tomato sauce throughout the rest of the year!

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