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What Are You Preserving, and How Are You Doing It? (2006 - 2016)


The Old Foodie
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The citrus is starting to look good here in the markets, so my mind is turning to thoughts of marmalade. I love preserving things - must be the earth-mother in me.

I make marmalade every year - always cumquat and Seville orange, sometimes lemon, and also strawberry jam ("jelly" to those of you "over there"!).

Often for Christmas gifts I do liqueur fruits like apricots in Frangelico or brandy, or prunes in port. I see the thriving Limoncello thread and will definitely make this soon.

On the savoury side, mango chutney is a reasonably regular staple here - mangoes are usually plentiful here although the last season was terrible.

I'd be interested to know what you all enjoy preserving. Maybe we can swap recipes?

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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Like you, I'll be making marmalade soon and I'm about to make quince jelly with the last of the quinces. I didn't make any chutney this year either. I'd love your cumquat marmalade recipe... what can I trade?

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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In a couple weeks, I'll definitely be making huge amounts of strawberry jam -- we have several u-pick fields within ten miles of our home, and since strawberry picking is something my 4-year-old loves doing .... I made very little last year, and regretted it by November. A few batches include rhubarb, which grows like weeds in our backyard. The other thing I like to make is elderberry jelly later in the summer. Not a lot of it because I'm the only one who likes it.

My other big preserving project comes in late August/early September, when I can tomatoes. I either can whole tomatoes with basil, or actually make a sauce. The green ones I use for chutney.

Then there's the apple butter and apple sauce later in the fall. And quince ... oh, I love quince jelly and so does my son, but it's easier to buy it from the Trappist monks nearby than do it myself. There's only one orchard I've found that sells homegrown quince, and very few of them.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

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...... strawberry jam ("jelly" to those of you "over there"!).

I think jelly is different than jam. Jam is made with fruit cooked with the sugar to the setting point; jelly is fruit cooked then strained, and the remaining juice is then cooked with the sugar.

I've done some preserving in the past but haven't done too much in recent years. Usually I find a lot of jams too sweet, and I've never found an answer as to whether I can reduce the sugar content significantly and still get good results without adjusting anything else. Does anyone know?

Every year I do make apple butter and apple paste though, and this year I'd like to try other fruit pastes if I get time.

I've never actually made a marmalade but I do have a ton of recipes for them.... apple & ginger, ginger & orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, cumquat, orange & lemon & grapefruit, pineapple & lime & grapefruit..... (don't now if these recipes are any good or not though.... :wink: )

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Like you, I'll be making marmalade soon and I'm about to make quince jelly with the last of the quinces.  I didn't make any chutney this year either.  I'd love your cumquat marmalade recipe... what can I trade?

Hello fou, you can give me your quince jelly recipe, if you will! I have not had much experience cooking quinces, although I love them - I think I am a bit intimidated by them. I wish someone would start a "Things to do with quinces" thread!

What other chutney do you make when you dont make mango?

I only have one recipe for marmalade – it doesn’t matter which citrus I use, the proportions of sugar and fruit, and the method are the same. I do have some “tricks” that I have learned, that make the process easier and I think result in better flavour. So – here is the generic method, with some random thoughts thrown in:

1. I only make small batches at a time – 3 or 4 jars worth. Small batches means shorter cooking times at both stages, so therefore better flavour. Even if I have a large amount of fruit I do several small batches (an added bonus of this is that if you over- or under-cook one batch, it is not all spoiled)

2. I almost always freeze the fruit first – just wash it, bag it, and stick it in the freezer. This makes for convenience as sometimes fruit is in season when you are too busy to make the jam, but also once it is frozen the fruit is (a) easier to cut up – especially useful with those pesky little cumquats, which are a real labour of love, and (b) the fruit takes a lot less cooking because the rind is already soft – so again, better flavour. I read this trick many years ago in a magazine article – the writer said she was cleaning up after a large party and found a large bowl of lemon wedges which hadn’t made their way into drinks. Being unwilling to waste them she stuck them in the freezer, and some time later decided to try marmalading them.

3. Any “daggy” bits of the fruit, such as the trimmings from the stem ends, and the pips etc, plus any leftover lemon rinds which I have also been storing in the freezer, I put in another small pan and cook it fairly hard while I am slicing the good fruit – I just keep on tossing in the trimmings that I dont want to appear in the final version. When I am ready to do the final stage, I just pour this through a sieve into the mixture and include it in the measuring. Adds flavour and pectin – although pectin isn’t usually a problem with citrus jams.

4. I know that because cumquat slicing is labour intensive, some people put the fruit in the blender or processor – this works well and the flavour is good, but the appearance (to my mind) is not so good. I cut the cumquats up, painstaking as it is, because I am making this for the special people in my life who are marmalade connoisseurs. I think the blender method would be fine for fund-raising or similar efforts.

5. I use as little water as possible – often none at all. If the fruit is juicy, it doesn’t need it, and we are talking about superb flavour, extra-special marmalade here, not an imitation of weak generic commercial marmalade, aren’t we? If I add water, it is just the minimum to cover the fruit; sometimes I add extra citrus juice. This can be a way to play with flavours too, although I usually like to keep them “pure”.

6. At this point, if you dont have time, you can leave the fruit soaking overnight to assist in softening the rind – again, the theory of minimising boiling time and maximising flavour.

7. Cook the fruit (sliced rind, pip-free pulp, and juice) until the rind is just tender.

Measure the volume (include the extra pectin-liquid if you have made it), and add an equal volume of sugar. Sometimes you can get away with ¾ cup of sugar to fruit if you have made it with minimal water, but any less and you compromise jelling and keeping qualities. I usually tip the boiled fruit into a large bowl, and rinse out the preserving pan before I put the fruit and sugar back in – I have an idea that it helps reduce the risk of sticking and burning.

8. At this point you can again leave it overnight (or even a couple of days, if you are busy) – the sugar will slowly dissolve, especially if you have added it to the hot fruit.

9. When and only when the sugar is fully dissolved, turn up the heat and take out the stirring spoon. The rules of jam-boiling say “thou shalt not stir while the jam is jamming.”. I must admit that if I am in fear of the jam sticking and burning to the bottom edge of the pot, around the edge, I do sometimes very slowly and carefully stir around this edge with a wooden spoon to loosen any potential sticking bits. The jam gods have not punished me yet, and I justify it on the grounds that the risk is greater when you are making a small quantity.

10. Skim off the scummy stuff from time to time with a perforated spoon, as it boils – it is perfectly edible but spoils the appearance.

11. What you are waiting and watching for now is the magical “setting point”. There are all sorts of tricks to tell you when this has happened, but I use the cold saucer waiting in the freezer method. Periodically drop a drop or two of the jam onto the cold saucer and let it cool for a moment. If it leaves a track when you push your finger through it, it is done. You need to underestimate it, as the jam keeps cooking as it cools in the jars. One other clue is that the boiling jam starts to sound different. The bubbles make a larger “plopping” noise when it is getting close.

12. When it is done, pour it into your sterilised HOT jars, wipe the rims, put the lids on tight, and leave to cool. A lot of experts advise that you immediately invert the jars for 2 minutes then restore them to right way up – the idea being that you “scald” the inside of the lid, and reduce the risk of mould. I dont usually bother, and cant say its been an issue, and in any case jam-mould is not harmful to humans, you just scrape it off.

13. You can add a little whiskey or brandy or whatever before you bottle the jam - just stir it in carefully when you have taken it off the heat.

Have fun.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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Froze strawberries, when they were in season, for making jam later on. Departed from my usual chutney recipes to try out one in an Elizabeth David book, a mild apricot chutney. A huge bunch of basil came in the CSA box, so I made some pesto to keep in the fridge, and some to freeze. Frozen is never the same, but it's better than no pesto when basil goes out of style for the season. Oregano, sage, thyme and rosemary all dried and put away in jars. Oh yes, earlier I bought 10 kg. of green garlic, and hung it up in bunches to dry. When the stalks were withered and hard, I cut them and arranged the bulbs in large straw baskets. That should be enough garlic to last till next spring.

Usually when a new fruit crop comes in, like peaches and apricots, I make a small amount of preserves, but ferment most of what I buy. Last summer's wines are very good now!

I'm thinking of making oven-dried tomatoes this summer. I asked the CSA farmer to let me buy some of his expected tomato surplus for that. Another good way to use up tons of tomtoes is to cook your favorite tomatoe sauce down to a thick paste, spread it on wax paper and let it dry till leathery in a warm, ventilated place. Then cut this tomato leather into strips, roll them up in balls and store them in a jar. Use a tomato ball in any savory dish. Packed in olive oil, they also make a fine hostess or holiday gift.

And the valuable verdurette, which contributes depth to so many kinds of food. It lasts for a year in the fridge.

Miriam

Miriam Kresh

blog:[blog=www.israelikitchen.com][/blog]

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Oh yes, earlier I bought 10 kg. of green garlic, and  hung it up in bunches to dry. When the stalks were withered and hard, I cut them and arranged the bulbs in large straw baskets. That should be enough garlic to last till next spring.

Miriam

I like to do a lot of roasted garlic in olive oil, it keeps well and the oil is fantastic. Also when ginger is very fresh with almost no peel, I buy a lot, chop it in the processor, and cover it with sherry. It keeps indefinitely, you can make it as chunky or smooth as you like, and the sherry is great in stir-fries etc.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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I haven't done that with ginger, but it sounds excellent. It reminds me of a book I own but which I've never done anything with, "Herbed-Wine Cuisine", by Janet Therese Mancuso. In it the author advises how to infuse red, white, and rose wines to use in cooking: with a rosemary and garlic Chardonnay, you can create an onion and zuke tart; a Chablis Blanc infused with herbs, lemon and garlic contribute to lemon stuffed fish fillets. However, the ginger and sherry sounds much more user-friendly, not to mention less expensive to keep on hand.

What I do is freeze a whole "hand" of ginger root and grate as much as I need while it's still frozen. If the frozen root is allowed to thaw out, it goes horribly mushy, so I pop it back into the freezer as soon as the grating is done. The ginger lasts a year frozen with no noticeable deterioration of flavor.

Does the roasted-garlic oil keep well in the fridge? In the springtime, I like to infuse olive oil with plenty of fresh green garlic and fresh oregano for salad dressing; it keeps for about 6 weeks, then the garlic starts tasting stale. I'm wondering if cooked garlic would keep longer. The taste is probably mellower than the bite of fresh garlic, yes?

Miriam

Edited by Miriam Kresh (log)

Miriam Kresh

blog:[blog=www.israelikitchen.com][/blog]

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Does the roasted-garlic oil keep well in the fridge? In the springtime, I like to infuse olive oil with plenty of fresh green garlic and fresh oregano for salad dressing; it keeps for about 6 weeks, then the garlic starts tasting stale. I'm wondering if cooked garlic would keep longer. The taste is probably mellower than the bite of fresh garlic, yes?

Miriam

The garlic oil keeps really well - it solidifies a bit in the fridge, but soon "melts".

The taste is wonderfully mellow. Sometimes I over-roast the garlic (sometimes accidentally, sometimes not!) and with some EVO it makes a sort of smooth puree. I guess in an ideal kitchen there would be a bit of both - complete cloves to toss into all sorts of dishes like roasted veges and chicken casseroles, and some mash or puree for others. I love it in hummus and other bean dips.

I suspect fresh garlic in oil would not keep so well due to the water content in the fresh plant. I know I once made some lemon grass oil, and because I aimed for very intense flavour, I put loads of fresh lemon grass in, and after a while it just sort of went ugly and fermented. The same thing happened with parmesan oil when I had too much cheese for the amount of rind.

The flavoured wine idea sounds great. I've made lots of flavoured vinegars, but he wines would be good in sweet dishes.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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Hello fou, you can give me your quince jelly recipe, if you will! I have not had much experience cooking quinces, although I love them - I think I am a bit intimidated by them.  I wish someone would start a "Things to do with quinces" thread!

Old Foodie, don't let those big bumpy quinces push you around! :) They make wonderful jelly, and come with their own supply of pectin, so they're probably the most foolproof jelly ingredient there is!

Cloves marry very well with quinces, and you can add one or two cloves to the "recipes" below.

For Jelly:

I don't have a recipe exactly. Do jelly and preserves a little early when the quinces are not overripe. I quarter and then cut into 8ths the quinces leaving the peels on, and save the seeds (these are covered in pectin). Add enough water just to cover, and boil till the quinces are very soft. Put the mess in a jelly bag and let drain. They say not to squeeze the bag as you won't have clear jelly...I squeeze and get more jelly even if a bit cloudy. :)

While the quinces are dripping, simmer the seeds/cores in enough water to cover, for around 20 minutes. Strain and add to the juice you've strained.

Add sugar to taste - if it was a kilo of quinces I end up using about the same amount of sugar.

Add the juice of a small lemon (optional).

Boil and do the typical doneness test, though for me it tends to set up quite nicely even before it's really "sheeting" off the spoon.

For preserves: Equal parts quinces and sugar. Peel, core and grate the quinces. Put together with sugar, let macerate an hour or so. You can add some water if you need to. (some quinces are juicier than others) Some people add lemon juice, I don't. Boil the mixture till the quince is tender.

Here you have two choices. Turkish "reçel" (preserves) tend to consist more of fruit pieces in syrup, while in the west we tend to go more for gelled preserves. If you want it to gel, boil the seeds and add the water to the preserves, and boil till you see it thickening.

If you want a typical Turkish one, leave the seeds out. Necip Usta's recipe also includes 100g of corn syrup per kilo of fruit, though I can't say I've done it or would care to....!

"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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To keep this separate from the quince recipe -- some other things I'll be preserving this summer:

Morello cherries - my favorite fruit preserves. I like to add some ground bitter almonds to them, not too many.

Red plums - the new house I've moved to has a tree that is completely bent over with them, and I figure it should be about 3 weeks before we're swimming in them...

Black mulberries - these are the huge, sweet-tart ones with intense hot pink/purple juice. Also an enormous tree of them in the yard. I've had very nice mulberry preserves here, but have never tried it myself. Most of the mulberry "reçel" I had, I found a bit too runny though, so I'll be experimenting. I'm also going to make liqueur out of them.

Black plums - not sure what the exact variety is - there is a Sunday market in one neighborhood here that is held by farmers from around the area of Inebolu/Kastamonu, about 8 hours east of Istanbul. every August they bring in baskets and baskets of small "prune-type" plums, which are very very dark red-purple, almost black, and have a slight bitter overtone. They're okay for eating, but make the best plum jam I've ever had. Two years ago I missed the season, and made do with good purple prune plums available in normal markets, but it was nowhere close.

Apricots have just come onto the market, and if I want to preserves I had better get on the stick...the first ones to come are the sweet-tart ones that are great for preserves. These are followed by the `sekerpare` variety, mostly from Malatya, which is very sweet and nice for eating (even the still-crunchy ones are sweet) but they are not very interesting for cooking; you need that tartness.

Savory things:

I've already made a pickle of a plant called "kayakorugu" here, the latin name is Crithmum maritimum. I've seen it referred to as "Rock Samphire" but that name also gets used for saltbrush (which is also eaten). The one I'm talking about is in the parsley family, it has large, succulent divided leaves that are gray/blue, and clusters of yellow flowers. It grows in big stands by the seaside. There could not be an easier pickle to make - Take the tender leaves (before flowering, when they tend to get a bit tough), soak them overnight in brine, then pack into jars and pour wine vinegar over. A clove or two of garlic in each jar also is very good. You can eat them as is, or put them on salads: here is some on a Greek salad.

http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/11493026..._3012_43801.jpg

I've also made up my mind that I want to make a good batch of Iranian eggplant pickles (cooked, pressed eggplant, mixed with a variety of spices including turmeric, garlic, mint and nigella and then mixed with salt and vinegar) as well as Iranian mixed pickles (finely cut peppers, cucumbers, green beans, cauliflower, celery, the kitchen sink, green tomato, eggplant, lots of parsley, cilantro, thyme, mint, garlic, steeped in vinegar). Except that we can't normally get celery here, so when I want that flavor in something I use the greens of celeriac.

"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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Old Foodie, don't let those big bumpy quinces push you around!  :)  They make wonderful jelly, and come with their own supply of pectin, so they're probably the most foolproof jelly ingredient there is!

Thanks sazji ! I already have quinces, in the hope that someone would rescue me. Funny, I'm not in the least bit intimidated by pastry, which several of my foodie friends wont tackle. There is almost nothing that I haven't cooked at some time - not live lobsters though.

I cant think of anything else food-wise that intimidates me -artichokes make me a bit nervous though.

Is that a new thread? "Foods that I am afraid to cook"? A bit different from food phobias, like on a previous thread about fear of peanut butter.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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Black plums - not sure what the exact variety is - there is a Sunday market in one neighborhood here that is held by farmers from around the area of Inebolu/Kastamonu, about 8 hours east of Istanbul. every August they bring in baskets and baskets of small "prune-type" plums, which are very very dark red-purple, almost black, and have a slight bitter overtone. They're okay for eating, but make the best plum jam I've ever had. Two years ago I missed the season, and made do with good purple prune plums available in normal markets, but it was nowhere close.

I've also made up my mind that I want to make a good batch of Iranian eggplant pickles (cooked, pressed eggplant, mixed with a variety of spices including turmeric, garlic, mint and nigella and then mixed with salt and vinegar) as well as Iranian mixed pickles (finely cut peppers, cucumbers, green beans, cauliflower, celery, the kitchen sink, green tomato, eggplant, lots of parsley, cilantro, thyme, mint, garlic, steeped in vinegar).  Except that we can't normally get celery here, so when I want that flavor in something I use the greens of celeriac.

Sazji, I was in Istanbul in February last year - only 5 days - I absolutely loved it. If I come again, and you have a pantry full of preserves like the ones you have listed, I'm coming to visit you!

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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Old Foodie, sorry I haven't gotten back sooner with the quince recipe! Luckily sazji spoke up. My recipe is much like sazji's. The difference is that I peel and core the quinces and slice the flesh. I put the trimmings in the bottom of a pot and cover them with cheesecloth then I put the sliced flesh on top and cover all with water. Poach all of this until you just have that lovely rosy tint and lift the cheesecloth containing your (now) poached slices out of the pan. Then strain the cores and peels and proceed as usual.

I like this because I get two results from one product, my inner cheapskate revels as I serve poussins with poached quince and wild figs for dinner, then have quince jelly on toast at breakfast the next morning.

Thanks for your marmalde recipe, I will try it soon!

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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I don't have that much experience with preserving and jam making, so the tips here are great, especially The Old Foodie's list. Maybe someone with more experience can help me with a problem I encountered yesterday while doing blackberry preserves. The recipe from Ball Blue Book was for 2 lbs of berries to 4 cups of sugar - combine until juices flow, bring to a boil, and boil to just before the gelling point. Then into jars and a 10 minute water bath. I had a little under 1 lb (14.5 oz), so I used a little under 2 cups of sugar. I stopped the cooking when it was "sleeting" off the spoon, and got 1 8 oz jar into the water bath, with another half jar I stuck in the fridge. When I opened the jar in the fridge later, the preserves had turned the consistency of concrete! What did I do wrong / how do I do it better in future batches?

Anyone doing interesting salsa? I've done tiny batches of raspberry chipotle, and peach ginger habanero, and I do large batches of a sweet tomato salsa that my dad loves, which is basically a slightly better version of like a mild Pace. I'd like to explore more of the fruity/hot/smoky combinations. Those are fun to take to a get-together.

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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I don't have that much experience with preserving and jam making, so the tips here are great, especially The Old Foodie's list.  Maybe someone with more experience can help me with a problem I encountered yesterday while doing blackberry preserves.  The recipe from Ball Blue Book was for 2 lbs of berries to 4 cups of sugar - combine until juices flow, bring to a boil, and boil to just before the gelling point.  Then into jars and a 10 minute water bath.  I had a little under 1 lb (14.5 oz), so I used a little under 2 cups of sugar.  I stopped the cooking when it was "sleeting" off the spoon, and got 1 8 oz jar into the water bath, with another half jar I stuck in the fridge.  When I opened the jar in the fridge later, the preserves had turned the consistency of concrete!  What did I do wrong / how do I do it better in future batches?

It sounds like two issues:

It sounds like overcooking. I dont know why the water-bath is suggested - I've never ever done it - it is pretty difficult to get poisoned by jam or jelly because bugs that make humans ill dont like high sugar. Sure, they can get a bit of mould on the top, but it is not harmful - just not pleasing to look at, - and can be scraped off. If you are nervous about mould you can invert the hot jars for a couple of minutes to "sterilise" the lids, then put them right way up to finish cooling. If you use sterilised jars it should not be necessary . I "sterilise" by putting the jars in the dishwasher on hot cycle, then put them in a cool oven , bring it up to 120Celcius and maintain it for 20 mins - this is more than enough, probably for jams and jellies just the dishwasher is enough, as long as the jars are dry.

jam/jelly continues to "cook" from its retained heat after you take it off the stove, so it is better to underestimate the cooking time - you can always tip it back in the pan and cook a bit longer if you need too.

It also sounds like a lot of sugar - I always put one cup of sugar to one cup of the cooked fruit, a bit less if it is a high pectin fruit like citrus for marmalade.

Another tip is that if you are using a low-pectin fruit like berries, if you dont want to buy powdered pectin, is to add some lemon juice, or use some apple juice instead of the water to cover the fruit, or you can boil up apple skins and cores, lemon peels etc in some water and use it. If you use good pectin, you can get away with a bit less sugar (so more fruit flavour) - although if you use too little you can affect the keeping qualities.

Keep experimenting! Jam/jelly making is a bit like bread - you get the "feel" for it after a while.

P.S you could cook your blackberry preserve down even drier and make it into fruit paste (fruit leather) and serve with your cheese platter instead of expensive quince paste.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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It sounds like two issues:

It sounds like overcooking. I dont know why the water-bath is suggested - I've never ever done it - it is pretty difficult to get poisoned by jam or jelly because bugs that make humans ill dont like high sugar. Sure, they can get a bit of mould on the top, but it is not harmful - just not pleasing to look at, - and can be scraped off.  If you are nervous about mould you can invert the hot jars for a couple of minutes to "sterilise" the lids, then put them right way up to finish cooling. If you use sterilised jars it should not be necessary . I "sterilise" by putting the jars in the dishwasher on hot cycle, then put them in a cool oven , bring it up to 120Celcius and maintain it for 20 mins - this is more than enough, probably for jams and jellies just the dishwasher is enough, as long as the jars are dry.

All the recipes in the books I have for jams/jellies call for a precise amount of headspace and then a water bath. I've heard that simply lidding the jars, or even inverting them while hot is an old-fashioned method, and not considered safe. I didn't learn about preserving from anyone, so I have no sense of the history behind different methods. I've learned from the internet and from books. One of the things I've noticed is that Europeans seem much less uptight about things needing to be held at X temperature for exactly X minutes than Americans. Almost like Europeans treat it more as an art form. I've been warned time and time again on other forumns that I'll poison someone if I'm not water-bathing, and that I should never make up my own recipe because precise ratios are the only thing standing between me and botulism. It all makes a novice canner from Kansas a little nervous.

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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All the recipes in the books I have for jams/jellies call for a precise amount of headspace and then a water bath.  I've heard that simply lidding the jars, or even inverting them while hot is an old-fashioned method, and not considered safe.  I didn't learn about preserving from anyone, so I have no sense of the history behind different methods.  I've learned from the internet and from books.  One of the things I've noticed is that Europeans seem much less uptight about things needing to be held at X temperature for exactly X minutes than Americans.  Almost like Europeans treat it more as an art form.  I've been warned time and time again on other forumns that I'll poison someone if I'm not water-bathing, and that I should never make up my own recipe because precise ratios are the only thing standing between me and botulism.  It all makes a novice canner from Kansas a little nervous.

I think that the human race would have died out long since, if we were all that fragile. There are certainly some things that are risky, like home-canning of beans (does risk botulism), but high sugar things like jams are Ok and high acid things like tomatoes. Anything with a lot of salt or sugar is Ok.

What people dont realise is that only certain bacteria are bad - most are harmless (and many are helpful) . One of the theories about the increased incidence of asthma, for example, is the "hygiene hypothesis" - that is, that we are so neurotic about bacteria that we keep our kids so scrupulously clean and never allow them to get dirty that their immune system does not get challenged enough, and goes slightly haywire.

I dont know about the mould/invert the lids thing - but I do know that jam mould is totally harmless to humans.

I suspect that a very clean home-kitchen approach to cooking, especially clean hands to handle food, results in a "cleaner" product than some commercial kitchens!

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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I really got into jam making when I bought a copy of Christine Ferber's book a few years ago. Her basic method is too let the fruit and sugar sit for a bit, then bring to a simmer and leave overnight in the fridge before boiling down the mixture the next day. I usually do a very minimal hot water bath in my Weck canning jars. Probably my favorite is the apricot (I use local Bleneheims or Royals), with the addition of vanilla bean. I'll also be making boysenberry (I planted a vine last year) and plum. I'm working on some cherry jam right now; I haven't found sour cherries here in Southern California, so sweet will have to suffice. I'm also interested in trying black/Persian mulberry this year. I have a small tree in a pot on the patio, but I don't think it will produce enough for me to preserve my own berries, which is too bad since a small container sells for $10 at the farmer's market!

I believe that Ms. Ferber said that she does invert her jars to seal sometimes. I tried that with my Weck jars, though, and the jam leaked out. I think you need the screw top jars. Like I said, I don't process the jars very long. I thought about not doing it, but I figured I'd rather do a short boil in case I didn't get the jars clean enough in the first place. I've never had a problem with spoiled jam; even after I open a jar, it can sit in the fridge for many weeks, if not months.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was out to lunch yesterday with my child and her filipina nanny. We had philipine spring rolls served with 'ketsup'. The nanny asked me if I could make her some of this traditional ketsup that is served with lumpia (the spring rolls). My attempts to ferret out the recipe at the restaurant were unsucessful and my internet search gave me 6 pages of the same recipe, which did not seem to contain the same ingredients that were listed on the bottle label that I was able to find online.

Turns out the secret ingredient is bananas, yet this looked just like tomato ketsup.

So today I created a Banana Ketsup recipe from the ingredients on the bottle and made a very nice sauce that I think is going to be great on a variety of breaded and fried things, not the least of which would be french fries.

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It sometimes happens that you find yourself looking at a big load of vegetables and wondering how to use them before they go to waste. For me this happens in the springtime when I unpack more leafy greens out of my CSA box than my family can eat in one week. The solution is verdurette, a blend of vegetables preserved in salt. It's a versatile instant flavor boost, and stays good in the fridge for 1 year. And it really uses up garden abundance. The way I learned to make it is like this:

1 part alliums - onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, spring onions, chives. I love garlic, so a lot of my allium part is garlic, with smaller amounts of onions and the rest.

1 part root vegetables: celeriac, carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, parsley root, etc. Not recommended: beets.

1 part aromatics: parsley, cilantro, celery, a tsp. or so of fresh or dried sage, thyme, etc.

1 part leaves: lettuce, wild greens, beet greens, kale, chard, whichever leafy greens you have on hand. Not recommended: cabbage. Unless you love sourkraut.

1 part table salt. The salt preserves the vegetables.

Use the food processor to chop the vegetables finely. Pulse to get a blend as close to a puree as possible. Put the salt into a bowl and mix the vegetables into it. Pack the verdurette into a clean, dry jar, cover tightly, and store in the fridge. It will keep up to one year.

Notes:

1. What constitutes "a part"? I use one cup as my part measurement. That makes about a kilo and a half of verdurette. But you could decide to use only 1/4 cup as your basic measure, or even a tablespoon. Just keep the proportions even.

2. You may vary the recipe according to taste or necessity: if it suits you to use only one variety for each part (only onions, carrots, parsley, radish greens) - 'tis up to you. Except to weigh the allium part heavily towards garlic and onion, I just grind up whatever else is on hand at the time. The root part of my present mix has a large proportion of sweet potatoes in it; I had an excess of those at the time I made it. Or you may want to preserve just one vegetable in salt, if for example you find yourself with a ton of carrots (and are sure you will use carrot verdurette). How about a baby food jar of chive flower verdurette? Just keep the proportion of 4 parts veg to 1 part salt.

3. Use verdurette sparingly till you get used to judging the saltiness it adds to your cooking. For me, 1 tsp. is enough for 1 cup of raw rice; 1 Tblsp for a liter of water.

4. It might seem that frequent use of verdurette would make all your food taste the same; well, if it became your exclusive seasoning, it would. I use it to add a bass note to cooking, something to enrich and deepen the flavors of dishes rather than as an all-purpose seasoning.

5. How to use verdurette? Saute a very little in butter and pour eggs to scramble on top. Simmer some in water as instant vegetable stock. Mix it with olive oil and lemon juice and marinate chicken or fish in it. Substitute it for regular salt in a savory bread. Add a teaspoon or two to your regular tomato sauce. Add a tablespoon to stew. Just keep tasting for saltiness. I'm planning on baking sole in a light cheese sauce for lunch: to add interest, I'll put a little verdurette in the roux. Verdurette fits in almost any cooked dish.

6. Brassicas are not suitable for verdurette - unless you love the idea of a small quantity of broccoli verdurette always on hand to feed your broccoli habit.

Although I use verdurette only in one dish of any given meal (to avoid monotony), I find that my jar empties out quickly and that I have to make fresh every two or three months. Depends on the season and the number of people going through the house at mealtimes.

Miriam

Miriam Kresh

blog:[blog=www.israelikitchen.com][/blog]

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Miriam, that verdurette sounds absolutely amazing! I have never come across anything like it - not even in very old cookbooks.

I am using this recipe for "Tomato Figs" in a post to my blog next week, and it really intrigues me. It is from a Scientific American magazine in 1852.

Tomato Figs.

The following is the method of preserving tomatoes in Bermuda, and thereby manufacturing a sweet preserve something like figs:-

Take six pounds of sugar to one peck (or sixteen pounds) of the fruit, scald and remove the skin of the fruit in the usual way, cook them over a fire, their own juice being sufficient without the addition of water, until the sugar penetrates and they are clarified, they are then shaken out, spread on dishes, flattened, and dried in the sun. A small quantity of the syrup should be occasionally sprinkled over them whilst drying, after which pack them down in boxes, treating each layer with powdered sugar. The syrup is afterwards concentrated and bottled for use. They keep from year to year, and retain their flavor surprisingly, which is nearly that of the best quality of fresh figs. The pear-shaped or single tomatoes answer the purpose best. Ordinary brown sugar may be used, a large portion of which is retained in the syrup.

I've had them dried, and had them in syrup, but this is very unusual. Has anyone ever done anything like this with tomatoes?

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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I recently did some persimmon chutney (for recipe go to http://cookingdownunder.com/articles/2006/230.htm ) along with some aubergine achar to enjoy with our winter curry dishes. I've got a bowl of quinces sitting in the kitchen waiting for me. I've also preserved another batch of lemons ( http://cookingdownunder.com/articles/2005/204.htm ) for Middle Eastern dishes. At Christmas (summer here) I pickled some cherries ( http://cookingdownunder.com/articles/2005/216.htm ) and we are still enjoying those with duck breast.

Edited by Pat Churchill (log)

Website: http://cookingdownunder.com

Blog: http://cookingdownunder.com/blog

Twitter: @patinoz

The floggings will continue until morale improves

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Janet,

The friend who taught me to make verdurette says its a Provencal seasoning. I must say, I had never heard of it either, although I can't claim to have done the kind of research you do.

Those tomato figs sound wonderful, as do Pat's preserves. Alas, I'm the only one who will eat preserves and pickles in the family - well, once in a while someone might try a little chutney, as a favor. I make small quantities just for myself and guests, and for gifts.

I've sometimes allowed lemons to just dry out by themselves over a couple of summer's weeks. They shrink and go hard, but don't spoil. Later on, you can just rinse one and pop it into a stew (old-fashioned, heavy stews like cholent are the better for the lemon, I think), or break it up and add half to a pot of tea. Persian dried lemons and limes are available in the shouk, but they are very expensive, and these home-dried ones are just as good.

Miriam

Miriam Kresh

blog:[blog=www.israelikitchen.com][/blog]

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