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Anyone preserving, canning or putting food up these days?

[The Chowhound Team moved this discussion from the Los Angeles board]

So I've decided to start putting food up this summer in an effort to reduce my carbon footprint this winter. Is anyone else putting food up these days? What have you been preserving and what looks good?

I'm using the classic books "Stocking Up" and "Putting Food By" and I'm starting tomorrow with a trip to the Hollywood Farmer's Market at the end of the day. Would love to hear from anyone else doing some preserving. My goal is to preserve some kind of seasonal produce every weekend.

Would love to share tips and pointers to what's seasonal and local in and around L.A. these days and how to put that seasonal/local produce up.

Cheers,

PDA
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  1. With the extraordinary frost back in January coupled with the dry spring, the stone fruits are the star right now... peaches and nectarines are in great supply... the flavor and sweetness are legendary as well...

    1 Reply
    1. re: bulavinaka

      Thanks bulavinaka! Will keep my eye out at the farmer's market! I'll be canning tomato sauce, romas, green tomato relish, and cherry tomato jam. I'm going to have to dust off my mom's bread and butter pickle and "4 berry" jam recipe too!:)

    2. Have made rhubarb conserve, cherry conserve, nectarine preserves, an apricot orange thing - taking a break now but may do something with plums. Fruit has been EXCELLENT this year!

      1. Planning on doing pickles when they finally are ready. Short lifespan ones like koshers and cornis and possibly canned ones if I have access to enough cukes. I also plan on making salsa (canned) and some frozen tomato products. We have a garden but usually buy things when there is an overabundance at the farmers market. All the stands seem to get a glut of the same items toward the end of summer. You can get produce extremely cheap. I am also planning on doing apple butter and some frozen apples for baking. Our local apple orchard does windfall apples for 25 cents a pound in September.

        15 Replies
        1. re: blackpointyboots

          Just pickled dills; have three radishes pickling-Icicle, French Breakfast and Easter Egg's; pickled blue lake and wax beans; preserved lemons and clementines (citrus stinks now though)

          Also we cured Chorizo, Soppresata, Tuscan Salami, Guanciale, Pancetta, Bacon, Wild Boar Pancetta, Merguez and Lardo...all ready when my new restaurant opens.

          1. re: chefthisguy

            Ugh so frustrating -- just back from Home Depot and they don't have any jars or pots big enough for hot baths -- where are you all getting your supplies?

            1. re: piedsdesanges

              i have been making preserves from kumquats, mandarin oranges and tangelo's from my own garden for several years. very pleased with the results. been buying my jars at "big lots" - they always seem to have them. have also seen canning supplies at OSH and "smart 'n final".

              1. re: justanotherpenguin

                I checked at OSH, where I have typically gotten jars. The OSH location in West LA no longer stocks jars. Neither does the Smart n Final in the area. So, I found jars at Ralphs. Or I buy them on-line at www.mcmaster.com.

              2. re: piedsdesanges

                you can go on line to get canning supplies if your local does not carry. I go to the dollar store, the big lots store, the walmart, local small grocery store, sometimes the veggie market carries all the canning supplies I need.....any local grocery store would have what you need,.,,rarely go to home depot or lowes or other home improvement....they never have what I want.

                Ball has a nice site for supplies and recipes. I have a sleu myself,,,too many to post....If you can not find what you are looking for as far as recipes go, shoot me a personal message and I will see what I can do for you.

                1. re: piedsdesanges

                  Family-owned hardware store. But I am in the country, where people do that sort of thing, and where there are family-owned hardware stores. Wegman's has jars, so does Wal-Mart, Target sometimes. Bed Bath & Beyond etc might have big lobster-sized pots.

                  1. re: piedsdesanges

                    Wal Mart has canning supplies at reasonable costs. Other stores around like Freds, Target and the like also carry these products. You can buy directly from the company at Ball.com and surejell.com. Have fun!

                    1. re: piedsdesanges

                      I get everything I need at Agway.

                      1. re: piedsdesanges

                        Wal-Mart usually has a great supply of canning supplies. I even found my pressure canner there as well.

                        1. re: piedsdesanges

                          I live in New York and have found it virtually impossible to find canning supplies. They don't carry jars in any of the normal places- hardware stores, grocery stores, whatever. I have found some jars in specialty kitchen stores, but they are way over priced in my opinion.

                          I've been ordering online (http://www.canningpantry.com/), which seems kind of backward since I'm shipping something to my door that will keep me from shipping something else later. But canning's about more than that I guess.

                          1. re: erns53

                            You probably don't have an Agway near you (if you come out to eastern Long Island stop at the one in Riverhead, they have a whole canning dept) but I believe Walmart has them, at least the one here does, but not sure about all of them.

                            1. re: erns53

                              (Late reply but hope you get it.) When I moved to NYC in the '80s from Maryland, where canning jars were sold in every grocery store, I was shocked when I couldn't find them anywhere. (Pectin was even harder. The A&P on Union Square once had liquid pectin on the shelf that was five years past its pull date. There were some newer packages, a mere two years past their dates -- yum! And for some reason they were in with the pudding mixes.) Who ever would have thought of looking in a hardware store? But yes.
                              Vercesi Hardware on E. 23rd St. nearly always has Ball jars or the equivalent -- Golden Harvest & such. Call first if you need a lot to make sure they have the right size in stock. Likewise Saifee Hardware on First Avenue & 7th Street (they may not always have a lot on the shelves, but are very nice about going down to the basement & bringing up cases). There's also a hardware store on Sixth Avenue below 14th St. on the west side of the street, I believe around 11th St. (sorry, can't recall name if I ever knew it -- it's a small place & I wandered in one day & there they were) that carries a more limited selection. Any of the three is within walking distance of the Union Square farmers' market, so if you bring along someone to help carry, you can do produce & jars in one go. And as you say, there is mail order, though it does seem a bit silly.
                              Or you can do what I've done the last few years: bug anyone who is going South to bring back a couple of cases or at least replacement lids (of course, they get full jars of whatever you are making as a reward -- so far, everyone's happy). If you are visiting there, yard sales often have plenty of jars for almost nothing (as in a huge box of assorted sizes in perfect shape for $9 -- "My wife said to get rid of them" -- happy to help!). There's far more choice in the stores, too (fancy lids, new sizes & shapes of jar, etc.). I've been in supermarkets in fairly small Louisiana towns that had whole aisles of just canning supplies -- I nearly wept. The TSA must be very surprised when they search my suitcases coming back: six boxes of wide & six of regular lids, six more of decorative lids/ matching rings, jar lifters, etc.

                              1. re: mshenna

                                "I nearly wept" - gosh I feel this often when I travel, usually because of what they have elsewhere that I'd like at home, but when I lived away from home, I felt how you feel too. Not about canning jars (I wasn't canning then, yet), but feeling your pain.

                          2. re: chefthisguy

                            What kind of chemicals -if any- you use for the cured meats?

                            1. re: RicRios

                              A lot of specialty items: TCM, DQ Curing Salts #1 and #2, Dextrose, Bactofern F-RM-52 (freeze dried culture)....basic nitrites; also some other sugars, spices, etc...for the cured meats that need fermentation and hanging time the temperature and the humidity levels are key for the development of flavor and preservation for the first few days..today we hung Soppresata, Spanish Chorizo and Duck Proscuitto....

                        2. I've made the occasional monster batch of apple butter or pear butter from local fruit. Makes great winter presents.

                          Mostly, I'm a big fan of soaking fruit in alcohol or liqueur. I use imported liqueurs, like Amaretto or rum (my only local options are beer, bad wine, or Everclear), so I don't think I'm exactly reducing my carbon footprint. But they're ever so tasty a few months later!

                          Anne

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: AnneInMpls

                            Have you ever thought of using everclear? We're thinking of doing liqueurs this fall for xmas presents but don't want to shell out for good rum. I mean do you think you could add a lot of sugar and making the fruit-everclear combination drinkable? Just wondering....

                            1. re: piedsdesanges

                              I don't think you need to shell out the big bucks for great rum, vodka, brandy, etc. The flavor of the fruit is what you want to come through anyway. Just make sure the stuff is drinkable. Everclear (or equivalent) really is traditional. Be aware that the higher alcohol content makes a more alcoholic final product, so you may need to dilute with water. I used to make limoncello with Everclear but went back to vodka because I found the Everclear too harsh in the final product. But diluting can work.

                              1. re: piedsdesanges

                                Remember that Everclear comes in two grades: 151proof which is 75.5% alcohol and 190 proof which is 95% alcohol, either of which will dry out your mouth and blow your head off. You can do just fine with something less strong like an inexpensive vodka since the flavor will come from the fruit. Depending on what you plan to make, you might want to use brandy, rum, bourbon or other spirits. Obviously, you don't want to buy rotgut but there are many storebrands that are perfectly acceptable for this use.
                                My elderly Creole relatives in New Orleans used plain old bourbon with local cherries to make a ratafia. The cherries and added sugar fermented and the alcohol content of the finished product seemed higher than the bourbon they started out.with.

                              2. re: AnneInMpls

                                Do you have a favorite apple butter recipe?

                                1. re: schoenick

                                  I know you're not asking me but thought I'd chime in. I made a slow-cooker apple butter a few years ago that was embarrassingly easy, but very good. It may have come from Cooking Light, but I'm sure it is Google-able.

                                  1. re: schoenick

                                    I have 2 different recipes for Apple Butter. try both see which one you like best! First one: Boil down to half 1 gallon of cider. To this 1/2 gallon add as many apples as will cook. When apples are soft skim out and keep repeating this process until about 1 peck of apples have been used. Put all back in the cider and let simmer about 2 hours. Add 6 cups sugar and for each estimated quart 1 teaspoon cinnamon,nutmeg,and cloves mixed. let cook until desired thickness. This apple butter must be stirred frequently to avoid burning. This is from Mrs. Charles E. Paul, Markle,Ind.

                                    The second recipe is combine 21/2 gallon peeled and quartered apples and 41/2 lb. sugar in alternate layers in kettle. Cover with tight lid and let stand over night. In the morning cook over slow fire for 5 hours without lifting lid. Remove from fire, add 2 teaspoons cinnamon and put through colander. This is from Mrs. Lou E. Erbaugh, Dayton, Ohio..hope you enjoy one of these!

                                  2. re: AnneInMpls

                                    Love this site, just came across this thread while searching recipes for Quince Ratafia. I've started some with brandy, and will try another with vodka, I think. If anyone has a tried and true recipe for this and you're willing to share, I'd love it. I've been searching the web and have come up with various versions, but not feeling very confident and not crazy about failures.

                                    Anyway, I've been canning for years and love it. My friends always get things in jars for gifts. So far this year, I've made mostly sweet stuff, but have made pickles, relishes and chutneys in the past.

                                    This year: strawberry freezer jam, frozen pesto (pinenuts, cheese, the works - never seems to be a problem and always tastes good in the dead of winter), cassis is on the go (my first time), canned pears, pear butter, pear mincemeat, pear and ginger marmalade (really jam, but tasty), pear and apple fruit leather. I'm in the midst of processing about 40 lbs of quince from a neighbour's tree and am making paradise jelly (quince, apple & cranberry) and paradise sauce, spiced poached quince, membrillo, quince curd, and quince chutney. Hopefully some apple sauce and pumpkin, too. Lots of pears and quinces this year!

                                    I recently tried a jar of Meyer Lemon Chutney that is to die for. Does anyone have a recipe?

                                    1. re: czyha

                                      I made the Spicy Lemon Chutney from About.com with my Meyer Lemons and it's wonderful!
                                      Try it with goat cheese and crackers as an appetizer, an easy glaze on ham, etc., etc. I also make Meyer Lemon marmalade - great in yogurt or as a glaze for a ricotta cheesecake.

                                      I recommend the book "Preserving the Taste" by Edon Waycott for wonderful preserves, jams, etc.

                                  3. Yep-- pickled ramps, spiced prunes, sour cherry brandy, blenheim apricot compote, pies (apricot, boysenberry, peach), shell beans in various formats (fava or lima puree), frozen shelled beans, etc.

                                    I freeze more than I can. Also do cured meats and then like. Generally use Zuni and Chez Panisse recipes for summer fruits.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: JudiAU

                                      just wondering, if you see this, how you do your sour cherry brandy...I mean, soaking time, what do you soak in, do you filter or how are the cherries for eating, do you add sugar? thanks