Not Your Granny's Jams, Jellies & Preserves
Have you been to a country fair lately & passed by those county extension booths where the judges are sampling the huge array of stuff in jars? Well, I am here to tell you, it ain't what Granny or Mama used to tote up there! I had the pleasure of shelling out for a plate of what the judges were tasting & it sure wasn't enough to figure out any "secret" recipes.
With that said, I am asking for some knock out recipes that leaves the "Ball's Blue Book" of canning laying in the dirt. I saw a lot of really hot & spicy titles like raspberry chipotle, habanero mango & sweet onion & garlic marmalade. Surprisingly, the combinations of "hot or spicy" ingredients were quite subtle. Here is a sampling of categories I saw.
Sauces (sweet & savory)
Canned pie fillings (not at all like those yucky things you see in cans)
Pickles (I think they pickled just about everything edible in some sort of brine or other)
Do you make any exotic things like that? The trend seems to be just to add something hot or spicy to a "stand by" recipe & call it good, but these flavors seemed to have more depth & flavor.
vhilli? Nothing but a typo for chilli.
Here's the date & apple:
1kg dates (stoned)
1kg apples (we'd call them cooking apples - you want a really sharp one)
750ml malt vinegar
350g soft dark brown sugar
1tsp ground cloves
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp mustard powder
Skin the tomatoes and chop, Finely chop the dates, onion and peeled apples (processor is fine). Put them in pan (not aluminium - the vinegar reacts badly with it) along with a little of the vinegar. Bring to the boil and simmer till eveything is well on the way to being tender. Add everything else and simmer for a couple of hours until its thickened. The usual way of telling if its ready is to draw a wooden spoon across it - if the indentation holds for a bit and doesnt fill up with liquid, then it's done. Leave it to cool and then store it in jars (I use Kilner jars for all the preserves). You need to store to mature for a good 3 months - they last for ages (the mango is the 2009 vintage)
Whatever you do, please visit the lovely ladies and gents at the National Center for Home Food Preservation before you start canning:
If you don't know the pH of the food you are canning, and don't know whether or not to use a water bath canner or a pressure canner, you can give yourself botulism.
Personally I can salsa (green and red), bread and butter/dill pickles, spicy hot green beans, pickled beets, apple pie filling, cherry pie filling, plus other fruits, jams, and jellies (granny stuff). I'd probably do more with veggies if I were to take the plunge and buy a pressure canner, but it's tough enough keeping up with all the other stuff. On my to-do list is an apple juice with hot pepper jelly.
applgrl, the new fangled jams & jellies will never take the place of "Granny Stuff"....no sirree. Things go in cycles & before we know it, we will be clamoring for her recipes. I know I kinda feel guilty pursuing all the new recipes....kinda like cheating or whatever.
I do love preserving & canning, but have never had time before. I would like to do the "small batch" stuff.....I can handle that easier.
Thanks so much for the link to the Home Preservation folks..yep, always scary to think about botulism.
Hope you get that pressure canner soon.
Granny wouldn't have made these Spicy Dill Beans:
6 cups pickling (6%) white vinegar
4 cups water (I use bottled)
2 pouches Bernardin Dill Pickle Mix from one box
1/2 cup pickling spice (bulk food store, has bay, allspice, coriander, etc in it.)
Heat just to boiling, leave overnight, covered, to steep. Strain out the spices.
6-8 lbs straight French type green beans, rinsed, stem end trimmed but pointy end intact
Into each 500 ml size wide-mouth canning jar place:
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp chili flakes
2 halved garlic cloves
Fresh sprig of dill
Wash your jars in an empty dishwasher, using the hottest/sanitize cycle you have. Meanwhile, stand the beans up in the jar, packing tightly with the pointy ends up. Then you can grab 'em easily! Pour the brine over the pickles just below the threads on the jar. Tap or shake to get air bubbles out. Heat lids in hot water, clean rim, seal jars with lids and rings, and bring the jars to a full boil in your water bath canner for either 10, 15, or 20 minutes depending on your altitude. (check a canning website for this.)
These beans are easy, HOT, and the best use is to have them in a bloody Mary or Caesar instead of celery. Do use fresh spices/dill--makes a big difference. Also, the bernardin mix is pretty optional: it has sugar, salt, chemical dill I think, and calcium chloride to maintain crispness. You could add sugar & salt to taste, and omit the CaCl if your beans are trimmed properly and very fresh.
Safety notes: the acidity from the vinegar keeps the pH well below the 4.6 danger level. (Check the NCFHP website, they have a version too). The current conventional wisdom is to "sterilize" your jars by boiling them in water in your canner. This does NOT sterilize them, but does add a messy danger element to the process. Bits from a rusty canner or sediment from your drinking water (very bad in our case) builds up on my jars and ruins the product, so I trust the bleaching agent in the dish detergent and the heat from my dishwasher to do the job. Some people heat them in a 200 degree oven prior to use, not so pleasant in the summer.
Preserves are amongst my favourite things to make - those and condiments. I make all sorts of butters including plum, vanilla bean pear, apple, roasted grape, etc. I make a pretty mean blueberry ketchup and tons of mustards and mostarda.
Some of my favourite jams and jellies include:
- roasted garlic bacon
- chipotle raspberry
- habanero plum
- caramelized onion and roasted grape
- rosemary lime
- strawberry balsamic black pepper
- jalapeno apricot
Many of the jams and jellies I make are small batch preserves and do not require actual canning.
I make many kiinds of marmalades - my favourites would include grapefruit vanilla bean and blood orange.
I pickle everything I can and throw ginger, juniper berries, chili peppers, garlic, etc. into them. Quick pickles are fun to make, too. I like jicama and diakon especially.
Don't even get me started on marinades! I make so many it's not even funny.
Stonewall Kitchens Roasted Garlic and Onion Jam is a sweet condiment which is a staple in my refrigerator. It has won awards. I use it very sparingly. A jar lasts me 6 months, so it would not make sense to try to duplicate it. I find most other SK products disappointing, especially for the price, but this one's a standout.
I have succumbed to the lure of the homemade jams at fairs and farmers' markets but frankly, most have been disappointing.
I was introduced to Stonewall Kitchen's Old Farmhouse Chutney, several years ago, by a friend. I simply cannot have a turkey sandwich without it...
And nobody makes it better.
As far as jams...there's a wonderful, small, independent jam and jelly maker in SF whose products taste the same as when my Grandmother used to make them....I order them constantly.
Atop cream cheese on a bagel or English is probably the most popular use. It's as sweet as deeply caramelized onion so use it sparingly. I've added it to mustard as a dip or in making homemade salad dressing. Or add just a little when making sauerkraut, braised greens,
tomato soup.... I've added it to the filling of deviled eggs and spread a film of it on the bread when making BLTs and grilled cheese. IMO it's best to offset its sweetness with horseradish, mustard, vinegar, or another sharp ingredient
Are you familiar with the French confiture princess Christine Ferber? She does some amazing flavor combinations, and also has a cookbook where you may find good inspiration:
I don't have it, but I've schlepped home in suitcases and consumed many jars of her stuff and they are like you've never eaten preserves before. It's not just the flavors but the technique--they're much more fresh and true to the fruit than others, plus they don't ever have that way overly sugary-ness that is the downfall of a lot of preserves.
I also really like some of the flavor combinations that Stonewall Kitchen does--years ago I had a ginger-orange marmalade of theirs that still persists as a taste memory.
Someone took me on a field trip to an Amish grocery store recently, with about half the shelf space given over to canned and preserved things. I saw a few interesting sounding things there, and the one I ended up buying was carrot marmalade, which, as it turns out, tastes just like (mediocre) orange marmalade. A disappointment. There were some with pear that I will try if I ever get to go back.
Your link to Ms Ferber was wonderful...but I just don't think in my area I could find such things as elderberry flowers. I would do better just to purchase some of her products. I am not opposed to doing this at all, why deprive yourself of wonderful flavors if there is a company out that makes excellent stuff?
Yes, some of those "folksy" items are good, unfortunately, you find one good thing & then purchase several others thinking they all must be good. Wrong!
But yes, I hear you. From what I understand about that book, sourcing the ingredients is the easiest part.
"I would do better just to purchase some of her products. I am not opposed to doing this at all, why deprive yourself of wonderful flavors if there is a company out that makes excellent stuff?"
Because one can only get them in France, and I dunno about you, but my European travel schedule and available luggage space is not at all on par with my desire to consume amazing jam. And it's expensive--last time I was there $10 or $12 for a 220g. jar, IIRC. Totally worth it, IMO, but still. I'm down to the last jar of my current hoard--blood orange/earl grey/vanilla
You know it's a sad state of things when even true Amish "folksy" has jumped the shark, right? :)