Monday, September 1, 2014

Waste not, want not. And preserving the summer bounty

As many of you have figured out, I've been very busy during my weekends picking fruit and vegetables and preserving them a lot. I think today is the first day I've sat down to share some recipes with you on canning.

As you can see, I've been busy!
And this picture does not even include the 5 batches of wine or liquor I've done! Nor the 39+ canned items I've shared with family and my elderly neighbors. And those binders have many of my recipes in them.

I've pickled veggies and crabapples, I've made fruit butters, jams, jellies, barbecue sauces, salsa, tomato sauces and crushed tomatoes and even canned tuna (first time ever) and pickled Kelp! And I'm not done yet. Things to do yet for me will be elder berries, quince, and persimmons. I may even can some salmon when I can get some.

It's a lot of work, but also very rewarding and I've been very blessed to have met some wonderful people during all this. And why would you turn down the chance to pick fresh fruit for free and enjoy that taste of summer during the winter months?

I thought I would share a couple recipes, one I have done several times before and is one of my favorites which allows you to use everything in the process, and another new one that I had a request to share. And I'll share another tip or two. ;)

First is the requested recipe I found the original from Rachel Ray, modified a little and canned it instead of refrigerating it. :) And thanks to Ray Cook who is a master canner for telling me how to can it! And yes, that is pickled asparagus behind these lovely little jars.

Caramelized Onion & Thyme Jam

2 Large sweet onions (or like me, 1 HUGE walla walla onion) Chopped into 1 inch chunks
2 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl of butter
3 Tbl balsamic vinegar
2 Tbl organic cane sugar (I used raw so it had a little of the molasses left in it)
1 Bay leaf
1 Tbl fresh or dry thyme leaves
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
3 half pint jars with lids and rings

In a large heavy sauce pot, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions, vinegar, sugar, bay leaf and thyme. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are becoming tender. Remove the lid, and increase the heat to medium-high and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become caramelized and nice and golden. Season with sea salt and pepper.

While it's cooking, heat your water in your water bath canner and sterilize the jars and lids.

Spoon the mixture into the hot jars and seal. Place into the water bath and process for 10 minutes. Remove jars when done to a towel to cool.

That's it. It smelled heavenly, and yes, I did a taste test.... Oh My Goodness! It's very good! I can see munching on it over all kinds of things.

Now.... I don't have a picture to share of the beets right now, didn't think to get any.... Oh well hey?

Spiced Pickled Beets

4 lbs of beets, scrubbed, greens trimmed leaving a bit of the top, and tap root trimmed but not fully removed
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp or 12 cloves
2 tsp kosher salt

Boil beets with just enough water to cover, cover the pot reduce heat and simmer until very tender, about 25-35 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the beets and put in cold or ice water to stop cooking and be able to remove the skins.

NOTE: Keep the water you boiled the beets in! I'll tell you why at the end!

When the beets are cool, peel and remove the top and slice them. Set them aside

Have your water bath canner  with hot water and Sterilize your jars and lids.

In a separate stock pot, place the sugar, water, and vinegar in. Make a spice bag with cheese cloth and add the spices to it. Place the spice bag in the pot with the vinegar solution and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove and discard the spice bag.

Pack your sliced beets into the hot pint jars leaving about 1/2 inch head space. Ladle in the hot vinegar solution over the beets, remove any bubbles from the sides of the jars with a knife or fork handle and wipe the rims and seal. Process in hot bath for 15 minutes, adjusting time as needed for altitudes. Cool jars on a towel.

NOW, I know you're asking, what about the water we save from boiling the beets in? Well you can do several things with it, but first you need to strain it through several layers of cheesecloth or 2 layers of flour sacking like I have.

You can make a syrup with it, freeze it for soups, OR you can make beet root wine with it. Which is what I do, like this....

Beetroot Wine

1 gallon of beet water (from canning recipe above)
4 lbs of sugar
juice of 3 lemons (no seeds please)
8 cloves

Add the sugar and lemon juice to the beet water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cloves and cover and let ferment and a warm place out of the light for 3 weeks. (I use  simple gallon jars with an airlock in the lid)
After 3 weeks, skim, strain the wine through at least 2 layers of flour sack cloth or get a strainer bag like a jelly bag, and bottle it.

Wine can be that simple. And this is a delicious wine and depending on the type of beets you processed you can have a lovely golden color or a fabulous ruby color wine. And it's ready to enjoy after aging a couple of months in the bottle. Something to enjoy for the holidays. Of course if you want a deeper flavor or color, cook several more pounds of beets in the water and put some of those wonderful veggies in the freezer!

A few other tips to make the most of your summer harvest. If you're putting up tomatoes and you need to skin them, save those skins, dehydrate them and when dried, crush them or pulverize them for tomato flakes or powder for soups and stews. If you want to try pickled kelp, save the fronds and air dry them outside for kelp flakes for soups. I am sure there are many other tips out there, but these were the ones I could think of at the moment.

If there is a recipe you want to know about, be sure to let me know, I'll share what I've got or done.

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