Read an Excerpt
Not Your Mama's Canning Book
Modern Canned Goods and What to Make With Them
By Rebecca Lindamood
Page Street Publishing Co.Copyright © 2016 Rebecca Lindamood
All rights reserved.
PART I: CAN ALL THE THINGS!
This is where you put in the hours and effort to — in old-school terminology — fill your larder and pantry. It is hard to explain how gratifying canning is until you've pulled your first jars from the canner and heard that satisfying "PING!" from sealing jars and realize that you've just taken food that would otherwise spoil and given it a far longer life.
When you take a look at the rows of rainbow-filled jars lined up on the shelf, there's just no way to be anything other than incredibly impressed with yourself. But there is nothing that compares to the satisfaction of popping open a jar of whatever you fancy in mid-winter and realizing that you are directly responsible for the goodness you hold in your hand.
While I often squawk at my kids for plowing through three dozen jars of home-canned peaches before we even hit Thanksgiving (every year), I am deeply grateful to be able to put high quality food in their mouths that is free of funky preservatives or other things we try to avoid at our table.
Okay, I'm also deeply thankful for my own private shelf of Cherries in Red Wine Syrup and Brown Sugar Bourbon Peaches. Let's just keep it real, shall we?
In "Step Away from the Canner" we take food preservation a step or two further by addressing the great produce out there that is just too delicate to stand up to a trip through the canner. To make my way through the bountiful bundles of fresh herbs that can't last past the season without a little help, I assemble and freeze Herb Bombs — specific combinations of herbs and either water, citrus or oil — that I freeze in ice cube trays and plunk into dishes where I would use fresh herbs. This keeps me stocked up on summer-fresh herb taste in my dishes even when I can't make the long drive to the big grocery store where they carry herbs all year long. Tossing (an Herb) bomb into a recipe can make all the difference between a good meal and a great one.
I also spend a few minutes making extracts for baking in the summer when it's too hot to think about firing up the canner. It doesn't get a whole lot simpler than making extracts ... A jar full of fresh mint gathered from the yard, some broken cacao nibs or coffee beans, fragrant cardamom pods, unsweetened flaked coconut; they all sit in a neutral alcohol base to capture their very essence to add to cookies, cakes, breads, puddings, mixed drinks and anywhere you'd consider adding regular vanilla extract. Your homemade extracts are every bit as wonderful as the fancy brands, and are made for pennies on the dollar. By the time the holidays roll around, you'll have a pantry stocked with all manner of amazing extracts.
DISTINCTIVE AND UNIQUE PRESERVED FRUITS
If you're going to delve into canning, preserving fruit is the best, and least intimidating, place to start. The payoff is enormous, too, when you admire your rows upon rows of jewel-toned fruits lined up on the shelf. You would be hard-pressed to find a commercial equivalent to most of our recipes here. Most stores just don't offer Moonshine Apple Slices, New York Grape Pie Filling, Brown Sugar Bourbon Peaches, Three-In-One Pears or Triple Summer Berry Pie Filling. While Cherries in Red Wine Syrup may possibly be found for purchase in an upscale store, it's a fair bet that it is hard to rival the quality of those you put up yourself and you sure don't get the same bragging rights if you buy them!
MOONSHINE APPLE SLICES
If you're a fan of apple pie moonshine, you're going to love these distinctive apples preserved in high-octane syrup. Tender, rosy pink, infused with apple pie spices and most definitely for adults only, these Moonshine Apple Slices are great served over ice cream or in any number of memorable baked desserts. Save the syrup for mixed drinks or for spiking whipped cream!
YIELD: about 5 pints (2.4 L)
FEATURED IN: Spirited Apple Tarts
4½ pounds (2 kg) firm, fresh apples suitable for canning
1/3 cup (80 ml) lemon juice
3 cups (575 g) granulated sugar
3 cups (700 ml) water
4 whole cinnamon sticks
8 whole green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
16 scrapings of fresh nutmeg from a rasp grater
2 whole cloves
½ of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cup (240 ml) plain commercial moonshine or 100 proof vodka
Wash the apples but do not peel them. Slice into even ¼-inch (6-mm) rings using an apple corer/peeler, a knife or a mandoline. Pour the lemon juice into a large bowl and add the apple slices. Add enough water to cover the apples and gently swish with your hands to distribute the lemon juice through the water. This will help keep the apples from discoloring. Let stand for at least 5 minutes, but no more than 10 minutes, then drain.
While the apple slices are in the lemon water, stir the sugar, water, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla bean together in a large stainless steel preserving pan or stockpot. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Add the drained apple rings to the boiling syrup and return the mixture to a boil over high heat. Drop the heat to low and simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the apples have a rosy tinge creeping inward from the peel on the fruit and are hot all the way through. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the apple slices from the syrup to a glass or stainless steel bowl. Return the pan to a burner over high heat and bring the mixture to a boil, using the slotted spoon to fish out the cardamom pods (some seeds may remain), cinnamon sticks, cloves and vanilla bean. Remove from the heat and stir in the moonshine.
Use tongs to carefully transfer the apple rings into hot pint (475 ml) jars, keeping the apples loosely arranged rather than tightly packed. Leave ¼ inch (6 mm) of headspace in the jars.
Ladle the hot syrup over the apple slices, maintaining the ¼ inch (6 mm) of headspace. Use a damp paper towel to clean the rims carefully. Place new lids on the jars and fasten appropriately, whether it's turning a ring to fingertip tightness or fixing clamps in place.
Use canning tongs to transfer the jars to a canner full of boiling water that covers the jars by 2 inches (5 cm). Put the lid of the canner in place, return the water to a boil, and process for 15 minutes. Carefully transfer the jars to a towel-lined counter or wire cooling rack and allow them to cool completely, preferably overnight, before removing the rings, wiping the jars clean and labeling.
Store the jars in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
Choose your apples carefully. Use a variety (like SnapDragon, Empire, Honeycrisp or Crispin) that is red-hued, crisp, sweet-tart and super fresh. Avoid apples with soft spots or mealy textures as they will not hold up to the necessary simmering.
BROWN SUGAR BOURBON PEACHES
There's nothing grandmotherly at all about these canned peaches. Tender, juicy, fragrant peaches are soaked in an oaky, bourbon-spiked brown sugar syrup. Eat straight from the jar or serve over vanilla ice cream for a treat. For the ultimate indulgence, make a Drunken Peach Milkshake.
YIELD: 6 to 7 cups (about 3 pints [1.4 L])
FEATURED IN: Drunken Peach Milkshake
1 cup (220 g) light brown sugar, packed
2 cups (475 ml) water
7 cups (1.3 kg) peeled sliced peaches, treated to prevent browning (see Note)
1 tbsp (15 ml) bourbon per half-pint (240 ml) or 2 tbsp (30 ml) bourbon per pint (475 ml). Use a bourbon that is nice enough to drink, but for the love of all that is good, don't use the best aged bourbon in this recipe.
Stir together the brown sugar and water in a non-reactive stockpot. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Ease the sliced peaches into the boiling syrup. Stir gently to prevent scorching.
Bring the peaches to a boil and let the mixture boil for 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peaches to prepared jars to within ½ inch (13 mm) of the top. Pour the correct amount of bourbon into each jar. Use a ladle to pour more hot syrup into the jar to within ½ inch (13 mm) of the lip of the jar.
Slide a sterile metal chopstick or butter knife down the side of the jars to release any air bubbles. Add more hot syrup, if needed, to bring the level to within ½ inch (13 mm) of the top of the jar. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims and fix new two-piece lids in place to fingertip tightness.
Use canning tongs to transfer the jars to a canner full of boiling water that covers the jars by 2 inches (5 cm). Put the lid of the canner in place, return the water to a boil and let it process for 20 minutes. Carefully transfer the jars to a towel-lined counter or wire cooling rack and allow them to cool completely, preferably overnight, before removing the rings, wiping the jars clean and labeling.
Store the jars in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Once opened, a jar will be good for up to 3 weeks when stored in the refrigerator.
* See Ginger Peach Butter for instructions on how to easily peel peaches and treat them to prevent browning.
* If you have extra syrup left after properly packing the peaches and topping off the jars, you can pour it into prepared jars, add the appropriate amount of bourbon to each jar, fix new lids in place to fingertip tightness and process in the canner at the same time as the peaches.
CHERRIES IN RED WINE SYRUP
Consider this an indispensable luxury item for your kitchen. Very much a grown-up version of maraschino cherries, these spirited cherries can be made with the pit intact to maintain their gorgeous shape or pitted for ease of eating. Fruity red wine pairs beautifully with sweet cherries and brings a complexity to the summer fruit. Top sundaes, cakes and milkshakes with these versatile beauties, or use in a pan sauce for beef or game meats.
YIELD: about 6 cups (1.4 L)
FEATURED IN: Seared Filet Mignon with Red Wine Cherry Sauce and La Tenda Rossa (The Red Curtain) Gin and Tonic
11/3 cups (256 g) granulated sugar
4 cups (950 ml) red wine
1 tbsp (15 ml) balsamic vinegar
6½ cups (1 kg) cherries, with pits and stems intact
2 tbsp (30 ml) kirschwasser
Place a stainless steel or non-reactive stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the sugar, wine and balsamic vinegar to the pot and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring the syrup to a boil. Boil vigorously for 8 minutes, or until the syrup is reduced by about one-third. Add all of the cherries immediately. Return to a boil while gently stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and allow to remain at a gentle boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Using a slotted spoon and a wide-mouthed funnel, transfer the hot cherries from the hot syrup into half-pint (240 ml) jars, leaving ½ inch (13 mm) of headspace. If you are using cherries with the pits and stems intact, take care to turn the stems downward so they don't poke up above the syrup or interfere with closing the lid on the jar.
Return the pan to the burner over high heat and return the syrup to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in the kirschwasser, then spoon or ladle the hot cherry syrup into half-pint (240 ml) jars, maintaining the ½ inch (13 mm) of headspace.
Insert a chopstick or skewer down the insides of the jar to remove air bubbles. If necessary, add more cherry syrup to keep that ½ inch (13 mm) of headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars, fix lid assemblies in place and tighten appropriately.
Use canning tongs to transfer the jars to a canner full of boiling water that covers the jars by 2 inches (5 cm). Put the lid of the canner in place, return the water to a boil and process it for 20 minutes. Carefully transfer the jars to a towel-lined counter or wire cooling rack and allow them to cool completely, preferably overnight, before removing the rings, wiping the jars clean and labeling.
Store the jars in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
* I truly prefer these made with the stems and pits still intact. They make a far prettier end product. That being said, if you object to a little spitting of pits at the table, feel free to pit the cherries before processing them. They will still be delicious, but will yield fewer jars.
DARK GINGER PEAR SYRUP, GINGER PEARS AND PEAR JUICE
This recipe requires a little time commitment, but you get three different products for your efforts. You'll find it was more than worth it when you crack open a jar of delicately ginger-flavored tender pears in a dark, caramel-scented ginger syrup. Drizzle some of the extra syrup over a bowl of vanilla ice cream or into a pear crisp, or sip on a glass of chilled pear juice.
YIELDS: 4 half-pints (960 ml) of Dark Ginger Syrup, 2 quarts (2 L) plus 4 pints (2 L) of unsweetened Pear Juice and 4 quarts (4 L) of Ginger Pears
FEATURED IN: Turkey Sanjeok
DARK GINGER SYRUP
4½ cups (862 g) raw sugar, or you can substitute light brown sugar if raw is
2-inch (5-cm) piece of ginger, peeled and cut into very thin matchstick-like pieces
6 cups (1.4 L) water
12 cups (2.8 L) fresh, cool water
¾ cup (180 ml) lemon juice
8 to 12 pounds (3.6 to 5.4 kg) fresh pears, ripe but firm, plus 6 extra pears (for the
TO MAKE THE DARK GINGER SYRUP AND GINGER PEARS
Prepare canner, jars and lids. You will want 6 to 8 quart jars (950 ml) and 2 to 4 pint jars (475 ml), or 4 to 8 half-pint (240 ml) jars and the lids/rings for them.
Combine the raw sugar, sliced ginger and water in a large stainless steel saucepan. Stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar, bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a lid to the pot, turn off the heat and leave on the burner to keep warm and infuse with the ginger flavor. This is the Dark Ginger Syrup.
Combine the Pear Juice ingredients in a stainless steel, plastic or glass bowl. Set this near a cutting board on the counter top. This mixture is going to do double duty by preventing discoloration of the pears and then becoming juice. Working with one pear at a time (to prevent browning), cut the pear in half, peel with a vegetable peeler and use a melon baller to remove the tough core and seeds from the pear. Ease it into the lemon water. Repeat until all of your pears are peeled and cored and in the water (including the 6 extra pears).
Remove the lid from the syrup and place it over medium-low heat until steam is coming from it. Gently warm all but 12 of the pear halves in a single layer until heated all the way through, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pears to jars, cored-side down in overlapped layers, leaving between ½ inch to ¾ inch (13 to 19 mm) of headspace (err on the side of more rather than less headspace if necessary). Be sure you've left 12 pear halves in the lemon water.
Use a ladle to pour the hot syrup over the pears (allowing the ginger shreds to pour into the jars, too). Remove air bubbles from the jars using a thin, flexible knife or a chopstick and adjust syrup levels if necessary. Wipe rims, center lids on jars and screw rings into place until fingertip tight.
Pour additional syrup into pint (475 ml) or half-pint (240 ml) jars leaving ¼ inch (6 mm) of headspace. Wipe the rims, center the lids on the jars and screw the rings in place until fingertip tight.
Place the jars in the canner, cover with water, bring to a boil and process for 25 minutes. When the time is up, turn the heat off, remove the lid from the canner and let the jars sit in the water for 5 minutes. Transfer the jars to a cooling rack and let them cool undisturbed overnight, then remove the rings, wipe down, label and store.
TO MAKE THE PEAR JUICE
Transfer the anti-discoloration mixture of water and lemon juice, plus the 12 remaining pear halves, to a large stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and let simmer uncovered until the pears are falling apart.
Line a colander that is positioned over a large stockpot with at least two layers of cheesecloth and use a large measuring cup or ladle to scoop the pear/water mixture into the colander. Let it slowly filter, without pressing it down, until it stops dripping through the cheesecloth. This may take up to 2 hours.
Place the stockpot over medium-high heat and bring it up just to the point where steam is rising from the top, about 190°F (88°C). Ladle the hot juice into prepared jars, leaving ¼ inch (6 mm) of headspace in the jar. Wipe the rims, center the lids and screw the rings in place until fingertip tight. Place the jars in the canner, cover with water, add the lid to the canner and bring to a boil.
Process for 10 minutes, turn off the heat, remove the lid from the canner and let the jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Transfer the jars to a cooling rack and let cool undisturbed overnight. Remove the rings, wipe down, label and store.
Excerpted from Not Your Mama's Canning Book by Rebecca Lindamood. Copyright © 2016 Rebecca Lindamood. Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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