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Archive for the ‘canning’ Category

It’s tomato time out here, which means that very soon it’s going to be green tomato time, too. In fact, last Saturday when I was filling in for the manager of our local Farmer’s Market, a customer asked the vegetable seller next to me if he had any green tomatoes. He said he had lots, in his field, and if he had known people wanted to buy them, he would have brought some. He promised to bring some for her next week. She wanted to make green tomato pickles, which in my house growing up we always called Green Tomato Chutney. I make a big batch every year, and eat it with Egg Pie, or on toast with or without cheese. I find it particularly welcome in May when the winter is over, but none of the fresh veg is available yet. The funny thing is that my British mother’s “family” recipe for green tomato chutney actually comes from her French Canadian neighbour, Andrée. Here it is:

Ingredients:

  • 8 pounds (approximately 3.5 kg) of green tomatoes (about 32 medium-sized tomatoes)
  • 6 large onions
  • 3 cups (750ml) vinegar
  • 3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon each of ground cloves, cinnamon, and mace

 

Method:

  1. Chop the tomatoes and the onions, and put into a large stock pot.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil in it’s own juice.
  3. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and let simmer, uncovered, until the mixture starts to thicken. Then let it simmer for another 20-30 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent it sticking.
  5. While it is thickening, prepare your canning jars, lids, and rings.
  6. Ladle hot chutney into hot jars and seal. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Makes approximately eight 500ml (1 pint) jars.

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Just a few days past the two-year anniversary of our moving Out Here, I’m about to participate in one of the time-honoured traditions of country life, competing in the County Fair.

None of our vegetables measure up to competition standard, I’m afraid (maybe next year), but I decided to have a go at the “Culinary Arts” section. I stuck to things I had already made (in the case of the bottled goods) or things I normally make regularly (in the case of the baking). This still meant I spent all day yesterday baking, in 30°C heat, to get everything made. My entries are as follows:

1 – ½ loaf of white bread

2 – ½ loaf of 60% whole wheat bread

3 – ½ loaf of zucchini bread, with raisins

4 – peanut butter cookies, pressed with a fork, 3 on a plate

5 – oatmeal cookies, dropped, with raisins, 3 on a plate

6 – 1 jar of applesauce

7 – 1 jar of apple jelly

8 – 1 jar of any jam or jelly not listed (I am submitting plum jam)

I’m off to deliver these to the fairgrounds. I probably won’t know until Saturday how I did (though I’m really not expecting to win anything, this first time). Wish me luck!

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Canning catch up

I finished my contract on Friday and turned in the 20,000-word series of gardening articles to the client, so I actually have some free time again! Well, the edits will be coming back tomorrow, but still, the bulk of it is done. 

This means I get to catch up on the posts I’ve been wanting to make for the past month, but haven’t had time.

About a month ago, I used my pressure canner for the first time to can some turkey stock. Because we were ill over Christmas, we didn’t cook & eat our (local, organic) Christmas turkey until February, and then I finally got around to boiling up the carcass for stock. The process for pressure canning is essentially the same as for water-bath canning, it just requires a different (and vastly more expensive) canner.

The hot stock is ladled into clean, hot jars that have been sterilised by dipping them in boiling water, and capped with canning lids and screw bands that have been similarly heated and sterilised. This means having 3 large pots of boiling liquid on the stove at one: the stock, the water for sterilising, and the canner itself, which is quite huge:

canning11

I decided to use one liter jars for the stock, assuming I will be using it mostly for home-made soup.

canning2

Once the filled jars are all in the pressure canner, the lid goes on. My canner has 6 big screw clamps with black plastic handles that need to be tightened 2 at a time, cross-ways (like you would tighten bicycle spokes or the lug nuts on a car wheel). It also has two gauges, a pressure gauge and a weighted gauge. The pressure gauge is for reference (and to let you know when the pressure has dropped back down to zero when you’re finished).

With its warning labels, the canner is quite intimidating-looking. I was quite apprehensive as it came up to pressure  and vented steam. Then I put the weighted gauge on the pressure vent and fiddled with the temperature of the burner attempting to get the prescribed “one or two jiggles per minute” from the gauge.

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40 minutes of steam and jiggling and fiddling with the burner temperature and looking things up in the manual and online, and then another 30 minutes of waiting for the pressure to drop back down to zero and the canner to cool.

And success! I have 4 liters of turkey stock on the shelves in the basement.

I don’t think I will be canning very many vegetables, but this fall, I am looking forward to canning my own baked beans, and also some stews and chilies for quick home-made meals on busy nights.

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Sauce!

This weekend’s harvest included 25lbs of paste tomatoes that I bought at the Vankleek Hill Farmer’s Market, and 20lbs of wild apples that Fearsclave and I gathered from a wide variety of trees in his back 40.

I spent most of yesterday processing the tomatoes into 16 jars of crushed tomatoes/tomato sauce:

Wash

Scald

Chop

Crush

[This wonderful machine is a European Tomato Press that I bought from Lee Valley Tools. It not only crushes the tomatoes to a very fine consistency, but spits the peels and seeds out the other end while doing so.]

Simmer

Sauce!

Health and work schedule permitting, I’ll be turning the wild apples into apple jelly on Thursday or Friday.

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