amazon_syren: (Default)
( Aug. 13th, 2017 03:44 pm)
So I have the enviable problem of needing to use up last year's frozen fruits and veggies in order to make space for this year's frozen fruits and veggies.
Oh, darn.

Which means I'm finally (finally) getting around to making preserves out of 2 bags of wild-harvested choke cherries + a pint of farmers' market "please just take it away, so we don't have to bring it home" black currants that were definitely past their best, but not by much.

What this amounts to is:

1L jar of chokecherry purree with onions and whole cranberries and some left-over plum jelly. I need to add [1/2 C vinegar, 1/2 C granulated sugar, a diced apple, some dried fruit - like a couple of well-chopped prunes or something (more likely dried cherries, since that's what I have) - and maybe another diced onion] to this in order to turn it into 4-5 cups of choke cherry relish.
750mL mix of black currant purree (about 1C) and chokecherry purree (the rest of the jar) to be mixed with 6 eggs, 3C sugar, and... a quantity of butter that I should really double-check before I start this business... in order to get about 3C of vividly purple fruit curd (this stuff is delicious with both choke cherries AND black currants, as well as with cranberries, so... It'll be good!)
1L jar of choke-cherry purree, black currant PULP, raw frozen berries (grocery-store cranberries given me by a friend, a grocery-store mix of blueberries, blackberries & raspberries + neighbourhood seriveberries and neighbourhood (alley, not back-yard - not this year, anyway) raspberries)

That last one is currently on the stove with the addition of: a glug of (fake) vanilla, a somewhat larger glug of vodka, a dusting of ground cloves, a pinch of salt, 4C granulated sugar, and a splish of pomegranate-flavoured balsamic vinegar--> Making it this year's version of Goblin Fruit Jam.

I'm... I've got a couple of hours of work I need to do for a friend. If said friend is coming over to catch up tonight, I will be holding off on the fruit curd and the relish-type-thing for later this week BUT I need to get to it sooner, rather than later, because I don't want it to go bad now that it's thawed out. :-\

In other preserving news:
Diced, blanched, and froze a bunch of zucchini (About 3.5 whole zukes - enough to make 6C frozen diced veggies, at any rate). I've got five left in the fridge, and being able to put up another 3.5 of them this week would not be a terrible thing.
If the Herb and Spice still has butternut squash on super-reduced-to-sell discount, I may pick up a couple of those and do the same to them. We shall see.

Also: I keep the diced stems of chard, kale, mustard greens, and similar in a bag in the freezer and chuck them into stews and braises as needed. And I decided to ferment the entire bag today and see what kind of a Weird Veggie Pickle I could make in the fermentation crock my friend gave me.
Ingredients (more or less) are:
Diced leafy-greens stems
1 red onion, finely sliced into ribbons
A bunch of fresh sage, sliced into ribbons
Whole coriander (cilantro) seeds (some dry, some still green - all from the garden)
Whole mustard seeds
LOTS of pickling salt
Dusting of ground nutmeg
3 bay leaves (for tanins - may shuffle off and see if I can't add a wodge of grape leaves - also in ribbons - to this mixture for the same reason plus the handy addition of Moar Greens)
2 whole cloves of garlic, pierced a few times with a sharp knife
5 frozen bird chilies

I'm hoping it will be delicious and also slightly less watery than the spring Wild Greens ferment I did a few months back. We Shall See.
Preserves I Already Have:

Heaps of frozen Red Russian kale, Rainbow chard, and rappini (and a little bit of borrage, because hey).
1L frozen raspberries
3C pickled beans
3.5 C goblin fruit jam (choke cherries & black currants + extra stuff)

+ (from last year)

3 pints of cucumber pickles (that I made last year) + 2 pints of someone else's cucumber pickles (taht he made last year)
1/4 C Ground Cherry "marmalade" (that I made last year)
1 pint of relish + 1 pint of tomato chutney (made by my friend's mom)
1C grape jelly (made by a friend who brought it as a hostess' gift)
1-2 C Various Jams from Mr Wilson


Preserves I want to make:

4lbs tomatoes + 1lb nectarines + a bulb or two of garlic --> As many cup-jars of salsa as that'll give me
10lbs tomatoes --> as many pint-jars and/or 1C jars of diced/crushed tomatoes as that'll give me
5lbs tomates + a few bulbs of garlic and a few onions + garden basil --> As many 1C jars of bruchetta as that'll give me
1lb tomatoes + all the cores and skins from the the rest of the tomato masacre + 1-2 bulbs of garlic, lots of garden oregano, garden savoury, balsamic vinegar, and dried rosemary --> as many half-cup jars of tomato sauce as that'll give me

POSSIBLY some extra tomatoes (perhaps from the garden, this time) - roasted with herbs and garlic in the oven and then frozen-in-pucks in the freezer

1lb nectarines + skins from another 1lb of nectarines --> Nectarine butter, as much as possible

POSSIBLY a choke-cherry preserve (something like a chutney? see below) that involves onion, basil, and peppermint... not sure yet.

As much apple butter as I can make with the apples from Idioglossia's tree

POSSIBLY some apple slices dried in my dehidrator

Crab Apple jelly using crab apples harvested from trees along the Canal and in local parks

Half a dozen LARGE eggplants (farmers' market again) roasted, diced, and frozen into pucks (the same way I do the greens) - I will try to go a little easier on the salt this year...

Multiple Jack-o-lanterns worth of pumpkin butter

POSSIBLY half a dozen 2C freezer-boxes of diced-and-blanched winter squash (or pumpkin) purely for the easiness of dumping already-prepped and partially-cooked veggies into a dinner in the middle of winter.

Still more frozen greens a-go-go (because we kind of live on that stuff over winter)


Things I will have to buy in order to make these preserves:

Upwards of 5 pie pumpkins (+ possible winter squashes)
6 large eggplants
2lbs nectarines
20lbs sauce tomatoes (or other tomatoes... whatever)


Possible Chokecherry Thing (adapted heavily from the Chokecherry Chutney recipe in Rona Mogelon's Wild In The Kitchen):

6 C chokecherries
1.5 C diced apples (AKA: 2-3 apples, diced[1])
1.5 C granulated sugar
1.5 C red wine vinegar
1 C diced red onion (or other onion)
1 C dried dried cranberries

0.25 C each: fresh basil leaves (shredded), fresh peppermint leaves (shredded)
1 tsp each: salt, dried rosemary
0.5 tsp each: black pepper, ground cloves



[1] I originally said "sweet cherries" - and you could do that (or use dried sweet cherries instead of the cranberries, that'd work, too) but I don't want to use sweet cherries as "sweet filler". Apples, however, being fleshy and easy to come by, get used as "sweet filler" all the time. So I've put the apple back into this recipe and I figure it'll work, even if I'm not 100% confident about the apple/mint (not to be confused with Apple Mint) combination).
amazon_syren: (Feast Icon)
( Aug. 25th, 2014 01:56 pm)
Made another 2.5L "bruschetta-in-a-jar" today (currently processing in the canning bath). Have also started the apricot butter (FINALLY), though I'm not expecting a lot of end-product by the time it's done... Maybe two cups at the most? We'll see.

Canning Update:
5 pint jars of bruschetta + 7 one-cup jars of bruschetta = 4.25L bruschetta in a Jar
2 pint jars of diced tomatoes + 8 one-cup jars of diced tomatoes = 4L diced tomatoes
5 cup jars of tomato-peach sals + 1 half-cup jar of (mild) tomato-peach sals = ~1.3L salsa
8 pint jars of garlic-dill cucumber pickles
1.5 C black currant jelly
2 one-cup jars of asparagus relish (one of which lives in the fridge, as it didn't seal quite right)
4 half-cup jars of black currant curd (made with ribena – aka black currant simple syrup – about a month ago)
1-2 C (flattened out in a single freezer bag) frozen edamole (made from previously frozen edamame)
9 half-cups of frozen roasted-and-diced Sicillian eggplant
2-3 C frozen golden zucchini rounds
2 C frozen (freezing) raspberries
2 L (or so) frozen serviceberries
1 L (or so) frozen red currants
~1 C dried nectarine chunks (stored in the fridge because they're not totally dry)
~2 C dried peach chunks (stored in the fridge because they're not totally dry)


I'm hoping to add the following (but we'll see what we can get):
2+ one-cup jars of apricot butter
12-20 half-cup jars of roasted-garlic-balsamic tomato sauce
8 one-cup jars pear butter (with maple syrup for some of the sweetener)
8-12 one-cup jars pumpkin butter (with maple syrup for most of the sweetener)
8 one-cup jars of apple butter
4-8 half-cup jars of crab apple jelly
4-8 half-cup jars of cranberry curd
9 (more) half-cups of frozen roasted-and-diced Sicillian eggplant (this will totally happen, as the eggplant is already part-way processed and just needs to be rinsed, roasted, diced, and frozen before I can check it off my list)
2-3 C (more) frozen golden zucchini rounds (we'll see when I get around to this - I'm quite enjoying having them fresh right now)
24 half-cups of frozen blanched rainbow chard and/or other cooking greens (wish me luck)
1-2L dried tomatoes (here's hoping I can slice them thin enough to make this work)

NOTE: I will, of course, also be availing myself of as many bags of frozen broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, snap beans, and edamame as I can manage to stuff into my chest freezer... but I'll be letting companies like Arctic Garden and President's Choice do that bit for me.

Wish me luck with the rest of my canning! :-D

Amazon. :-D
So I spent the past hour chopping up peaches and nectarines.
Know what I've learned?

(1) For some reason, the stone-fruit that I'm getting at the grocery store (Foodland Ontario peaches and netarines from Nicastro's + Foodland Ontario peaches from the Glebe Metro) have cracked pits, or pits that are not-too-solid and that slice open when you go to cut the fruit off the seed. I have no idea what this means, though I'm somewhat inclined to try growing a peach if that's looking like it could work out.

(2) The nectarines I got were cling-stone rather than free-stone, so not all that easy to work with.

(3) Even when the fruit that you get is from in-Province (so, like, a day away by truck rather than a day away by airplane - still a day away), you're going to have a mixture of already-ripe, nearly-ripe, and not-ripe-at-all peaches/nectarines in your 3-litre box of fruit. Gods, that's a piss-off. :-P

Anyway. So here's what I've done:
I cut something like 9 peaches and 18 nectarines into eighths (so cut them in half, and then cut each half into quarters) in the hopes that (a) they'll dry a little faster - I'll talk about that, shortly, and (b) they'll be pre-sized for as many different purposes as possible (so, like, good for thowing into a coffee cake OR into a yoghurt parfait OR into a braise OR into a bag of car-snacks... without having to be trimmed or halved or whatever once they've already been dried).

Drying times for nectarines are listed (in the instruction manual that my dehydrator did, in fact, come with - it was tucked between two of the trays rather than down the side of the box) as 6-16 hours. Drying times for peaches are listed as 14-18 hours.

I know that I'm going to have to rotate the trays - bring the ones on the top of the stack to the bottom and vice-versa - rought every three hours.
I also know that my peach chunks aren't all the same size. Same goes for my nectarine chunks.
Basically, I'm going to have to keep an eye on things all day. :-)

So we'll see how this goes.

Right now I'm feeling weirdly stressed about it all. This may have more to do with needing to eat breakfast than anything else, but my shoulders are kind of up around my ears a little bit. Also, the dehydrator totally sounds like an electric hand-dryer is going on the other side of the room. I suspect this is going to become a little grating by the end of the day, but we'll see.

I'm fretting about a dozen things right now - mostly to do with Vigilance and worrying about who/what is going to come out of the wood-work (and try to eat the food) if I leave the house for a couple of hours between tray-rotations.

I'm trying to distract myself by (A) listening to podcasts, (B) sorting out my to-do lists, and (C) writing a chocolate-chili peanut-butter cookie recipe that... I think is going to be pretty damn good. :-)

Anyway. I've got candles and cookies to make - which will hopefully take me the hour-and-a-half that I need to fill between now and the first time I have to rotate my drying racks (after-which point I am hitting up the grocery store because I'm out of yeast(!) and need that if I'm going to make me some bread - so I'm going to head out.

Amazon. :-)
Making garlic-dill cucumber pickles.
Except that they contain very little garlic (alas). Let this be a lesson to me: Plan Vietnamese Garlic Chives that are available early-on and are perenial... y'know, in the event that I have a yard to garden at some point in the hopefully-not-TOO-distant future.

Last night, I processed half of my eight pint-jars in a boiling water bath... A process which resulted in a lot of over-flow and a lot of lost (leaked) pickling solution... So I'm trying again, this morning, with the jars the other way up[1].

The funny thing is that the jars that lost all the pickling solution? They still sealed. They might have been just fine to eat from in a month or three (or six, or twelve...) but I don't know that, so I opted to try again.

Anyway. The first batch is out (one jar has already sealed, I'm waiting for the tell-tale "plunk" from the othe three), and the other batch is processing. :-)

I'm hoping that this works.
So far, this season, I've done a moderate amount of freezing - serviceberries, strawberries, pesto, raspberries, "edamole" (although that was made, in large part, from previously-frozen edamame, so I'm not sure if it counts), and red currants - but only a little bit of canning (two cups of asparagus relish, four half-cups of black-currant curd). The pickles are my first "big batch" of canning in 2014, and I'm hoping that they'll work out, in part because - while Fridge Pickles are great and all - I don't want to have to eat through four litres of vinegarry, quasi-cooked cukes in a couple of weeks. (Ha! And a second jar just sealed! Woohoo!) So make that three litres of vinegarry, quasi-cooked, cukes. But you get the idea.

I continue to have high hopes around preserving - particularly tomato-based preserves (roasted-garlic balsamic tomato sauce, for sure, as well as a significantly larger batch of spicy tomato-peach salsa[2] - think 8-12 cups rather than three - and (maaaaaaaaaaaybe) some crushed tomatoes, most likely done as one-cup jars rather than two-cup jars... in the name of getting them to seal.

Which brings me back around to my pint-jars of cucumber pickles and my hope that they, too, will seal properly.
Getting a half-cup jar to seal is easy. It's small. Five minutes (ten, tops, for if you're doing fruit curds or other "dense...ish" preserves) and the lids'll plunk shut, fully sealed, in no time. But, I find, the bigger the jar, the longer the processing time (this is not surprising) but also the longer it takes for the seal to form after coming out of the bath. I'm not sure why this is, but it makes for some (mild-to-moderate) anxiety while waiting to see if the seals form at all.

So that's where I'm at with the canning and other forms of preserving.


[1] When I'm processing half-cup, or even whole-cup (half-pint), jars of preserves, I do what my mom did and use a frying pan with the jars flipped lid-side-down. Less water, yeah, but lots of steam (which is quite a bit hotter than water, thank-you-very-much). It works just fine.

[2] I admit, in the interests of finding out if it would work[3], I'm inclined to try making this stuff using slivers of dried appricots rather than diced fresh peaches...

[3] Because The Goal is to eventually own a yard that is big enough (20x12?) to grow a dwarf, two-variety apricot tree for the purposes of harvesting fruit for fresh-eating, drying, possibly fermenting into Country Wine, and canning as fruit butter, fruit-in-simple-syrup, "jam", and salsa.
So, a few days ago, I made a strawberry-rhubarb custard pie with a merengue top.
Left-over from that, I have (a) two custard cups with merengue tops, which will be eaten for dessert tonight, and (b) about a quarter of a cup of already slightly sugary (mostly strawberry) juice, which came form the thawing-the-strawberries process before I made the pie.

Today, I have:
Tidied up at least some of the master bedroom
Done three loads of laundry
Stripped the bed
Talked to the landlord
Contacted Ti Kanna about gardening at her place
Made two kinds of jelly.

The Jelly started out as strawbery-rhubarb jelly (see above, re: juice). However, in order to bring it up to half a cup, I added a couple of tablespoons each Apple Juice and Red Wine. And a few drops of white wine vinegar. And a sprinkling of cardemom and cloves. And a sploosh of vanilla.

And I got my half-cup of jelly. Except that I actually had more than that, but not enough to do a full cup. So I added another few tablespoons each of Apple Juice and Red wine, threw in a sploosh of red wine vinegar, and added a sprinkling of cinnamon and cloves.
And I got another half-cup of jelly.

So that worked out. They both taste like candy (that's 1:1 sugar ratios for you...) but they worked out well, I think. They're cooling on the rack right now.

I used the last teaspoon or two of the second jelly (I had just a little more than half a cup on that one), mixed with about half a cup of red wine, as a sauce/glaze for the chicken that is now quietly baking/roasting in the oven (I greased the dish with olive oil, so we'll see how this works out). My plan is to serve it with a salad of baby potatoes, baby tomatoes, and cucumbers, possibly in a yoghurt dressing or some kind of vinegrette. Anyway, we'll see.

amazon_syren: (Crafty!)
( Aug. 18th, 2012 08:37 am)
I really like those bags of frozen spinach where the spinach is in little, loose cubes (so that you can use, like, three cubes and wind up with half a cup of cooked spinach in your entree or whatever). I've been looking for them at my grocery store (Hartmann's, so whose surprised) but they haven't had them for months. Possibly this is because it isn't spinach-freezing season yet? Dunno.

Anyway. I decided "screw it" and bought one of those huge boxes of loose baby spinach the other day.
The vast majority of it is now blanched and frozen (in theory - I did this last night) in an ice-cube tray, ready to be transferred to a freezer bag for leisurely consumption.

This morning, I hacked up an entire rutabaga (and half a dozen tiny, somewhat dried-out, beets - they look kind of like rose petals when they're sliced up) and am brining it in a not that salty salt-water solution.
Tomorrow I will sterilize a few one-cup jars (in theory this should give me eight cups, but I suspect it's more like four...) and boil up a heap of red wine vinegar[1] with some judiciously sellected seeds and spices, chop up some garlic, and pickle the hell out of my rutabagas. :-D

It will be delicious and shwarma-tastic. :-D

In other rutabaga-related news, I found this: Rutabaga/Parsnip Muffins at Foodland Ontario. Thought I would probably use dried cranberries (or currants) instead of raisins ('cause I like them better), I think I might try this at some point over the winter. :-)

I'm currently making bread. It's something vaguely related to brioche, I think. Three eggs, milk, and a splash of oil to give it a very soft, moist crumb, plus honey for the sweetener (for its preservation qualities, but also because it'll give the crust a nice colour and, hey, YUM!)

I'm hoping to go to (and, thus, actually locate) the Preston St. Farmers' Market today. I'd like to see what's available. Granted, just at the moment, we have a very well-stocked fridge, so I'm going have to be careful about not buying stuff. :-)

In other news, I'm hoping to hem a skirt today.

Amazon. :-)

[1] Note to self: Get more red wine vinegar. And more apple-cider vinegar. And a huge thing of olive-oil for soap-making. And salt. Right. Groceries later today!

So a couple of days ago I made pickled peaches. Om Nom Nom pickled peaches. And I had a little bit of the pickling solution left over.

The pickling solution, in this case, was a mix of maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, raspberry-balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of salt.

So it was basically sweet-and-sour sauce.

So I chopped up three tomatoes and about 1/4 of an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic, and chucked them all into the pot with the pickling solution in it... and then added a little bit of nutritional yeast, four miniature pork sausages (mild Italian) pre-cooked and sliced into rounds, and one sweet-pickled roasted red pepper (that I then mashed up into a pulp).

Stir everything together and let simmer until most of the liquid has boiled off.

Add a cup of cooked pasta (I used fusilli) and serve. Hot, sweet, slightly spicy, and delicious. Although a little extra garlic wouldn't have been amiss and it could have taken on a couple of ice-cube-sized pucks of frozen spinach and not been anything to complain about.

In other news: I have three-and-a-half cups of grape jelly that, I'm rapidly concluding, I'm not likely to actually use.
More fool me for making it in the first place. :-P
If people have suggestions for what to do with grape jelly (other than "eat on bread"), I'd appreciate hearing them.
Particularly if they involve mixing them with savoury foods to make interesting sauces or something. (Like... could I do a mix of 50/50 grape jelly and red wine vinegar, plus garlic, onion, a pinch of salt, and fresh ...rhubarb?... and throw them in a slow-cooker with a bit of beef...? Would that work? Any ideas?)

I tried turning some of it (2C) into sour-cream tarts... and that did not go well. Jam tarts are possible, because jam contains actual pieces of fruit. Jelly tarts basically get you a tart shell full of slightly burnt caramel and rather grape-y water.
Not so good, I'm afraid. :-\

I'm game for adding it to cakes and similar, but if anyone has ideas for a savoury option, I'm all ears. :-)

Amazon. :-)
amazon_syren: (Default)
( Jul. 20th, 2012 10:49 am)
So my Zazzle order (Ilthit's pretty, pretty notecards) is, in theory, on its way. However - also in theory - they tried to deliver it about an hour ago.
Which I think is a lie because I didn't get a phone-call from anyone downstairs saying "I have a delivery for" so... WTF.

I hate fedex with a fiery, fiery loathing right now. Lazy, dishonest bastards.

Anyway. Moving right along. :-P

Other than that my morning has actually been pretty awesome and at least slightly productive.

I chopped up 15 cucumbers, most of which are now in the first step of brining (chopped up and soaking in salt water for 24 hrs). And I think I've got just enough 2C jars to put them in, too. :-)

I also fixed a necklace (that's been on my to-do list for months), and checked my soap (which is curing, albeit really, realy slowly... I don't know why that is, either...)

My plan for the afternoon is
1) Make jewelry
2) Do some writing
3) Dye my hair
4) Possibly go to the grocery store (again) and get the spices I need to do the pickles tomorrow morning.
5) Possibly make new beeswax tealights for at-home use

I want to make peach butter.
However I've only got 12 (small) peaches. Which means I can make about 1.5 cups of peach butter. OR I can make 3 cups of peach jam. OR I can make 3 cups of balsamic-peach pickles or spicy peach chutney.
I made tomato-peach salsa last night (with yellow onion, garlic, jalapeno peppers plus white wine vinegar and a pinch of cayenne).

I've discovered that General Store Publishing House is an Ottawa Valley publisher whose catalogue includes cook books. This is very good to know. :-)

Things I want to make (or have already made) this summer:

Rhubarb syrup
Rhubarb chutney (surprisingly barbicue-sauce-like)
Strawberry-Rhubarb jam
Strawberry-Raspberry-Peach-Rhubarb jam
Sumac-Raspberry-Rhubarb syrup
Peach-Tomato Salsa
Frozen White Mulberries
(I froze them on a tin plate and then threw them in with my other frozen berries)
Garlic-Dill Cucumber pickles (started)

Peach butter (with ginger and cinnamon)
Spicy Peach chutney OR Balsamic Peach pickles (or both, but we'll see...)
Raspberry jam
Raspberry syrup
Raspberry curd
Apple butter
Apple cider
Apple-cranberry chutney
Cranberry curd
Spicy Cranberry relish (maybe...)
Pumpkin butter (with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves... and maybe just a little maple syrup)

That said, I think I'm going to make peach tarts today.
We're going to Brockville Pride tomorrow and, iirc, there's a picnic after the parade, so it would be nice to have something tasty on hand. :-)

I will make a custard and pour it over sliced peaches... that's my plan. There may or may not be pecans involved...

Anyway. That's where I'm at. :-)

Amazon. :-)


amazon_syren: (Default)


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