Yes, I know what you may be thinking…”Strawberry season? I thought that was in the summer…?” You are right, strawberry season is in the summer around here. However, when a friend of mine got an ad in the mail for our local grocery store, strawberries were listed at $0.97 a pound!! She discovered that this year Florida’s strawberry season has been very late, and is coinciding with California’s strawberry season…good news for us canners!!
Ideally, I would have loved to have gotten these strawberries more locally, maybe even from my farmer’s market, but the lure of the deal I would be getting got the best of me. At least the strawberries are from this country.
I used the recipe for Strawberry Jam by Food In Jars to process my strawberries. I loved the idea of using vanilla beans and lemon zest for a warmer, more interesting flavor. Additionally, many other recipes that I saw used much more sugar, sometimes twice as much. I like my preserves to taste more like the fruit itself then like candy.
Preserving for the first time this year showed me how much I had already learned in canning, as well as how much I have yet to learn. I know the process well, sterilize, cook, fill, process, cool. But I have so much more to learn about the art of canning. It takes so much intuition and experience. My jam turned out delicious, but a bit on the loose side. I know that as I can more and more fruits and vegetables, I will be able to tell when a recipe is not going exactly as planned, and hopefully will know how to fix the problem.
Not all was lost for this “jam”, however. Last night I threw together one of the tastiest desserts I have had in a long time…crepes with strawberry syrup and powdered sugar!
Crepes – Adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons of melted butter (plus more for oiling the pan)
- dash of salt
- dash of vanilla or a bit of vanilla bean
- Mix flour and eggs as well as you can. Slowly add 1 cup of milk, whisking to eliminate lumps of flour. Add butter, salt, and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
- With a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt a small bit of butter to coat. Pour 1/4-1/3 cup of crepe batter, and tilt the pan to coat the bottom. Cook until golden, then flip. When the second side is done, spread a small bit of butter over the crepe. Fold or roll crepe and place on plate. Repeat with remainder of batter.
- Lightly dust the crepes with powdered sugar, and drizzle with warm strawberry syrup (or your favorite topping). Eat all of them!!
It was so great to start the season with a big canning adventure! How do you feel about canning with food bought from the grocery store vs. local food?
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This weekend I was able to get in what was probably the last bit of canning for the season. I kinda missed out on a few of the things that I wanted to can when I was gone for my sister’s wedding, but thats ok…there’s always next year. One thing I have really enjoyed is canning with other people. It is so much fun to do canning with friends, and the tedious parts (like stirring apple butter for and hour and a half) seem to go by quickly. I have also noticed that it is easier to mass produce jars with more people, which makes canning much more worth while.
Like the rest of the produce I have canned, I got these apples from the farmer’s market. The farmer recommended using a combination of apple, which ended up being perfect! There was a great combination of flavors and textures in the resulting apple butter. An added bonus of the red-skinned apples was a beautiful pink color that turned into a rich redish brown as the apple butter cooked. Here is the recipe I used for the Apple Butter. If you have not come across Simply Recipes before, take a bit of time to look through it…Elise has tons of simple recipes, and even has a category for budget friendly recipes, which I have referred to often.
If you are looking for a recipe to use apple butter in, besides the basic toast, try Apple Butter Hand Pies. I have made these quite a few times in the last couple years, and they are a real hit! The crust is almost like a cookie, and the sweet and tart apple butter on the inside is a perfect contrast to it.
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If you asked people what the number one thing they would like to can is, I think most people would answer tomatoes. Tomatoes are such a fundamental part of my diet. Canning tomatoes is very easy, because tomatoes have a high acidity level, which means that you can can them without using a pressure canner. Other veggies, like corn, cannot be canned with a regular canner.
Last year I canned some tomato sauce. I thought that it was alright, but I decided to just can tomatoes by themselves this year. I prefer adding the other ingredients fresh because I think the flavor is better. Also, I can use the tomatoes in other recipes as well. In the picture above, you can see that I also preserved some pickled hot peppers and some marinated sweet peppers. The harvest season is definitely upon us!
Canned Crushed Tomatoes
- 20-25 lbs tomatoes
- vinegar or lemon juice
- 12-14 pint jars with 2 piece lids
- salt, if desired
Prepare a large bowl by filling it with water and ice. Keep more ice on hand for when the ice melts. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Blanch tomatoes in the water for 30 seconds, and then submerge them in the ice water. Peal off the skin of the tomatoes. I found that the whole blanching, submerging, and peeling process worked best in batches. I don’t have any pots or bowls that can hold 25 lbs of tomatoes!
Cut out the center stem scar, and squeeze out the seeds (be careful at this point because sometimes the seeds can squirt out the wrong end…I ended up with a lot of tomato on me). Cut the tomatoes into 4 pieces.
In a large pot, layer the bottom with tomato pieces. Smash them with a spoon, or with your hands. Keep adding tomatoes, smashing them as you go, until the pot is full. Heat the tomatoes over medium-high heat, stiring constantly until the mixture is boiling. Turn heat down and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, put 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in each of the jars. If you want, you can also add 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Pour the tomatoes in the jars, leaving 1/4-1/2 inch of headspace. Close the jars with hot 2 piece lids. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 35-40 minutes.
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What does 40 lbs of peaches give you? 12 jars of peach and almond butter, and 9 jars of peach chutney! This is my second round of canning peaches…I hope you are not getting tired of peaches. I was intrigued by a recipe I found in a book (I’m so sorry…I can’t remember the name!!) that combined peaches, ground almonds, and almond extract to make a fruit butter. I have only had apple butter, and I had to try this one. I tried to limit the amount of almond extract I used because I feel that sometimes too much can make things taste a bit fake. I think the results are pretty good, if not a bit too sweet for my taste. If I was to make this again, I think I would definitely reduce the about of sugar. If anyone is interested in making this, I will try to figure out what book this recipe came from.
I know by now your weekend is about half way through right now, but I do hope all of you have a great weekend. I promise I will not subject you to another peach posts on Monday!
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Chutney has never really been a part of my life. Not that I don’t like chutney, it just wasn’t something we ever really had. I’m not sure if it is a regional condiment, and no one growing up in SoCal used it, or if it was just never a tradition in my family.
Whatever the reason for eating chutney, I never really had a desire to make the stuff. My opinion was that it was funky tasting, too sweet, and weird (though I had never tried it…). When I got The Joy of Pickling, however, I saw a recipe for Peach Chutney that I couldn’t resist. I’m actually finding it hard to turn down any peach recipe that I run across due to the fact that its peach season in Colorado and I am trying to stow away as many peaches as I can before they leave.
I honestly don’t know why I never let myself try this stuff before. The smell really hits you first, and fills the entire house while its cooking. It smells delicious, if not a little overwhelming when standing right over it. The taste is deliciously sweet, tangy, and spice all at the same time. I can’t wait to try some of this stuff on a roast. Yummy!
Oh! And I just have to say…I found these new jars at the grocery store with a pretty design on the lids and labels. I was getting so tired of the fruit motif, which was all I could find for this size…I am so glad they have improved the design!
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Moving gives me such weird feelings. First, I get excited about the move to a new, better place. Then, I start to feel sad about leaving Mike and my first home together. Then I get frustrated and tired of the whole packing and moving process. Then I feel relief when it is finally over. Finally there is excitement again about the possibilities the new place presents.
The other night, Mike and I stayed up late because it just felt weird walking back and going to sleep in a room we are so unfamiliar with. It is strange because it still has all of our same stuff that we have in the old place. The room is even set up in almost the same way, but it just feels different. I’m sure we will start to feel settled soon enough.
Unfortunately the move coincided with the start of summer produce at the farmer’s market, which meant a lot of preserving. I suppose I could have waited a week or two, but I get so excited about finding the first pickling cucumbers (yes, I know I’m a little unusual).
Probably the best find of the weekend was sour cherries…I could not believe my eyes when I saw them! I was sure there would not be any at my market since making pies and canning seems to have fallen by the wayside for so many people. It took me a while to figure out what to do with them, but I finally decided to can them as pie filling. I modified this recipe by omitting the Clear-Jel (kinda freaks me out) and the red food coloring (also freaks me out), and replacing the lemon juice with white wine vinegar because that is all I had.
This weekend I also made some unfermented pickles, I am in the process of making some fermented pickles, and am almost done with my kimchi. For these recipes I used The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich, a book that I highly recommend for all the yummy looking pickles and preserves. Other things that I plan on making are pickled onions, hot and sweet peppers, giardinara, chutney, ketsup, and of course many more! And now a question for you…do you preserve the harvest? What are some of your favorite recipes?
I want to apologize for being away for so long…dear blog and readers how I have missed you!
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