Archive for the ‘Canning and Preserving’ Category

Bread and Butter Pickles

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

 
My friend Cathy in England wrote a while back to ask whether I had a recipe for bread-and-butter pickles. She says she can’t get them in the U.K. but loves them when she’s in the States.
 
I do, too. These sweet-and-sour cucumber pickles were a staple in our household when I was growing up, as ubiquitous as the bread and butter after which they are named. My grandmother learned to make them from her foster mother, and my mother learned to make them from my grandmother.
 
SOME DAY I hope to make a version of these with maple syrup. This year, however, I didn’t think about pickling until last week, when cucumbers were suddenly disappearing from gardens and farm stands in our area! 

To get something pickled this year, I’m sticking with my mother’s recipe, which probably came from Fannie Farmer long ago. She’s a Fannie Farmer cook. It’s simple, and the brown sugar gives it a mellow flavor.

 
The Pickles
 
Ingredients:
 
6 cups thinly sliced pickling cukes (leave the skin on, but remove the ends)
2 cups thinly sliced onions
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 cups brown sugar (do not pack)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 tablespoon mustard seed
3/4 teaspoon celery seed
2 cups mild cider vinegar (I used a store brand rather than the more robust version from my local apple orchard)
 
Instructions:
 
In a nonreactive bowl combine the cucumbers, onion slices, pepper strips, and salt. Cover the bowl and let the mixture stand for 3 hours to drain some of the liquid out of the cucumbers.
 
In a large nonreactive pot combine the brown sugar, spices, and vinegar. Bring them slowly to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes.
 
Drain and rinse the vegetables thoroughly. Add them to the liquid on the stove and heat just until the liquid is about to simmer once more.
 
Spoon the vegetables into 4 hot, sterilized pint jars, and cover them with the cooking liquid. Fill the jars but leave 1/2-inch headspace.
 
(If you’re a little short on liquid, add a small amount of vinegar to the bottom of the cooking pot—where there will still be a residue of the spices—and bring it to a boil; then add that to your jars.)
 
Cover the jars with two-part lids and process them in boiling water for 10 minutes. (For more information on this process, check out the USDA Guide to Home Canning.)
 
Now, here’s the hard part: wait at least 6 weeks before you open the first jar. We’re counting the days in our house. 

Makes 4 pints.

Hilo to Hawley Barbecue Sauce

Thursday, September 9th, 2010
 
 
Generally, I know what I’m going to get when I test a recipe. Every once in a while, however, I’m completely surprised.
 
Surprise was definitely the word of the day when I tried this recipe.
 
Devany Vickery-Davidson is a writer and ceramic artist who lives in Hawaii. Her blog, My Hawaiian Home, features delectable recipes and stories of her adventures in her tropical milieu. 

Her dog Valentine is NEARLY as cute as my Truffle. And Valentine has her own lei. (I refuse to show this picture to Truffle!)
 

Valentine in Paradise (Courtesy of Devany Vickery-Davidson)

 
Devany recently sent me her homemade ketchup recipe. I was determined to try it out.
 
I had a lot of tomatoes in the house (not enough, it turned out—Devany DID warn me that one needed a huge garden to make her recipe!). And my nephew Michael is a ketchup fanatic.
 
I adapted Devany’s Hawaiian-oriented recipe to reflect local ingredients around my home in Hawley, Massachusetts. Devany often uses palm vinegar; I used cider vinegar from Apex Orchards. She uses raw cane and brown sugar; I used maple syrup. She uses a Maui onion; I used a local Vidalia type.
 
I cooked and cooked and cooked the ketchup. When it was still wet but getting thicker I tasted it.
 
It didn’t taste ANYTHING like ketchup. My local cider vinegar was way too robust.
 
At the suggestion of my friend Chef Michael Collins I added more maple syrup and kept cooking. When I tasted the revised ketchup, it still wasn’t very ketchup like.
 
I was just about to give up when I tasted it again and experienced a moment of epiphany.
 
My concoction still didn’t taste anything like ketchup. BUT … it DID taste like really good barbecue sauce.
 
So that’s what I’m calling it.
 
You’ll only want to make this recipe if you have lots and lots of tomatoes in your garden or farm share; it’s quite expensive per ounce if you go out and buy the darn things.
 
It’s worth trying if you have a surfeit of tomatoes, however. It’s dark, sweet, and tangy—perfect barbecue sauce, in other words. 

Thank you, Devany, for leading me on this adventure! Whatever this stuff is called, it’s delicious.

 
Devany’s Sauce Adapted by Tinky
 
Ingredients:
 
1-1/2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1-1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
2 teaspoons whole cloves
8 black peppercorns
1 fresh bay leaf or 1/2 dried bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 nutmeg nut, grated
12 pounds (5 kilograms) chopped tomatoes—6 to 7 quarts (Devany suggests using Roma or paste tomatoes, but any tomato will do; regular tomatoes, which I used, just have more liquid and will therefore yield less sauce.)
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
2 Serrano peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon kosher salt (Devany uses 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt, but I used what I had)
 
Instructions:
 
Place the vinegar in a saucepan. Tie the mustard seeds, allspice, celery seeds, cloves, and peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth. Place the cheesecloth bag in the vinegar along with the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg.
 
Bring the mixture slowly to a boil; then turn off the heat and let the vinegar sit with the spices for 1 hour. Discard the spices (except for the nutmeg, which will be in the vinegar!) and set the vinegar aside.
 
In a large nonreactive kettle combine the tomatoes, garlic, onion, and peppers. Heat the ingredients over medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid scorching on the bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat; allow the mixture to simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
 
Stir in the spiced vinegar and continue to simmer for another 1/2 hour, still stirring from time to time.
 
Remove the pot from the heat and put the tomatoes and other vegetables through a food mill. Try to extract as much pulp and juice as you can. Discard the leftover solids, seeds, and skins.
 
Stir the maple syrup and salt into the tomato mixture, and return it to the heat. Continue to cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until your barbecue sauce achieves the desired consistency. (This took me about 4 hours.) 

I ended up with a little less than 1 quart of sauce, but one would probably achieve a larger yield (and a shorter cooking time) with the tomatoes Devany recommends.


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Emma DuPuy Reed’s Pickled Peaches

Friday, September 3rd, 2010
This photo and others come courtesy of Sue Haas.
 
Canning season is in full force—and as usual I am thinking about putting food up more than I’m doing it.
 
Thanks to Sue Haas of Seattle, however, I have made my first ever batch of pickled peaches. This lovely old fashioned recipe comes from Sue’s grandmother, Emma DuPuy Reed.
 
Miss Emma was born in 1871 and died in 1962 and was, according to Sue, “quite a lady.” Sue is working on a young-adult novel about her grandmother’s life. In the meantime, here are a few recollections she shared with me.
 
Emma Louisa DuPuy was born and grew up in a French Huguenot family in Philadelphia. Her father, Charles Meredith DuPuy, an engineer and inventor, was one of the founding members of the Huguenot Society of America. He also wrote a book about the DuPuy Family. She and her sisters were neighbors of and friends with Cecilia Beaux, the American Impressionist portrait painter, in West Philly. There are several portraits of DuPuy family members painted by C. Beaux. One is now at the Williams College Museum of Art…. 

Emma was a tall, dignified, beautiful lady with big blue eyes, a generous smile, and a wonderful sense of humor. She married William Ebenezer Reed, an engineer (from Manchester, VT), in 1902. Emma lived in a rent-controlled high-ceilinged, elegant apartment in Manhattan for over 50 years. Emma and “Eben” raised their five children there and Grandma gave birth to all of them at home. They had a maid and a cook and kept the traditions of Victorian table settings. I still remember dipping my fingers in thin, glass finger bowls placed on lace doilies–possibly necessary after eating sticky pickled peaches! 

      Emma DuPuy in 1901, a year before her marriage 
 
Emma loved peaches. Peach ice cream was her favorite. She made her pickled peaches in Blue Point, L. I., where she also made raspberry jelly. I remember catching soft-shelled crabs in Blue Point, too, and occasionally seeing them escape from their bucket and scramble around on the kitchen floor before being plopped into boiling water.
 
I remember, as a child, helping my mother, Mary, make pickled peaches…mostly I remember peeling them after they’d been dipped in boiling water. Sometimes my fingers would turn purple and I remember my mother telling me to use lemon juice to get rid of the stains. (I didn’t notice that happening when I made the pickled peaches this summer, though.)
 
This summer my own daughter, Alysa, wanted me to teach her how to can. So we canned raspberry jam. She was busy on the day I canned the pickled peaches but I’m passing the recipe on to her.
 
I remember, as a child, eating juicy, cinnamon-y pickled peaches with roast turkey on Thanksgiving at Grandma’s Manhattan apartment many years ago. And I can’t wait to serve them to my own grandchildren at our Thanksgiving table this year in Seattle.
 
Sue’s recollections of her grandmother struck me as perfect for a project called In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens. So did this recipe. I did get pretty sticky handling the peaches, but what sweet stickiness! I can hardly wait to eat them with a festive meal.
 
Sue suggests serving them with roast pork or ham as well as turkey. You may either take the cloves out of the peaches yourself before serving or let your guests remove their own. 

Now, if I only had a rent-controlled apartment in New York City………..

 
 
Ingredients:
 
8 pounds fresh peaches (about 16 medium peaches)
4 pounds sugar (about 9 cups)
1 pint white vinegar
whole cloves (6 per peach = 96 cloves)
4 sticks cinnamon
 
Equipment:
 
large canning pot with rack
large cooking pot for heating water to peel peaches
large cooking pot for syrup and peaches
cheesecloth (cut a piece about 8 x 12 inches)
string
teaspoon
4 to 5 sterilized pint canning jars, new lids, and screwbands (sterilize in dishwasher or in boiling water in large canning pot with rack)
 
Instructions:
 
Preparation of canning pot:
 
Fill large canning pot with enough water to cover the two quart-size canning jars. Bring water to boil and keep hot.
 
Peeling peaches in hot water & adding cloves:
 
Boil about 2 quarts of water in a big cooking pot. Remove from heat. Place peaches in hot water for about 1 minute, or long enough so that skins may be peeled off easily. Remove peaches from water and cool in colander. Peel peaches and discard peels. You may cut peaches into halves or leave them whole. I cut them in half, but it’s tricky to keep them intact. Whole peaches are easier. Insert 3 cloves into each peeled peach half. Set aside.
 
Cinnamon spice packet:
 
Make a spice packet with 4 sticks of cinnamon wrapped in a piece of cheesecloth. Tie a string to close the bag. Leave one end of string long enough to reach over the side of the pot to pull out when syrup has thickened. You may tie the long end of the string to a teaspoon to weigh it down so it won’t slip back into the pot.
 
Note from Tinky: I just made a little knot in the cheesecloth and removed the cinnamon with a slotted spoon later. I couldn’t find my string!
 
Syrup: 

Mix sugar and vinegar in a large cooking pot. Add the cinnamon packet to the pot. Heat on stove to boiling. Turn down and let simmer about 30 minutes until syrup turns golden and thickens.

 

Cooking the Peaches

 
Cook peaches in syrup:
 
Place peaches in the syrup and cook about 10 minutes on medium heat until soft. You may have to add the peaches in batches, depending on the size of the pot. When the peaches have finished cooking remove the cinnamon packet from the liquid. (You may save the cinnamon sticks and place one in each jar of pickled peaches if you like.)
 
Canning peaches:
 
Place peaches in the jars and pour syrup to about half an inch from the top of each jar. Seal with new canning lids and screw on screwbands. Place sealed jars on rack in hot water bath in large canning pot, making sure tops of jars are covered with water. Boil gently for about 10 minutes. Bubbles of air will come out of the jars.
 
Remove jars from water bath and let sit on a tray without moving them for about 24 hours. You’ll know jars are sealed if you hear the lids pop, and they are flat (not convex) when you press the tops with your finger. 

Makes 4 to 5 pints. You will have quite a bit of leftover syrup. You may use it to can more peaches, serve it as an appetizer over cream cheese, or make a cocktail with it. (Tinky here: I’m thinking maybe something with rum?)

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Chic Once More Tarragon Vinegar

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

 
Twenty years ago tarragon was THE chic flavor for gourmet vinegar.
 
And yet a couple of months ago when I was getting ready to make Green Goddess Dressing I could find neither fresh tarragon nor tarragon vinegar in stores!
 
(I’m sure they can still be found in some grocery stores, but they were not available near my brother’s house in Virginia.)
 
Tarragon is a lovely herb, with a special almost licorice-like flavor. I have no idea why or how it fell from grace. I firmly believe that it deserves to come back into fashion, however. And I’m doing my part to promote its renaissance.
 
First, I have planted tarragon outside my kitchen in Massachusetts as well as in my sister-in-law’s garden in Virginia.
 
Thinking ahead to the winter when my tarragon will be dormant, I have just made tarragon vinegar. My own tarragon plant is still dwarflike, but I was fortunately enough to find a huge bunch of lush tarragon at my CSA, Wilder Brook Farm.
 
If I want to make Green Goddess dressing in January I can substitute my vinegar for some of the lemon juice in that recipe. I can also make an herbal vinaigrette with the vinegar. Or a sweet-and-sour vinaigrette by mixing it with some of my strawberry vinegar.
 
Like Scarlett O’Hara, I’ll never go hungry again—at least not where tarragon is concerned.
 
Did I mention that the recipe couldn’t be simpler?
 
Tarragon Vinegar
 
Ingredients:
 
1 quart apple cider vinegar (I use the lovely vinegar made by Apex Orchards)
1/2 cup tarragon leaves
 
Instructions:
 
Heat the vinegar in a non-aluminum pan until it is just about to boil but not boiling. While it is heating, wash and dry the tarragon leaves, being careful not to crush them. Gently push the leaves into a warm, clean glass jar with a capacity greater than a quart. (I use an old liquor bottle—washed, of course.)
 
When the vinegar is warm pour it into the jar and close the jar loosely. Tighten the jar lid after the vinegar cools. Place the jar in a cool, dry place for 3 days, gently shaking it twice a day. Do NOT try to shake the bottle just after you pour in the hot vinegar as it may leak or explode.
 
Strain the vinegar through cheesecloth and funnel it into smaller bottles. If you like, you may place a sprig of tarragon in your bottles to help you remember what type of vinegar they contain. (Labels help, too.) 

Makes about 1 quart of vinegar.


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Asparagus Refrigerator Pickles

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

 
I know I’ve mentioned this before on these pages, but it bears repeating at this wonderful time of year:
 
I could eat asparagus every single day of my life!
 
It’s my favorite vegetable—pretty, crunchy, sweet, and versatile. I’m always trying to think up new ways to use it.
 
I love dill refrigerator pickles made with cucumber so a few days ago I decided to try something similar with a bunch of fresh asparagus I found at a farm stand.
 
My mother, whose tastes become sweeter and sweeter as she grows older, found my pickles a little tart. I thought they were refreshing.
 
My only complaint was that they could have been crisper. They had more or less the consistency of cooked asparagus—cooked al dente, but cooked nevertheless.
 
Next time I’ll probably try just pouring warm brine over them instead of pre-cooking them. (I’ll let you know how this turns out!)
 
Meanwhile, I recommend them as they are. After a few days the vinegar turns the asparagus buds a gentle and pleasing pink.

 
The Pickles
 
Ingredients:
 
1 pound fresh, local asparagus spears
1 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pinch sugar
2 cloves garlic
1 generous branch dill
a few whole peppercorns
 
Instructions:
 
Clean and sterilize a pint jar. (A wide-mouth jar is best as it is easiest to stuff.)
 
Snap the asparagus spears where they break naturally. Discard the part of the spear that has fallen below the break.
 
Combine the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar in a nonreactive saucepan and bring them to a boil. Set the mixture aside to cool completely.
 
Wash the spears, and trim them so that they will fit into your jar. Save the extra bits of asparagus for salad, pasta, or stir-fry dishes.
 
Immerse the spears in boiling water. Return the water to a full boil and boil for1 minute. Rinse immediately and completely in very cold water to stop the spears from cooking further and drain them.
 
When the vinegar mixture is cool place the garlic, dill, pepper, and asparagus spears in the sterilized jar. Pour the vinegar mixture over them.
 
You should have about the right amount of liquid. If you need a little more, pour a little tap water into the jar to fill it to the top; then cover and gently shake the mixture.
 
If you don’t need to add water, just cover the jar. Refrigerate the pickles for 3 to 4 days before eating. Makes 1 pint.
 

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