Thursday, September 15, 2011
PRESERVING THE HARVEST
Tasting fresh ingredients in your daily cooking is of course, one of the best rewards of the fall harvest. With such plenty, it is often the case that I develop facile ways of preserving quantities of foods that have made their way to my kitchen. I often find that a neighbouring crabapple tree owned by a generous friend is easy to harvest, so whether it be offerings, foraging or simply buying in season at your local grocery store, seasonal foods are the best pick. Whether it be drying apples for easy munching later, freezing rhubarb for pies yet to be made, poaching or pickling in wine or cider , infusing herbs in oil, or making berry jams for breakfast, the first step is to determine which method of preserving suits the food and your culinary tastes. Always select fruits and vegetables that are in great condition and even slightly under ripe for your preserving.
Plum Crabapple Jam
This easy jam is tart, at the same time, sweet, and brimming with flavour. Plums and crabapples harvest at the same time so gathering is pleasant, the preparation rather simple in that there are only four main ingredients.
6 cups quartered crabapples 1500 ml
3 cups water 750 ml
2 tbsp cinnamon
8 cups purple plums 2 litres
10 cups granulated sugar 2.50 litres
11/2 cups dry red wine 350 ml
Place crabapples and water in a dutch oven and boil over medium-low heat covered for 15 minutes until the fruit softens. Press crabapples into a sieve coarsely to remove pits, stems. Save the pulp and return to dutch oven. Add plums, sugar, cinnamon and return to a gentle boil until it forms a sticky gel (approx. 30 minutes). Stir frequently to avoid burning. Remove from heat and fill hot, clean sterilized jars. Process jars in a hot bath for 10 minutes, rinse and label.
Apple Plum Chutney
This recipe is so rich in spicy flavour that it becomes a frequent pleaser in the winter months. Try this as a spread in sandwiches, on potatoes or as a condiment on a great vegetarian or beef burger. Depending on the darkness of the plums you use, the colour is a gorgeous deep orange.
8 cups unpeeled pitted and quartered pums 2 litres
51/2 cups packed brown sugar 1350 ml
4 cups chopped golden onions 1 litre
1 head garlic
2 cups diced red pepper 500 ml
1 cup golden raisins 250 ml
2 tbsp mustard seeds 30 ml
2 tsp coarse salt 10 ml
1 tbsp each allspice, cinnamon, ginger 15 ml
4 cups cider 1 litre
Add all ingredients to a large dutch oven and bring to a boil reducing heat to simmer for at least an hour to allow the mixture to become a thick consistency. Stir frequently to avoid sticking. Remove from heat and pour into hot, clean sterilized jars. Process jars in a hot bath for 10 minutes, then rinse and label.
Once picked in September in quantity and pickled in a spicy vinegar, these spicy crabapples grace a thanksgiving plate beautifully. Sort through your pickings to find the best of the crabapples, keep the stems and begin this simple process.
41/2 cups granulated sugar 1125 ml
3 cups water 750 ml
21/2 cups cider vinegar 625 ml
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp whole cloves, allspice and caramon 15 ml
33/4 lbs. crabapples 1.7 kg
Combine sugar, water and vinegar in a large dutch oven. Prepare a spice bag with cinnamon, whole cloves, allspice and cardamon. Bring mixture to a boil for 10 minutes. Using cleaned whole crabapples and boil for approximately 10 minutes or until apples are tender. Gently place apples into large jars and pour spicy vinegar into them leaving 1/2 inch space. Process jars in a hot bath for 20 minutes, rinse and label.
Roasted Red Peppers
With local sweet red peppers arriving into the marketplace at low prices, September is the time to bring them home and savour their flavours throughout the winter months. Thoroughly wash the exterior of the red peppers and place any quantity in a large bowl. Add 1-2 tbsp olive oil to glaze the peppers. Place them over the bbq under medium heat and turn them gently while they brown. Return them to a large clean bowl and seal it with plastic wrap to complete a steaming of the peppers. Remove after 10 minutes, skin and halve each pepper to place in a sealed bag adding some of the roasting juices for flavour. Use them on pizza, spreads, pasta dishes, and jambalayas.
Peach Orange Conserve
Conserves vary from jams or jellies of course so that you enjoy a mixed fruit dish that may be served with yogourt, ice cream or pound cake. There is also a vast difference this conserve has to its poor, bland, pale commercial cousin, canned peaches from the supermarket. To remove the peach skin, place the cleaned peaches in a large bowl, pour boiling water to submerge for approx 1-3 minutes, and drain. Follow this by ice cold water submersion and peel easily.
2 oranges unpeeled
1 rbsp grated lemon rind
3/4 cup water
8 cups coarsely chopped, pitted peeled peaches
6 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
10 cinnamon stick
3/4 slivered almonds
Remove stem from oranges and place whole with lemon rind and water and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer covered in a small pot for approximately 15 minutes. Let cool, slice coursely and place in a large dutch oven along with chopped peaches, sugar, lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer for approximately 1 hour. Finally add almonds to the mixture and cook for 5 more minutes. Prepare 500 ml. jars in the oven and add one cinnamon stick to each. Pour mixture into jars. Process jars in a hot bath for 20 minutes, then rinse and label.