The past week has flown by. I started preserving in earnest on Monday, and it wasn’t until Thursday that I finished the five recipes I’d set out to do. I could have – probably – done them in less time, but I promised the husband that I would not make a disaster of the kitchen this year. That and my kids needed to eat and be bathed and nurtured – and canning is by nature, pretty time consuming after all.
Everything, (except the Dill Pickled Carrots) came from recipes in Canning for a New Generation (I can not say enough what a breath of fresh air this book is!).
To start, the Spiced Apple Butter from the last post turned out marvelously. It’s spicy and sweet with a bit of caramel. I love, love , love how low maintenance this recipe is. Last year, I used a generic recipe from my hum-drum Bernardin canning book (don’t get me wrong, it’s got great basics and all the recipes you would expect it to have – it’s just not very exciting) and wound up stirring endlessly over a hot burner for what felt like days. CFNG’s recipe also called for much less sugar, which was a welcome surprise.
Then came the magic of Cardamom Plum Jam. I ogled this recipe like a madwoman last Christmas when I bought the book – it was so exciting to see it come to “fruition”. Pun totally intended. I’m truly ashamed I just did that.
If you’ve never cooked with cardamom, you need to. Its got a really interesting taste that my hubby likened to soap candies. I’ve put it into chocolate chip cookies and spice cakes before, as well as when I make Pilau Rice for my son and it always goes over well. Think chai latte warmth, but in dry form.
The plums turned such an intense shade of crimson, I really wish I could post a photo of the syrup process! Sadly, I couldn’t get a good shot of it in the pan as it was bubbling away too rapidly for the camera, or my camera skills. The overall taste is amazing – sour, sweet and spicy all at once.
Tuesday morning was Rhubarb Orange Jam. Sadly, I ended up raiding the entire stock of rhubarb at my local Sobey’s – we had a freak hailstorm and my poor little backyard crop was decimated. It still turned out great though – very tart, plenty of citrusy goodness. In fact, it turned out SO good that we are totally through one of the jars (my son Finn, just licks it off of the toast and says “yummy!”).
I will admit, that due to the nature of canned rhubarb (it loses it’s color and turns a weird off white/pink), that I added a bit of red food coloring to keep it palatable looking. Yes, I messed with nature…. but just a bit.
Tuesday evening, I set to work on Dill Pickled Carrots (not from CFNG, although there was a yummy looking spicy carrot recipe that I must remember to try later). I found flowering dill at the Farmer’s Market, so this was the first year that I didn’t have to substitute with dill weed or seed in the recipe. I love how beautiful the flowers look in the jars. The recipe I use is the closest thing I’ve found to duplicating the canned pickled carrots from the Innisfail Growers booth at the Calgary Farmer’s Market (which if you get the chance – try a jar, they are heaven packaged in delicious, delicious brine).
The only downside to Pickled Carrots is that eating them right after processing is a bit overwhelming. The vinegar just doesn’t have time to settle down and the completely drowns out the other flavors. They will likely stay in my pantry for a month or more before I give in to my toddler’s incessant pointing and crack one open (he’s a pickle fiend). I’ve also struggled in the past with keeping the carrots crunchy (I use Bernardin pickle crisp) – so far the only thing I’ve been able to do that seems to make any difference is to use the smallest carrots I can find and not cut them. Then I just have to pack them into the jars without doing myself serious injury! I’ll probably have to invest in some wide mouth mason jars at some point.
And finally, the recipe I’ve been most excited for – BLUEBERRIES! Or to be more specific – Blueberry Lemon Marmalade!
This recipe is perhaps the most time consuming of the five, but definitely worth it! You need to separate the membranes from the lemons by segment and keep them in a cheesecloth bag for their lovely pectin content, (ie. the jam making stuff!) that was the biggest time suck. Slicing the lemons into perfect 1/2 inch cubes and cooking the blueberries down to syrup took very little time in comparison. Again, superb flavor and beautiful, gorgeous color.
You can see the process from fruit to jam below. Happy canning!