Peach Preserves

Peach Preserves

Adapted from Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving

BAH Note: I took this base preserve recipe and made three different batches of preserves.  One was plain peach preserves.  The second was a ginger peach preserve (added ground ginger to taste to the base recipe).  The third was habernero peach preserve (added a few splashes of hot sauce to the base recipe).  No matter if you fancy it up or not, it’s good stuff.

  • 4 cups peach slices (from about 4 pounds peaches)
  • 1 package powdered pectin
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 7 cups sugar

Working in batches, blanch the peaches in boiling water for about one minute.  Remove with a slotted spoon or spider strainer and transfer the peaches to a towel lined board to cool.  Use a pairing knife to remove the skins and then pit and slice the peaches.

Combine the peach slices, pectin, and lemon juice in a dutch oven or large non-reactive pot.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.  Add the sugar, stirring until it is dissolved, and bring to a rolling boil.  Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from the heat, ladle the jam into heated jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space, and process for 10 minutes.

Let the jars cool for 24 hours before checking the seal and storing the jars. Any jars that have not sealed should be refrigerated or immediately reprocessed using new lids.

Flashback Friday – In A Pickle

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 5/4/09 on Exit 51.

In A Pickle

Lists are a big thing with me.  I make them constantly to remind myself of anything and everything.  It becomes clearer to me with each passing day that I manage to forget more than I remember.  To steal a line from an interview Russell Brand gave to NPR, “I’m an unreliable witness to my own existence.” Fortunately, this condition has not progressed to the point where I make lists of the lists that I need to make.


Let me say that when I’m making the grocery list, I try very hard to make sure I’ve double checked the recipes I plan to make against the list.  Otherwise, I could find myself in a pickle.  Like yesterday.

After plowing through my latest food memoir, I had made a mental note that I wanted to try the pickled carrot recipe.  I knew were were going to be having people over for a dinner party and I wanted to have those carrots on the menu.  So, without consulting the recipe, I picked up what I thought I remembered as the ingredients.  And then I forgot all about it.

The weekend before the dinner, I was out and about and checking things off other lists.  Laundry, check.  Housework, check.  Yard work…lots of yard work, check, check, check.  After battling the weeds for three hours, I picked up the recipe again.  And I realized that not only did it need a week in the fridge to pickle, but I had only managed to remember about half of the ingredients.  Among the things that I forgot, canning jars.  So what do you do?

You either scrap the recipe or you get yourself to the megamart in a jiffy.  Did you know that canning jars aren’t sold individually?  They aren’t.  So I either need to LOVE this recipe and make it to give to everyone I know, or find uses for the other eleven jars.

Until next Sunday, the jury is still out on the fate of the pickled carrots.  I’m sure I will remember to tell you how it all goes…it’s already on the list.

Molly’s Spicy Pickled Carrots

From A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar, plus more for topping jars
  • 2 cups water, plus more for topping jars
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 6 (5 to 6 inch) sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, cracked
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 pounds small (finger sized) carrots, or standard sized carrots cut into sticks about 1/2 inch wide and 3 inches long

Combine 1 1/2 cups vinegar, water, sugar, thyme, garlic, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, salt, and mustard seeds in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove pan from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.  Add remaining 1/2 cup vinegar.

Put carrots in large heatproof bowl, pour warm brine over them. Cool to room temperature.

While the carrots cool, wash two quart sized canning jars and their lids in warm soapy water.

When carrots and brine are cooled, divide carrots evenly between jars, arranging them snugly.  Using your fingers and wide mouth canning jars makes this easier.  Divide the brine evenly between the jars.  The carrots should be completely covered by the brine.  If not, add a mixture of 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water to cover.

Seal firmly and refrigerate three days to a week.  The carrots take time to absorb the brine.

Blackberry Syrup

Expectations.  There’s a loaded gun just waiting for someone to pull the trigger and spray a barrage of emotionally painful bullets.  How often do our expectations trip us up?

There’s the expectations we have of ourselves. The idea that we should be able to get it all done – family, work, outside interests…the things we have to do and the things we want to do.  Yeah, I can see that leading to a case of poor self esteem when I find myself exhausted at 11pm, baking cupcakes for tomorrow’s office birthday celebration, because I just had to { fill in the blank } before I could get to it.  Our to-do lists are never ending and yet we still trick ourselves into believing that somehow we should be the exception to the rule.  We SHOULD be able to perfectly balance all of the demands for our time and attention.  It looks effortless in the magazines that sell us on the idea that if we only do ‘x’ we can lose 10 pounds overnight, plan the perfect wedding, be the ideal spouse or parent, and our life will be perfect.  I have yet to meet the person who has managed that feat.

Then there’s the expectations we have of others.  Like my expectations that people I hardly know will not ask me questions about things that are clearly none of their business.  Things like my bank statement and my feelings about whether parenthood is right for me are completely inappropriate topics of conversation unless you also happen to be intimately involved in that part of my life.  Or are my therapist.  And yet those wildly inappropriate questions still come my way without a second thought.

To go back to the gun metaphor here, I think the 50 caliber ammunition shell of expectations has to be the ones we have of the members of our families.  For instance, I expect The Mistah to somehow intuit what I’m thinking or feeling without me having to say a word.  We’ve been together for nine years.  Shouldn’t he have developed that sixth sense by now?  We expect the people closest to us to act and react the way we think we would in any given situation, to have the exact same values we do, and to somehow “know” the right thing to say to us at all times.  Talk about a powerful weapon capable of inflicting pain and suffering.

But my friends, there is a solution.  It is as simple as taking the bullets out of the guns we carry daily in our emotional holsters and replacing them with something else.  It is as simple as changing our expectations.  By reframing how we see something, and what we expect to get out of a situation, we have the power to turn that rifle shooting 50 cal bullets into a toy gun that blows bubbles.

So when I’m feeling especially prickly and cranky…which really could be any given day…instead of assuming The Mistah’s spidey senses are on full alert and getting frustrated with him because he didn’t unload the dishwasher or he left his stinky Army gear in the middle of the floor, I can remind myself that despite his many wonderful skills, mindreading is not one of them.  If I want the dishes put away or the gear moved elsewhere I should either ask him to do it or do it myself.  Regardless of which choice I choose, I have no reason to be disappointed by The Mistah.  I’ve taken a deadly 50 caliber bullet and turned it into a harmless emulsion of soap and water.

What’s my point here?  The next time you reach into your emotional holster for whatever you load your expectations into, ask yourself this question…”am I shooting bullets or blowing bubbles”.

Blackberry Syrup

Adapted from Food In Jars

BAH Note:  I set out to make blackberry jam.  Despite following Marisa’s directions to the letter, my jam never set up.  I felt defeated.  I felt disappointed.  I felt like a loser.  And then it occurred to me that while I failed at making jam, I had succeeded in making syrup.  I let my expectations cut me down initially, but once I reframed them, they took on a delicious new flavor.

  • 8 to 9 cups of blackberries
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon

Working in batches, blitz your blackberries in the food processor until they are good and pureed.  Pour the puree through a fine mesh strainer, working the juice through with a spoon.

Bring the blackberry juice and sugar to a simmer in a large, non-reactive (think enameled cast iron or stainless steel) pot over medium heat.  Stir in the cinnamon, lemon juice, and zest and bring to a low boil, stirring frequently.  Cook until the mixture has thickened to your desired consistency then carefully transfer the syrup to jars for storage in the refrigerator.

For longer storage, ladle the jam into heated jars (with new lids), leaving 1/4 inch head space, and process for 10 minutes.

Let the jars cool for 24 hours before checking the seal and storing the jars. Any jars that have not sealed should be refrigerated or immediately reprocessed using new lids.

Balsamic Preserved Cherries

I have a self imposed rule about shoes and purses.  In order for me to buy a new one, an old one has to go.  For the shoes, this isn’t so problematic.  I tend to go through them on a regular basis.  Typically, the pair I’m buying is to replace the pair that I’ve just worn out.

It’s a little trickier with the purses.  I have to think long and hard about which one I am willing to part with in order to add a new one to my collection.  Honestly, it’s been a while since I’ve bought a new purse…but there was a lovely Kate Spade bag on ridiculous sale a few months ago that nearly pushed my beat up Coach bag into the donation pile.

In the year or so that I’ve been canning, I’ve come to realize that I need to expand this rule just a bit to include jars.  The collection of half pint jars…both empty and full…is threatening to take over what little storage space we have here at BAH.  That means that until we eat our way through what’s already been canned, or give it away, I am on canning restriction.  No new jars will be purchased and no new batches of jams or jellies will be cooked up.

Part of the canning collection that we’ve dug into recently is the balsamic preserved cherries.  Both savory and sweet, they are one of the more versatile jars in the stash…they could go with a pork or beef tenderloin as easily as they dress up my morning yogurt.  I can’t believe it has taken us this long to open them up and let them shine in all of their syrupy balsamic glory.

Fortunately, I should have plenty of time to work through the rest of the inventory before cherry season comes back around.  Because I need to make sure these get restocked.

Balsamic Cherries

Adapted from Nomnivorous

BAH Note: You’re going to want a cherry pitter for this project.  If you don’t have one, see if you can borrow one or just resign to buying one for about twenty bucks.  Pitting this many cherries is a bit of work, even with the gadget, but the pitter should cut down on the cursing and CSI worthy spattering.  If you absolutely can’t get your hands on a pitter, you could use a paring knife to carefully cut the cherries open and squeeze out the pits.

  • 4 cups sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1 /2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Combine the cherries and water in a large dutch oven or other non-reactive pot.  Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring frequently and lightly crushing the cherries to break them up and release juice.

Add the sugar, balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of kosher salt. Continue to gently boil the mixture for approximately 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until it thickens a bit but is still loose.

Ladle the mixture into heated jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space, and process for 10 minutes.

Let the jars cool for 24 hours before checking the seal and storing the jars. Any jars that have not sealed should be refrigerated or immediately reprocessed using new lids.

balsamic cherries

Apricot Honey Butter

Have I possibly mentioned the Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving?  Of course I have.  It is responsible for the dozens of jars of jams and preserves that have taken up residence in our basement.

It is my go to source for recipes that can be made any time of year.  For instance, that lovely apricot honey butter you see above?  I made that in May with dried apricots.  And it was spectacular.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like with fresh apricots.  I also used some special Saw Palmetto honey that my dad shipped up from Florida.  If you can get your hands on some fancy pants honey, use it.  If not, what you get from the grocery store will do you just fine.

I hope to move into the chapters with pickles and relishes this summer.  Until then, I’ve still got a ton of jams and jellies tagged that I want to try.

Apricot Honey Butter

Adapted from the Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving

BAH Note:  To be honest, I used about 1/2 cup honey and then I added enough agave nectar to get me to 2/3 cup of liquid.  I was really pleased with the flavor but I’ve made it before with all honey and it is equally enjoyable.  Do not overboil the mixture once you add the honey.  My notes on this recipe remind me that this set rather firm in the fridge and overcooking it results in a rather thick apricot honey butter which might be a formidable match for your toast.

  • 2 cups dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cups honey

Combine the dried apricots, lemon zest, crystallized ginger, water, and lemon juice in a dutch oven.  Bring to a boil over high heat, cover and reduce heat.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 35 minutes until the apricots are tender.

Transfer the apricot mixture to a food processor and process until smooth.  Return the mixture to the dutch oven, add the honey, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Ladle the jam into heated jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space, and process for 10 minutes.

Let the jars cool for 24 hours before checking the seal and storing the jars. Any jars that have not sealed should be refrigerated or immediately reprocessed using new lids.

{printable recipe}

Bluebarb Jam

There ought to be a PSA for home canners – This is your kitchen on bluebarb jam.

Note to self, the next time you want to make seedless jam, try and think about it before the jam is cooked.  Because I bet it would be a helluva lot easier to put the berries in the food processor and then push that through a fine mesh sieve than the way I did it…which was to cook the jam and then spend an hour trying to force it through the sieve.  Yes, I know Ball says not to use the Cuisinart, that it can impact the gelling of the jam.  I know and I am willing to take my chances. In fact, I used the Cuisinart to make a mostly seedless version of this jam since the unfortunate incident pictured above.  And it worked just fine.

I’ve given this jam away to friends, neighbors, and family.  Most recently, I sent my father in law back to Florida with a 4 ounce jar when he was visiting this spring.  He called me a few weeks later to say it was his favorite jam ever and he might have to schedule another trip in order to get resupplied.

In case you were wondering, this is the other half of the lemon/blueberry sauce combo.

Do you really need another reason to make this?

Bluebarb Jam

Adapted from The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving

BAH Note: I got a solid 6 cups out of this recipe.  Please note that you should have your water bath at nearly a full boil and all your jars and supplies prepped and ready to go before you start the jam because this jam is super quick to cook.  I got a little creative when I realized the jam would not cook long enough for the fruit to really break down and I chose to ignore the instruction to roughly chop my blueberries (as if).  Once I had added the blueberries, lemon juice, and pectin, I gave the pot a good turn or two with my immersion blender.  If you’re a stickler for the rules, ignore that suggestion and go ahead and chop your blueberries…just don’t ask me to wash your cutting board.

  • 3 1/2 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 box dry fruit pectin
  • 5 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Place the rhubarb and water in a large stainless steel pot or enamel dutch oven over high heat and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add the blueberries, lemon juice, and pectin to the pot.  Stir to thoroughly combine.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Using an immersion blender, carefully blend the mixture to smooth out the texture and break down the fruit.

Add the sugar and bring the jam to a boil, stirring constantly, letting it reach a hard boil for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat, ladle the jam into heated jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space, and process for 10 minutes.

Let the jars cool for 24 hours before checking the seal and storing the jars. Any jars that have not sealed should be refrigerated or immediately reprocessed using new lids.

{printable recipe}

Gingered Rhubarb Jam with Honey

Once I finally bought a pot large enough to boil more than seven quarts of water at a time, I wanted to jump into canning.  The problem was that in our teeny, tiny house, there’s not a lot of room to store the stuff we already have, let alone the stuff that I want to can.  I convinced The Mistah to clean off a shelf in the basement for the canning supplies to live on.  But I still don’t have a great place to store the jars that are filled and sealed.  I see a trip to IKEA in my future to add another shelf to our IVAR system for the exclusive use of jams, pickles, and chutneys.

Fortunately, I made no promise to The Mistah that canning would ever save us any money.  But when he asks why I need to go out and buy a new shelf, especially since we got rid of a bunch of them just a few years ago, I’m going to hand him a jar of jam without saying a word.  The jam speaks for itself folks.

Gingered Rhubarb Jam with Honey

Adapted from The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving

BAH Note: This book has been my canning salvation.  The recipes are all geared towards small batch production which suits my style perfectly.  I thought the Gingered Rhubarb came out tasting more strongly of honey with a gingered undertone.  It was a great addition to my steel cut oats in the morning but could also be used with pork, chicken, or biscuits.  I use a 5.5 quart dutch oven to make my jams and wouldn’t recommend using a pot any smaller than that.  I was able to get seven 4-ounce jars out of this recipe which is as close to the 3 1/4 cup yield stated in the book as I could hope to get.

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely diced

Place the rhubarb, apple, water, and lemon zest into a large stainless steel pot or enamel dutch oven over high heat and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the fruit is tender.

Add the sugar, honey, ginger, and lemon juice.  Raise the heat and boil uncovered, stirring frequently, until the mixture gels, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Ladle the jam into heated jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space, and process for 10 minutes.  Let the jars cool for 24 hours before checking the seal and storing the jars. Any jars that have not sealed should be refrigerated or immediately reprocessed using new lids.

 {printable recipe}