Archive for category Canning
This has to be the ultimate free food find! If you have ever grown nasturtiums you will know how rampant they are. Well they produce a lot of seeds as well and those seeds can be put to good use by pickling them! They are very similar to capers. I used to be very suspicious of capers, they resemble little critters but are actually the flower buds of the caper plant. I will admit I didn’t use capers very often until recently when I developed a taste for them scattered over salads, they add little bites of pickled crunch that I just love. With last years farm challenge, particularly the foraging, still fresh in my mind I decided to try my hand at pickling the many seeds from a friends nasturtium plants.
Once acquiring my nasturtium seeds I turned to the internet, typically it appears everyone but me had tried this! I got the inspiration for my pickled nasturtium seeds from a blog I love called Hitchhiking To Heaven, Shae even calls them “California Capers” I just love that!
I didn’t make very many, I figured small batches were probably better for my needs. I will of course be eating these alone as there is no way I am ever going to get my green food fearing husband to try these! I was happy with the result, they are a little more crunchy than capers. Salty and tangy with a peppery flavour they have been a welcome addition to my salads this summer.
ingredients (to make one small jar) recipe barely adapted from here
- nasturtium seeds (a good handful)
- 15 grams salt
- 200 mls water
- 75 mls cider vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- Rinse the nasturtium seeds and put into a jar.
- Make a brine by dissolving the salt in the water and pour this over the nasturtium seeds. Leave covered at room temperature for 2 days.
- After the 2 day soak drain and rinse the seed pods. Place into a sterile jar.
- Bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil and pour the hot vinegar into the jar, covering the nasturtium seeds. Add the bay leaf and put the lid on the jar.
- Cool and store in the refrigerator.
One recent Sunday saw my husband using a wheelbarrow as a step up to reach for branches to bend towards me to pick lots of cherries! What a find, a tree full of tiny cherries! When I first noticed the cherries they were tiny and bright red and there were so many of them that I assumed they must not be edible, Id heard somewhere that if the birds aren’t eating them they are poison. I don’t know if that tale is true but it makes sense to me so we ignored the cherries. Well those cherries got darker as they ripened and one day I popped one into my mouth “just to see” it was fine so we picked them! I think the birds couldn’t really see them and judging by pits all over the place the birds had found and eaten those cherries, there were just so many of them there were still enough for us!
As I mentioned those cherries were tiny, more pit than fruit so I decided that pitting them would be to awful of a job. I have a friend that has spent many a summer in Italy and she told me of tiny wild cherries in Italy that are made into liqueur so I used some for that, more of that another time. I used the rest for jelly rather than jam so I could avoid pitting! There are not many recipes for cherry jelly so I applied the general rule of adding a pound of sugar per pint of juice for jelly making.
I did not get very much juice from my cherries considering the amount of cherries I used, and it was a little stubborn about setting. Maybe this is why there aren’t many cherry jelly recipes! However if you come across some cheap cherries or as I did some free ones and don’t mind a small batch of jelly this is well worth making, it tastes wonderful!
The amounts will vary according to how many cherries you have. I had 4 lbs when making this jelly which in the end only resulted in 1 and a half jars of delicious cherry jelly.
The general rule for jelly making is to measure the juice obtained from your fruit, in this case cherries. For every 550 mls/20 oz of juice you get you will need to use 1 pound of sugar
- cherries, rinsed and removed from stalks (I had 4 lbs)
- water (6 oz/175 mls)
- sugar (the amount will vary according to how much juice is obtained from the fruit)
- lemon juice (the amount will vary, I used the juice from a small lemon)
- Put the cherries in a large saucepan and add the water. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the cherries are soft, some may have even escaped from their pits. Using a potato masher crush all the cherries to release as much juice as possible.
- Carefully pour the cherries and all the liquid into a jelly strainer which has been set up in a bowl or pan to catch all the juice. Leave for a few hours or overnight to let all the juice drip from the cherries.
- When the jelly bag is no longer dripping measure the juice.
- Add 1 lb/450 grams of sugar for each pint of juice obtained. I got exactly 550 mls of juice so used 1 lb of sugar.
- Put the juice and sugar into your jam pan.
- Add the lemon juice (again this will vary, I added the juice of 1 small lemon to my 550 mls of juice). Stir well until the sugar has dissolved then bring up to a full boil.
- Boil rapidly for 5 minutes and check for the setting point,my jelly took around 15 minutes boiling before it would set. See here for setting tips
- Pour into your prepared sterilised jars.
I did not process my jelly in a water bath as I had such a small amount and its so good it wont be around for very long!
It’s that time of the year again, the sun is shining and the courgettes/zucchini just keep on coming! This relish has become one of my yearly summer recipes to
get rid of use up a few of the many courgettes that come my way! I’ve tried various recipes over the last few summers and this is a combination of those.
It makes a sweet relish that goes well in any sandwich containing meat or cheese, it would be perfect with hotdogs if you eat them. These days I don’t eat hotdogs but loved them growing up in America and even more so I loved the (bright green!) relish that we had with them. I believe we used to have Heinz sweet relish, something I’ve only found once in the UK. My label reading habit would now have me leaving it on the shelf if I did find it again and anyhow this version of relish is just as sweet but a whole lot more natural! When the last jar gets finished, usually at the beginning of Spring I find myself feeling a little sad and believe it or not I momentarily begin to look forward to the courgette glut again just to make more of this relish!
- 3 lb grated courgettes
- 1.5 lbs peeled and finely chopped onion
- 3 oz salt
- 2 red peppers (or 1 red, 1 green)
- 590 mls white vinegar
- 2.5 lbs sugar (I use unrefined)
- 1.5 tsp celery seed
- 1 tsp mustard seed
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Grate the courgettes and finely chop the onions ( I use a food processor for this, much easier if you have one). Put both the courgettes and the onions in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt, mix the salt evenly throughout, its easiest to just use your hands here! Cover and leave for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight in the fridge although beware of leaving it in the fridge as the onions smell very strongly.
- Drain the courgettes and onion in a colander, rinse well with cold water then squeeze out the excess water, again hands are best for this!
- Put the chopped peppers, vinegar,sugar and spices into a large pan, stir well.
- Add the drained courgettes and onion. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Carefully fill your sterilised jars with the relish. Screw on the lids and process for 10 minutes in a water bath. If unsure of canning procedures see here
You will get 5-7 jars of relish depending on your jar size.
This time last year I stumbled upon a challenge that really appealed to me. It was called the Urban Farm Challenge, a monthly blog challenge encouraging a simpler lifestyle relying more on local, organic (if possible) foods and making and growing your own food, even for city dwellers. It was to be a year of learning useful house-holding skills. I have always lived in cities but love the idea of country life and over the years have dabbled in growing my own vegetables and canning my own jams and chutneys, often from that home-grown produce! This challenge was just a step further, there was cheese making, foraging, making herbal teas and tinctures. I just loved the idea and got the book for my birthday, I love this book! Its co written by Anette Cottrell and Joshua McNichols, two of the most inspiring people! Both have families and are trying to live without supermarkets and the book is full of tips for gardening, composting, growing, preserving, city farming. There is advice on sourcing your own food suppliers, grinding your own grains. I loved this challenge and took part in most of the challenges although I must admit I was a bit of a fair weather partaker and did less of the winter challenges. Here is my round-up of my Urban Farm Challenge over the last year.
February: The challenge was soil improvement. I was late to the challenge but quickly ordered a composting bin with hope of making my own compost. Unfortunately the bin that arrived was huge, to big for my city garden so I donated it to a friend with an allotment and looked to the next challenge!
March: The challenge was home dairy, this was the challenge that I was most looking forward to! The idea of making my own cheese was completely new to me but I dove in and made lemon cheese, ricotta and mozzarella. I have made my own cheese several more times throughout the year and am inspired to try more, I’ve found this to be an area that I really want to explore!
April: The challenge was gardening and sowing your own seeds. Easy for me as I grow some type of vegetable each year. My Mother in law has an allotment and takes care of the plants for me, it’s an unbelievably lucky outcome for me and I’m so grateful to her for this! Among the regular vegetables I grow I also tried some different things as part of one of the challenges. I managed to seek out collard greens, not successful at all in the cool, wet summer we had,the snails got to the only tiny plant that survived! I also planted endive (chicory) another fail! The black futsu and Naples long pumpkins were much more successful as were the yellow courgettes (zucchini).
May: The challenge for May was foraging, not as easy as I thought! I’m too scared to try to find mushrooms on my own but I did make a dandelion salad foraged from my garden, I will admit that dandelion leaves are not the best thing I ever tasted but I am glad I tried!
June: This month the challenge was botanicals and all about making your own tinctures, balms and herbal infusions. I made chive blossom vinegar which I look forward to making again. I really wanted to try to make my own lotions but am a little ashamed to admit that I still have not tried this, maybe that will be one of this years “to try’s”.
July: Seed saving and looking forward to winter was the challenge this month, I did not take part as nothing was in flower yet. Due to the awful weather we had last summer everything was behind.
August: It was preserving this month, something I do each summer anyway. Small batch canning, cold storage, fermentation were all available to try using summers bounty. I always make jams, jellies and chutneys and last year was no different. Here is a selection of what I made pickled courgettes, peach pie preserves (so good!) and I tried fermentation with cucumber kimchi.
September: It was all about bartering this month, and swapping ones goods for those of another. One of the possible challenges was to hold a food swap, I love the idea of this and maybe one day I will try to arrange one, I just need to find enough fellow canners and growers! I don’t mean to go on about the awful summer we had last year but due to this I found I didn’t have an abundance of anything! I did manage one swap with a friend that had a bucket of plums for which I swapped some very large squash.
October: Protein was the theme this month, and we were free to choose our own challenges from hunting to growing your own beans. Time escaped me this month and I didn’t get around to taking part.
November: The challenge this month was about grains, using whole grains and even brewing with grain mash! This was a crazy month and despite my best intentions once again I missed this one, although using whole grains is something I try to do anyway.
December: This month handcrafted holidays was our task. With the recession this is something I have been seeing more and more of and I love the idea of this. I made my own vanilla and lemon salt to give as gifts. One of the gifts I had most fun with was to make up a basket and fill it with jam, chutney, lemon salt and vanilla I had made. This was a very successful, my friend loved her gift!
January: This was the wrap up month, but it was extended to February which is why I’m doing it now.
I had a great time with this challenge, I loved reading the book and trying new things. One day I hope to have a house with a little land where I can fulfill my Little House on The Prairie lifestyle dream! For now I will carry on enjoying some of the skills this challenge has taught me and hopefully pick up some more. Many thanks to Annette for organizing this and all the hard work she put into it, I had a blast!
Blood oranges are quite spectacular, sometimes the orange has a blush of red on the skin hinting at the colour of the fruit inside. Other times the blood orange looks just like a regular orange and that will be the one that is crimson inside. It seems no two blood oranges are the same! The picture above is of my bag of blood oranges, all beautifully different! They have a wonderful flavour that is both sweet and tart, this makes them wonderful in marmalade. I’ve made more marmalade than ever this year, although I must say I think my citrus fest is about over!
I made this blood orange marmalade last year and loved it. I always start with a small batch which in this case was a mistake as I enjoyed it so much. I would have made more but the blood orange season had sadly ended. This is quite a sweet marmalade, which I really like. Marmalade made with blood oranges has a reputation for being difficult to set, when I made it last year I hadn’t heard that and made it without thinking, it turned out well although it was a much chunkier marmalade than I usually make and the peel turned out with an almost candied effect, not unpleasant but maybe not to everyone’s taste.
This year I used the new method I discovered when making my bergamot marmalade by cutting the fruit in half, boiling it then chopping and boiling with sugar I did however take more care with the peel and tried to chop the pulp really well to get a clearer marmalade. I used slightly less sugar than the weight of my boiled fruit as I felt blood oranges are so sweet already. I think next time I will try with even less sugar, of course if using less sugar when preserving this makes the end result less shelf stable and is probably not suitable for canning. I also tied up the pips and pith from the lemon I juiced into a piece of muslin and added it during the final stage to add some pectin and aid setting. This is a great tip I thought I would give a try after seeing it on the wonderful Food in Jars blog, in this great post offering marmalade tips Marissa said she sometimes adds lemon seeds to lower pectin citrus like blood oranges to help setting.
Blood Orange Marmalade (makes about 2 and a half jars)
- 5 blood oranges
- juice of 1 lemon reserve pips and pith (tie these into a small piece of muslin)
- approximately 600 grams granulated sugar, (the weight will vary according to the amount of pulp your oranges produce)
- 150 mls of the water your oranges were boiled in.
- Cut each orange in half and place in a large pan. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours, keep checking and add more water if necessary to avoid boiling dry.
- Remove the oranges from the water and when cool enough to handle remove all the pips. Reserve 150 mls of the boiling liquid for later.
- Chop the softened peel to the thickness you prefer. Put all of the peel, juice and fruit into a measuring jug. For each 1 pint of fruit you have measure 1 pound of sugar. I had 600 grams of fruit pulp and used 550 grams of sugar, just a little less as the oranges are sweet.
- Put the sugar into an oven tray and warm in the oven for 10 minutes at 170 C, 325 F, gas 3. (You can add your clean jars to the oven at the same time to sterilise.)
- Tip the fruit, warmed sugar and 100 ml/ 3 oz reserved boiling liquid into your jam pan, add the muslin tied bundle of lemon pips and pith, stir well and bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes test for setting. See here for setting tips if unsure. My marmalade took about 20 minutes to set.
- If set pour the marmalade into your prepared sterilised jars and seal.
- I processed my jars in a water bath for 10 minutes.
To be truthful I don’t really “get” figs. As a child Fig Newton cookies revolted me, as an adult I just don’t find figs have much taste. I know many people love them but I think my taste buds are wired for stronger tastes, the subtle taste of a fig is lost on me. However when lots of sugar is added and figs are turned to jam? Well this sweet toothed gal loves that! I love the sweetness accompanied by the tiny crunch of the miniature seeds. I first tried fig jam after my friend acquired a fig tree when she bought a house in Italy, looking for ideas to use up her fig glut she made both jam and chutney, I loved both!
This summer on holiday in France fig was one of the jam choices in one of the hotels we stayed in, with that jam fresh in my memory I knew that’s what I would make when I saw that figs were this months ingredient for the One ingredient blog challenge run by Laura and Nazima
My recipe is based on this recipe from Waitrose, well I followed their instructions but actually kind of experimented with this and it turned out really well, the cinnamon and vanilla are just enough to enhance the figs but not over-power them. This is a small batch of jam, just 2 jars which was perfect for me as I have a cupboard groaning with the weight of jams and pickles already and I haven’t even made my chutney yet!
- 450 gram (1 lb) Fresh figs, washed.
- 300 gram (10 oz) sugar, I used unrefined
- 1/2 a cinnamon stick
- 1/2 a vanilla pod, split with a sharp knife
- A squeeze of lemon juice from half a lemon
- Cut the stems from the figs and chop up into inch size pieces.
- Put into large pan, (this is such a small amount of jam I didn’t even use my jam pan just a large saucepan).
- Add the sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix well and turn the heat on low until the sugar has dissolved
- Using a potato masher mash the figs up a little then turn the heat to high to bring to a boil.
- Allow to boil for 6 to 10 minutes, the texture will begin to thicken.
- For me at this stage (around 7 minutes) the jam had thickened so it was obvious it had reached setting point but do use the saucer method if unsure.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod and pour into sterilised jars and use your preferred canning method. I boiled the jars for 10 minutes.
Its summer, although apart from a few nice days one would think that Summer passed us right by this year! But Summer it is and the courgettes don’t seem to mind the weather, they still keep coming! I’ve mentioned before that my Mother in law has an allotment and passes her produce onto me. Courgettes seem to be the most prolific crop, pounds and pounds of them come my way. This year trying to keep the courgette situation under control I suggested that we try yellow courgettes, just yellow ones and only 2 plants. When we got back from our recent holiday it was to find bags of home-grown vegetables waiting for us, in the bags I found a couple of yellow courgettes and surprisingly even more green ones! I’m not sure when the green ones were planted or why they produce more than the intended yellow plants but once again I found myself up to my elbows in courgettes!
These pickles are one of the courgette/zucchini recipes I had bookmarked for the glut! I really wanted to make dill pickles with cucumbers this year but the cucumbers really did object to the Autumnal summer we’ve had, dying off after producing one mini cucumber each. When I came across this timely recipe I thought it would be a new way to use up some of my bounty, while perhaps satisfying my dill pickle craving. I really liked them, they are really easy to make and as they are refrigerator pickles they are really quick too. They have the right amount of sweet verses tart and I couldn’t help but add my own heat with some chilli flakes.
Courgette Pickles (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Judy’s Zucchini Pickles)
- 225 grams (7.5 0z) of zucchini/courgettes sliced very thinly
- 1 small onion sliced very thinly
- 1 tbsp salt
- 250 ml (1 cup) cider vinegar
- 125 gram (5 oz) sugar
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
My quantities make one large jar of pickles, to see how to make them see here on Martha Stewart’s website
This recipe links up nicely with the August challenge of the Sustainable Eats Urban Farm Challenge that Im taking part in. The challenge this month is food preservation.