Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Buck shy

Speaking of being a little late, I’m definitely behind the curve on the food blogosphere trend of reviving food-preservation skills at home. I’m just getting in to canning this year, two years after the Canvolution kicked off. Two years ago at this time I was enjoying late winter in Australia, a pretty thin time of year for a newbie to find anything to can. Last year, I was still getting unpacked and settled in. At the beginning of this year, however, I promised myself that I was going to focus on canning in 2011, and set myself the goal of canning at least one thing every month. I haven’t quite managed that, but as you can see, some months provide better scope than others for canning options:

January – raspberry skillet jam (which Miss B ate so fast I didn’t manage to can it)

February – grapefruit pomegranate marmalade

March – blackberry apple butter

April – lemon curd

May – sour cherry peach butter

June – strawberry jam, strawberry rhubarb jam, black raspberry jam

July – blackberry peach butter, garlic dill pickles, pickled jalapenos, blackberry jam

August – peach lime jam, tomato sauce

September – pluot jam

For the remainder of the year I’m contemplating whatever else I can find to make jam out of, along with apple butter, cranberry sauce, and possibly mincemeat. Watch this space. Or leave some suggestions in comments below.

Meanwhile, everyone else has moved on to Charcutepalooza. Check back here in two years when I get around to tackling that.

Small-batch peach lime jam
Adapted* from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving
The lime juice does double duty here: balances out the sweetness of the peaches, and ensures the correct acid balance for safe canning. Also, since I don’t bother to peel, these might technically be preserves. Whatever they are, they’re good.

4 cups chopped peaches
3 cups sugar
4 Tbsp lime juice
generous sprinkle of cardamom

Combine all ingredients in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to ensure mixture doesn’t stick. When mixture is bubbling energetically, continue stirring often; lower the heat if necessary to keep from bubbling over. Mash cooking fruit with a potato masher to break it up if desired.

When you can see that the mixture is starting to cook down, use your stirring implement to draw a line across the bottom of the pan and note how long it takes to fill in again. Continue stirring and monitoring, and try this test every couple of minutes. When the line drawn on the bottom stays clear for 2-4 seconds, turn off the heat but leave the pan on the stove for a bit longer. The mixture will continue cooking as it cools, and the residual heat should get the jam to a loose but still jam-like consistency. (I prefer my jam on the loose side, so don’t usually add commercial pectin.)

At this point, the jam is ready and can be stored in the fridge or freezer. You can also can by following the usual method and processing in boiling water for 10 minutes.

Makes approximately 3 8 oz/240 g jars

* Safety note: my main adaptation to this recipe was cooking it on the stovetop, rather than in the microwave, as the original recipe suggested. Oh, and the cardamom. I did not alter the acid balance or the suggested processing time for canning, both of which are crucial for food safety.


Judith Fertig said... Best Blogger Tips

Roving Lemon's right. There's something about canning--and listening to the lids of all those jars start to ping and seal--that makes you feel so accomplished! Not to mention eating all those goodies later on.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

@Judith Fertig

Judith, thanks for stopping by! Yes, canning is absolutely addictive--I think the picture is definitive proof that I am hooked!

Jennifer said... Best Blogger Tips

Do you need any jars? My neighbor has a few dozen to sell. She has several sizes. How was the peach lime jam? It looked yummy!

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

@Jennifer Hi Jennifer! I'm always in the market for jars, as long as they're wide mouth. If they are, let's make a deal! And the peach lime jam is seriously yummy--I think I've eaten it for breakfast every day for the past month!

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