Cookbooks: Modern Pressure Canning

For years now, I have been wishing that someone would write a cookbook that would expand the boundaries of what we know about pressure canning. A book that would make it possible to preserve more things than we are currently able. With Modern Pressure Canning by Amelia Jeanroy, many of my hopes have been realized.

This book does a number of things very well. It demystifies the process of pressure canning and makes it accessible to canners of all stripes. It offers up a full range of pressure canning possibilities. And it includes a recipe for bacon jam that can be processed, which is something I’ve often been asked about.

One thing that surprises me about this book is that it includes a number of recipes that could be processed just as effectively in a boiling water bath canner as a pressure canner. While the actual processing times are shorter than in a water bath, the time necessary to bring the canner up to pressure and then bring it back down means that there aren’t major time savings when processing things like canned peaches or cranberries in a pressure canner.

Still, there’s much in here that I’m excited to make. The corn relish pictured above is something I’ll be trying this summer (perhaps even this week, if I can get a good deal on corn). And I can’t wait to cook up that vegetable soup for easy lunches and dinners.

I do wish that there were some dips or spreads in the book, but I understand why there aren’t. Because there aren’t tested recipes from the National Center for Home Food Preservation that enable these sorts of things, there wasn’t anything for the author to work with. And doing the kind of scientific testing necessary to forge truly new ground would have been prohibitively expensive. Still, a girl can dream.

The bottom line on this book is that it is an excellent resource for home canners. If you’re looking to get more out of your pressure canner, you should treat yourself to a copy immediately.

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Good Things to Preserve in Late Summer

One of the funny things that happens to me as a result of writing this blog is that I rarely allow myself to repeat preserve recipes. Once I’ve mastered a particular preserve and have shared it here or in a book, I typically move on. The result of this continual search for the new and novel means that I often leave some truly delicious things on the table.

To combat this tendency to forget the successes of the past, I thought I’d do some archive diving and shine a light on some of my favorite late summer preserves.

What are your favorite recipes for this end-of-season push? I always love hearing about your go-to recipes!

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Mixed Stone Fruit Drizzle

Sometime in the last week, I hit my canning season tipping point. It’s that moment when I transition from making carefully adjusted recipes to just simply trying to get things that are threatening to spoil into jars. This stone fruit drizzle is a really good example of this kind of canning.

I had peaches, nectarines, and plums that were shouting to be used. Some had bruises that needed to be cut away and others were so ripe that a knife was entirely unnecessary for pit removal. So I triaged. I pitted, pared, and squished until I had about 16 cups of lumpy, juicy fruit in a big pot. There was no weighing this fruit ahead of time, since so much of it needed some kind of trimming.

I added three cups of sugar, gave it a good stir, and forgot about it for several hours. Once dinner was done and the dishes were put away, I turned on the heat. Even at that point, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was making. Was it jam? A chunky compote? Or something else?

As it cooked down, I realized that it was going to become a drizzle. This is what I call the category of preserve that exists in between a syrup and a fruit butter. It’s sweeter and thinner than standard butters, but manages to have far more body than a conventional fruit syrup.

Once it was cooked down to my liking, I zapped it with an immersion blender until it as totally smooth. At that point, it went into jars with about 1/2 inch of headspace. Rims wiped, lids and rings on, processed for 15 minutes (because it was thickening up to be a pretty dense preserve).

This batch made 6 pints (yes, there are only 5 1/2 pictured above, but there’s also another half pint in the fridge that didn’t get processed). I will give some of it away with instructions that it be spooned over yogurt, oatmeal, and cake. I will eat it in much the same manner.

Other drizzles I’ve made in the past can be found here and here.

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Sweet Cherry Butter

 

Back at the end of June, I got a shipment of sweet cherries from the folks at the Northwest Cherry Growers. They sent them as part of their annual Canbassador program (here’s my round-up from last year). I made a number of things from those cherries, including this Sweet Cherry Balsamic Jam, some Cherry Chutney, and a batch of Cherry Kompot.

When all that was complete, I still had about five pounds of cherries left. I washed them well, took off the stems, and heaped them in a pot with a cup of water. I brought it to a simmer and cooked the cherries just until they were soft enough that I could pinch out the pits. Once all the pits were out, I poured the cherry pulp into a slow cooker, zapped it with an immersion blender and cooked it down until it had reduced by about half. I zapped it again, added a little sugar to taste (enough for balance, but not so much that it was cloying).

Processed in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes, this collection of five jars will be used this winter in bar cookies and on toast spread thickly with ricotta. It recalls the dense cherry preserves that my mom’s Auntie Tunkel used to make by slow roasting cherries in her old-fashioned oven (a trick she learned from her mother during her childhood in Ukraine). It feels connected to the past and is deeply delicious.

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Spicy Apricot Jam

After a couple lackluster years, this season has been a truly spectacular one for apricots. Thanks to their availability, I’ve canned my way through at least 25 pounds of these, the very sunniest of stone fruit. I made a bunch of this basic apricot jam (it’s a little runny but so delicious), there was this batch of sour cherry apricot jam, and then there’s this spicy jam.

It’s sweet, spicy, and perfect for glazing roast chicken, using on baked brie, or even on a very grown-up pb&j.

If you want to see the making of this preserve in action, I demoed how to make this jam last night on a Facebook livestream. If you missed it, you can find it here.

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Giveaway: Weston Deluxe Electric Tomato Strainer

Five years ago, I wrote about the Roma by Weston Brands. It was the first electric tomato strainer I’d ever encountered and it totally changed how I preserved tomatoes. I went from someone who did mostly whole, peeled tomatoes to someone who did 30 or 40 quarts of puree each season.

As much as I loved it, that original model did have some issues. The body was so light that when you pushed the tomatoes through, it would tilt precariously (a problem I remedied by perching my elbow on the body to keep it level). It also splattered badly when you pushed the tomatoes through, because there was nothing covering the screen.

I am delighted to say that Weston Brands has thoroughly redesigned their electric tomato press and this new model (the Weston Deluxe Electric Tomato Strainer) is terrific. The body is heavier and less prone to tipping. There’s a screen cover to prevent splatter. It has a 250 watt motor which flies through food. It can go in reverse if something gets stuck. And it assembles so easily.

For my unit’s maiden voyage, I used it to quickly puree applesauce (it’s still a little early to be doing tomato sauce around here). I quartered every apple in the house, heaped them in a big pot (peels and cores included), and cooked them until soft. Once I started, it took all of five minutes to mill all those apples.

If you’re looking for something to make your tomato preservation easier, I definitely recommend it! This week, I’m giving away one Weston Deluxe Electric Tomato Strainer to a lucky Food in Jars reader. I hope it transforms your tomato process as much as it did mine. The giveaway is open to US residents only. Please use the widget below to enter.

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Disclosure: Weston Brands provided the review unit you see pictured here at no cost to me and are also providing a second giveaway unit. All opinions are my own.

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