Archive | butters, sauces, curds RSS feed for this section

Zucchini Butter with Fresh Herbs

Long-cooked zucchini butter is the perfect way to reduce large amounts of zucchini into a flavorful spread.

Zucchini butter on a baguette slice

Many years ago, I published this recipe for zucchini butter on a food-centric website that I ran as part of my last job. Sadly, they pulled that old site down recently, which left me with broken links and no way to share the goodness of zucchini butter when asked (the recipe is also in Preserving by the Pint, but not everyone has that book at their fingertips).

I learned to cook zucchini like this from my friend Lucy. At the time, she worked as a flower gardener at a historical home in Virginia. On stormy days, the outdoor staff would gather in their little kitchen and cook up produce from the garden.

During one of those cooking sessions, an Italian vegetable gardener taught her to slow cook zucchini with herbs until it melted into a spreadable, succulent paste. I’ve never been more grateful for a second-hand cooking lesson, as this humble little butter is intensely delicious. I like to spread it on toast or toss it with warm pasta.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 12 }

Honey Sweetened Gingery Peach Butter

This naturally sweetened gingery peach butter is fragrant, flavorful, and brightly hued. It’s great stirred into yogurt or eaten directly from the jar with a spoon.

close up of gingery peach butter

A couple weeks ago, the annual box of peaches and nectarines arrived from the folks at the Washington State Fruit Commission. This is the seventh summer I’ve been part of their Canbassador program. I always enjoy the challenge of finding new and delicious ways to preserve all that goodness.

quartered peaches for gingery peach butter

This year, I’ve made four different preserves. Today, I’m sharing a recipe for Gingery Peach Butter. Tomorrow, I’ll have a batch of Peach Habanero Hot Sauce. Next week, you’ll see recipes for Nectarine Conserve and Nectarine Ketchup.

pressure cooked peaches for gingery peach butter

I’ve got a new trick to tell you for prepping peaches. For this preserve, instead of peeling them, I gave them their initial cook in a pressure cooker (an Instant Pot, to be exact). The added heat and pressure helped break the skins down. That made it possible to blend the skins into the pulp for a perfectly smooth puree.

pureed peaches for gingery peach butter

Now, if you don’t have a pressure cooker, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make this preserve. But in that case, you might want to peel the peaches to ensure a lush, smooth texture.

cooked gingery peach butter

Once your peaches are pureed, you add just a little bit of honey and three heaping tablespoons of grated ginger and cook it down. Wanting to retain a softer texture and brighter color, I didn’t take this one as far down as I sometimes do. That makes it’s a lighter spread, better for drizzling over pancakes and stirring into yogurt.

five pints of gingery peach butter

How have you been preserving your peaches this summer? Continue Reading →

Comments { 17 }

Homemade Barbecue Sauce + Canning in Sauce Bottles with Lug Lids

Impress your friends with tasty homemade barbecue sauce, preserved in commercial sauce bottles and capped with one-piece lug lids. Enter here to win a case of the sauce bottles and a $50 store credit to Fillmore Container!

four finished jars of barbecue sauce

In the last few years, I’ve gone from being barbecue sauce ambivalent to being pretty into the stuff. A big part of my change in attitude stems from the fact that I make most of the barbecue sauce I consume these days. That means that I get to customize the flavor, sweetness, and heat and create something that I’m actually excited to paint on chicken or use as a braising medium for a meaty pork shoulder.

ten pounds of tomatoes

In the past, I’ve made barbecue sauce from peaches, cherries, and apple butter. This time, I’ve embraced the traditional approach and have made a version that starts with tomatoes. To maintain the classic theme, I’ve also preserved it in honest-to-goodness twelve ounce barbecue sauce jars from Fillmore Container (enter the giveaway for these jars and a $50 Fillmore Container store credit!).

Twelve ounce bbq sauce jars

Let’s talk about preserving in these bottles before digging into the making of the sauce. They are designed for commercial production, so they will give your sauce a professional look (which is particularly fun if you’re giving the sauce away as a gift or taking it to a food swap).

Sauce bottle and lug lid

These bottles come in two different versions. One uses lug lids, and the other uses a continuous thread (just like mason jars do). I typically opt to use the jars that take the lug lid closure because the lids have a button that depresses when the jar has sealed. I find that that makes it easier to tell whether you’ve gotten a good seal or not and I always appreciate that kind of clarity.

sauce bottles in the canning pot

You prep these bottles the same way you do mason jars. Wash them with warm, soapy water and then when your sauce is nearing completion, put them in a boiling water bath canner and bring them up to temperature. You also want to warm the lids you’ll be using, to ensure that the plastisol is ready to form a good seal. For more on canning with one-piece lug lids, read through this post.

narrow mouth adaptor for canning funnel

Once the jars are hot and the sauce is sufficiently cooked down, it’s time to fill. It can be tricky to fill these bottles because the opening is fairly narrow. I’ve solved that issue by using the wide-ish funnel from this set to adapt my regular stainless steel funnel to fit. It helps to get the sauce into the jars without splatter or mess.

sauce bottle filling station

I fill the jars to approximately 1/2 inch headspace, wipe the rims, and twist on the lug lids. At this point, you want to take care to twist the lids tightly enough to ensure that the plastisol comes into contact with the rim of the jar, but not so tightly that the air can’t vent during the boiling water bath. Then you process.

Because the jars are nearly 8 inches tall, it can be a bit of a trick to find a pot that’s tall enough to hold them fully submerged. Make sure to test the jars for size in your pot before you get everything set up.

six pounds of tomatoes in a colander

Now, to the sauce. As I was creating my recipe, I referenced a number of sources, including the National Center for Home Food Preservation, the Ball Blue Book, and the old Complete Book of Home Preserving. All three sources had nearly identical recipes, and so I used their work as a starting place.

I opted to leave out the peppers and celery, used a combination of brown sugar and molasses to sweeten, and upped the amount of vinegar a little to make a sauce that was a bit tangier.

barbecue sauce starting ingredients

Making a sauce like this is a multi-stage process, but the end result is worth the effort. First, you combine the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and jalapeno in a large pot and cook them down until totally soft. Once the onions are tender (because they’re the toughest to start with), push the vegetables through a food mill fit with its finest screen. This separates the fibrous solids from the sauce and makes for a better finished product.

finished barbecue sauce in the pot

Then you add the remaining ingredients and cook the sauce until it has reduced to a thickness that satisfies your sense of what barbecue sauce should be. At this point, I like to puree it with an immersion blender, to get rid of any clumps that formed during cooking.

filled sauce bottles

Then you funnel it into your bottles, cap them, and process for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. When the processing time is up, you want to remove the bottles promptly. The seal is formed when the pressure changes thanks to the temperature differential and so you want to create a situation in which the pressure is strong so that they seal tightly and well.

Once the bottles are cool, they’re ready for labels and either the pantry or your gifting closet.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 42 }

Cashew Butter with Honey and Cinnamon

jar of cashews - Food in Jars

Back in late March, before I left for three weeks away, I tumbled into a flurry of making. I find that this often happens to me just before I leave for a trip, for so many reasons. I’m a procrastinator by nature and so often have a few ingredients that must be used or preserved before I leave town.

roasted cashews - Food in Jars

I always need things to write about on this site and so I scramble to get a few things in the can (jar, really) to share while I’m gone. And knowing that I probably won’t be doing much cooking beyond demos and classes during my travels, like to cook up until the last minute, to fill up that creative tank until I return to my little kitchen.

cashew butter ingredients - Food in Jars

I’ve been thinking a lot about homemade nut butters lately. I’ve long had a weakness for interestingly flavored and spiced peanut, almond, and seed butters, but hate spending $10 or $12 for a nine-ounce jar (not that I haven’t done it on occasion). Several years back, I went through a phase when I often made my own, but hit a point where the elderly food processor I used for all things began to struggle with nuts.

cashew butter halfway - Food in Jars

Last summer, things changed in my nut butter making world. I got a new food processor. A former canning student got in touch to say that he and family were moving out of the country, and would I be interested in buying his barely used 14 cup Magimix processor for a very good price? We made a deal that day.

finished cashew butter - Food in Jars

This isn’t to say that you need a fancy new processor to make nut butters, but I won’t deny that this new, zippy beast has sped up the process. I also no longer worry that my machine is going to die halfway through the making ritual, which is comforting.

cashew butter jar - Food in Jars

Now, a bit about the actual cashew butter. I flavored mine with honey and cinnamon, but variations using maple with vanilla, or golden syrup with cardamom would also be nice. I also use a little coconut oil to help aid the transition from nut flour to nut butter. However, if you can’t stand the slight taste of coconut that it imparts, try using a neutral oil like grapeseed or canola.

Continue Reading →

Comments { 3 }

Maple Bourbon Apple Butter + OXO On Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender

Looking for an easy, five-ingredient apple butter for holiday giving? Look no further than this small batch Maple Bourbon Apple Butter!

Finished Maple Bourbon Apple Butter - Food in Jars

My family got our first immersion blender when I was in middle school. I can’t remember where it came from, though if I was forced to guess, I’d bet that it was a gift from my grandmother. While she didn’t cook much herself, she garnered a great deal of pleasure from buying culinary appliances and giving them to others (probably in the hopes that they’d prepare something for her with it).

OXO Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender - Food in Jars

My sister and I claimed that immersion blender as our own, using to make jam and yogurt smoothies for breakfast and after school snacks of skim milk and chocolate SlimFast (it was the nineties, after all). Since then, there’s rarely been a time when I didn’t have an immersion blender in my kitchen.

Apples for Butter - Food in Jars

These days, I pull out my immersion blender on a near-daily basis and use it for soups, purees, fruit butters, jams, gravies, salad dressings, and mason jar mayonnaise. When I heard that OXO was bring an new immersion blender to market, I was excited to check it out because I knew that my current immersion blender was nearing the end of its lifespan and OXO products are always so thoughtfully designed.

OXO Core Clip - Food in Jars

Guys, the OXO On Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender is even better than I had hoped. The blender head is made of sturdy nylon, which means you don’t have to worry about scratching your bowls or cookware with metal. The shaft is coated in silicone, so that you can knock the drips of the blender without dinging the edges of your pan (I have a few pots that are pockmarked from repeated immersion blender banging). The blending end removes from the motor with the press of a button. The motor end has heft and the DC motor produces a lot of power.

Chopped Apples for Butter - Food in Jars

No matter what speed you’re on, the blender starts slowly to prevent splashes and then ramps up to whichever of the six speeds you’ve set it at. The speeds are controlled digitally and you can set them using the dial on the top of the blender. The cord comes with a useful clip on the end, so that you can wrap it around the handle and secure it in place. The wide power button is easy to press and hold. Oh, and lets not forget about the headlight, which illuminates whatever you’re blending. On my dark stovetop, this is so useful.

Cooked Apples for Butter - Food in Jars

For its maiden voyage in my kitchen, I used this lovely OXO immersion blender to make a batch of Maple Bourbon Apple Butter. Wanting to really test it, I cored and chopped five pounds of apples, but left the peels on (unlike this recent butter, where I peeled). In my experience, not all immersion blenders can break down even long-cooked apple peels, but this one handled it like it was nothing.

OXO Blending Apples - Food in Jars

No matter how large or small the batch size, I use a two-blend process when I make apple butter. I cook the fruit down into a soft sauce, puree the heck out of it, cook it down until it thickens and darkens, and then work it with the immersion blender again.

The reason for the second puree is two-fold. First, the peels aren’t always quite soften enough to disappear during that first round of blending. Second, most fruit butters clump a bit while you’re cooking them down, and I prefer a super smooth butter. Pureeing just before the butter goes into the jar ensures that silky texture.

OXO Blender in Action - Food in Jars

As the fruit was cooking down, I spent a little time pondering flavorings. I have plenty of spiced apple butters on my shelves, and wanted to opt for something different here. I know that the combination maple, bourbon, and orange zest isn’t a particularly novel one, but combined the richness of the long-cooked apples, was just the thing I was craving. My plan is to keep two of the jars for myself, and tuck the remaining two into gift baskets for people I know will appreciate it.

Maple Bourbon Apple Butter Overhead - Food in Jars

The OXO On Digital Illuminating Immersion Blender isn’t the only small kitchen appliance that OXO has brought to market lately. There’s also an illuminating hand mixer, a pair of motorized toasters, and a line of coffee makers and water kettles (several times lately, I’ve found myself at Williams-Sonoma, petting the 9-cup coffee maker). I look forward to seeing what OXO creates next!

Disclosure: OXO sent me this OXO On Illuminating Digital Immersion Blender to try and write about. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

Continue Reading →

Comments { 27 }

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Applesauce for October Unprocessed

chopped apples

It is apple season, which means that no matter where I go or what errand I’m running, inevitably a sack full of arlets, honeycrisps, or jonagolds comes home with me. I’ve been working my way through the bounty, making jam, butter, and sauce (hopefully more than enough to last what is predicted to be a very cold winter).

finished applesauce stack

Today, my technique for super-easy (no peeling or coring necessary) pumpkin pie spiced applesauce is up on Eating Rules, as part of October Unprocessed. Now, I know that we’re currently in the midst of a pie spice backlash, but truly, there’s nothing better than sweet sauce spiked with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice. Try it in your next batch of applesauce. I’m certain you’ll be convinced.

Get the Pumpkin Pie Spiced Applesauce Recipe!

Also, for this applesauce post, we’ve teamed up with MightyNest to offer a snazzy canning giveaway. Head over to Eating Rules to enter.

Comments { 10 }