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Good Things to Preserve in Late October

sugar pumpkin

It is a cool, rainy day in Philadelphia. I’m back to drinking hot coffee or tea in the morning, after months of wanting my caffeine doctored with ice. The summer fruits and vegetables are all gone from the markets and have been replaced by apples, pears, cauliflower, and massive bundles of leafy greens.

For many, this change in the season means that it’s time to put the canning pot away. I firmly believe that there’s still plenty to preserve this time of year (and hallelujah for that. I had a busy summer and still have far too many empty jars kicking around the apartment).

Here are some of my favorite jams, butters, pickles, and chutneys that are perfect for autumn preserving.

Pears

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I love making jams and chutneys with pears. I am smitten with their slightly grainy texture and delicate flavor. They are good on their own, but also play nicely with any number of herbs and spices.

  • Pear Vanilla Jam – This is, by far, my very favorite pear preserve. Look for a smooth, small batch approach on the blog next week.
  • Pear Cranberry Jam – Good on toast, even better with a turkey dinner.
  • Pear and Chocolate Jam – This version uses bits of a dark chocolate bar and is quite rich. Look for a lighter, cocoa powder-based take in Preserving by the Pint.
  • Pear Cinnamon Jam – For deepest flavor, use Vietnamese Cinnamon.
  • Pickled Asian Pears – This recipe is from Karen Solomon’s wonderful book, Asian Pickles. I love them tossed into baby arugula salads.

Apples

apples

Apples are just the best thing ever for a dedicated autumn canner. There’s just so much they can do, including playing a starring role in jams, butters, sauces, and chutneys. Get yourself a half bushel and go to town.

  • Honey Lemon Apple Jam – It’s bright, sweet, and perfectly spreadable. The secret is that you cook the apples down with the lemon juice before adding the sugar and honey.
  • Spiced Apple Butter – The slow cooker does all the work for you in this delicious preserve.
  • Apple Pie Filling – With a couple of pie crusts in the freezer, dessert will practically make itself.
  • Apple Cranberry Jam – For even more flavor, add a little cinnamon, ginger, and allspice to the cooking jam.
  • Apple Cider Syrup – Good in a mug of hot tea, great in a bourbon cocktail.

Pickles and Chutneys

peach chutney

What are you canning this time time of year? (My most recent fall preserve was this batch of Apple Pear Sauce for October Unprocessed!).

 

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Upcoming Events: Princeton! Kennett Square! Lancaster!

Preserving by the Pint sliver

I know I’ve been saying this for weeks, but the end of my season of classes and events is now firmly in sight. If you’ve been wanting to take a class or pick up a signed copy of one of my books, now is the time. I have seven events left in October, two more in November and then I’m taking most of the next six months from doing classes, events, or book signings so that I can focus on writing my next book.

I’d like to draw particular attention to the pair of classes I’m teaching at Fillmore Container this weekend. These will be active, hands-on classes and all participants will get be taking home fresh, hot jars of delicious preserved food. If you’re at all interested in one or both of these classes, register today

October 8, Swarthmore, PA
I’ll doing a canning demo Harvey Oak Mercantile from 6-8 pm. There will be books available for sale and signature. Registration details to come.

October 9, Princeton, NJ
Thanks to a friend who has made all the arrangements, I’m headed to Princeton to offer a batch canning demonstration at the Whole Earth Center. Event is from 7-9 pm and tickets can be obtained here. Books will be available!

October 10, Kennett Square, PA
Every fall, Kennett Square throws a festival to celebrate all things fermented. I’ll be offering a quick sauerkraut demo and then will be appearing on a panel with some other ferment-friendly folks. The happenings will be at the Bayard Taylor Library. Demos will be from 6-7:30 pm, the discussion starts at 7:30, and admission is free. More details can be found here.

October 11, Lancaster, PA
I’m spending a Saturday at Fillmore Container, offering a pair of canning classes in their warehouse. The first class is from 10 am – 12 noon, in which we’ll focus on preserving pears in batches large and small (including information about how to use Pomona’s Pectin). From 1-3 pm, we’ll dig into how to preserve tomatoes, including how to make tomato jam and how to preserve whole peeled tomatoes. To register for both classes (they’re $35 a piece), click here. We’re also going to offer a book signing at the end of the day.

October 12, Cherry Hill, NJ
I’m hopping over the bridge to South Jersey for a small batch jam demonstration and book signing at Williams-Sonoma at the Cherry Hill Mall. The event is from 1-3 pm and is free and open to all.

October 14, Philadelphia
I’m teaching a sauerkraut class at the German Society of Pennsylvania from 7-9 pm. Everyone will make their own quart jar of sauerkraut to take home with them. Class fee is $15 and you can register by emailing librarian@germansociety.org. More details about this class can be found here.

October 18, Philadelphia
Canning demos and book signing at the Weaver’s Way Farm at Saul HS Harvest on Henry Festival. I’ll do a couple of demonstrations and will help judge the pie contest! More details can be found here. The festival runs from 1-5 pm and is open to all.

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Peach Vanilla Drizzle

peach vanilla drizzle vertical

Nearly two weeks ago, I bought a 25 pound case of visually imperfect peaches. They were a little hard when I first got them, so I arranged them on rimmed cookie sheets and set them around the apartment, pretending all the while that it is entirely normal to have a half bushel of fruit ripening on every surface of one’s home (this week, I have trays of Italian plums scattered about).

By day five, many of the peaches were perfectly ripe and so I began to preserve. I tested some recipes for the new book (the honey sweetened peach rosemary jam with a touch of salt was revelatory), and made a batch of peach salsa for my personal pantry. I was weary of peeling, so I convinced myself I was letting the rest of the peaches ripen up while I took a break from the canning pot.

peach drizzle pot

And then, on Tuesday, I realized I’d let things go a little too far. The remaining peaches were heady with fragrance and speckled with brown soft spots. I took them to the kitchen and started to cull. I threw away the furthest gone fruit and set about to salvage the remaining useful bits.

After an hour spent trimming, I had 8 cups of usable peach hunks. I combined the chopped (but unpeeled) fruit in a pan with 2 split and scraped vanilla beans and 2 cups of sugar. As soon as the sugar was dissolved, I popped a cover on the pan and shoved it in the oven at 350 degrees F for a couple hours (can you tell that I was feeling a little weary of dealing with fruit?).

peach vanilla drizzle labels

Once two hours had passed, I pulled the pan out of the oven and fished out the vanilla beans. Then I pulled out my beloved immersion blender and blitzed the peaches until they were entirely smooth. I tasted, added the juice of 1 lemon for balance, and pureed again.

Once I liked the flavor, I poured it into a collection of half and quarter pint jars (the yield was 3 1/2 pints when all was said and done) and processed them in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

peach drizzle in orchard road jars

The end result is a product that exists someplace between a syrup and fruit butter. It’s sweeter and thinner than my standard butters, but manages to have far more body than your standard syrup.

I’m calling it a drizzle, because it does just that very nicely. I ate the two tablespoons that wouldn’t fit into a jar over yogurt, but it would be a great pancake or waffle topper. If you’ve got some end-of-season stonefruit that is giving you fits, I highly recommend this treatment.

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Slow Cooker Peach Vanilla Butter

peaches on stove

Last month, when I had all those peaches from the Sweet Preservation folks, I did more than just make spiced peach jam. I also cooked up a slow cooker full of peach butter with flecks of vanilla bean and made a batch of mixed stone fruit jam.

peaches in blender

Because I’ve been running on fumes, I didn’t manage to share either of the two remaining techniques/recipes with you. However, I spent some time at various farmers markets this weekend and was reminded that there are still peaches to be had. And so, I’m trying to get them up while they still have some utility.

blending peaches

When it comes to making fruit butters, it’s important to remember that there are a lot of variables, and so it’s better to approach it as a technique than a strict recipe. Here are just some of the things that are up for grabs with slow cooker fruit butters.

Size of the slow cooker. My favorite model is a 40+ year old four quart cooker that cooks at a very low temperature. You might have a brand new one that has both a larger capacity and a higher cooking temperature.

Yield. Even if you had the exact same slow cooker as I did, chances are that your yield would still vary. That’s because ever batch of fruit is going to have different water and sugar content. If your fruit contains a lot of water, you’re going to have to cook longer to reach your desired consistency. Use your judgement and cook until you like the butter. It doesn’t matter if you have to run your slow cooker for five hours longer than I did, it is still okay.

more peaches

Time. There is just no way for me to predict how long a batch of butter will take in your slow cooker and that’s okay. Just fill the cooker up at least 3/4 the way up with puree and start cooking on low. Stir regularly. If you need to run an errand (or go to bed), turn the cooker off, put a lid on it and turn it back on in the morning. Towards the end, if you want to speed things up, turn the cooker on high and stir every ten minutes or so.

Sweeteners. Because fruit butters don’t depend on sugar for set (they become spreadable thanks to the fiber in the fruit), you can always sweeten your butter to taste. However, do remember that sugar is a preservative. That means that if you don’t use any sugar (or if you use a sugar substitute like Splenda or Stevia), the shelf life will be shorter.

propped slow cooker

Now, let’s talk about peeling peaches. Most of the time, when I work with peaches I take the time to peel them because I just don’t like the texture of the skin in the finished product. But not when I’m making butter with them. I find that if you puree the fruit before cooking in a sturdy blender, and then zap it again at the end of cooking with an immersion blender, you’re able to get a perfectly smooth butter, peels and all. This fact deeply pleases my inner lazy person.

full slow cooker

After reading all that, you might still be wondering how you make peach butter. Here’s how.

Slow Cooker Peach Vanilla Butter

Ingredients

  • Peaches
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • lemon juice (optional)
  • sugar, honey, or other sweetener, to taste

Instructions

  1. Puree enough peaches to fill your slow cooker at least 3/4 of the way up and pour them in.
  2. Scrape a vanilla bean and add the seeds to the puree.
  3. Set the cooker to low.
  4. Put a wooden spoon or chopstick across the mouth of the cooker and set the lid on top of it. This way, you vent the cooking butter.
  5. Cook for 2-3 hours and check. Stir and replace the propped lid.
  6. Keep checking and stirring every hour or two.
  7. If you need to go to bed, turn the butter off and set the lid on the cooker all the way. In the morning, prop the lid again and keep cooking.
  8. When the butter seems quite thick and spreadable, taste it and sweeten it to taste.
  9. Add some lemon juice at this time if you feel it could use a little brightening.
  10. Using an immersion blender, puree the butter so that it is smooth and emulsified.
  11. Funnel the butter into clean, hot half pint jars. Wipe the rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
  12. Eat on toast, stirring into yogurt, or baked into quick breads all winter long.
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Livestream of the International Can-It-Forward Day

peaches

Saturday, August 16 is International Can-It-Forward Day. Canning events are taking place all across the globe in order to help more people discover the pleasures and practicalities of home preserving. I’m going to be at the main event at the Brooklyn Borough Hall in New York to demonstrate the Peach Sriracha Jam from Preserving by the Pint

If you’re in the greater New York region, you should come out and join the fun. If you’re a bit further flung, join us on the livestream!

Here’s the full schedule of events!

10:00am – Pepper Jelly demonstration by Chef Sara featuring the FreshTECH Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker
10:45am – Tips on urban gardening & herb preservation
11:00am – Peach Sriracha Jam demonstration by Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars
11:30am – Crafting in Ball jars with staff from Martha Stewart Living
11:45am – Hugh Acheson Preserving and Mixology demonstrations
1:15pm – Special Mixology demonstration with local mixologists
1:30pm – Salsa Verde demonstration by Chef Sarah featuring the FreshTECH Automatic Home Canning System

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Sweet Cherry Chutney

sweet cherries

I spent last Friday evening at the Whole Foods Market in Devon, PA, teaching a group of lovely ladies how to make and preserve a small batch of sweet cherry chutney.

Because it takes a bit longer than jam to cook down, I don’t often choose chutney for my classes and demos. But it happened to fit nicely for this particular class, and I’m so glad it did because it reminded me of just how good this particular preserve is.

chopped sweet cherries

I went home on Friday night with a stash of cherries from the sale and spent a chunk of time over the weekend pitting the cherries and slicing them into quarters (because I’m insane like that). I ended up making a larger, slightly tweaked version from the one we made in class, but it was no less delicious.

finished chutney

Once you get through the pitting of the cherries, this chutney couldn’t be simpler. It’s really just a matter of getting the ingredients into the pot, bringing them to a boil, and then cooking until the ingredients marry and the liquid evaporates. There’s no need to monitor the temperature or check for set. It’s done when it doesn’t look watery anymore.

Another nice things about making a preserve like this is that you can break up the cooking time. While my batch was simmering, Scott and I decided that we wanted to go for a walk. I just turned off the stove and slid the pot to a cool burner. When we got back, I brought the chutney back to a low bubble and finished it off.

Oh, and one more thing. If you don’t have the mental fortitude to pit and chop 4 pounds of cherries, try making this chutney with plums. It works just as well and isn’t as tedious.

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