Canning 101: A Couple Pumpkin Reminders

pumpkins

Scott and I spent the weekend up in Northampton, MA, visiting some Philly ex-pat friends. We played with Spaetzle the cat, enjoyed the unseasonably warm weather and saw many, many pumpkins.

Pumpkin season has indeed arrived and along with it, questions about the best ways to preserve it and other winter squash. While these orange-fleshed vegetables are designed for long-term storage just as they are, I know many of you want to have something a little bit more ready-to-use on hand than an uncooked squash. So here we go.

There are two ways to preserve cooked pumpkin. You can cook it into puree and freeze it or you can cut it into cubes and pressure can it. That’s it. There aren’t any other methods. Unfortunately, you cannot can pumpkin puree or butter because it is both low in acid and too dense for proper heat penetration (even in a pressure canner).

For those of you who are enjoying pumpkin season, stay tuned. My Friday Preserves in Action post will include a recipe for one of my favorite quick pumpkin soups.

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Sunday Night from the Food in Jars Flickr Pool

Most Sunday evenings, I take a break from showing off my preserves and give the rest of you a chance to shine by featuring a few photos from the Food in Jars Flickr group. Here are a few pretties from the last week or two. If you’d like to see your photo featured here, please head over to Flickr, join the group and add your images.

simple pickled peppers

An array of vinegar pickled peppers from Emily. So glad to hear you like my unfancy pickled pepper method!

giardiniera

Giardiniera from Erin, just part of the 133 jars of preserves she’s canned this year! Well done, Erin!

Gooseberry jam will be EXTERMINATED.

Sarah‘s jam, posing with a toy dalek. Any Doctor Who reference is fine by me!

AWeekendsWork

This groaning table of preserves is just in a weekend’s work for SaraJane. I am so impressed!

Linda Z.'s roasted red peppers

Rebecca finally got her hands on a copy of Linda Ziedrich’s The Joy of Pickling and already has put it to good work. These look fabulous!

This is why I keep the peach boxes

Peach boxes, full of Ginger Vanilla Peach Jam made by the redhead. Looks like you’re ready for winter!

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The Raina Rose Baby Benefit

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Once in a very great while, I post something here that has nothing to do with food, canning or classes. This is one such post.

I have a sister. Her name is Raina Rose and she’s a folk singer. She and her fiance are expecting their first baby (a boy!) in the next few weeks. Raina and Andrew typically spends eight to ten months a year traveling the country and playing music.

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They are thrilled down to their toes to become parents (and goodness, are they going to be amazing at the job), but it’s putting something of a crimp in their ability to earn a living.

Happily, Raina and Drew have amazing friends who want to help make this baby thing a little easier. Two of their musician buddies, Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin, have planned a baby benefit house concert with the intention of raising some money to help keep the wolf from their door. Here’s what Danny and Carrie have to say about why they’re doing this:

“We, as musicians, have seen too many of our friends forced to choose between raising a loving family and making the music that we all love to listen to. So it’s important to us, as a community, to bolster our friends financially, so that their child is not also a compromise. Here’s a small, but important way that you can help us in our effort. And take in an absolutely killer show.”

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The concert will be held in Austin, TX on Sunday, October 16. Performers include Danny Schmidt, Carrie Elkin, Sam Baker, Raina Rose and Band of Heathens.  If you live in Austin and like folk music, they’d love for you to attend in person. If you happen to be a bit further flung, the concert will also be streaming online with a number of optional donation levels.

 

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Preserves in Action: Old Fashioned Oatmeal with Applesauce

finished oatmeal with applesauce (146)

Last week, just before I hopped a plane for Portland, I made applesauce. I had gone apple picking with a friend over the weekend and needed to do something with all the apples that I couldn’t jam into the crisper.

I quartered and cored enough apples to entirely fill my 9 quart Dutch oven, added a splash of water to prevent them from sticking and cooked over low heat for an hour or so, until the chunks of fruit lost their shape and slid away from their skins. I ran the cooked apples through a food mill fitted with the coarsest screen to remove the peels and spiked the finished sauce with cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg.

That batch made enough to fill a canner load of seven pint jars, plus a little bit more. Once the jars were on the counter cooling (they spent 20 minutes in the boiling water bath and did siphon more than a little – it happens to the best of us) I was able go on my trip, unencumbered by thoughts of wilting fruit.

oatmeal with applesauce

I got back late Wednesday night to an apartment that my husband thoughtfully and vigorously cleaned. You see, before I had left, I had woken up one morning, feeling mad at him. Once I cleared the cobwebs, I realized the anger was the result of a dream, in which he had trashed our home and I had to come home to a mess. I shared the dream with him when the feelings of it were still fresh and I think it made an impression.

Thursday morning, more than a little jet lagged, I stumbled to the kitchen to find coffee and breakfast. There was fresh milk, old fashioned oats in the jar on the counter and the rest of the applesauce that hadn’t fit into the canner load I’d done the week previous.

In my smallest saucepan, I combined half a cup of oats with one cup of cold water and a pinch of salt. Covered and set to low, I let the oats slowly warm. This makes them wonderfully creamy (if you start with hot water and cook the oats too quickly, they never break down nicely). After six or seven minutes at the barest simmer, I raised the heat and brought the oats to a bubble. Once they were nearly done, I stirred in a splash of milk and half a cup of the applesauce.

Adding applesauce to oatmeal does two things really well. It contributes flavor (in this case mild sweetness and a hint of cinnamon) and it bulks them up without making them an overly indulgent meal. I often do the same thing with fruit butters, though since they can be more intensely flavored, I reduce the volume to a third of a cup or so.

I topped my bowl with toasted almonds for protein and some dried blueberries for more sweetness. I predict many more morning bowls of applesauce oatmeal in my future this fall.

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Cookbooks: We Sure Can!

We Sure Can!

In the last few years, a wave of new canning books have been published and each has its individual charms.  Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It is an amazing resource for fun, DIY foods (like homemade corn flakes!). Putting Up More is just the thing for the home canner who wants to move beyond the standard array of preserves. Tart and Sweet is perfect for creative folks who want to impress at the holidays or at their local food swap.

We Sure Can!

Like these other volumes, Sarah B. Hood’s new book, We Sure Can! also has a very distinct reason for being. Part cookbook, part story of this most recent food preservation movement, it will lend confidence to new canners and remind seasoned preservers that they are not alone out there.

We Sure Can!

One of the most glorious things about We Sure Can! is that it is written from a place of sharing and generosity. So many new cookbooks seem to be crafted in isolation, without acknowledgement of the community from which they draw inspiration. Sarah’s book is a celebration of the many chefs, cooks and bloggers who have played roles in the energy that has gathered around canning in the last few years.

We Sure Can!

Bloggers like Audra Wolfe from Doris and Jilly Cook and Joel McCharles from Well Preserved are featured prominently. Images from Shae Irving of Hitchhiking to Heaven and Leann Locher of Lelo in Nopo are included in the many gorgeous photography spreads.

And the recipes! Tucked among Sarah’s many prize-winner recipes are preserves from Gloria Nicol (author of the blog Laundry Etc. and the book Fruits of the Earth) and pickles from Julia Sforza (she writes What Julia Ate) to name just a couple of the contributors.

We Sure Can!

For those of you who like a bit of dependability in your recipes, this book should go on your shelves. There’s not a single preserve in this book that isn’t tested and beloved by the recipe contributor. If you’re a regular reader of canning blogs, you’ll be happy to see many of your favorite bloggers have offered up their best preserves for inclusion.

If you’re looking for a book to give to a friend to help then on the path towards home food preservation, this is one you should most certainly consider. In addition to all the things I’ve gushed about already, you should also know that the front section of this book is an approachable, unfussy introduction to everything you need to learn before firing up your canning pot.

I am so delighted to add this volume to my collection of canning books (you should know, I did receive a free review copy, but I’d have gladly paid for it). Well done, Sarah!

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Preserves in Action: Maple Banana Bread

maple banana bread with pear butter

When I was growing up, my mom regularly made the quick banana bread out of the 1968 edition of the Joy of Cooking. To this day, her copy opens directly to that recipe. It’s a serviceable enough loaf and one I’ve made many times in my own kitchen.

This banana bread isn’t that one. Made with a generous scoop fruit butter (I used pear butter in this most recent batch, but apple, peach or apricot butters would all work nicely) and sweetened with maple syrup, it offers a tender, toastable loaf that is particularly good buttered and dabbed with jam.

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