Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It Winner

Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It

And the winner of Karen Solmon’s fantastic new book Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It is commenter #681, JJ. She said, “I’ve made quick refrigerator pickles many times, and want to tackle fermented sour pickles this summer. Waiting semi-patiently for our cucumber vines to really get going…”

Congratulations JJ!

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Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey (and Jennie too)

peanut butter pie for MikeyAs so many of you know, food blogger and writer Jennifer Perillo‘s husband Mikey died swiftly and unexpectedly this last Sunday. I was still in my post-layoff wallow when I heard the news and at once, my own minor loss was put into tragic context.

Earlier this week, Jennie asked that people take a moment to make Mikey’s favorite peanut butter pie and share it with someone they love. I made mine last night. It’s deeply imperfect, with a crust that won’t stay together and a chocolate layer that’s too thick.

Still, when I cut a messy slice for Scott last night, I did so without apology and with gratitude that he was standing right there to receive the plate.

Lots people have made pies in honor of Mikey, Jennie and their girls today. The FN Dish has been keeping track and has a comprehensive list here.

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Five Ways To Preserve Small Tomatoes

cherry tomatoes from Little Acre Homestead

Last week, I monumentally lucked out. Heather and Steven from Little Acre Farmstead swapped me ten pounds of little tomatoes for an assortment of jam. I think it may well have been the best trade of my life. Admittedly, my bartering career is in its infancy. But still, I was tickled. Thing is, ten pounds of tiny tomatoes is a whole lot. So I had to get creative with my preservation techniques. Here’s what I did.

frozen tomatoes

I froze enough to fill two small cookie sheets. This is the easiest method I know. There’s no prep, you just fill the sheet, pop them into the freezer and leave until solid. Once they turn into tomato marbles, funnel them into jars or zip-top bags and return them to the freezer.

frozen tomatoes

They can be used in soups, stews, roasts and veggie scrambles. Someone also mentioned recently that preserving tomatoes like this makes them great for tomato cobbler (who was that? Remind me and I’ll link to you. It was Melissa from Bridgman Pottery! So pretty).

dehydrated tomatoes

Next up is dehydrated tomatoes. You do need some additional equipment here, but I plunked down the cash for a dehydrator couple of years ago and have yet to regret it (though it is something of a space hog).

In addition to tomatoes, I use mine for peaches, lemons, limes and the occasional batch of jerky. This is the one I have. I slice them in half, place them cut-side up and dehydrate at 135 degrees for 18-24 hours.

dehydrated tomatoes

I make these almost entirely so that I can make this zucchini noodle salad that Tea turned me on to a couple of years ago. They are also good for general snacking (like tomato candy!) and adding to things that have a bit of moisture (they do need to rehydrate a little once in food). You could also puree them into a tomato powder, should you ever need such a thing.

roasted grape tomatoes

Roasted tomatoes. We’ve already talked about this one recently. Still, they’re worth the reminder. Add a handful of unpeeled garlic cloves and some fresh thyme. Or a few slivers of onions and some rosemary. Oregano is also good. However you make them, you won’t be sad that you did.

tomato jam

Here’s another option that I’ve mentioned in the past. Tomato jam. I loved how these little grape tomatoes worked in this recipe. The seeds are a bit smaller, which makes for a really nice texture. And they’re already so sweet that if I use them again in this application, I might just reduce the sugar a bit to compensate. Also, it’s worth noting that this time around, my yield was just three pints as opposed to the four and a half I got last year.

blanching tomatoes

After I froze, dehydrated, roasted and jammed, I had about a pint of tomatoes left. Those became a small batch of refrigerator pickles. I actually took the time to slit, blanch (about 90 second dip in boiling water should do it) and peel all those teeny tomatoes so that they’d better absorb the brine. Luckily, when you’re working with just a single pint, it’s not too tedious.

pickled tomatoes

The brine was 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup filtered water, 2 teaspoons pickling salt, and 2 teaspoons sugar. I added tiny pinches (no more than an 1/8 of a teaspoon each) of mustard seeds, coriander seeds and red chili flakes to the jar, along with two juniper berries. Pour the brine over the tomatoes. Tap to remove bubbles and add a bit more brine. Keep in the fridge for at least 48 hours before eating.

Unfortunately, these are too fragile for boiling water bath storage. They will dissolve into nothing in the heat of the canning pot.

Now, how do you like to preserve tiny tomatoes?

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Canning 101: How To Save Runny Jam

jams for Barcamp Philly

A while back, I wrote a piece all about how to ensure that your jam sets. However, even when you keep all those tips in mind, there’s still a chance that you’ll wind up with a poor set. Here’s what you can do to salvage that jam.

If you don’t want to invest any additional work in that jam, all you have to do is change expectations. If it’s just sort of runny, call it preserves. If it’s totally sloshy, label it syrup and move on with your life.

However, if you’re committed to getting a nice, firm, jammy set, there is still hope. Here’s what you can do.

  1. First, you wait. Give the jam 24-48 hours to set up (because truly, sometimes it can take that long for pectin to active).
  2. If it still hasn’t set, it’s time to open all the jars back up.
  3. Pour the jam into your widest pot.
  4. Set heat to high and begin to bring the jam to temperature.
  5. Whisk in one tablespoon of powdered pectin as it heats.
  6. Cook vigorously until jam appears visibly thickened. Test set using plate or sheeting test (both described here).
  7. When jam has reached the desired thickness, remove pot from heat.
  8. Pour jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply brand new lids and screw on the same old bands.
  9. Process in a boiling water bath canner for the amount of time requested in the recipe.
  10. When processing time is up, remove jars from bath. Let jars cool and then test seals.

That’s it!


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Demos, Classes, Can-It-Forward and Canning Week on Simple Bites

peach salsa

This last Saturday, I did a peach salsa demonstration at Linvilla Orchards in Media, PA for their annual peach festival. The audience was filled with stone fruit enthusiasts, as well as a handful of Food in Jars readers. It was so much fun to meet everyone who made the trek and I hope I’ll see even more of you guys on September 24 when I make apple-pear chutney.

giving demo

Speaking of canning instruction, this Saturday, August 13, I’m teaching a Garlic Dill Pickle class. There are still four more spots available in that class should you be interested in joining us. The cost is $45 per person and the class is being held at Indy Hall in Old City, Philadelphia. Leave a comment or shoot me an email (foodinjars AT gmail dot com) if you’d like to sign up.

two full jars

Also happening this Saturday, August 13 is the National Can-It-Forward Day. Organized this year by Ball and the Canvolution folks, the event will include coast-to-coast canning parties, live demos in Seattle and a full day of streaming programming all about canning. Click here to download the Web TV schedule.

Finally, it’s Canning Week over at Simple Bites. Last year, I wrote about canning tomatoes and this year, expect to see a small batch plum jam recipe from me up there later in the week. Last weekend at the Big Summer Potluck, Aimée gathered Shaina, Megan and me to film a kick-off video. Take a look!

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Sunday Night From the Food in Jars Flickr Pool

Strawberry Lemonade 8-5

Beautiful, drinkable strawberry lemonade in a jar from Pebblie.

pickling okra

Pickled okra in process from Sarah and Aaron. Love this stuff.

peach and bluberry jams

A pretty array of fresh fruit and preserves from Rachel of Hounds in the Kitchen.

momofuku pickles

Momofuku pickles from Egle Aleks.

Bounty of Food in Jars

An array of preserves that Tracy picked up at the Big Summer Potluck last weekend. Mmm.


An array of preserves from Virginia of Headspace.

Ginger-Apricot Butter

Glowing ginger-apricot butter from Jessica.

backyard raspberry jam

Raspberry jam made from backyard berries from Sherrie.

The Humble Mason Jar

An array of empty wide mouth jars from Suzy at Chiot’s Run. I just love this photo!

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