Links: Chocolate Applesauce Cake, Chard Stalk Hummus, and Winners

stove while canning

Last Wednesday night, just before we slipped out of town to escape the weekend of Pope-centric festivities taking over Philadelphia, I spent the evening canning (as I often do just before a trip). I canned up a roasted sungold sauce and processed some fermented hot sauce (heating it does kill all the beneficial bacteria, but I just don’t have the fridge space for half a gallon of sauce). I’ll have both those recipes for you guys this week. Now, links!

T-fal Clipso pressure cooker

Time for winners! This week, I have two giveaways to wrap up. First is the T-Fal Clipso Pressure Cooker giveaway that I posted on Monday. The winner there is #25/Jo-Ann (congratulations!).

Second up is the $100 gift certificate from The Home Depot, that was offered in conjunction with the release of all those Can-It-Forward videos last Tuesday. The winner there is #70/Nikki A. Hooray!

Thanks to all of you who took the time to enter!

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Sponsored Post: Adopt a Beehive with Cox’s Honey

Cox honey bear

Honey is magical stuff. Made by bees from nectar, enzymes, and hard work, it is wonderfully sweet, tastes of its time and place, almost never goes bad, and is even said to have healing properties. I always have a few varieties in my kitchen and use them daily to sweet preserves, enhance my tea, or mellow the sharpness of a homemade vinaigrette.

Cox creamed honey

I have always longed to have my own hive, but as an adult, have never lived in a place where it was possible (darned high rise living). As a consolation, I make a point to support the bees by buying honey raised and gathered by conscientious humans and being educated about the honey bee situation in our country.

honey from Cox

Back in the spring, I got an email from someone at Cox’s Honey, asking me if I’d like a beehive of my very own. Intrigued, I wrote back. Sadly, they hasn’t invented a hive I could attach to my 20th story window. Instead, they were inviting me to join their Beehive Adoption program.

Cox clover honey

There are four levels of beehive adoption (bronze, silver, gold, and platinum), with various price points to match. No matter what level you choose, you get a welcome kit that includes a Certificate of Adoption, the GPS location of your hive, glossy pictures of your hive and the bees, a 12 ounce honey bear and 20 ounce container of creamed honey, and 10% off all online purchase at coxshoney.com. Cox’s Honey will also donate 10% of your payment to The American Bee Federation.

bee hive pictures

You also get regular shipments of honey with your adoption. The amount depends on the level you select (bronze level memberships get 9 pounds over the course of the year, silver gets 15, gold gets 20, and platinum gets 30). You can pay in either monthly installments or in a single, monthly payment. So many options!

adoption certificate

Being the honey lover I am, I said yes to Beehive Adoption and soon after, received my first shipment of Cox’s Honey. I love using their clover honey in my preserving projects because it has a mild flavor that complements fruit incredibly well. I recently made a batch of this Pear Vanilla Drizzle sweetened with honey and it is ridiculously good.

buzzing bee pictures

I realize that for some of you, it might be too early to start thinking about this, but if you’re beginning to ponder holiday gifts, a Beehive Adoption might be just the thing for someone on your list. Bee fans and home canners alike will appreciate both the thought as well as the quarterly shipments of honey!

Disclosure: In exchange for writing this post, the folks at Cox’s Honey enrolled me in their Beehive Adoption program at the platinum level, which has a value of $270. However, my thoughts and opinions remain my own.

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Cookbooks: The Canning Kitchen, Preserving, Preservation Society Home Preserves, and Preserving the Japanese Way

stack of four 2015 preserving books

One of the things I find intriguing is that when I’m deep in the process of writing a book, I have a very hard time digging into cookbooks by other authors. I’m not sure if it’s fear of inadvertently borrowing a line or concept, or if it’s simply that my brain is so entrenched in my own ideas that there’s no room for others.

Whatever the reason, over the last six months I’ve really struggled to engage with new cookbooks. However, as I come to the end of the editing process with Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, I’m suddenly once again hungry for the words and recipes of others. These four preserving books have all come out during this foggy period of mine, and now that I’m seeing more clearly, I’m so delighted by them. I think you’ll be as well.

The Canning Kitchen

The Canning Kitchen by fellow blogger Amy Bronee, came out back in May and is a sturdy paperback, filled with homey, family friendly preserves.

The book is divided by kind of preserve and includes delicious sounding things like Lemon Raspberry Jamalade (page 54), Coconut Lime Marmalade (page 93), and Chipotle Cherry Tomato Relish (page 130). Every recipe has its own picture and Amy shot all the images herself (a feat I could never dare replicate).

Preserving

Preserving was originally published in France in 1948 under the title, Je Sais Faire les Conserves (I Know How to Make Preserves), by famed French food author Ginette Mathiot. The book has been updated and translated by author and food blogger Clothilde Dusoulier and is now accessible to a new generation of home cooks.

This comprehensive volume offers its readers guidance on how to dry, salt, cure, jam, confit, and otherwise put up the fruits of the growing season for the colder months. While there are some recipes that might be seen as relics of an earlier age, like the Stuffed Goose Neck (page 90), even the quickest glance through the book reminds me how much of the book’s knowledge is still relevant today.

One particularly useful technique is the one for Flattened Apples (page 220). It instructs the reader how to prepare, dry, and store whole apples, so that they can later be rehydrated and included in stews and tarts. I am confident that there are many out there in possession of an apple tree who would find it incredibly useful.

Preservation Society Home Preserves

It is always interesting to see the differences between preserving books written by home cooks and those written by folks who make a living by making jam. Preservation Society Home Preserves is a book firmly in the latter category. As far as I can tell, having a wider audience for their preserves often leads the professionals down a more varied range of culinary trails and I’m often surprised and delighted to see where those paths lead.

Written by Preservation Society founder and head preserver Camilla Wynne, this book definitely pushes well beyond the traditional array of flavor combinations and leaps right into the edible creative fray. The book features an array of intriguing things, including Fig Jam with Secrets (page 22), Sea Buckthorn Jelly (page 68), pickled Maple Chile Onions (page 117), and Pickled Raisins (page 118).

Another nice element of this book is that it includes a small section towards the back that offers insight into how Camilla likes to put her preserves to use. Onion Jam Poutine, anyone?

Preserving the Japanese Way

Last up in the stack of books is the beautiful and immersive Preserving the Japanese Way, by Nancy Singleton Hachisu. Nancy is a native Californian who married a Japanese farmer and has spent the last two and a half decades living, raising children, and feeding a family in rural Japan.

Over her years in Japan, Nancy has made a point to learn many of the traditional making and preserving skills, both to preserve the knowledge and because the resulting sauces, pickles, pastes, and other preserves are so much more flavorful and delicious.

As I type these words, I feel like I’m only just skating around the edges of this book, as it is a huge volume, both in the number of pages and in the sheer mass of information it offers. When I approach it, I feel much the same as I do when I open one of Sandor Katz’s books. I know that I can dip in and find the information I need to proceed in that moment, but that the words and concepts on the page deserve more than a quick visit. I look forward to finding the time to dive more deeply into this one.

Disclosure: I received copies of The Canning Kitchen, Preserving, and Preservation Society Home Preserves for review. Preserving the Japanese Way, I bought.

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Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Plum Butter

plums for butter

For most of the last three weeks, my left crisper drawer has been almost entirely occupied by plums. I’ve slowly working my way through this bounty, cooking them into jam, using them in my various demonstrations, and relying on my slow cooker to turn them into butter (two batches, thus far). The bottom of the drawer is finally in sight and I think the remaining plums will become a batch of cardamom-spiked jam.

raw plums in slow cooker

I’ve written a great deal over the years about using a slow cooker to make fruit butters, so if you’re a long-time reader, this post might feel oddly familiar. However, I’m of the belief that anything useful and good can always bear repeating, and so, I push on and offer you another slow cooker.

cooked plum halves

The plums I most like to use for butter are late season Italian plums. Bred for cooking and drying (they are also known as Italian prunes), they are typically the last variety of stonefruit available before the weather slips into fall. They can be slightly bitter or tannic when eaten raw, but once heated or dried, trade those unpleasant elements for a lush texture and natural sweetness.

pureed plums

To make plum butter, I fill my biggest colander, give the plums a good rinse, and then stand at the sink for a time to cut the fruit into halves and remove the pits. I find that for my 6 quart slow cooker, my starting weight is typically between 7 and 8 pounds.

Then I heap those plum halves in the cooker, add a few tablespoons of water to prevent scorching in the early stages of cooking, set the lid in place, and cook on high for somewhere between 2 and 4 hours. This first stage of cooking is designed to soften the plums enough so that they can easily be pureed with an immersion blender.

finished plum butter

Once they’re soft, I apply my immersion blender until the plums have been transformed into a puree. Then I balance a wooden chopstick across the lip of the slow cooker crock, and rest the lid on top of it, so that the steam can easily vent. Finally, I turn the cooker on low and proceed to cook the plum puree down over the course of the next 6 to 10 hours (your mileage will always vary here).

I try to give the cooking butter a good stir every couple of hours, to ensure that the top doesn’t dry out while the underside burns.

jars of plum butter

Once the plum puree has reduced down to a dense, thick, spreadable butter, it is done. I like to scrape it out into a medium saucepan for the final pureeing, because if you’ve done your work well, there won’t be enough depth in the slow cooker for an immersion blender to work well.

When the butter is smooth from the second application of the immersion blender, I add the sweetener and spices. In the case of this batch, I sweetened with brown sugar, thinking that it’s molasses-y flavor would go well with the plums. I also added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and a splash of lemon juice for balance.

small jar plum butter

As with all fruit butters, you can sweeten this one to your taste. You could reduce the amount of sugar, use regular granulated sugar, add a bit of honey instead, or even leave it entirely unsweetened (though I find that even a small amount of sugar helps balance the fruit and also improves shelf life).

To preserve, funnel the finished butter into jars (I like half pints for this one, as a little goes a long way), leaving a generous 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in boiling water bath canner for 20 minutes. I always process fruit butters for longer than jam, because their increased density makes it harder for the heat of the canner to penetrate to the center of the jar. A longer processing time helps combat that.

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Can-It-Forward Demo Videos Now Available on FreshPreserving.com + Home Depot Gift Card Giveaway

Marisa at Ball Canning HQ

Back in July, I traveled to Indiana to participate in Ball Canning’s International Can-It-Forward Day. We were supposed to be streaming live from their brand new test kitchen (kitted out in Martha Stewart Living cabinets, counters and hardware), but there were some technical difficulties and the videos were never made available.

Happily, the Can-It-Forward team has been hard at work behind the scenes, and today, the videos of the recipes that we all demonstrated that day are finally ready for viewing! You’ll see the following demos…

Click here to see all the Can-It-Forward Videos!

demo at Ball Canning HQ

For those of you who missed the interactivity of International Can-It-Forward Day, fear not. Your friends at Jarden Home Brands have you covered. This Thursday, September 24 they’ll be live streaming an fall canning program starting at 3 pm ET. You’ll have a chance to ask questions and see a behind the scenes peek at that gorgeous test kitchen I mentioned earlier.

If you’re interested in tuning in, you can pre-register here. And if you can’t make the livestream, they’ll be posting the full video later in the day, so you can catch up at your leisure.

Now, for the last bit of good news. I have a $100 Home Depot gift card to give away to one lucky Food in Jars reader (I know. Two giveaways in one week!).

Jarden Home Brands worked with The Home Depot and the Martha Stewart Living Kitchens line during their kitchen renovation and the results are so gorgeous. If you like the looks of the kitchen they created, this giveaway is your change to bring a little bit of the same durable style into your own home.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share how you’d spend $100 at The Home Depot.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Friday, September 25, 2015. The winner will be chosen at random and this post will be updated with their name.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents only (and is void where prohibited).
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog.

Disclosure: I am a paid Ball Canning Ambassador and was compensated for my participation in this year’s Can-It-Forward Day, but my thoughts and opinions remain entirely my own. 

Live Online Class on Tuesday, September 22!

plums in a colander

A quick note to say that I’ll be teaching my last live online class of the season on Tuesday, September 22. We’ll start things off at 8 pm eastern time and will go for about an hour.

I’ll make a batch of low sugar plum jam and will talk about how to reduce sugar without compromising set, how to use Pomona’s Pectin (my low sugar pectin of choice), and ways to ensure good flavor when you’re reducing the sweetener.

The recipe I’ll be making is below the jump, just in case you want to can along or have something to reference while I cook.

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