Links: Marmalade, Soups, and a Winner

A quart of warm Meyer lemon water in one of the new purple jars from Ball Canning. Such a good way to stay warm and hydrated.

This last week was a nice, quiet one. I’ve been plugging away at the next book (natural sweeteners!), preserving 10 pounds of meyer lemons from the Lemon Ladies, and drinking a ton of water (cold weather makes me thirsty). No complaints here! Now, for links about marmalade, soups, and the occasional pickle.

Fresh & Fermented cover | Food in Jars

A couple weeks ago, offered up a copy of Fresh and Fermented for giveaway and then never posted the winner. Oops. The winner is #253/Matt.

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Worker B Rescue Putty Saves My Hands

Worker B rescue putty

I am deep in the recipe testing phase for my next book. This has meant lots of chopping, shredding, and peeling, as well as many loads of dishes (so many dishes). The end result is that between the acids in the fruit, the hot, soapy water, and the bitterly cold weather we’ve been having and my hands are broken.

The skin on my fingers crack and split to a certain degree every winter, but this season has been the worse to date. I have a basket of salves, balms, and ointments, each one purchased in the hopes that it would be the magic bullet, but each ultimately leading to disappointment.

rescue putty

A couple of weeks ago, on a desperate whim, I ordered a little jar of Rescue Putty from Worker B. When it arrived, I opened the jar and rubbed a small portion into my hands. It was thick, not at all greasy, and just a little bit sticky (but not in a bad way). Once on my hands, it felt like it formed a protective layer on my skin. Coupled with a pair of goofy cotton gloves, my skin is finally starting to heal. Nothing else has worked like this.

At $19.90 for a 1.75 ounces, Rescue Putty isn’t cheap, but is amazingly effective. Made from just beeswax, raw honey, and olive oil, I feel completely okay applying it throughout the day. When I run out (happily, a little goes a long way, so that day is far in the future), I may try to make my own version, but for the time being, I’m delighted to have Worker B’s version (their lip balm is also excellent, if you’re in the market for a good one).

Now, for the disclosure. Worker B doesn’t know who the heck I am. I bought this product with my own dollars. I just thought I’d share it with you guys, in the event that some of you also suffer from chapped and cracked hands this time of year.

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Veggie-Stuffed Hippie Soup

green soup with yogurt | Food in Jars

I spent the weekend at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. In between my canning demos, Scott and I explored the many halls and sampled a goodly portion of the treats and fried delicacies on offer. By the time we got home on Sunday evening, I was feeling decidedly overfed (french fries, a hot dog, two potato doughnuts, a smoked brisket sandwich, a buttered soft pretzel, and a milk shake from the PA Dairymen will do that to a girl).

all veg in the pot | Food in Jars

I ate lightly yesterday, but woke up this morning feeling strongly that I needed to focus primarily on vegetables for a little while. Other times of the year, I might spend a few days slurping down green smoothies for breakfast and eating salads for lunch and dinner, but current temperatures make all cold foods seem unappealing. Enter my mom’s signature green soup.

nutritional yeast

It’s a recipe that found its way into her recipe binder sometime in the 1970s under the title Bieler Broth. The name is misleading, as there’s nothing brothy about this soup. It’s a hearty puree of greens, carrots, onions, broccoli, garlic, and nutritional yeast (total hippie ingredient) and it’s just the thing when you’ve binged on the kind of food you can only get at festivals, state fairs, and farm shows.

soup pre-blended | Food in Jars

The ingredients are fairly flexible, but the basics are these. You want at least half the substance of the soup to be green leaves of some kind. I use a combination of spinach, kale, and parsley (chard, beet greens, collards, and even arugula work nicely). Broccoli florets, grated carrot, half a chopped onion, and a few peeled garlic cloves make up the balance of the soup.

blended soup | Food in Jars

When they’re in season, summer squash is a nice addition, but they’re just no good this time of year (being that it’s not summer). Green beans and peeled celery can also be added, but I didn’t have either in the fridge, so I left them out. A little chopped cabbage is fine, but use it sparingly.

I always opt for the curly kind of parsley because it’s what my mom prefers, but flat leaf is okay too. It is really good for you, but if you’re sensitive to bitter flavors, use a sparing hand.

swirled green soup | Food in Jars

To make the soup, you pour two cups of boiling water into the bottom of a roomy pot (a 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven is my go-to) and set it over medium heat. Add the greens first and stir until the wilt into the water. Then add the broccoli, carrots, onion, garlic, green beans, and whatever else you’re including. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the firmest vegetables are tender (but not entirely limp).

When the vegetables are finished cooking, ladle them along with their cooking liquid into a blender. Add 2 generous tablespoons of nutritional yeast, a healthy pinch of salt, the juice from 1/2 a lemon, and a couple turns of a pepper grinder. Hold a towel over the top of the blender and puree (gradually increasing the speed until things are really moving). Taste and adjust the seasonings. Know that if it’s tasting a little TOO green for you, the flavor will mellow in just 15 minutes time.

Super green soup, toasted cheese, and cool white tea.

At this point, the soup is done. I like to eat it warm, but it’s also good chilled. I find that I need a spoonful of plain yogurt or a little bit of coconut milk swirled in to make a meal out of a bowl(if it’s the kind of thing you have around, some cashew milk or creme is also good). Anything with a little fat helps keep me full a bit longer and that’s always useful

I find that it will keep three or four days in the fridge, so I typically make a big batch and have it for lunch all week. Just know that the color will fade a little over time. It’s not a sign of spoilage, though, so no need to worry!

What do you guys eat when you’re recovering from a period of overindulgence?

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A Few Glimpses of the Pennsylvania Farm Show

Best of Show

The 99th Pennsylvania Farm Show opened up today in Harrisburg. I spent most of the day at the Fillmore Container booth, demonstrating some recipes from Preserving by the Pint and chatting with people about new guidelines for jar lids, good things to pressure can, and some of the fun jar accessories on display.

January 10

I slipped away from the booth a couple times to scout out the rest of the show. It was intensely crowded, so I didn’t manage to take more than a few pictures, but I thought I’d share some of the scenes I did capture.

Jazzy Jars

I heard that there were a lot more entries to the Jazzy Jar Contest this year than in those past. Jars are hot!

dusty air in the farm show complex

Dust motes in the sunbeams.

prize winning preserves at the PA Farm Show

Some of the entries in the preserves contests. I always enjoy seeing the wide variety of new and old jars people use to hold their fruits and vegetables.

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Guest Post: Sailboat Canning and Mango Chutney from Heather Francis

Galley

Today’s guest post comes from Heather Francis. For the last six years, she and her partner Steve have been sailing around the world. They document their travels and their edible DIY projects on their blog, Yacht Kate. Enjoy! 

I didn’t start canning until I moved into my smallest kitchen ever; the galley on Kate, our Newport 41’ sailboat.
The galley (boat speak for kitchen) is a typical U shape. It would politely be described as compact but I often just say that there is only room for one bum.

When I stand at the stove it feels like I am getting a hug from the countertops. It is designed this way so there are lots of places to hold onto and lean against while we are sailing. The sink, stove, pots, pans, dishes, utensils and ingredients are all within arms-reach, literally. When I cook organization is of the utmost importance and chaos occurs after a few dirty dishes are in the sink.

Teeny Tiny Stove

The first preserve I ever made was Strawberry Jam. Six months after we bought Kate in board in Southern California strawberries went on sale; $10 for 10 pints. The plan was to sail south to Panama and then across the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean to Australia. I knew we wouldn’t be seeing strawberries for a long, long time. I lugged 10 boxes of berries, a bag of sugar and a new case of mason jars across town on the trolley and set to work.

I read a couple recipes, followed the directions loosely (I have a tendency to fiddle with recipes) and in no time had a pot of jam bubbling away on the stovetop. To take my mind off of obsessively checking to see if the jam had set I turned on the oven and made a batch of bread. The cabin became unbearably hot but I didn’t leave the stove. I couldn’t. I was mesmerized by that pot and the sticky, sweetness that filled the air.

Strawberry Jam

By the time I had ladled the jam it into jars and taken the bread out of the oven it was almost dark. I sat in the cockpit with few slices of warm bread and the small bowl of froth I had skimmed off the surface of the jam and watched the sun set.

Before I knew it I had eaten half a loaf of bread and most of the bottle of still warm strawberry jam. It tasted like summer. It tasted like childhood. It tasted just like the jam my Grampy used to make, well almost. That it came out of my little galley was nothing short of amazing.

Preserves

Since then I have made Lemon Lime Marmalade in Costa Rica, Pineapple Passion Fruit Jam in Bora Bora, Mango Chutney in the Marquesas Islands, Sweet Pepper Jelly in the Kingdom of Tonga and recently Tomato Relish and Sweet Mustard Pickles in Fiji. Whenever there is an excess of fruit and some empty bottles you’ll find me sweating next to my little stove.

Sometimes I have to be creative as the standard canning cookbooks don’t usually have recipes that include passion fruit or mangos. Out of necessity I often have to use what I have on hand or what is available in local shops; substituting a bitter orange for a lemon, or using raw sugar instead of the near impossible to find white sugar (in the South Pacific anyway). The results may not look picture perfect but they are always pretty tasty.

Fiji Preserves

I do a lot of cooking and every piece of equipment in my galley does double duty as space on a boat is at a premium. I use my pressure cooker with a standard glass lid for boiling bottles and a stainless steel or well-loved enamel cast iron pot I bought at Goodwill for cooking the preserves.

I do all the chopping, dicing and grating by hand, no matter how tedious. We depend on solar and wind power so except for a small immersion blender I don’t own any electrical appliances. If I have a really big bunch of fruit to use up I either make several small batches or borrow a large pot from another boat in the anchorage. But no one seems to mind me asking when I offer to repay the favor with a jar of homemade chutney.

Mango Prep

I don’t remember what island we were anchored at when I opened the last jar of strawberry jam. Chances are we had been on the move for the last few months and hadn’t seen anything resembling a traditional super market in several weeks. Most likely we were getting bored of eating bananas and pineapples.

I know that it was a Sunday and Steve had made us pancakes as a special treat. And I recall searching deep in the bilge for the jar and feeling like I stuck gold when I found it. We had breakfast in the cockpit and dabbed tiny spoons of strawberry jam onto our pancakes, hoping that the little bottle would last forever. The flavours were bright and sweet and familiar. It tasted like home.

Mango Chutney

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Hopes and Goals for Food in Jars in 2015

January 7

Next month, this blog turns six. When I first started, I had no inkling of where a little idea to write about canning, preserving, and my personal obsession with mason jars might take me. Turns out, the answer is pretty darn far (literally, in fact. I did 113 events in 2014 and put 12,000 miles on my car in the process).

Before get I swept up in the momentum of 2015, I want to take a moment to articulate some of the things I hope to do this year. A couple are tangible things to do, while others are lofty concepts.

  • Higher quality content, a little less often – In recent years, I feel like I’ve fallen into a trap in which I post fairly frequently, but the value of what I’m posting is low. While I can’t stop writing about my classes and events, I want to make sure that the bulk of what I share is of value.
  • More personality – Fear not. I don’t plan on turning this into a vanity lifestyle blog. But I do feel like I don’t always bring a whole lot of myself to this space and I don’t like that feeling.
  • Make some video – Years ago, Scott and I used to make an online cooking show called Fork You. But then, other projects cropped up and we just stopped doing it. I’ve wanted to get back to video for a while, but in the intervening years, the quality of web video exploded and I felt like I wouldn’t be able to produce something that would measure up. This year, I plan on throwing off the weight of my own expectations and just do it.
  • More pantry basics – I love a good batch of jam as much as the next girl (probably more), but this year, I want to focus on those practical, pantry building projects that make it easier to make a quick, healthy meal.
  • Tee-shirts and bumper stickers – Before I went on my book tour last spring, I had some stickers printed up that I gave away at my classes and signings. They were a hit and I want to make some more fun Food in Jars logo-ed gear this year.

So those are my hopes for this year. I’m also determined to get the next book written with a minimum of stress and anxiety. I’ve also declared some more personal goals for myself, that I posted a few days ago over at my little personal blog (I’m trying to carve out some time to write about things beyond food and when I do, I post them over there).

Now let the new year come!

 

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