Upcoming Events: July and August 2016

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In past years, I’ve made a critical error during my book tours and that is that I spent so much time on the road that I don’t leave myself enough time to do my own canning. This year, I’m trying to mend my ways and not commit my entire summer to travel.

So this month, I’m only doing a few events so that I can make sure I put up plenty of July produce. I’ll be back out on the road a bunch in August, though, so mark your calendars!

July 12 – Online! I’ll be streaming live from my kitchen on to the Food in Jars FB page, using Facebook Live. Festivities start at 9 pm eastern time.

July 13 – Chestnut Hill, PA! Jam Making with Natural Sweeteners, with the Weaver’s Way Co-op at the Henry Got Crops Farm in Roxborough. 7-9 pm. Register here.

July 24 – Hellertown, PA! Canning demo and book signing at the Saucon Valley Farmers Market. 10 am. Free!

July 22 – Online! It’s International Can-it-Forward day and I’ll be presenting a live streaming canning demo via the Ball Canning website. Sign the participation pledge today!

August 6 – Washington, DC! Canning classes at the US Botanic Garden. Morning class (10:30 am – 12:30 pm) features canning with honey and maple. Afternoon class (1:30 – 3:30 pm) features recipes using coconut sugar and fruit juices.

August 7 – Philadelphia! Book signing and jam tasting at Headhouse Square Farmers Market with Food Swap Cookbook author Emily Paster! 10 am to 2 pm. Free!

August 8 – Sewell, NJ! Free canning demo at the Margaret E. Heggan Free Public Library. 7 pm.

August 13 – Millersville, PA! Canning class at Homefields Farm. 10 am – 12 noon. More details here.

August 19 – Amaganesett, NY! Canning class at Amber Waves Farm. 3-6 pm. Register here.

August 20 – Great Barrington, MA! Demo and book signing at the Great Barrington Farmers Market! 9 am – 1 pm. Free!

August 21 – Hillsdale, NY! Canning class at Hillsdale Home Chef. 2:30-5 pm. $65. Register here.

August 24 – Chestnut Hill, PA! Easy Tomato Salsa, with the Weaver’s Way Co-op at the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting House. 7-9 pm. Register here.

August 27 – Fayetteville, AR! Canning demo at the Fayetteville Roots Festival. More details to come!

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Links: Cherries, Musk Melons, and Winners

flat of currants

I went to the farmers market this morning, intending to pick up eggs, peaches, and some salad greens. I came home with everything on my list, plus four ears of corn, a giant musk melon and a flat of red and white currants from Three Springs Fruit Farm. This happens to me often in July. There is just so much produce. I am powerless to resist it.

It’s been a few weeks since I did a link round-up, so the list is a bit longer than normal. There’s good stuff here, though. Take the time to wade through!

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It’s been a while since the Bee’s Wrap giveaway closed, but I’ve yet to post the winners (oops). However, without further ado, our winners are #109/Katie B., #271/Karley, and #302/Jessica D. Another giveaway will be live soon, so stay tuned!

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Tiny Batch Gooseberry Jam

In possession of just a few gooseberries? Make this tiny batch gooseberry jam!

A single pint of green gooseberries.

I have a standing work date with my friend Audra. Once a week, we meet up at a coffeeshop to catch up, do a little work, and do our best to shake off the inevitable sense of isolation that comes when one works from home.

Audra and I met in early 2009 because we both happened to be Philadelphians who were blogging about food preservation (she was once the primary voice behind the site, Doris and Jilly Cook). While our friendship has long since expanded beyond the kitchen, we do often find ourselves on the topics of cooking, gardening, and sourcing produce for our canning pots.

Eight ounces of trimmed gooseberries, in a saucepan.

A few weeks ago (and knowing that I would appropriately value them), Audra showed up with a pint container of gooseberries from the bush in her backyard. Gooseberries are notoriously hard to come by in Philadelphia (at the turn of the last century, they were thought to harbor a fungus that was a threat to pine forests, and so were banned in many states. Their commercial production has yet to recover) and so my excitement was audible.

Once home with the container of gooseberries, I debated how to best make use of my small cache. I pondered incorporating them into some larger recipes, before deciding that their highest purpose was to become a tiny batch of gooseberry jam.

My tiny batch gooseberry jam, in a 12 ounce jar.

I consulted The River Cottage Preserves book (written by Pam Corbin, who is the reigning queen of gooseberries) to refresh my memory on ratios and preparation before diving in. With so few berries, it took no time to trim away the tops and tails, before heaping them in a pan.

I made this jam with one part fruit and one part sugar, by weight (it’s more sugar than I normally use, but gooseberries are quite tart). I also added a generous splash of water, to dampen the sugar until the berries burst and added their liquid. The finished jam vibrates with the tangy essence of gooseberry and I’m saving the sole 12 ounce jar I made as a mid-winter treat.

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Garlicky Pickled Green Beans on Freshly Preserved Ideas

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Last month, I mentioned that I’ve teaming up with the folks at Ball Canning (much like I did last year) to help spread the word about the many pleasures of home canning. As part of our collaboration, I developed a series of five recipes that will live on the Ball Canning Tumblr, Freshly Preserving Ideas.

I’m here today to share the second recipe I cooked up. These Garlicky Pickled Green Beans have all the flavor of a classic garlic dill cucumber, but with the crunch-keeping power of string beans. Snappy, flavorful, and shelf stable, they may well be the perfect pickle (at the very least, they are MY perfect pickle).

While we’re talking Ball Canning, I also want to make sure that you guys have your calendars marked for the annual International Can-It-Forward Day. This year, it will be taking place on Friday, July 22, 2016, starting at 10 am and wrapping up at 5 pm (eastern time).

Make sure to sign the participation pledge, which will get you a coupon for $5 off for the Fresh Preserving online store, and will ensure that you’re kept in the loop about all the CIFD happenings!

Disclosure: I am a paid ambassador for Ball Canning. 

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Sweet Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Sweet cherry barbecue sauce. It’s bright, tangy, and perfect for the summer cookout season.

A four ounce jar of sweet cherry barbecue sauce

A couple weeks ago, just before I headed out of town to teach my Omega workshop and then go to my cousin’s wedding, I did a bunch of canning. I made roasted peach jam. I made a tiny batch of gooseberry jam. And I made a batch of sweet cherry barbecue sauce, using three pounds of cherries from my Canbassador booty.

Three pounds of sweet cherries in an All-Clad stock pot.

I have mixed feelings about barbecue sauce. I think this is, in part, because of my parents’ position on the stuff. My dad loves it (and once invested in a friend’s sauce making venture) and my mom can’t stand it. What’s more, I’ve spent the entirety of my adult life without any grilling space. So my ability to make things appropriate for barbecue is limited at best.

Three pounds of simmered sweet cherries for barbecue sauce.

However, in recent years, I’ve discovered just how good these homemade sauces are when poured into slow cookers and used as a tasty braising medium for things like pork shoulders and boneless, skinless chicken thighs. And so, I’ve gradually expanding the number I make each year.

The finished yield of sweet cherry barbecue sauce.

Whether you’re a huge fan of barbecue sauce or you’re lukewarm on the topic, I highly encourage you to explore this one!

Oh, and a quick tip about pitting cherries for things you’re going to cook down. Instead of working each one through the cherry pitter, remove the stems and heap them into the pan you’re going to use to cook the sauce. Add half a cup of water, cover the pot, and simmer the cherries for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the pot from the stove and let it cool. Then, reach in and use your fingers to pop the pits out of the cherries. Wear gloves if you’re concerned about staining your fingers. It takes no more than 10 minutes to pop the pits out of the cherries when prepped this way. Easy.

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Food in Jars on Facebook Live!

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We are smack dab in the middle of canning season and judging from the number of emails I’ve been getting lately, many of you are starting to have questions about adapting recipes, changing the sizes of your batches, and whether the preserves you’ve been making are safe and shelf stable.

Next Tuesday, July 12, I’m going to spend an hour on Facebook Live, making a small batch of honey sweetened jam and answering those canning questions that you’ve been sending me. As with all things like this that I do, this will be something of an experiment. I have no idea how many people will show up, or how well it will go. But I’m hopeful it will be useful and fun for all of us.

I’ll be streaming live starting at 9 pm eastern time (I’m starting kind of late my time, in the hopes that it will make it more accessible for those of you who live out west). It will live on the Food in Jars Facebook page, and if you can’t make it when I’m on live, you should be able to view it later.

I should be able to interact with everyone live during the stream, but I thought it would make sense to gather some questions with which to kick off the evening. So if you’ve got a burning canning question for which you’ve been unable to find an answer, ask it as a comment on this post. Or send it to me via Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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