Tag Archives | Mastery Challenge

July Mastery Challenge Round-up: Hot Pack Preserving

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We closed the books on July a few days ago and so it’s time finish up another skill in our Mastery Challenge. This month, we focused on hot pack preserving and more than 130 of you reported in that you’d tried preserving something using this method.

Starring ingredients included apricots, apriums, artichokes, beets, black currants, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, carrots, cherries (both sweet and tart), corn, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, figs, gooseberries, green beans, jalapeños, kohlrabi, mangos, mushrooms, onions, peaches, plums, raspberries, rhubarb, shishito peppers, sour cherries, strawberries, watermelon rind, wineberries, and zucchini.

People made all sorts of products, including chutneys, fruit packed in syrup, jams, pickles, salsas, and tomato products.

According to the survey, a lot of you made more than one batch, which is always delightful. I’m happy that so many of you were inspired to dig in more deeply.

As far as satisfaction with skill goes, the results made me giggle. Most of you felt pretty friendly towards hot packed at the start of the month.

But, at the end of the month, those of you who participated were all in. Such happy, positive reactions!

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Jams, Chutneys, and Mostardas

Pickles, Relish, and Salsa

Tomatoes and Whole Fruit/Veg Preserves

And finally, a few comments from the submission form:

Lisa from Aurora, Ontario said, “Interesting to see how the hot pack played out in practice, not just theory. Peaches are a lot more work than I thought they’d be!” So true! Peaches are a beast, but so worth the work!

Ann from Vashon, Washington said, “My time was limited and produce was lagging – but the Walla Walla sweets were in so I tried the onion relish. Definitely worth while! So glad I’m learning more about hot pack. Hope to do some tomatoes soon as they are now arriving in our local markets.” Onion relish is delicious!

Tesla from Memphis, Tennessee said, “I had already done a lot of hot pack preserving, but until this month I had no idea that’s what I was doing – or the reasons why you’d use a hot pack with a particular fruit or to get a particular result. This month was an example of how the Mastery Challenges are educational for me, even when I’m not making something new!” So glad it was useful!

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July Mastery Challenge: Pickled Blistered Shishito Peppers

Regular Food in Jars contributor Alex Jones is here to with a recipe to preserve delicious shishito peppers. They’re one of my summer favorites! – Marisa

One of my favorite moments of summer eating doesn’t involve handfuls of blueberries, icy-cold slices of watermelon, or peaches so juicy you have to eat them over the sink. (Although those firsts fruits are up there on the list.) It’s when I spy the first shishito peppers at the farmers’ market.

When I first see those wrinkly, electric green peppers heaped in a basket or bursting out of a fiber pint container, I know I have to have them.

Back my kitchen with my market bounty, I’ll get my cast iron pan ripping hot with a glug of grapeseed oil and add the peppers, cooking for a few minutes on each side until the skin is blistered deep brown and the flesh is just tender. Then, they go into a bowl with a big three-finger pinch of flaky sea salt. A few flicks of the wrist to toss, and then I’ll sit down and eat them all, one by one.

But inevitably, shishito season ends, and it’s rare to find them off-season in supermarkets, so I have to wait for that smoky, salty experience until next year’s pepper feast…unless I can preserve it.

Continue Reading →

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Submit your July Mastery Challenge Projects!

July is nearly over, which means it’s time to get serious about completing this month’s hot pack preserving challenge! If you’ve already finished up your project for this month’s #fijchallenge, please use the form below to record your information and be counted in the final tally. If the embedded form isn’t working for you, click here.

If you’ve not yet tackled a batch of jam yet this month, check out this month’s introductory post for some ideas.

To be counted in the final tally, please submit your projects no later than Monday, July 31.

Oh, and if you do post to social media, make sure to use the #fijchallenge tag to help spread the word of our preserving activities!

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June Mastery Challenge Round-Up: Jam

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June is over (how this year is speeding by!) and so it’s time to put another skill to bed in our Mastery Challenge. This month, we focused on jam making and more than 170 of you reported in that you’d made a batch of jam (and some of you made many, many more than a single batch).

Starring jam ingredients included apricot, bacon, berries of all shapes and sizes, black currants, cantaloupe, calamansi, carrots, cherries (both sweet and tart), figs, grapes, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, red onion, rhubarb, tomato, violets, and one lonely batch of watermelon rind jam. Strawberries were the very most popular ingredient this month, which makes sense since they are in season throughout much of the country during June.

One of the things I enjoy is seeing how deeply people are digging into each month’s challenge. Since jam making is a skill many existing preservers already know and use, I was hoping that it might lead to further exploration of unfamiliar styles of jam. I think both these graphics bear that out.

Up above, you can see that the majority of participants made more than one batch of jam. And judging from this second image, it looks like lots of people played with batch sizes and styles of preserving. I am entirely delighted.

Berries

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Stonefruit

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Other Jammy Goodness

A giant thank you to everyone who participated this month! We’re focusing on hot pack preserving in July. Stay tuned for more details soon!

 

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Submit your June Mastery Challenge Projects!

June is nearly over, which means it’s time to get serious about completing this month’s jam making challenge! If you’ve already finished up your project for this month’s Mastery Challenge, please use the form below to record your information and be counted in the final tally. If the embedded form isn’t working for you, click here.

If you’ve not yet tackled a batch of jam yet this month, check out my jam archive for some recipe inspiration

To be counted in the final tally, please submit your projects no later than Friday, June 30.

Oh, and if you do post to social media, make sure to use the #fijchallenge tag to help spread the word of our preserving activities!

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Jam Making for the June Mastery Challenge

Hello Mastery Challenge participants! June is passing with alarming speed and so it’s well past time for this monthly introductory blog post. This time, we’re focusing on jam making, which is probably going to be one of the most familiar skills we dig into this year. After all, the majority of canners start their food preservation career with a batch of jam.

What is Jam?

For our purposes, we’re going to define jam as a fruit-based preserve that is sweetened. Sugar is the most traditional sweetener, but you can also use honey, maple, agave, coconut sugar, fruit juice concentrates, or non-sugar sweeteners (just remember that jam made without any true sugar will not hold its color or quality for long). And, if you’re curious about making jam with these alternative sweeteners, make sure to check out my book, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars!

What Style of Jam to Make?

There are no rules as to the style of jam you make. You can go large batch or small, conventionally sweetened or low sugar, added pectin or pectin free, and sweet or savory. If there’s a style you’ve been wanting to try and you’ve thus far avoided it in your preserving life, consider taking it for a spin.

The Recipes

There are more jam recipes in the archives of this site than I have time to count and there are yet still more in my cookbooks. Beyond that, there are hundreds of jam recipes online and in the many canning cookbooks out there. However, you really don’t need a recipe to make jam. Prep some fruit. Measure out approximately half as much sugar. Combine them until the sugar dissolves. Add a little lemon juice and perhaps some cinnamon or vanilla paste. Cook it in a low, wide pan until it thickens.

However, if you want to work with a more proper recipe, here are some of my recent favorites.

This month, the deadline for submitting your projects to be counted in the monthly tally is Wednesday, June 28. I’ll have the form up next week for submissions. And don’t forget to use the hashtag #fijchallenge if you post your project to social media!

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