Tag Archives | small batch

Urban Preserving: Strawberry Kiwi Jam

strawberries and kiwis - Food in Jars

When it comes to travel prep, my husband and I are not well matched. He likes to be fully packed at least 36 hours before a trip, so that he can get a peaceful night of sleep before a flight or drive. I am a bit more frenzied, often packing and re-packing my suitcase moments before it’s time to leave. What’s more, my last minute nature extends to preserving projects.

cooking strawberry kiwi jam - Food in Jars

Last December, the last thing I did before putting my coat on to head to the airport was take half a dozen jars out of the hot water bath and turn off the stove. I had a citron melon with a broken rind. It would not last and I couldn’t bare to throw it away. It had to be done.

finished strawberry kiwi jam - Food in Jars

More recently, I found myself in the kitchen at 11:30 pm, having that familiar debate. Trash can or jam pan? You see, we had most of a pound of strawberries in the fridge that would not last my absence and four wrinkly kiwis that would be well on their way to hooch if left in the fruit basket another four days. I could either bear the responsibility for wasting them or make a quick batch of jam.

strawberry kiwi jam in a jar - Food in Jars

And so, I made jam. I followed the formula you’ve all seen me employ before. I chopped the berries, scooped the kiwi out of its fuzzy wrapper, and heaped them both into a measuring cup to eyeball my volume. Three cups. I added in 1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar (I calculate half as much sugar as fruit and then use a bit less than that) stirred until it was juicy. The fruit and sugar combo then went into a skillet, where I cooked it until thick and spreadable (in the last two minutes of cooking, I added a little lemon juice to balance the sweetness).

Instead of being in possession of fading fruit, I had two half pints of tangy strawberry kiwi jam. I may not have gotten as much sleep as I could have used, but I was set free from the guilt of wasted fruit. A fair trade, in my book. And just this morning, I ate a bit on a slice of peanut butter toast and thought fondly of that late night investment of time.

Where do you all fall on the pre-travel canning continuum? Do you preserve at all costs, or do you occasionally let the produce go?

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Small Batch Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

a pound and a half of tomatillos

Back when this blog was a wee fledgling, just finding its feet, I posted a recipe for oven roasted tomatillo salsa. It was one I learned to make by watching a woman named Teresa (for a handful of months, we were co-workers of sorts). Most of the time, when I find myself in possession of a small amount of tomatillos, I make some variation on this salsa and remember those days when I was fresh out of college and still trying to figure out what the heck I was going to do with myself.

halved tomatillos

The one problem with that first recipe was that it wasn’t designed for canning. I’ve gotten more emails than I can count over the years, asking me whether it could be canned and I always had to say no. However, it feels like a hole not to have a recipe on this site for a water bath safe tomatillo salsa (happily, there’s one in the cookbook, so I’ve not entirely neglected my duties).

roasted

When I found myself in the kitchen with a pound and a half of tomatillos earlier today, I determined that it was the perfect moment to come up with a very small batch of water bath safe tomatillo salsa. I used the tomatillo salsa recipe on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website as a starting point and then adapted.

In the end, I essentially divided the recipe by five and omitted a few low acid ingredients. I skipped the green chiles and hot peppers with a single jalapeño that had been sitting in the fruit basket so long that it had turned red. I increased the volume of tomatillos a little to replace the missing chiles. I added a tablespoon of minced cilantro. And I kept the levels of additional acid constant.

Leftovers from a tiny batch of roasted tomatillo salsa. If only I had chips!

For those of you who feel uncomfortable with me altering a tested tomatillo recipe in this manner, I point you in the direction of this abstract. It details pH testing of tomatillos and reveals that their pH was found to be consistently below 4.1. That is well below the cut-off of 4.6 pH. What’s more, that study also found that pH levels remained in the safe zone when tomatillos and onions were combined and at least 50% of the volume of the jar consisted of tomatillos.

After roasting the tomatillos, I had approximately 1 3/4 cups of pulp. To make this salsa, I combined that acidic tomatillo pulp with approximately 3/4 cup of low acid ingredients (onions, garlic, cilantro, 1 jalapeno, and a little ground cumin) and the acidified with three tablespoons of bottled lime juice (my starting recipe used 1 cup and yielded 5 pints. My recipe was appearing to yield about 1 pint. There are 16 tablespoons in a cup, so I divided that by 5 to arrive at 3 tablespoons). My single pint of yield was more than 50% tomatillos by volume and contains a great deal of additional acid.

finished tomatillo salsa

The combination of the tomatillo concentration and the added acid makes me feel entirely comfortable processing this salsa in a boiling water bath. However, the recipe makes just a pint (with a few spoonfuls leftover for immediate eating). If you’d prefer, you can always just pop it in the fridge and eat it up over the course of the next week or two. Up to you.

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Small Batch Honey-Sweetened White Peach Jam

white peach jam

Friends, this is not exactly the recipe I promised for today. I do have a batch of peach vanilla jam in the hopper, but I missed my photography window (I spent most of the day in the kitchen clearing out all my pending canning projects) and so it will hold for another moment.

Still, there’s another recipe I’ve been meaning to share. It’s a batch of honey-sweetened white peach jam with strips of lemon zest that I made for Food52. It’s a really light, lovely preserve. The white peaches melt into the honey (choose a mellow one) and the ribbons of zest give you little bursts of tang and texture. Make sure that you don’t skimp on the lemon juice, as it helps keep this preserve safe for canning.

You can read the entirety of the blog post here and this link will take you straight to the recipe.

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Urban Preserving: Pickled Fairy Tale Eggplant

finished pickled fairytale eggplant

Two years ago, when I was still writing a weekly pickling column for Serious Eats, I made a little batch of pickled eggplant to feature in that space. The recipe was just slightly adapted from one in Linda Ziedrich’s book The Joy of Pickling. I did not have particularly high hopes for that particular pickle, but I had eggplant to use and an approaching deadline, so I made it.

fairytale eggplants

In the end, I was astonished by how delicious the pickled eggplant was, especially when removed from the jar, drizzled with olive oil and eaten on toast. I’ve made it several times and have even included a version of the recipe in my upcoming cookbook (of course, Linda is prominently credited as the inspiration).

slivered eggplants

In the past, the I pickled cubes from a standard bulbous eggplant (nothing fancy, it was just what I happened to have around). However, I’ve long thought that those beautiful, lavender-streaked fairy tale eggplants were an ideal candidate for pickling. Last summer, I bought them twice with intention of suspending them in vinegar, but each time used them up in summer braises instead. So, when I saw a few baskets of pretty eggplant at the farmers market last Saturday, I forked over $6 for a quart so that I could finally execute my pickle plan.

blanch in boiling vinegar

This pickle does have a few steps, but isn’t actually particularly complicated. You start by trimming away the stem end off a quart of fairy tale eggplant and slicing each fingerling into four or six wedges (use your judgement; more strips for larger eggplants, fewer for smaller ones). Place them in a bowl and toss them with two tablespoons kosher salt and the juice of one lemon (the salt draws out the liquid in the eggplant and the lemon prevents them strips from browning).

in the vinegar

Once the eggplant slivers have sat for an hour or two, you dump them into a colander and give them a quick rinse. Then, using your hands, gently press out as much liquid as you can without entirely smashing the eggplant. While you are rinsing and draining, pour three cups of red wine vinegar into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Put all the eggplant into the boiling vinegar. Once the vinegar returns to a boil, let the eggplant cook for just 2 minutes.

pickled fairytale eggplant

When the cooking time is up, remove the eggplant from the saucepan with a slotted spoon and place it into a bowl (keep the vinegar hot). Add 1/4 cup torn basil leaves, 1 minced garlic clove (I like to use a garlic press for applications like this one), and 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper and stir to combine. Funnel the dressed eggplant into two prepared pint jars (half pints are fine as well). Top with the blanching vinegar, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Using a chopstick, remove air bubbles and add more vinegar if the headspace levels have dropped.

two pints pickled fairytale eggplant

 

Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel (this removes any particulars that could interfere with a good seal). Apply heated lids and rings. Lower the jars into a small boiling water bath canner and process for 10 minutes (starting your timer when the pot returns to a boil). When the time is up, carefully remove jars from the canning pot and place them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the rings, check seals and (if seals are good), wash jars to remove any remnants of spilled brine.

These pickles need a little curing time for optimum deliciousness. Give them at least a week (if not more).

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Small Batch Strawberry Fig Jam

figs and strawberries

A couple weeks back, I went to a dinner hosted by California Figs. At the end of the dinner, when I was absolutely full to the bursting point, the nice folks who had organized the dinner handed me a little colander of fresh figs to take home. Though I couldn’t quite imagine ever eating again, I said yes to the figs and walked home with them perched carefully in my purse.

black figs

It was a busy weekend and so the figs languished in the fridge for two whole days. It wasn’t until Sunday night (the dinner had been on Thursday) that I was able to take stock and determine what was on the verge of going bad.

a scant quart of strawberries

There was a bundle of basil that became walnut pesto. A bundle of kale was chopped and toasted into chips. At last, I was down to figs and a scant quart of rapidly softening strawberries from our Saturday CSA pick-up.

chopped fruit

Though I’d never had strawberry fig jam, I was fairly certain it could be done (and a quick internet search showed that I was not nearly the first to combine these two). And so I chopped the fruit, weighed it and added half as much sugar. It all went into a jar and then into the fridge for an overnight rest.

cooking

Two days later, I circled back around to the jar. What I found was glorious. The strawberries and figs had mellowed and married. I scraped the contents of the jar into a skillet, added a little lemon juice and cooked it, stirring all the while, until I could draw a path through the jam with my spatula.

finished strawberry fig jam

I ended up with just enough to fill three half pint jars, which I processed in my 4th burner pot. I sent one jar to my dad for Father’s Day, gave another to a friend as a thank you and am saving the final jar for late fall, when both fresh strawberries and figs are just a memory.

a half pint of strawberry fig jam

A note: Do remember that figs are among that group of fruits that are a bit low on acid for safe boiling water bath preserving. Any time you work with them, it’s important to either combine them with higher acid fruits or to add some lemon juice in order to boost the acid levels. As you can see, I’ve done both here to ensure a perfectly safe product.

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Small Batch Black Velvet Apricot Jam Recipe

black velvet apricots

Slowly but surely, the stonefruit is beginning to appear. Nothing truly local yet, it’s getting ever closer. My little local greengrocer had South Carolina peaches last week, and the week before that, they had a small box of black velvet apricots from California. I call that considerable geographic progress!

black velvet apricots macerating with honey

I skipped the peaches (I’m holding out for the good stuff from the farmers I know), but succumbed to a single pound of the black velvet apricots. Have you ever tried these tender little guys? They’re a fifty-fifty cross between a purple plum and an apricot and so have a tender, sweet interior and a wine-colored, downy outside.

cooking a small batch of black velvet apricot jam

Because I absolutely cannot resist, I made a tiny batch jam with my eight little black velvets. I pitted them, chopped them, and combined them with four ounces of honey. Like I’ve mentioned in the past, I like to measure my honey by weight so that I don’t lose a single drop to the measuring cup.

finished jam black velvet apricot jam

I used a ratio of four parts fruit to one part honey for this jam because I wanted to end up with a product that allowed the fruit flavor to shine. Because it was such a small batch, I knew that I’d be able to get it to set with a minimal amount of sweetener and so could get away with the relatively tiny amount of honey (this ratio will not work if you increase the batch size).

black velvet apricot jam in the jar

Simmered up in my trusty 12-inch stainless steel skillet, this jam took just eight minutes to fully cook (though cooking times will always vary). Because there was so much surface area in the pan and so little depth, the water from the fruit was able to cook out efficiently and cook to a high enough temperature to achieve set. This is the secret of these tiny, low sugar, no additional pectin small batches.

black velvet apricot jam on toast

Made from just fruit and honey, my yield was a scant cup of jam. While I often can my small batches so that they’re shelf stable, I couldn’t muster the will to heat up even the tiniest canner in my arsenal for a single half pint of jam. So instead, it went into the fridge and I’ve been dolloping it on any vehicle that will hold still. I love how tart it is and am planning to make a similar batch when the true apricots come into season later in the month.

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