Alright, so I promised to share some recipes from all the canning I did. And since this week is also the annual Food Day Celebration, I figured another canning post would be apropos. What better way to celebrate “healthy, affordable, and sustainable food?”
I will admit that when I first started canning, I pretty much assumed that everything went into the jar in nearly the same state that you found it in, except that you were adding a whole lot of sugar. You know strawberries mixed with a whole lot of sugar gives you jam. That sort of thing. It wasn’t until I was a few years in that I discovered that I had a lot more leeway with the recipes for making whatever I was sticking into my jars. I am slow on the uptake sometimes. The first book I ever bought on canning was simply titled Preserves. I bought this for the same reason I buy most cookbooks: It was LOADED with photos! It has been a great book and I have used it a ton over the past 10 years.
Anyway, since then, I spend an inordinate amount of time combing through cookbooks and books on preserving looking for new ideas and inspiration. Since I have already admitted to being totally OCD about this, I might as well confess that I have another dozen or so small batches that I hope to get put up. I can’t imagine why I would need to, but I just can’t help myself. When I see something I want to make, it must be done!
This year was the first time in at least 2 years that we got any plums. And once we got them, BOY did we get them. I estimate that I used about 36 pounds of plums in making the variety of canned goods this year. While I was madly hunting for new things to do with them, I serendipitously received my Summer issue of Edible Seattle with a recipe for Ginger Plum Sauce, by none other than Amy Pennington (BTW, Amy is my garden consultant. She is also a popular blogger, gardening expert, food writer, TV host, and pusher of Arugula. I kind of hate her – just a little bit.). So needless to say, I made Amy’s yummy Ginger Plum Sauce. I tried some of it on a Summer roll from my favorite take-out Pho place. It was just OK on them, but the best use for this was on roasted duck (pictured above), which is traditional.
I made a batch of Mustard Pickles (via Homesick Texan), which was literally all about me. I was knee-deep in making Cooper Pickles (I am going to have these trade marked someday) and I just had to have something spicier for me later. I know I am the only one who will eat them, but that is OK. May take me a year, but I will do it! Besides, imagine how awesome they will be as fried pickles!!!!!
Lastly, I made a ton of jelly (see previous post). This is the one I am really treasuring, since it had been a few years since we had plums to work with.
3 pounds plums (any type – I used both Damson and Greengage separately)
2/3 c. cider vinegar*
3 cups water
3 1/2 cups sugar
Cut plums in half and remove pit. Roughly chop and add to large pot, along with the vinegar and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until fruit is soft and pulpy. Pour the fruit and juices into a sterilized jelly bag (I use an old pillowcase for this) and suspend over a large bowl. Must leave overnight.
Measure the juice into a cleaned pot, adding 2 cups of sugar for every 2 cups of juice (1:1 ratio). Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Boil for another 10 minutes or until it has reached the setting point (test this by dropping a small amount from a spoon onto a freezer-chilled plate. If it wrinkles when you pull your finger through it, it is ready to go. If it runs back together, give it more time. I usually go in 5 minute increments between tests.).
Skim off any bubbly areas (known as scum). Pour jelly into sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Leave to cool overnight before moving and labeling. Store is a cool place.
*In one of my batches I didn’t use the vinegar and just replaced the volume with water.
Since my kids rarely eat PBJ, imagine how difficult it is for me to use up a thousand jars of jam!!