Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Canning Projects

The last few days have been filled with spring cleaning and the beginning of a new canning season. It all kicked off on Monday with a trip out to Brentwood for a canning and baking session with Annie. We have both been busy, and she is currently wrapped up in research and moving plans, so the girl day was just what we both needed. We worked on the strawberry and rhubarb jam that is pictured here. It was a recipe that called for pectin, and while no longer my favorite jam method, it was nice to do a quick batch over the long cook method. I have to say, though, that I enjoy the flavor of a cooked to the jelly point jam over the commercial pectin flavors. I also like the looser texture of the jam over the pectin. I feel that the powdered pectin makes a jam that is a bit too stiff.

We also worked on some pickled asparagus. It was pretty easy after doing the dill pickles last year. The method is pretty easy, and our skill at properly packing jars has increased immensely. Seven pounds of asparagus is quite a bit, but cooked down into six pint jars. We pickled the spears with some green and red pepper, jalapeno, and garlic as well as dill and mustard seed. I am wondering how these are going to taste, but I have to wait for a month before I can find out. Pickling takes time, and I would like to make sure they are mellowed and fully pickled through before I try them. I am not sure how to use them other than adding to a salad or in a Bloody Mary or eating straight from the jar, so any suggestions for cooking with these would be welcome.

Yesterday, Annie came over to work on some sewing lessons, as it was too rainy for her to check traps. It was fun getting together two days in a row to work on things. After she left, I took to canning up some oranges that I bought on Friday. I made an orange dessert sauce. I sliced the oranges up as thin as I could on the mandolin, and then they were heated through in a syrup of water, sugar, Grand Marnier, and white wine that was spiced with cinnamon sticks and cloves. I got a bit gun shy after seven oranges were cut out of the nine that the recipe called for, so I quit early. That was a bit of a mistake as I would have been at the called for eight half pints. Instead, I canned up the remaining syrup in the empty two half pints. I figure I can boil them down into a glaze for an angel food or pound cake sometime for a quick dessert. The orange slices can be used for cake, or as my recipe suggests, for an ice cream topping. They turned out a little more yellow than I expected, but I figure it is more of the syrup's doing that than the oranges themselves.

All in all, it has been a busy last few days. I am looking forward to finally getting to sit down and finish off that personal choli. There is so little left to do that it is kind of embarrassing that it is not done yet. Then I am going to work on the new fabrics I have gotten in to make up a prototype of the new products. Hopefully I can round out the day with some deep kitchen cleaning. It isn't that I want to do it necessarily, but it has been put off for too long and just needs to get done. Right now though, the rainy day outside is screaming for some hot tea and sewing at the machines.

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