Monday, October 24, 2011

Canning Week!

Despite my lack of blog posts, this has not been an idle year for canning. I have done quite a bit, although, I have not done nearly as much quantity as last year. I have tried many different kinds of things in small quantities. I am hoping that by doing some small batch canning I can learn what I like to make and perfect things with out having to eat many, many jars of it. It was very nice when I had my canning partner living out here. I could do full batches of a recipe and split it. It was a good thing to try things at their full recipe to ensure that they had the flavor they were meant to have. Sometimes when recipes are cut, even though the proportions are kept the same, the flavors just don't seem to be quite as vibrant to me. It most likely is just be a personal "perception," not the true reality of the situation. So, in the spirit of trying new things and attempting to get over my want for large quantities of jars bumping around in the water bath, I tried several new recipes this year when the peaches were in season.

I love peaches, and since I missed apricot season this year due to all the traveling, I decided to make extra peach recipes to fill in for the missing favorite of my husband's. I am hoping this stop gap helps me stretch the few jars of apricot that I have left. Often times I can make a one to one substitution for peach jam. This especially works in cases of glazes made for roasted meats. Peach or apricot jam with some soy sauce and freshly graded ginger makes an especially tasty glaze for pork roast or pork chops. A quick filling for crepes, cakes, and jelly rolls, apricot is my go to gal! Peach, however is one of my favorite fruits, so I hope that I can see it into rotation in place of the old family favorite.

Aside from making several jars of plain peach jam, I added some new flavors. One flavor combination I have always enjoyed is peach and ginger. I particularly like peach ginger iced tea. It seemed only natural to try out this combination in jam format. I added candied ginger to a regular peach jam recipe. I mixed up the sugar and peaches, and I cooked the mix until just before the jellying point. At the last most minute, I added finely diced candied ginger. I hoped it would add some nice bite both literally and figuratively to the jam. I have yet to try it, but I will post a Follow Up Friday as soon as I do.

I also made spiced peach jam. I added cinnamon, cloves, and allspice to the jam for this one. I have to say that there is nothing quite like spiced peach jam on a freshly toasted English muffin for a cold morning's breakfast. The warmth of the spice profile on this reminds me of the spiced peach slices I would get in Amish country in Illinois. I tried this one right away as I thought it did not set up correctly. While the set is a bit soft compared to most of my other fruit jams, this is nothing out of the ordinary. My peach always sets a bit loose compared to other fruits. I guess the pectin of the over ripe peaches you get in California farmer's markets must contribute to this, but I would not trade the flavor of the fully ripe peaches for the pectin of less ripe ones.

A new addition to the canning recipes this year was one I found in a Martha Stewart Living magazine. I decided to try out her recipe for bourbon poached peaches. It smelled delicious, and the combination of vanilla and my personal favorite, Jack Daniel's whiskey, made for a good combination. I have not tried any of these yet, but I am looking forward to some peach pancakes. The excess syrup for this recipe tasted wonderful, and I wanted to try to cook it down into a pancake syrup. This turned out to be somewhat disastrous. With the high sugar content, and my patience wearing thing, I tried to cook it down way too fast. I ended up making essentially a hard candy that I then canned into jars. I did not realize the error of my ways until the next day. I tried tipping the jars over to see their wonderful syrup ready for pancakes, but it was solidified in the glass. It almost took a jack hammer to get my jars back, but with enough hot water and elbow grease, I was back to having usable jars.

In the end, I had four jars of wonderfully poached peaches and no jars of pancake syrup. I made sure to cut up the vanilla bean into enough pieces so each jar got one. I hope that this does more than look pretty; I hope it creates an intense flavor of vanilla. I could see this recipe being a great accompaniment to vanilla ice cream or any number of cakes whether they be chiffon, pound, or angel food. As soon as I get a jar open and a good opinion on the recipe, I will also post back with a Follow Up Friday.

I also canned some straight up peach slices and spiced slices. It is a nice change of pace for me to crack open a jar of these summer fruits when in the dead of winter. Having a slight allergy to citrus fruits means that eating seasonally can sometimes be an itchy affair. While I love citrus fruit and do eat it quite often, I can only indulge so much. I have a feeling these will as usual come in handy, especially with that margarita made from peach canning liquid recipe floating around the internet lately.

While peach canning season is most likely over for you all, I thought I would just show off what I was doing all those days when nothing was getting posted up on the blog. I have my work cut out for me this week. I, like everyone else I am reading lately, am headed into a week of apple canning. There is sauce and pie filling to be made. Someday, this will include fresh pressed ciders, but until we have a house this will only be a canning dream. I am also excited to try out a new jelly recipe that is apple based. If it turns out how I am envisioning it will, I will have another thing to reside in the half pints.

There is so much to do, and with holiday crafting on the horizon, I am trying to get as much into every day as I can. Things on the agenda today include weeding the garden plot, hopefully some personal sewing, as well as some holiday crafting... yes I really am going to start in October this year! Then there is the matter of preserving the bushel of apples sitting in the kitchen... For now though, I am off to the garden to make sure all is in order there. As usual, so much to do and seemingly no time to do it in.


Rachel said...

I love reading about your canning adventures. I didn't do any peach canning this season. I know what you mean about the benefit of trying small batches to make sure you really like what you end up with instead of having lots of jars of something you don't really enjoy to eat. I have a blog that I'd be honored for you to check out and maybe we could even guest post for each other?
I just completed the Maine Master Food Preserver program which was great! Thanks,

Fabulous Pants said...

Hi Rachel!

Thanks for stopping by the blog! I am glad you enjoy the writings. I will definitely check out your blog and see what canning hijinks you are up to there!