Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Adventures in Canning!

I'm really excited to share our recent culinary adventure - canning! I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would never have even CONSIDERED canning even a year ago! City living is amazing, and man I miss the Logan Square farmer's market more than I can express in words, but I wasn't looking to buy fruits and veggies to store for the winter! In retrospect, I had more organic produce available to me then than I do now, so I probably should have been, huh?! Oh well! I'm a convert NOW, and that counts for something, right?! RIGHT!

So how did this all start anyway? With a virtual book wish list on my Pinterest account of course! I spread the word about the wish list through the best networking tool ever- my mother! :) For my birthday I got three of the books I'd been coveting, and all our experiments came from the absolutely stunning "Food in Jars." (Thanks sister Erin!)
Check out her AWESOME website too: Food in Jars!

My mother's birthday is just six days after mine, and after I got this book I knew IMMEDIATELY that I wanted to try some recipes out and create her gift from our experiments! I poured over the book for over a week trying to figure out what I wanted to try, and ended up marking far more recipes than I could realistically make... but that's okay because it means that I will have more to try out later! 

The first recipe we tried was inspired by our back yard! Hey, remember when we waxed poetic about our rhubarb? Well add this recipe to the MUST MAKE for you rhubarb lovers (and non-lovers!) because it's amazing! Behold, the glory that IS Strawberry-Orange Rhubarb Jam! Holy Moly! The fantastic taste of strawberry and rhubarb with an awesome tart note from orange juice and zest! The flavors are so bright and fantastic - a serious summer in a jar winner! 

OKAY! Now that I've over sold it - here we go! 

My amazing sous-chef Martin chopped his heart out for me! 

Strawberry-Orange Rhubarb Jam
From "Food in Jars" by Marisa McClellan
(Makes 5 Pint Jars - Though we used some half pints for gift giving!)

6 cups chopped rhubarb (about 2.5 pounds)
4 cups chopped strawberries (about 2 pints) 
zest and juice of 2 oranges
5 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 (3 oz) packets liquid pectin

Prepare a boiling water bath and the pint jars, place the lids in a small saucepan and simmer over very low heat. (If this is the first time you are canning, make sure you read up on this process! Also make sure you have all the tools you will want or need!) 

Combine the rhubarb, strawberries, orange zest, juice, sugar, and cinnamon in a large nonreactive pot and stir to incorporate. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and cook fruit over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes or until the rhubarb breaks down and the jam has a glossy shine. 

Add the pectin and increase the heat to high, letting the jam boil for five minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and ladle the jam into the prepared jars. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. 

Testing the jam, filling the jars, and processing! 

Okay... seriously? I can't even tell you how worried I was that I was going to do something seriously wrong and that we wouldn't hear the POP! of the tops that we wanted to hear! BUT, soon after removing the jars from the water bath, we heard the awesome ping, ping, pings we were listening for! Hooray! 

I was looking for something fun and different to make, and I saw that there was a recipe for a Zesty Lime Curd included in "Food in Jars!" My mom and I share a lot of tea party, scone, and coffee shop memories, and I know she is a great fan of lemon curd, so I thought this sounded perfect! I have to be honest, Martin made the whole thing, start to finish, and all I did was process it! I was actually working on making the pear butter recipe we made, which we forgot to take any pictures of, but I DID get great pics of the curd! Away we go! 

Martin, hard at work!

Zesty Lime Curd
From "Food in Jars" by Marisa McClellan
(Makes 2 Half Pint Jars... ours made a BIT less than that!)

1/4 cup finely grated lime zest (about 4 limes)
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks 
2 large eggs
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 6 limes)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Prepare a boiling water bath and 2 half pint jars; meanwhile, simmer the lids and rings in a saucepan.

Combine the lime zest and sugar in a bowl, rubbing the zest into the sugar until it is fragrant and combined. Set aside. 

Set up a double boiler (or... you know... two sauce pans that you hold over heat and stir constantly... you rock Martin!) with 2 inches of simmering water over medium heat. Keeping the top half of the double boiler off the stove, add the egg yolks and whole eggs to it and whisk them together. Add the zest and sugar combo and whisk in. Finally, add the lime juice and stir until blended. 

Put the double boiler back together and drop in the cubes of butter. Switch to a silicone spatula and stir continually as the lime curd cooks. Using a candy thermometer, monitor the temperature of the curd while you stire. As is approaches 190-200 F, it should start to thicken. It typically takes 6-9 minutes for a curd to cook (it took us a lot longer because we weren't using a double boiler!). When the curd has thickened to the consistency of sour cream, it is done! Remove the top half of the double boiler and stir off the heat, it will continue to thicken a bit. 

Strain the curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup. The straining removes both the zest and any bits of scrambled egg! Pour the curd into the prepared jars, leaving a generous 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in the boiling water bath for 25 minutes. 

When the time is up, remove the canning pot from the heat and remove the lid. Let the jars sit in the pot for another 5 minuts, this helps to prevent the curd from reacing to the rapid temperature change and bubbling out of the jars!

My contribution to the process!
Wowza - way more complex that we expected! Martin and I were sweating bullets in our over heated kitchen, and we were NOT expecting to be standing over boiling water for as long as we did! We already have plans to make more of this.... but maybe when the weather is a little cooler since citrus is in season (um... in Florida!) in the winter! 

Want to see the gift we crafted? Here it is!

Happy Birthday Mom!
Of COURSE Martin whipped up a batch of bread to go with our spreads, what else?! All three were big hits, and GUESS WHAT?! We got to bring home my great grandmother's double boiler! I am so excited to try making more curds - oh boy!

Do you can? What are your favorite recipes? Share! :) 

1 comment:

  1. Looks great, I'm inspired! My favorite canning recipe to date is quick pickles, the spicy variety.