mdt

Canning And Preserving

269 posts in this topic

Mike are you canning or freezing the preserves?

I have not picked up Mes Confitures yet.  It's on the list.  Do you have Fine Preserving by Catherine Plagemann?  It's worth picking up if you can find it used.

I figured this would be a great topic to start a new thread on as I would love to hear what others are doing.

I am canning, my first real attempt, and cannot wait to try new recipes.

I have not seen that book, but will head to the library and see if they have it.

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This is my first time posting, so I'd ask you to be gentle, but I don't think I'd get that here! :lol:

Mr. Bimbap and I make a mess of jam in the summer after going to either Butler's Orchard or Homestead Farms for pick-your-own fruit. My personal favorite is spiced peach jam which I could just eat out of the jar with a spoon.

We had decided to give out little 4oz jars of our jams and jellies as wedding favors two years ago, which led to a summer of intense canning experiments. Needless to say, we feel like old pros now.

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Can anyone recommend good books on canning for techniques and recipes, as well as local go to farms to pick your own fruit?

Thanks :lol:

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Every year I swear I'm going to to a big batch of peach preserves, and every year I get swamped just as the peaches are ready to be preserved. Maybe this year...

I like to stick a jar or two of something home-canned in Christmas baskets/stockings every year. Big hits in years past have been the aforementioned peach preserves, peach butter, apple butter, blueberry marmalade, brandied pears, garlic chutney, smoky ketchup. The nice thing about the last two is that they don't depend on things being in season (I can used canned tomatoes instead of fresh, etc.), so they're easier to fit into my schedule.

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Glad to see there is some interest in this. Now how about some recipes or sources for what you have made.

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Here's the recipe for the Peach Jam (with my favorite Spiced variation) from the Ball Blue Book:

Peach Jam

Source: Ball Blue Book Guide

2 quarts peeled and crushed peaches

1/2 cup water

6 cups sugar

Combine peaches and water in a large pot. Cook gently 10 minutes.

Add sugar. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly until thick, then ladle into jars and seal.

Process about 15 minutes in boiling water bath.

Makes about 4 pints.

Variation: For Spiced Peach Jam, add a spice bag containing 1 tsp whole cloves, 1/2 tsp whole allspice and 1 stick of cinnamon. Remove spices before pouring jam into jars.

We don't use any added pectin products for this recipe, so we make sure to boil the jam for a while to be sure we've boiled the water out. We usually bring the temperature to 222-224 degrees.

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Can anyone recommend good books on canning for techniques and recipes, as well as local go to farms to pick your own fruit?

Thanks ;)

CAtherine Plagemann book is wonderful but not for beginners. Try The Joy of Pickling, Preserving the Harvest and the Ball Blue Book (which is not actually Blue anymore :P ), which is published by the folks who make the jars.

I am canning blueberry jam, strawberry jam, pickled peaches, vidalia relish, pear/sour cherry chutney, pickled dilly green beans, hot pickled carrots, Indian spiced cauliflower, and sour cherry preserves. And this might be the year I make my own catsup. :lol:

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CAtherine Plagemann book is wonderful but not for beginners. Try The Joy of Pickling, Preserving the Harvest and the Ball Blue Book (which is not actually Blue anymore ;) ), which is published by the folks who make the jars.

I am canning blueberry jam, strawberry jam, pickled peaches, vidalia relish, pear/sour cherry chutney, pickled dilly green beans, hot pickled carrots, Indian spiced cauliflower, and sour cherry preserves. And this might be the year I make my own catsup. :lol:

Whoa! Wow! Thanks you for the references and the inspiration. Do the above mentioned references have the recipe for the pear/sour cherry chutney? If not could you share?, and if it's a well guarded beloved recipe, I understand.

Thank you.

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Garlic Chutney

This makes a lot, but it's easy to do and makes a great gift. It also keeps a long time in the refrigerator. I got this from Mimi Hiller. Not sure where she got it from.

Great on crackers, spooned over chicken or fish before baking, or just right out of the jar with a spoon.

2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and quartered

1-1/2 pints white vinegar

2 pounds dark brown sugar

1 pound raisins

2 heads garlic, cloves separated, peeled and chopped fine

4 ounces crystallized ginger, chopped fine

1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon dry pepper flakes

Cook apples in vinegar till soft and mushy. Add remaining ingredients (adding only half the pepper flakes) and mix well. Cook over moderate heat about 10 minutes. Taste. If spicier taste wanted, add remaining pepper flakes. Cook 15 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Pour into sterile jars and seal.* If not sealing, store in refrigerator.

Makes 8 jelly glasses.

* I use a boiling water bath to seal these - no need for a pressure canner.

Smoky Tomato Ketchup

I pulled this off of rec.food.cooking years ago. I make a batch every once in a while and just keep it in the fridge. WAY better than regular ketchup.

5 pounds tomato -- coarsely chopped (or 3 28 oz. cans crushed

1 large onion -- finely chopped

1 poblano chili -- finely chopped

2 jalapeno -- coarsely chopped

2 dried chipotle chilies -- or canned

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Combine all ingredients in a large nonreactive pot and bring to a boil over

medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally until

vegetables are soft an sauce is reduced by 1/4. Puree in food processor.

Strain through a sieve into a clean pot (for a chunkier catsup, don't strain).

Bring to a boil over medium-low heat and simmer (partially covered to prevent

splatters) for 1 hour or until quite thick and dark brownish red. Store in

refrigerator for up to 1 month. Freeze for longer storage or can (boiling water bath).

Peach Preserves

From The Joy of Cooking. First time I made this for gifts, my mother's comment was "the only thing wrong with that jar of preserves was that it wasn't big enough." Really fabulous peach flavor.

Peaches, skinned, pitted, cut into lenghwise slices

For each cup of fruit, allow:

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Pour sugar over fruit, stir gently, and let stand 2 hours. Add lemon juice and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to maintain the simmer and avoid scorching. Continue cooking until fruit is transparent (I use a candy thermometer and stop cooking when the temperature reaches 221F -- for the true geeks, meaure the temp of boiling water in your area and add 9 degrees).

Place in jars and seal (hot water bath). If there's too much syrup, place the fruit in jars and continue boiling syrup to concentrate it before pouring over fruit.

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Garlic Chutney
I make a very similar recipe and heartily concur that this chutney is delicious!!!
Smoky Tomato Ketchup
Hey mdt -- you were wondering what to do with all those extra tomatoes? :lol:

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Spiced Peaches From the 1963 "Freezing and Canning Cookbook" by the food editors of the Farm Journal, this recipe is worth it even though it spans two days. Better to at least double the recipe to maximize the effort.

4 lbs freestone peaches (about 16 medium)

1 T. whole cloves

2 quarts water

2 T. plus 1 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar

4 c. sugar

3/4 cup water

1 tsp. whole ginger piece

2 sticks cinnamon, plus optional half stick for each jar

Largest size you have non-aluminum pot

To peel peaches, bring a large pot of water to boil and dunk a few peaches in at a time for 30 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon and peel. Stick one clove in each peach. Mix 2 T vinegar into 2 quarts water and pour it over the whole peaches (I used to use a scrubbed out sink to hold them all) and let sit for an hour or so while you suck down a couple of cold ones. In the large non-aluminum pot, combine the sugar, 1 1/2 c. vinegar, 3/4 c. water, add a cheesecloth bag or tea ball of the ginger, remaining cloves, and cinnamon, and bring to boil. Drain the peaches and add to the pot. Cover and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from burner and allow the peaches to steep overnight in the covered pot. Lift out the peaches with slotted spoon to drain, and put them in hot jars(putting the jars through the hottest dishwasher cycle by themselves works, but boil the lid disks in a pot.) Reboil the remaining liquid to a rapid boil and fill jars up to within 1/2" of top. Add a half-stick of cinnamon into each jar (optional). Pop on the lids and process for 30 minutes.

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We made three batches of jam today - strawberry, blueberry, and sour cherry are cooling on my counter. Half the jars went home with Mr and Mrs B who brought the cherries and strawberries and provided the wine and bahn mi (next time lunch is on me). Special mention to Mr Shorter and Nora who took the little ones to the pool while mom played with boiling fruit and sugar.

Tomorrow I prep a big batch of vidalia relish to be processed on Tuesday. And make some biscuits to go with the jam. :lol:

Edit to say I'll post some pretty pictures of the jars as soon as I find our digital camera.

Edited by Heather

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I took my kids to Westmoreland Farm, which is south and east of Fredricksburg, and came back with a bucket each of freshly picked red rspberries and blueberries, and a couple of buckets of blackberries. They have different varieties of blackberries out there. Some, which are not nearly ripe yet, appear to be what I will call "domesticated" blackberries. The ones that we picked were more akin to the wild blackberries that I used to pick on my grandfather's farm when I was a kid.

I rinsed the blueberries and put them on a cookie sheet and then into the freezer. When they freeze, they are like marbles and yoiu can roll them into a plastic bag and they keep in the freezer for a really long time. I like bringing them out in the winter for blueberry pancakes or waffles. I also make blueberry shortcake out of them.

The red raspberries and the blackberries get a different treatment. I puree them in the food processor and then I seive out the seeds. The pulp/juice that remains gets brought to a boil with a little sugar. Them it gets parceled out into plastic containers and frozen. In the winter, I will thaw out a container and use the stuff on vamilla ice cream (tastes like summer time) or use it to make sauces for roast meats (a blackberry/port reduction goes really nice on roasted pork or venison backstrap).

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Sounds good, Jacques. In addition to the jam I took half of the blueberry/sugar mixture, strained it and got a quart of blueberry syrup that was damn good on vanilla ice cream last night.

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;)

I opened a jar of blueberry jam last night and it didn't set properly. I tried not using pectin and obviously didn't do it properly. Anyone have ideas for 4 jars of blueberry sauce?

This weekend: pear/sour cherry chutney, and more blueberry jam. :lol:

Edited by Heather

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Anyone have ideas for 4 jars of blueberry sauce?

Homemade vanilla ice cream. But only if made in an ice cream maker that was brought over on the Mayflower.

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Homemade vanilla ice cream. But only if made in an ice cream maker that was brought over on the Mayflower.

You're bad. :lol:

I bet it would make good ice cream flavoring, or sorbet. Time to freeze the insert for the ice cream maker and start experimenting.

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Went to Westmoreland Berry Farm over the weekend to pick blueberries, black raspberries, and blackberries. Made a ton of jam and froze some of the blueberries.

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7/6/05 Washington Post has article and recipes with emphasis on reduced sugar and new pectin products.

Canning

This link will not last forever.

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Good article, but the recipes are all for freezer products which don't last as long.

I will be making low-sugar blueberry jam this weekend. I've never tried it, and have heard that the low-sugar pectin can do funky things to the texture. If it turns out badly I'll just give those away as "gifts". :P

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I got a copy of Fine Preserving, by Catherine Plagemann, from the library.

As near as I can tell, M.F.K. Fischer (sp?) found this book out of print, liked it,

and decided to get it back in print, with her margin notes printed along side

the text, in red. I would call those notes "marginalia", except that I always think

of marginalia as being pencil scrawls beside text.

Anyway, so far I find that the original author loved pectin, and M.F.K. Fischer

is definitely anti-pectin.

Will controversy never end?

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Is there some store in DC or nearby that sells canning supplies? Sometimes

I read "your local farming supply store will have ...". I have to go a good ways

to find such an establishment.

I have an assorted collection of empty jars, mostly traditional Ball type.

Checked out Sur La Table on-line, and see that they start with an entirely

different type of jars.

Any suggestions?

Thanks.

Strosnider's Hardware in Bethesda, Potomac & Silver Spring sells jars by the case, in a variety of sizes. They also sell lids, so you can re-use your old Ball jars.

Anyway, so far I find that the original author loved pectin, and M.F.K. Fischer

is definitely anti-pectin.

Much as I admire MFK Fischer, I have to disagree with her here. Without using pectin, preserves have to be cooked for a much longer time, in order to get them to thicken. To me, the flavor of the fruit is changed much for the worse by the longer cooking process. In the many years that I have made preserves with all kinds of fruits and berries, both with and without pectin, I am solidly in the pro-pectin camp.

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Count me in the pectin camp as well, just because it allows you to cook the fruit as little as possible.

That said, those low-sugar pectin recipes are a waste of good fruit and an expensive lesson - the lesson being if you don't want sugar in then don't make jam.

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I made some strawberry preserves with no pectin and am not to pleased with the results. Some of the berries are very firm and they have that 'cooked' taste. My other, with pectin, jams and preserves are much better.

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Can anyone recommend good books on canning for techniques and recipes, as well as local go to farms to pick your own fruit?

Thanks :P

I took a canning and preserving class at L'Academie several years ago. The book the teacher (sorry, I cannot remember her name!!) recommended has been invaluable: Preserving Summer's Bounty, edited by Susan McClure. It isn't just about canning, but also about freezing and drying. Very handy.

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I have to say, it is very heartening to see people canning and preserving. YAY! I have judged canning entries at fairs (I doubt I should say which ones) and though entries are down, the quality of what is entered is usually top notch.

So--have any of you put your chutneys and jams into a fair? How did you do? And if you haven't, why not? Like I said, entries are down, and nothing makes you feel as good as a blue ribbon hanging in your kitchen!

Now, another question for you all. Water bath or pressure canning?

Thanks guys!

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So--have any of you put your chutneys and jams into a fair? How did you do? And if you haven't, why not?

I just started canning last year, and I'm not sufficiently confident in my skills to compete. Two small children inhibit major prep and working with hot food jars and giant pots of boiling water.

Now, another question for you all. Water bath or pressure canning?

Water bath. I haven't tried canning anything low-acid yet.

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Any suggestions on how to preserve that Toigo "best corn I've ever eaten in my life" corn for future days?

My family, Iowans all, always scraped the corn off the cob and stuck it in freezer bags. Reheated with a little butter, it's heaven.

Obviously not quite the same as the on-cob experience, but how can you save summer?

Speaking of which, I'm thinking of trying to use some mint by making a simple syrup with it and then freezing that. Other ideas? It's just a little bunch but I don't think I'll get to use it this week and it just. smells. so. good.

Jael

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Any suggestions on how to preserve that Toigo "best corn I've ever eaten in my life" corn for future days?

Basic easy formula: Blanch corn, placing 3 or 4 ears of corn in a large pot of

boiling water for 6 minutes. Move blanched corn to a large amount of ice cold water for

6 minutes. Remove corn kernels from the cob with knife. Wrap small amounts of

corn in plastic wrap, squeezing as much air out as possible. Put multiple packets

in a larger freezer bag. Place in coldest part of freezer.

(a more traditional method uses "freezer-safe" glass jars)

I have seen numerous variations on these instructions from ag schools, etc.

To do corn-on-the-cob, blanch until done (9, 10 or 11 minutes). Place in ice water

an equal amount of time. Wrap and freeze.

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Basic easy formula: Blanch corn, placing 3 or 4 ears of corn in a large pot of

boiling water for 6 minutes.

To do corn-on-the-cob, blanch until done (9, 10 or 11 minutes). Place in ice water

an equal amount of time. Wrap and freeze.

Those times seem pretty long to me, as I put them in boiling water for ony 2-3 minutes. Does freezing require you to cook the corn longer?

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Those times seem pretty long to me, as I put them in boiling water for ony 2-3 minutes. Does freezing require you to cook the corn longer?

I'm already beyond my expert knowledge, but that has never stopped me before ---

blanching corn before freezing it is meant stop enzymes in the corn from whittling

away at the sugars (some biologist will correct me on this, I'm sure). These are

the same factors that make wonder fresh corn not so good if it is forgotten and

cooked a week later.

Published formulas for preserving (including freezing) tend to risk over cooking,

if that will increase the chances that the product can be pulled out of the freezer,

even 10 months later, and look good, and taste OK.

Corn-on-the-cob is an even more extreme example, since it needs to be in the

boiling water long enough for the cob to be heated through, all so it can be brought

out in February, and still look beautiful.

If someone did a test and froze some corn without any boiling , and some done

3 minutes, and some done 6 minutes (and some done 9 minutes ...) I don't really

know what the differences would be.

I know this does not really answer the question ..., but it's the best I've got.

(I know I should quit while I'm ahead, but ... (more muddying of waters) ...

Most cooks are not like me, in that they don't cook something, plate it up,

and hurry to dining room shouting "Eat this before it's ruined!" If I cook

corn, and it is not consumed for another 10 minutes, residual heat continues

cooking ... I knew shouldn't have started this ...

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As for canning, I don't think the AB process gets the temperature up high enough for it to be safely stored.

Do you mean WB (waterbath) process? Actually, tomatoes are among the foods that are safest to put by using waterbath canning. The high acidity in the tomatoes is the reason. I suppose low-acid, yellow tomatoes might be a concern.

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Do you mean WB (waterbath) process? Actually, tomatoes are among the foods that are safest to put by using waterbath canning. The high acidity in the tomatoes is the reason. I suppose low-acid, yellow tomatoes might be a concern.
AB = Alton Brown, from Food Network. His tomato sauce recipe starts with halved Roma tomatoes, roasted with oil and herbs in the oven, then put through a food mill to remove the skins. It definitely does not get hot enough, would need to be put into sterile jars, perhaps topped off with olive oil, and processed further. I have seen that suggested, but canning tomatoes scares me!

He also scoops out the seeds before he starts, to remove the "acidic gel." Why do people do this? To remove moisture, I suppose, and then they add moisture with other ingredients, like the white wine the recipe calls for (I don't put white wine into tomato sauce! The kids hate the taste of wine so no wine at all, but it would be red if I did.)

BTW- the recipe doesn't mention this but cover the bottom of the pan with aluminum foil. The juices WILL turn crusty, even in a no-stick pan.

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Fishers Hardware in Springfield has a wonderful array of canning supplies.
Yes, although they didn't have a jar lifter when I needed one (said they would get more). I found one at Ace Hardware in Chantilly. They don't carry Pickle Crisp, I found that at the Food Lion in Fair Lakes. Pickle Crisp is calcium chloride, if you look on the label of your favorite Kosher dills you'll probably see it as an ingredient. In addition to Fishers, Ace, and Food Lion, you can find stuff at Walmart, Giant and Safeway. This is seasonal for most stores except Fisher, who seems to carry stuff year 'round. Or buy online.

The canning pot needs to be deep enough to cover the top of the jar by a couple of inches, or else the jars need to be short enough yadda yadda. I've been using a stock pot with the spaghetti insert. Apparently you don't need the special canning pot insert, as long as the jars are up off the bottom of the pot so they don't rattle, but if I keep canning I will buy one.

My task for today is tomatoes, over 20 lbs of romas and heirlooms. I plan to cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake all varieties indiscriminately tossed with olive oil until I get a sense that they're ready for the next step. Never done this before so somewhat winging it. I do have a food mill (the el cheapo without inserts, only one set of holes, from Fisher). Think I will just bake the tomatoes with olive oil and salt, mill off the skins, and pack in ziplocks and freeze, and treat them as I would fresh tomatoes for sauce.

I used the hot water method for pickles, even though the best ones are fermented. I am a coward.

Food Lion carries low-sugar pectin.
I have a tree full of green apples, am going to attempt the Mes Confitures method of using green apple jelly as a source of pectin.

I also have a collander full of crab apples, wondering what to do with them. My mother wanted me to plant her a crab apple tree, since she lives in an apartment, so I did, but now that it's fruiting she doesn't have any use for them.

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My task for today is tomatoes, over 20 lbs of romas and heirlooms. I plan to cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake all varieties indiscriminately tossed with olive oil until I get a sense that they're ready for the next step. Never done this before so somewhat winging it. I do have a food mill (the el cheapo without inserts, only one set of holes, from Fisher). Think I will just bake the tomatoes with olive oil and salt, mill off the skins, and pack in ziplocks and freeze, and treat them as I would fresh tomatoes for sauce.

If you plan to use the tomatoes as if they were fresh, it would be better to blanch and peel them like peaches. The skins slip off easily after 30 seconds in boiling water, and the tomatoes don't get cooked. Then you can halve them, squeeze out the seeds and either pack them freezer bags or canning jars and water process them.

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If you plan to use the tomatoes as if they were fresh, it would be better to blanch and peel them like peaches. The skins slip off easily after 30 seconds in boiling water, and the tomatoes don't get cooked. Then you can halve them, squeeze out the seeds and either pack them freezer bags or canning jars and water process them.
You're right, and I misspoke myself.

This experiment starts with a recipe in the new Gourmet cook book, alleged "bruschetta" but essentially roasted roma tomatoes, cross-fertilized with Alton Brown's recipe.

I am inundated with roma and heirloom tomatoes. It seems to me that the best way to save them up is remove seeds and skins, cook them down so that the moisture evaporates, and then when needed, they are concentrated pure tomato meat.

I've observed that as roasted tomatoes cook down, they shrink. So why spread them out? I wish I took a photo of what I started with, 20 lbs of fresh tomatoes that I trimmed, and scooped out the juice and seeds, tossed with olive oil, and roasted. Here is what they look like, at this exact moment. (There are actually more in another oven.)

217341291_e152c8d7b4_m.jpg

I took them out of the oven after I read your post. After they cool down, will mill off the skins and freeze.

There will be more in a few days, I will try making those more concentrated as a comparison.

(Tomato plants from DeBaggio and Betty's Azalea. The ones from Merrifield Garden were ripped out due to excessive blight. Grown in raised beds full of compost, fertilized with manure and Tomato-Tone, and mulched with sheets of red plastic.)

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Yes, although they didn't have a jar lifter when I needed one (said they would get more). I found one at Ace Hardware in Chantilly. They don't carry Pickle Crisp, I found that at the Food Lion in Fair Lakes. Pickle Crisp is calcium chloride, if you look on the label of your favorite Kosher dills you'll probably see it as an ingredient. In addition to Fishers, Ace, and Food Lion, you can find stuff at Walmart, Giant and Safeway. This is seasonal for most stores except Fisher, who seems to carry stuff year 'round. Or buy online.

...

I used the hot water method for pickles, even though the best ones are fermented. I am a coward.

I got my mason jars at the Ace hardware in Dupont (on 17th south of R), and pectin at safeway, when I tried to make orange marmalade. I also use the "quick process" method for my pickles, although fermenting them is obviously on the horizon. I'm not particularly into sweets, so my canning needs are fairly light, although I do need to get a jar lifter at some point...I haven't done any boiling of my jarred goods.

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Report back on trying to mill partially roasted tomatoes. Not a good idea. Not at all.

Most of what came through the mill was tomato water, which, considering that I had deseeded and drained the cut up tomatoes, indicates to me that the actual flesh of the tomatoes is mostly water.

Next batch will mill fully roasted, concentrated.

The alternative, to parboil and skin almost raw tomatoes, is another alternative.

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This summer, a group of us did a canning project for the first time. We were very ambitious and learned much:

With 50 lbs of tomatoes, we canned several quarts, then made tomato jam with the "seconds".

With about a lb. of okra, we made four pint jars of okra pickles

Hungarian and jalapeno pepper jelly - unfortunately, we learned the hard way that one should never substitute powdered pectin for liquid pectin. Did not gel.

With 50 lbs. of peaches, we preserved several quarts of slices in light syrup, then made peach butter (using food mill) and peach jam with the "seconds".

Found smaller size jars and powdered pectin at Shoppers Food Warehouse in Potomac Yards, liquid pectin at Safeway in Chevy Chase, special ordered large jars through Logan Hardware, and found a huge Presto pressure canner online from Ace Hardware. Found a can lifter and funnel at Sur La Table.

Apparently, Strosnider's in Bethesda has everything you might need for canning, although it's more expensive.

It was fun but alot of work. Our written resources were an old edition of "Joy of Cooking", The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol Costenbader, On the Side by Jessica B. Harris, and the Good Housekeeping cookbook. The pressure canner also came with some recipes.

Our success will be measured by whether these stand the test of time and last long enough to become christmas presents!

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the canning experiment continues. next up. apple butter.

first timer on this one. anyone have recipes, directions, suggestions, tips? also - do you have recommendations on what kinds of apples are most suited for this?

any thoughts, from general to specific, would be much appreciated.

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Just came back from a trip to San Juan Islands where people catch and can their own tuna (glass jars w/olive oil). This in addition to catching, smoking, and vacuum packing salmon for later. It was awesome.

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Mrs. TJ and I tried a friend's ketchep recipe and it turned out AMAZING!

Here's the recipe --

JOHN’S KETCHUP

8 lb. ripe tomatoes, washed, cored and cut in quarters

2 large onions, peeled and chopped

2 green peppers, chopped

1 1/ 2 tsp. whole cloves

2 (3 inch) sticks cinnamon, broken in pieces

1 tsp. celery seed

½ tsp. whole allspice

1 cup sugar

1/ 2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/ 2 tsp. dried mustard

1 cup vinegar

2 tsp. salt

1) Put tomatoes, onions and peppers in large nonreactive kettle. Cook uncovered on high heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and cook 30 minutes more. Press mixture through strainer back into big pot.

2) Tie cloves, cinnamon, celery seed and allspice in cheesecloth. Add to tomato mixture, along with sugar, cayenne pepper and mustard. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is reduced by half its volume – 2 to 3 hours.

3) Add vinegar and salt. Continue cooking over low heat until consistency and taste suit you – about 2 hours. Remove spice bag and spoon the ketchup into hot clean jar, leaving a ½ inch headspace. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Store in a cool dark place. Once opened, store in refrigerator.

Note: for a less spicy ketchup, remove the spice bag at the end of step 2. Ketchup will be brownish in color from the spices but that’s OK.

NOTE-- I might edit the recipe after making it once. I might add a pound or two of tomatoes to go for the extra tomatoe-y tastes, and also kick up the heat just a nubbin. But that's just my personal preference. It is great just the way it is.

Sorry I meant to include a link to a picture. You can find it here.

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Today we buried my friend Audrey, who taught me how to can. This was the recipe she used when we did our first batch of spiced peaches together. I am going to miss her very much. But on the way to her services deep in the countryside of southern Maryland this morning, her daughters and I decided that as a tribute we will try to get together every year and make a big batch of these spiced peaches. Thereby "preserving" their mother's memory, and continuing our friendship throughout the years ahead.

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Today we buried my friend Audrey, who taught me how to can. This was the recipe she used when we did our first batch of spiced peaches together. I am going to miss her very much. But on the way to her services deep in the countryside of southern Maryland this morning, her daughters and I decided that as a tribute we will try to get together every year and make a big batch of these spiced peaches. Thereby "preserving" their mother's memory, and continuing our friendship throughout the years ahead.

Losing friends who were in the prime of life is a bitch. Your idea is a great and worthy one. There's nothing quite like a row of beautiful jars full of summer's home-canned bounty that speaks to a belief in the future and an appreciation for nature and good food and hard work.

When we lived in Vermont, on an old farm, I spent all of one summer gardening, foraging for wild berries, and "putting by" as they call it there. I filled the shelves of the walk-in pantry with dozens of jars of tomatoes, wild berry jams, pickles, beans, applesauce and peaches. There were bags of corn and berries in the freezer, too, but that was tucked away, out of sight. One of the other people who lived there with us used to love to take a chair into the pantry, and just sit and look at the shelves. He said it gave him a feeling of utter contentment and happiness. We saw him for the first time in thirty years, when we were in Vermont this past June, and just found out that he is clear of a cancer that he was being treated for when we were there.

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Went apple picking at Homestead Farms in Poolesville, Maryland, picked up 50 lbs. of apples and went nuts with canning yesterday. We made several quarts of applesauce, several pints of apple-raspberry sauce, caramel apple butter and bourbon apple butter. This year/summer has been our first foray into the world of canning and preserving, and we look forward to making it a tradition. It is wonderful to see the fruits of one's labor and to be grateful for the source of the bounty.

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Canning season is starting again - what's everyone preserving this year? My first project is a batch of rhubarb chutney using a recipe from The Joy of Pickling.

I had high hopes for peach chutney but the spring freeze will put a damper on canning peaches. Maybe chow-chow or cauliflower pickles might be a less-expensive choice.

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