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Canning And Preserving

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Thanks so much. I have Mes Confitures and will check out her method.

Read her recipes very carefully-- in her pastry book, some of the amounts/ratios are WAY off. I did make a fig preserve from this book and it came out really well.

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V.H.   
I have two quarts of strawberries giving up their juice on my stove right now. I did an earlier batch of jam this summer, but it was very watery -- as others have theorized, perhaps due to the very rainy spring we've had this year. My first batch I also got fancy with the measuring, measuring the berries (by volume) by the amount of water that they displaced. I don't think my Joy recipe needs that much precision. Presumably that also upped the berries:sugar ratio.

My coworker tells me that I can save my runny jam by adding a smidge of cornstarch to the finished produce. Any thoughts from folks here on that? (I've been saving it by putting it on pancakes, which has also worked very well.)

You could empty the jars into a pot, add more pectin, and reprocess. I did that once with a runny batch. I think I used no sugar needed pectin when I added more.

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squidsdc   
I'm making cherry and blueberry jam this weekend. Anyone have any tips for making blueberry jam? It's the one fruit that has failed me repeatedly over the years, despite following the recipe. I'd prefer not to wind up with another six pints of blueberry syrup.

And does anyone have a good pickled peach recipe they would like to share?

Sorry I don't have a recipe, but I'll gladly take some off your hands should you end up with more blueberry syrup! I'd make my own "fruit on the bottom" type yogurt, drizzle it atop oatmeal, add it to vanilla ice cream with some fresh blueberries on top...(blueberries, thankfully, are not one of my allergies!)

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I made freezer jam w sour cherries (combo Country Pleasures and Tree & Leaf) this morning, using Mark Bittman's recipe for low-sugar version. 6 cups fruit, 1 1/2-2 cups sugar, 2 teaspoons lemon juice.

Pitted, w a few discards, I had around 3 1/2 cups fruit. Started out w 3/4 cup sugar. Cooked 15 minutes low, then another 15. Still very, very juicy. So after another 10 minutes, I decided to jar all the cherries and reduce the juice with more sugar (recipe encourages you to add more sugar if need be to gel).

While the juice became syrupy in pan (wow!!!! what a joy to clean the cooled pan with my fingers), I came home to find the stuff quite liquid in the jar I kept in the fridge. It's okay since I mostly plan to stir the stuff into yogurt, but...

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lperry   

I completely missed the pickled peach recipe request. I have a recipe for spiced peaches that are in a vinegar/sugar syrup, but you can easily leave out the spices and just have sweet pickled peaches. It also works great with pears. If that's the sort of thing you are looking for, I'll be happy to dig it out for you.

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mdt   
I completely missed the pickled peach recipe request. I have a recipe for spiced peaches that are in a vinegar/sugar syrup, but you can easily leave out the spices and just have sweet pickled peaches. It also works great with pears. If that's the sort of thing you are looking for, I'll be happy to dig it out for you.

Please post it!

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ALB   
I made freezer jam w sour cherries (combo Country Pleasures and Tree & Leaf) this morning, using Mark Bittman's recipe for low-sugar version. 6 cups fruit, 1 1/2-2 cups sugar, 2 teaspoons lemon juice.

Pitted, w a few discards, I had around 3 1/2 cups fruit. Started out w 3/4 cup sugar. Cooked 15 minutes low, then another 15. Still very, very juicy. So after another 10 minutes, I decided to jar all the cherries and reduce the juice with more sugar (recipe encourages you to add more sugar if need be to gel).

While the juice became syrupy in pan (wow!!!! what a joy to clean the cooled pan with my fingers), I came home to find the stuff quite liquid in the jar I kept in the fridge. It's okay since I mostly plan to stir the stuff into yogurt, but...

hi Anna Blume-

I don't know if you are committed to keeping it pectin free- but the gentleman at Country Pleasures suggested I use Pomona pectin- which doesn't use sugar to gel. It saved my strawberry jam a few weeks ago. of course then you'd have to reprocess...

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I made freezer jam w sour cherries (combo Country Pleasures and Tree & Leaf) this morning, using Mark Bittman's recipe for low-sugar version. 6 cups fruit, 1 1/2-2 cups sugar, 2 teaspoons lemon juice.

Pitted, w a few discards, I had around 3 1/2 cups fruit. Started out w 3/4 cup sugar. Cooked 15 minutes low, then another 15. Still very, very juicy. So after another 10 minutes, I decided to jar all the cherries and reduce the juice with more sugar (recipe encourages you to add more sugar if need be to gel).

While the juice became syrupy in pan (wow!!!! what a joy to clean the cooled pan with my fingers), I came home to find the stuff quite liquid in the jar I kept in the fridge. It's okay since I mostly plan to stir the stuff into yogurt, but...

With juicy fruit, the only way it will thicken without added pectin is if you boil it long enough to reduce the liquid and then hard enough to raise the sugar temperature to somewhere near the soft ball stage. This, IMO, pretty much kills the taste of the fruit. That is why I always use pectin to make preserves.

Even with pectin, sour cherries seem to defy expectations of what jam ought to be, based on our collective early Smucker's experiences. I have never tried to make a low-sugar or freezer jam version, but my various experiences with sour cherry preserves ending up very runny, despite using pectin and following the prescribed ratios in the pectin package, have led me to make a major alteration in the recommended method.

I pit and chop the cherries and then drain them in a colander. I don't press or squeeze them, but after the majority of the juice has drained off, is when I measure the fruit for the batch. I save the juice and make jelly with it. And I use the huge amounts of sugar that the Sure-Jel package calls for--equal or slightly greater than the same volume of fruit. I also add a scant 1 tsp. of almond extract per batch, after it has cooked, which enhances the cherry flavor without announcing itself too loudly. Never had anything but positive feedback since I developed this method--my SIL in NYC reported to me that she shared some I'd given her with friends of hers who are restaurateurs and chefs and they said mine were the best sour cherry preserves they'd ever tasted. Ooh, ouch! I just dislocated my shoulder by patting myself on the back so vigorously. Better go fix that... :lol:

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lperry   
Please post it!

Here it is - I'm pretty sure this is adapted from the old checkerboard cookbook, but I learned from my Grandmother.

Spiced peaches or pears

The basic ratio for the syrup to make enough for about five pounds of fruit is:

1 cup vinegar (white is the usual)

2 cups water

3 cups sugar (I cut the sugar from where it was. If you want a heavier syrup, you can go as high as 5 cups of sugar)

Put this on the stove and heat it up along with sticks of cinnamon and cloves. The measurements are going to be sort of "to taste" because spices vary so much in flavor. I usually start with two sticks of cinnamon and a couple of teaspoons of cloves, and that will be enough if they are really fresh. You can let the spices stay in the syrup floating around and then put them in the jars with the peaches or pears, but they will cause browning and discoloration with storage. For a prettier finished product long term, use cheesecloth or a tea ball.

Bring the syrup to a boil, and add the fruit in batches to heat it through. Cook just until almost done because there will be processing later. Small peaches can be left whole, and if you do pears, a firm variety works best. We use Pineapple pears off my Grandmother's old tree - they stay crispy.

Ladle the hot fruit into jars. At this point, I add in a slice of fresh ginger. Do the usual tamping down of all the fruit to pack it in and leave the threaded rim for headspace. Now divide the syrup into all the jars. This is the tricky part - I almost always end up needing more syrup, but the syrup in the pan is now full of spicy fruity goodness. So divide it evenly, then make more fresh to top off the jars if you need to. Close them up and process pints for 20 minutes, quarts for 30. If you have extra fruit, you can put it in a container in the fridge and break it open in a week or so.

Vinegary, spiced, and sweet all at once. :lol:

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Heather   

Thanks for the peach recipe. Now all I need is some ripe fruit to try it on. :-)

This week I've made tarragon pickled carrots, onion/rosemary marmalade, Vidalia pepper relish, sour cherry relish, sour cherry jam, and pickled cherry tomatoes. Apricot marmalade on the list for this weekend.

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Thanks for the peach recipe. Now all I need is some ripe fruit to try it on. :-)

This week I've made tarragon pickled carrots, onion/rosemary marmalade, Vidalia pepper relish, sour cherry relish, sour cherry jam, and pickled cherry tomatoes. Apricot marmalade on the list for this weekend.

Wow, you been busy, girlfriend. Are the above for work, or for personal consumption at home? I made a few jars of brandied apricot preserves--1/2 fresh fruit, and 1/2 fruit that had macerated for a couple of weeks in a mixture of apricot liqueur, apricot eau de vie and brandy. Very tasty.

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Heather   
Wow, you been busy, girlfriend. Are the above for work, or for personal consumption at home?

Let's call it R & D. :lol: Tis the season. The apricot preserves sounds delicious.

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lperry   

I'm jealous! My shelves are too full so I am required to eat things before I can make any more.

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Thanks for the peach recipe. Now all I need is some ripe fruit to try it on. :-)

This week I've made tarragon pickled carrots, onion/rosemary marmalade, Vidalia pepper relish, sour cherry relish, sour cherry jam, and pickled cherry tomatoes. Apricot marmalade on the list for this weekend.

Are you doing waterbath canning? Pressure? When I make jam, I just flip the jars over after I've ladled the hot stuff in and tightened the lid. After a while I flip the jars back over and as they cool, the lids seal themselves. I love the sound of that little "ping" as the lids contract in the middle. But I used to do waterbath processing for pickles and relishes-- an extra step that preserves don't require. And all that steam in the kitchen in the summer heat...

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Even with pectin, sour cherries seem to defy expectations of what jam ought to be, based on our collective early Smucker's experiences. I have never tried to make a low-sugar or freezer jam version, but my various experiences with sour cherry preserves ending up very runny, despite using pectin and following the prescribed ratios in the pectin package, have led me to make a major alteration in the recommended method.
Interesting information, all. Thanks, especially for confirming what I suspected about the lack of syrupy consistency. Makes sense since my only other experiences with sour cherries are in making pie when there are other thickeners involved--or making a sauce (thanks, monavano for your comments there).

All these recent posts are making me hungry for breakfast!

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Heather   

I picked up 2 quarts of Toigo's Japanese cucumbers at the market on Sunday, and today made my version of bread & butter pickles. They smell really good; they're better if they cure for a few days but I might not be able to wait that long.

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Heather   

The nice ladies who set up at the entrance of the Penn Quarter market gave a great deal on a box of rain-soaked green beans. We put a beach towel on our dining room table, set up a fan, and spread them out to dry overnight. Today I get to figure out what to do with 15 lbs. of beans. Some are going to be pickled with dill, and I'm going to take a stab at hot packing and pressure canning some. We're having moo pad prik king for dinner tonight, and I might do a batch of sichuan green beans for the freezer. Any other ideas out there?

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The nice ladies who set up at the entrance of the Penn Quarter market gave a great deal on a box of rain-soaked green beans. We put a beach towel on our dining room table, set up a fan, and spread them out to dry overnight. Today I get to figure out what to do with 15 lbs. of beans. Some are going to be pickled with dill, and I'm going to take a stab at hot packing and pressure canning some. We're having moo pad prik king for dinner tonight, and I might do a batch of sichuan green beans for the freezer. Any other ideas out there?

Cook until just tender and shock. Cut into a reasonably bite sized length and make a cold salad--mix with quartered new potatoes, kidney or garbanzo beans, oil-packed tuna, sweet onion, capers, olives, herbs and a vinaigrette for a nicoise-type bean salad. or just make a good ol' American 3-bean salad. forget the wax beans, just do green beans, kidney beans and garbanzos, onions and celery and a vinegar-oil dressing with some honey or sugar in it.

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V.H.   
The nice ladies who set up at the entrance of the Penn Quarter market gave a great deal on a box of rain-soaked green beans. We put a beach towel on our dining room table, set up a fan, and spread them out to dry overnight. Today I get to figure out what to do with 15 lbs. of beans. Some are going to be pickled with dill, and I'm going to take a stab at hot packing and pressure canning some. We're having moo pad prik king for dinner tonight, and I might do a batch of sichuan green beans for the freezer. Any other ideas out there?

Our favorite preparation is to make a packet with foil and fill with green beans, chopped garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, and some good sea salt. Grill until the green beans are very tender and a bit caramelized from the heat of the grill. My 4 yr old almost always gets seconds on these and sometimes thirds!

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lperry   

I have no business making anything since I have so many jars already in the cupboard, but there is a little bit of shelf space. We went to Johnson's Berry Farm, and the berries were so wonderfully flavorful and tart, and then the peaches at the market were so nice with that red blush. And everyone knows it isn't summer unless you are putting food in jars. :lol: So blackberry peach preserves are macerating in the fridge.

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Biotech   

We went a little crazy last weekend doing the PYO thing at Crooked Run Orchard and ended up with 11 pounds of blackberries, and way too many peaches. We made up about 4 pints of blackberry jam, 5 pints of what was supposed to be peach jam which didn't set once again and ended up being peach syrup for pancakes, waffles, and ice cream. We also canned 6 quarts of peach halves in light syrup for the winter and still ended up freezing at least two quarts of blackberries for a mid-winter crumble.

When we go for pears in a few weeks we will have to try and be restrained. We did manage to eat an entire bucket of apples within a week however.

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We went a little crazy last weekend doing the PYO thing at Crooked Run Orchard and ended up with 11 pounds of blackberries, and way too many peaches. We made up about 4 pints of blackberry jam, 5 pints of what was supposed to be peach jam which didn't set once again and ended up being peach syrup for pancakes, waffles, and ice cream.

Do you strain out all or part of the seeds for your blackberry jam? Blackberry is one of my favorites when it comes to preserves, but I don't like really seedy jam. So when I put up blackberries, there are the extra steps of pureeing and then running them through the food mill to get out the seeds. That cuts down on the amount of final product, because no matter how diligent you are, some pulp always manages to stick to the seeds and ends up being discarded. But oo-la-la what luxurious flavor and texture!

As regards the saucy peaches, I haven't done any preserves this year, but I've made peach desserts, and I think that the peaches are just extra juicy this year due to all of the rain we've had. My method of dealing with that, which I have used with pies and cobblers, and to make a peach bread pudding last Friday, is to macerate the peaches with sugar and a bit of lemon juice for half an hour or more, then strain off the liquid and reduce that by 2/3 on the stovetop, and then make the dessert. That concentrates and intensifies the flavor, and eliminates or cuts down on the amount of tapioca or cornstarch that's needed, depending on the application. For preserves, you could do what I do with sour cherries, which is to strain the fruit and only use a small amount of the juice when measuring the peaches for the preserving kettle. The peaches continue to exude juice when cooking the jam, and it seems like the amount of pectin you are using is being overwhelmed by all of the liquid.

I had a peach pie over the weekend, made by a friend (a very good cook) who says he doesn't like to use thickeners. The bottom crust was so soggy, he didn't even take any of it out of the pie pan, and it was basically peach soup with a top crust. It was very delicious peach soup, but not an unqualified success as a pie.

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Biotech   
Do you strain out all or part of the seeds for your blackberry jam?

I did not strain. I'm the only one in my house who is bothered by the seeds, and I don't have a food mill to make it easier to remove them.

As regards the saucy peaches, I haven't done any preserves this year, but I've made peach desserts, and I think that the peaches are just extra juicy this year due to all of the rain we've had. My method of dealing with that, which I have used with pies and cobblers, and to make a peach bread pudding last Friday, is to macerate the peaches with sugar and a bit of lemon juice for half an hour or more, then strain off the liquid and reduce that by 2/3 on the stovetop, and then make the dessert. That concentrates and intensifies the flavor, and eliminates or cuts down on the amount of tapioca or cornstarch that's needed, depending on the application. For preserves, you could do what I do with sour cherries, which is to strain the fruit and only use a small amount of the juice when measuring the peaches for the preserving kettle. The peaches continue to exude juice when cooking the jam, and it seems like the amount of pectin you are using is being overwhelmed by all of the liquid.

This is a good tip. I will need to try this next round. I can tell you that both batches of preserves had the same amount of pectin and the blackberry is a jam while the peach is liquid. I may try the reduction method you suggest next year.

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