Apple butter is one of those items that just signal fall to me. They are a little thicker and spicier than their cousin, apple sauce, but you can use apple butter in a variety of ways. Fruit “butters” are really just thick fruit jams, often made with stone fruits or other fruits that you don’t often see in jam version. However, a “butter” is not a jam, it is much more concentrated and requires a long time of boiling the fruit down to make a thick butter. In the end, all that time is worth it because you can use your butter in a variety of ways. I like to put apple butter on bread with figs, goat cheese and baby greens to make a quick, sweet sandwich. You can also put apple butter on bread or mix it up with actual butter and maybe add a pinch of caraway seed to spread on home-made biscuits. (The Roebling Tea Room, a popular restaurant in Brooklyn, make a version of this butter/apple butter mix and it is a-ma-zing.) After the jump, I will take you through the process of both making and canning apple butter.
Hey New Yorkers! Eugenia Bone, author of Well-Preserved (a.k.a, one of my favorite preserving books) is teaching a class on pressure canning in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on September 14th! Everything about this would be perfect for me since I love Eugenia Bone and canning and I live quite close to The Brooklyn Kitchen, the store where the class is taking place. Sadly, I do not have the funds to take the class (it is $65) and I am pretty sure I already have another class planned for that night. Oh well, that just means I get to pass on the information to you, so go and sign up for it! Afterward, you can email me and tell me all about the class and how wonderful it is to pressure can fresh tuna.
Summer is speedily drawing to a close and it is getting to be that time of the year when we dry herbs. Normally, fresh herbs are great to keep around for cooking and if you have a sunny window you can always make a nice little herb pot to keep growing indoors. However, fresh herbs don’t last forever and in order to get the most out of our herbs we need to preserve them in some way. Luckily, drying herbs is almost as easy as growing them. After the jump, find out how to dry herbs easily.
Gooseberries aren’t that popular in the United States, but they are enjoyed in parts of Europe where they are often used in jams and syrups. Before I made this gooseberry-ginger jam, I had never tried gooseberries but I was intrigued when I saw some for sale at the Greenmarket and was told they were a good alternative to sweet fruit. (I’m not a huge fan of sweet things.) Gooseberries also come shrouded in an aura of danger since according to Wikipedia–the most accurate, never-wrong source since Truth was invented by George Washington and Joe the Plumber back in 1821–the gooseberry is outlawed in some parts of the US! I have been told, however, that they are pretty easy to grow in containers–particularly if you live in an area that gets a good cold winter.
This jam, from Doris and Jilly cook, is really great. Everyone I offer it to goes mad for it. The sweetness of the sugar is undercut by the tart gooseberry and a hint of ginger gives it a sort of candy-like, but not too-sweet, quality. Perfect if you are trying to avoid saccharine jams. One note, about the recipe since they didn’t make a note about it when it was posted: the recipe will yield about 5 half-pint jars with a half-inch head space.
(photo via Flickr)
I have a (not so hidden) secret: I love preserving foods. There is just something about canning and preserving that gets me excited. This weekend I went on a preserving binge, making cabbage and radish kimchee (a spicy Korean fermented dish), refrigerator pickles, infused cherries in Grand Marnier as well as balsamic strawberry jam and home-cured bacon from recipes I got from Well-Preserved. I really cannot recommend this book enough, even if you are a novice. The book, by Eugenia Bone, is focused mainly on unique small-batches of food and covers a wide variety of home-preserving methods, not just water bath canning. The book also comes with several recipes for the different unique items to can or preserve (including apricot amaretto jam, zucchini flower sauce and pickled cauliflower) and I recently made some chicken breasts in a lemon sauce that I made with home-made preserved lemons (also a recipe in the book, preserved lemons are a staple of North African cuisine and provide a great sour/salty taste).
Anyways, enough of my rambling. If you buy one canning book for the rest of your life, buy this one! Otherwise go to my favorite canning site Canning USA to fill you in on anything else.