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Preserving Recipes

Preserving Recipes/ Spring

One a Penny, Two a Penny, Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

As Easter approaches, it is the time of year when the much beloved hot cross buns appear in good bakeries. While it is true that the cross on the bun is meant to symbolize the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the sweet spice bread has a fascinating history.

Long before Christianity, pagan cultures celebrated spring with sweet buns. It is said that evidence exists of such baked goods dating as far back as 79 AD. The sweet buns were made to honour the goddess Eostra and fertility while the crosses symbolized the four phases of the moon. The word Easter is thought to be derived from Eostra.

The strong Christian heritage of hot cross buns dates to 1361 with the original, now familiar recipe being created by a monk at St. Albans Cathedral. The buns were given to the poor on Good Friday. Even little buns can be controversial! Queen Elizabeth 1, for political reasons,  banned the sale of hot cross buns except for burials, Good Friday and Christmas. During this time, the much beloved buns began to be made in homes.

Hot cross buns were embraced in song and poetry. In 1733, the Poor Robin’s Almanac published the lyrics to the song “Hot Cross Buns”. Mother Goose nursery rhymes included the poem. For generations, enjoyed the literary and culinary delights of hot cross buns.

Many myths surround hot cross buns. They were thought to ward off evil spirits, cement friendship if shared, stay fresh for a year if baked on Good Friday, help the infirmed and provide sustenance to sailors on long voyages. Whatever the myths, the basic truth is these buns are delicious and a significant mark of Easter.

I know this is a little stretch from preserving but remember hot cross buns are chock full of dried fruit, peel and are glazed with apple or apricot jelly and served with last summer’s strawberry jam!

For information: preservingwithmartha@gmail.coms.

For further information:

preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Hot Cross Buns (yield 12 buns)

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Ingredients

  • 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour                             
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1 package rapid-rise yeast (2 ½ tsp)              
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon          
  • ½ tsp nutmeg             
  • ½ tsp. allspice            
  • 1 tsp. grated orange rind
  • ½ cup milk                  
  • ¼ cup water               
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of currants and/or raisins or peel rehydrated and drained.

Instructions

1

In a stand mixer with dough hook, blend together all dry ingredients. Heat milk, water and butter to 120 and pour into dry ingredients blending. Mix in eggs and dried fruit. Mix for 5 minutes at low speed for kneading. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

2

Divide the dough into 12 equal rounds and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Cover and place in warm location to rise for 45 minutes.

3

If you want the traditional cross, blend together ¾ cup flour and about 10 TBSP water. Pipe the crosses on the buns. Alternatively, just cut a cross in the buns. Glaze the buns with melted jelly.

4

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

5

Bake at home or pick up at your local bakery. Either way, enjoy the history, tradition and gustatory satisfaction of Hot Cross Buns.

 

 

Preserving Recipes/ Spring/ Winter

Preserving in Winter

Preserving in Winter

Many people think winter is ‘out-of-season’ as far as preserving goes. Try finding bottles, lids and other canning equipment in the dead of winter! But, there are those of us who just can’t stop preserving. And, why not? There are lots of options in winter if the larder is empty or the canning urge is great!

Winter fruits like apples, Anjou or Bosc pears, kiwi, figs or kumquats are available and ready to be transformed into jam, chutney, sauces or fruit butter. Mind you, there is also something simple and delicious about using the fruit naked. I’m thinking of a brown sugar and walnut stuffed baked apple or poached pears with a reduced port sauce. Fresh or preserved, winter fruit is a luxury we have in Ontario.

Dried fruits are also an option for preserving. For example, apricots or dried figs can be rehydrated and used in jams or preserves. Last winter I shared a recipe for dried apricot preserves which were great. Unfortunately, most dried fruits are treated with sulfites to preserve colour. So, if you are allergic to sulfites or are concerned about the preservative, buy organic and just accept the fact that the fruit will be dark as it naturally oxidizes. Alternatively, dehydrate your own fruit next summer pre-treating them with lemon juice, citric acid or ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) before dehydrating to slow down oxidization. Dried fruit can be wholesome and is great cooking and preserving in winter.

Frozen fruit is an excellent option for preserving when the snow flies. Using fruit you froze in summer or buying Canadian frozen fruit works extremely well for jam, conserves, syrups and more. I have used frozen peaches, strawberries, mixed berries, blueberries, cranberries and mango with great success. The advantage of frozen fruit is its availability of course, but also the fact you get perfectly ripe fruit and combinations of fruit that would not normally be out at the same time. Here is a simple recipe from the Canadian Living preserving book using mixed berries.

For further information:

preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Winter Berry Jam

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Ingredients

  • 2 packages frozen mixed berries (600 gm each) thawed and crushed
  • 2 tsp lemon zest                                                        
  • 1 TBSP bottled lemon juice
  • 1 package light pectin crystals                                   
  • 4.5 cups sugar
  • 2 TBSP Cassis or vodka (optional)

Instructions

1

Combine fruit, lemon zest & juice, ¼ cup sugar and pectin in a large pan. Bring to a boil over high heat stirring constantly. Add sugar and return to a boil. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in alcohol if using.

2

Fill 1 cup jars (makes 7 cups) leaving ¼ inch headspace. Put on lids and screwbands. Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove jars from canner placing on a cutting board or dishcloth. Allow jars to rest untouched for 24 hours.

3

As winter takes hold, enjoy the aroma of bubbling preserves filling the house on a wintery day.

 

 

Preserving Recipes/ Spring

Sugar Shack Time

Sugar Shack

It is the time when nature provides a beautiful gift compliments of the maple tree. Almost all maple syrup production comes from Canada and the US. The Maple Syrup Producers Association of Quebec has 8,000 enterprises producing 133 million pounds of syrup and reports a 20% increase in production and sales in 2021. The Ontario Association has 600 active members. In addition to commercial production, a drive at this time of year demonstrates the large number of residents who tap a few trees for personal use or small-scale sales. Who doesn’t love maple syrup, sugar, butter, candy, or maple drinks and preserves?

Black, red and sugar maples are best for tapping. Trees that are situated where their crowns are open to the sun and air, such as those on roadsides or in lawns, are more productive and generate a sweeter sap than trees inhabiting a forested area. The sap contains water that is boiled off yielding a syrup of 67% sugar. For example, 40 gallons of sap will produce about 1 gallon of syrup. The substantial evaporation of water is why the initial stage of syrup making is done outdoors in what is called “the sugar shack” or open kettle method.

If you are new to maple syrup making, I recommend a visit to the Penn State website for up-to-date information about tapping, collection, boiling and bottling. Here’s the link: https://extension.psu.edu/maple-syrup-production-for-the-beginner

There are some tips for keeping (preserving) maple syrup. The high sugar content of syrup provides a natural anti-microbial environment. The only risk is exposure to air where spores can cause mould. Therefore, properly bottled and sealed syrup will be shelf-stable for a least 2 years. The beige plastic containers with quaint paintings on the front are not recommended for long-term storage. If you have been the happy beneficiary of a jar of syrup from a friend, refrigerate it to prevent mould production as you would do with any open bottle of syrup.

Freezing is the preferred method of preserving the quality of maple syrup. Syrup frozen in mason jars will last indefinitely and can be repeatedly thawed and re-frozen. Make sure to leave a 1-inch headspace to allow for expansion.

If freezing is not an option, hot packing is possible.  The hot syrup (85C) is decanted into hot, sterilized mason jars leaving a very small headspace. Lids and rings are tightened, and jars are inverted (upside down or on their sides) for 5 to 10 minutes so that the hot syrup coats the lids. Wear protective gloves. Once cool, jars should be labeled and stored.

Get into maple syrup! On pancakes, oatmeal, ice cream, or baked apples, in cakes, icings, vinaigrettes, comports, jams or drinks. Savour the great Canadian tradition.

For further information:

preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

 

Preserving Recipes/ Winter

Citrus Curds

Continuing with the early winter citrus theme, in the last weeks I have been making and freezing curds. When citrus is easily available and not expensive, I like to freeze curds to have all year. On a Pavlova, in a tarte, between layer cakes, simply with fruit, a pound cake or yogurt, fruit curds are a silky, intensely flavoured and not too sweet custardy treat.

According to “British Food History”, the earliest references to curds appeared in 1844 in “The Lady’s Own Cookery Book”. At that time, the recipe was essentially acidulating the curds from cream making it more like a lemon cheese. Today curd recipes include any variety of citrus, a small amount of sugar, butter and eggs. For the Pavlova pictured here, I made lime curd with toasted coconut and fruit. If you prefer lemon, switch up the limes for lemons.

No time to make the Pavlova? Buy pre-made phyllo cups instead.

Citrus curds are like sunshine. Bright with flavour, smooth like a summer’s day and delicious any time of year.

For further information:

preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Lime Curd

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Ingredients

  • Lime Curd Ingredients:
  • 1 kg limes (or lemons) juiced to equal 1 cup juice
  • 2 TBSP lime zest
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 whole large eggs
  • 2 cup sugar
  • Pavlova Ingredients: (serves 4; double if you like)
  • 2 egg whites brought to room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp white vinegar

Instructions

1

Lime Curd: Beat softened butter and sugar until light gradually adding in one egg at a time. Add zest and juice to blend. It will appear curdled but don’t worry it will incorporate over heat. Place in a medium saucepan and gently cook on low heat whisking constantly for 15 – 16 minutes. The curd will thicken and coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Cool. Put into container (I use 250 ml Mason jars) and put plastic wrap on top touching the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Cool completely. Refrigerate over-night unless using immediately. For freezing, ensure there is a 1-inch headspace. Put lids on label and date.

2

Pavlova: Preheat oven to 275. Place parchment on cookie sheet. Beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar until whites hold a stiff peak. Gradually add sugar a tablespoon at a time beating until the whites are stiff and shiny. Beat in vinegar, corn starch & vanilla. Spoon onto the cookie sheet in a circle making the edges higher than the centre. Bake for about 1 hour. The outside of the meringue will be crisp and the inside soft. Once cool, put on a serving plate. Just before serving add the curd, fruit and/or whipping cream.

Preserving Recipes

Rhubarb Cake

Rhubarb Cake

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Serves: 12
Cooking Time: 45 minutes

I have just pulled the first beautiful rhubarb from my garden. I must make this cake for my husband who adores it. I cut the cooled cake into large squares and freeze them individually for snacks or a quick dessert topped with ginger whipped cream or a dollop of roasted rhubarb (or both). There are many recipes for this cake, some brown sugar and butter crumble topping, but I like the simple version that is almost like a coffee cake. I do not know the source of the original recipe because I’ve made it for so many years and have read so many recipes. I think it is now a blend of ideas.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter at room temperature
  • 1.5 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups unbleached (preferably organic) white flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb (1/2 inch pieces) tossed with 1 TBSP flour

Instructions

1

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat.

2

In a second bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt blending thoroughly.

3

Alternately, add buttermilk and flour mixture to the butter mixture in about three additions. Blend well.

4

Stir in the rhubarb.

5

Place batter into a well-greased 9 x 13 cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45minutes. Insert a toothpick to check doneness. Let cool.

 

 

Preserving Recipes

Kimchi Making

Kimchi

Baechu (cabbage) Kimchi

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Serves: 6
Cooking Time: 1 hour

Pictured here is Baechu (cabbage) Kimchi

Ingredients

  • 2 lb Nappa cabbage with julienne of carrots and leeks.
  • Onions, radishes, Asian pear
  • Pickling Salt or Sea Salt
  • 3 tbsp Fish Sauce and/or 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsps Grated Ginger
  • One large clove of garlic
  • 1/2 cup Korean Chili Flakes or Powder(Gochugaru)

Instructions

1

Using a 2 lb Nappa cabbage with julienne of carrots and leeks. You can add onions, radishes, Asian pears if you like. I cut the cabbage into 2 inch strips but Koreans often leave the cabbage in large quarters or sixths. The cabbage and vegetables are massaged with 2.5 tsp of pickling salt (or sea salt). The salt extracts juices from the vegetables. Let rest for 2 hours. Add 3 TBSP fish sauce and/or ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce (your choice). Two TBSP of grated ginger is a must and Kimchi always has garlic. I used one large clove but I read recipes that had as many as 22! The unique flavour of Kimchi comes from ½ cup Korean chili flakes or powder (Gochugaru). There really isn’t a substitute so order online or find it in a local Asian market. Use gloves to mix in additions to prevent chili burn. Once mixed, push cabbage into a crock or 1 litre Mason jar. Press down very firmly to remove air. The juices will rise above the cabbage which is what you want. Place a cabbage leaf on top or parchment as a barrier and weigh down the cabbage. It must stay below the brine to be safe. I have used a weight and silicone top from Lee Valley, the latter allowing for the release of carbon dioxide as fermentation happens. You can also use a 4 oz mason jar filled with water or double freezer bags, one filled with water. Top with cheese cloth, cotton or a fermentation lid with air release. Check daily. Skim if necessary. In about 9 – 11 days the fermentation should be complete. At this point you can move the jar to the fridge to halt fermentation. Serve as you wish.

Kimchi