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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/ 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.

Winter

Marmalade

marmalade

There are several theories about the origins of marmalade, a sweet jelly with suspended fruit rinds and chunks. Some say Mary Queen of Scots had seasickness and her French physician created a sugar-based citrus spread to help her. “Marie est malade” or Mary’s sickness became ‘marmalade’. Myth or fact, the likely origin is marmalade’s derivation from the Portuguese word for quince “marmelada”, a dense jelly eaten after a meal. By the 1600s marmalades were created with citrus and eaten in England and Scotland for breakfast.

Marmalade lovers are particular folk! Some like it runny, some firm; some like it bitter, some sweet. Some will tolerate the addition of vegetables, some absolutely will not. There are as many views about marmalade as there are recipes and methods. Over the years I have made marmalade with almost every citrus variety and even some vegetables. I’ve had successes and failures! Here are a few of my learnings.

Basic marmalade recipes call for the thinly slicing of the peel of citrus, removing of the white bitter pith, chopping the pulp and using the natural pectin of the seeds and fruit (put in a cheesecloth package). Some recipes add 1/8 tsp of baking soda to soften the peel, but I didn’t find this made a difference. I tried to speed up the process by using a recipe that added commercial pectin. Not helpful! It didn’t gel. The take-aways: develop skill at testing the “set point”; and remember, some good things in life take time and marmalade is one of them.

Set point can be determined a few ways such as the “wrinkle test” dropping hot marmalade on a frozen saucer or watching the mixture drop off a spoon as it transforms from liquid to thick droplets. I have concluded that a candy thermometer is the most accurate and reliable method. At sea level, the set point is 220 F but altitude affects boiling point and therefore set point. Even at 1000 ft, the set point is between 218 and 220 (I go for 218). But if you live at higher altitudes (Dundalk Highlands), the set point will be between 216 and 218. I would use the lower point as the marmalade continues to cook during water-bath processing. Another learning is that marmalade can take up to 48 hours to set up. So even if it looks loose give it 48 hrs before deciding whether to start over.

Marmalade for breakfast is wonderful but don’t just save it for mornings. It is also excellent as a glaze on meats, or as a dollop on ice cream, in a thumbprint cookie, or atop of a cheesecake. This is the time of year to embrace the marmalade challenge!

Want to learn more about canning?

Join me on Feb 3rd in a class offered by Agriculture Grey-Bruce via Zoom. To register: info@greyagservices.ca

preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Winter

The Joy of Citrus

Citrus

Winter brings an array of citrus to grocery stores and often at a good price. Oranges, tangerines, Clementines, mandarins, lemons, Meyer lemons, limes and grapefruit delight the senses. There are so many ways to work with citrus, but here I’m focusing on salt and sugar curing, ancient methods of preserving. Both salt and sugar inhibit microbial growth by several means, but primarily by osmosis where water molecules join up with sugar or salt molecules reducing free water necessary for microbial growth. Salt and sugar also have anti-microbial actions, altering the enzymatic activity of microbes and weakening the molecular structure.

Salt-Curing: Preserved Meyer Lemons

January means making a jar of preserved lemons. Middle Eastern cuisine would not exist without preserved lemons. I prefer Meyer lemons but any (preferably organic) lemons will do. Opening, salting and ensuring the lemons are submerged in fresh lemon juice will preserve them in the fridge for a year. They add a fermented taste to recipes that fresh lemons cannot achieve. There are many simple recipes for preserved lemons on trust-worthy internet sites or contact me. Give them a try with chicken, in a bowl of couscous or in a vinaigrette.

Sugar-Curing: Candied Citrus Peel

We often think of candied peel at Christmas but did you know May 4th is National Candied Orange Peel Day? Who knew? Since winter is the time for citrus, why not try your hand at candying (aka sugar curing) the rinds? My friend and I reviewed many recipes so here are tips. Any citrus fruit with thick skins will work well (organic preferred). The key to making good peel is blanching the ¼ inch slices of peel in 4 cups of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and repeat this process again. This will remove the bitterness from the pith of the rind. Make a simple syrup (50% sugar to 50% water) about 2 cups each will be enough for a batch. Heat the syrup until the sugar is dissolved and then simmer the rind for 45 minutes. Remove rind and left drain on a rack for a couple of days. If you want, dust the rind with a small amount of superfine sugar. The rind will last for at least a month in an airtight container. Use it as a great sweet treat, in cakes, breads, muffins, puddings or as garnish. The syrup can also be kept in the fridge. Add a piece of rind and drizzle of syrup to a cup of tea or a scoop of yogurt.

Sugar and salt curing are two ways to preserve citrus fruit when it comes into season. Expand your winter culinary activities and make preserved lemons and candied citrus peel.

For information:
preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Winter

Tis the Season!

Tis the season for wonderful food! As an avid preserver, a large part of the fun is putting the fruits of my labour to work in creative food applications. At this time of year, our celebratory meals always involve dessert so I’m going to raid the pantry for items to put into a traditional French tarte.

Every patisserie in France offers tartes frequently made with fruit and often with an almond cream base called frangipani. Tartes are open faced ‘pies’ so to speak made in pans that have removable sides and bottoms. It is possible to use a typical pie pastry for the tarte but I like to use a pate brisée which is a butter based pastry with excellent flavour and enough turgor to stand up once the pan is removed.

Pate Brisée
2 ½ cups unbleached white flour 1 tsp. salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter cut in small pieces ½ cup ice water
I use my food processor but you can use a pastry cutter to cut butter into salted flour. Gradually add ice water until the pastry starts to come together. It might be less than ½ cup. Put out on lightly floured surface and bring the pastry together with your hands. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thick. Press the dough into the tarte pan. Let it hang over the sides. Take the rolling pin and roll lightly across the top of the pan which will cut the pastry off to exactly fit the pan. This pasty freezes very well. For each filling below, add it to the pastry lined pan and bake at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes for a 9 inch or 40 minutes for a 6 inch pan. To ensure a crispier bottom crust, bake on the lower shelf.

Pear Mincemeat
In the Fall I made Pear Mincemeat (Bernardin). I used a small 6 inch pan and about ¾ of a cup of mincemeat. I cut a snowflake out of the pastry to add to the top and brushed it lightly with melted apple jelly.

Double Apple
This tarte, adapted from a Ball recipe, uses preserved apple sauce (one 250 ml jar) combined with 1 cup chopped, peeled apples. Put the sauce mixture into a 9 inch tarte. Thinly sliced one to two apples and place them in concentric circles around the tarte as illustrated. Brush with melted apple jelly and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Pear with Frangipani Filling
Blend ½ cup soft butter, ½ cup sugar, 1 cup ground almonds, ½ tsp. almond extract, 1 TBSP flour. Spread the almond cream into a 9 inch tarte pan. Slice the preserved pears decoratively and place them around the tarte pressing slightly. Brush the pears with melted apple jelly.

Voila, you have three French tartes made with home-made preserves ready for the holiday table.

I wish you all a joyful and safe season and look forward to returning in the New Year. If you have any topics you would like me to cover, please send me a note at:
preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Winter

The Festive Platter

Recently in Fine Cooking, it said “if you aren’t familiar with the cheese board trend gone wild, you must have been actively avoiding Instagram and Pinterest for several years”. Yup, creating boards is a huge trend even if, like me, you’re not addicted to social media. Creating a board is fun, creative, and beautiful to look at not to mention delicious to consume.

Last week I was asked to prepare a Festive Platter for staff at one of our hospitals. I anchored the platter with a jar of Thyme-Infused Red Wine jelly (pantry item). I think the key to a great platter is contrasts – colour, texture, and taste (sweet-salt). For this platter, I used three cheeses of various textures, cured salami, cranberry-orange sweet bread, prosciutto pinwheels, Provolone snowflakes cut with Christmas cookie cutters, baked olives, spiced nuts, mandarins, pomegranate, dried apricots, crostini, and crackers (GF). The options are endless. It’s fun to share as an appetizer or even as a light meal.

For more information and resources:

Preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Winter

Teas and Tisanes

Herbal teas are technically not teas at all because they do not include “true teas” such as green, black, white or oolong. The term “tisane” refers to decoctions or infusions made from herbs, spices, bark, roots, fruit or seeds. Infusions are used for herbs that are steeped in hot water as we normally do with tea. Decoctions are reserved for woody, tougher spices, seeds, roots and barks that require a start in cold water and a 15 – 25 minutes simmer. For example, mint is prepared as an infusion whereas ginger or turmeric would be prepared as a decoction. Either way, they are both tisanes.

Tisanes have a very long history dating back to 2700 BC in China and 1550 BC in Egypt where herbal teas were enjoyed for pleasure but also used for medicinal purposes. For instance, chamomile was used centuries ago to support relaxation and sleep. In America, following the Boston Tea Party ordeal, drinking tea was considered unpatriotic so people turned to herbal teas as a pleasant substitute. In recent years, our attention to natural, unprocessed foods and drinks has brought a resurgence in the consumption of tisanes.

Although I have always dried some herbs for the purposes of tisanes, this past year I started a “tea garden” to intentionally expand my tea-making. I planted lemon and orange balm, bergamot, various mints varieties, and German chamomile to complement my other herbs and flowers. Along with these, I dry lavender, oregano, rosemary, rose hips, as well as orange and lemon slices to augment flavour. I sometimes use my dehydrator for herbs and flowers, but I mostly air dry the old-fashioned way. I find the oven, dehydrator and microwave can be a touch too hot for drying herbs.

There are an endless number of possible tisanes from simple chamomile, mint, lavender, or lemon balm to combinations that are delicious. This combination of herbs and spice is one of my favorite recipes that comes from an older book by C. Costenbader.

½ cup dried rosemary
½ cup dried lavender flowers
½ cup dried mint leaves
¼ cup dried chamomile flowers
¼ cup dried cloves

Combine and store in air-tight container. Use 1 tsp. of the mix to 6 oz. of boiling water. Steep for 6-8 minutes.

As our gardens head for their winter sleep, the herbs, flowers, bark, roots, fruit, and seeds along with spices can add to our comfort in the chilly months ahead

For more information and resources:

Preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

Preserving Know-how/ Winter

Preserving Lemons

Preserving Lemons

January always makes me think about citrus. It is the time of year when we find Clementines, Meyer lemons, Seville oranges, blood oranges and fruits from Florida. The colours, aromas and tastes of citrus brighten up cold winter days. This month I will focus on citrus beginning with Preserved Lemons.

Preserved lemons are central to North African cuisines. They add a bright, salty, tang to Moroccan tagines, roast chicken, pasta, labneh, salads, grain bowls, vinaigrettes and sauces. Technically speaking, preserved lemons are fermented in a brine created with salt and lemon juice. It takes about a month for the lemon rinds to soften to a desirable texture through the fermentation process. Once this is achieved, the lemons will last in the fridge for up to a year. Although it is possible to use the entire preserved lemon, it is more typical to use only the rind, thinly sliced or minced.

Any well-scrubbed lemon is fine to use, but I prefer Meyer lemons that have a thin skin and a gentle flavour. Some older recipes use far too much salt, but updated recipes have addressed this issue achieving the right ratio of salt to acid. I like the recipe from “The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving”.

After thoroughly washing 8 to 10 lemons, place each with stem-side down on a cutting board. Cut through almost to the bottom making an X pattern. Open the lemon like a flower and massage in 1 tsp.(5ml) of pickling salt. Close the lemon and put into a 1 litre jar pressing down to release juices. Repeat with lemons packing tightly into the jar leaving a 1 inch headspace. Squeeze juice from remaining lemons and pour into jar to cover the lemons. They must be kept submerged to keep them safe so add additional lemon juice as needed. Cover the jar with plastic wrap and screw on lids and rings. Leave on the counter for 3 days to kick-start the fermentation process. Then move to the fridge.

Let your imagination run wild with applications of the preserved lemons to your cooking. Whether adding to soups, sauces, vegetables, meats, grains or pressed yogurt, it will brighten the dish in taste and appearance. Preserving lemons is a simple, quick way to capture the sun in a jar during the winter months.

For information: preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

 

Preserving Know-how/ Winter

Kimchi Making

Kimchi

Last week I facilitated a Zoom workshop for Agriculture Grey-Bruce on fermentation. I chose a focus on Kimchi because it’s so popular and is easy to make. Kimchi is a Korean fermented pickle that is primarily made with cabbage but not always. It’s said that there are as many Kimchi recipes as there are families in Korea. After fermenting, Kimchi has a salty-tangy taste with a touch of heat and slight miso finish.

In a recent issue of Cooks Illustrated, several stages of Kimchi fermentation were explained from an unfermented crisp salad-like Kimchi (Geotjeori) to the Kimchi we are used to with a short fermentation, to one more intense called Shin Kimchi used for cooking, to finally one that is very pungent after a 6 month fermentation. In Korea, Kimchi is eaten with almost every meal. It is a great accompaniment to rice bowls, fried rice, vegetables, meats or eggs.

Pictured here is Baechu (cabbage) Kimchi 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.

Enjoy Kimchi and other fermented foods. For information: preservingwithmartha@gmail.com

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.