Childhood Memories

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I find it amazing when a person takes a bite or even just the smell of some foods how it can bring you back to a childhood memory. I had that happen to me this weekend, so much that I had goosebumps on my arms. It was magical.
Last Thursday I met one of my students at the Lodi Farmers Market to pick up produce for the upcoming class. He informed me that he had been to a lot of classes, i.e. pie filling, jam, chutney, jelly, hot sauce and even sausage making, but no pickling class. So of course I wanted to find something to pickle. We found some beautiful pickling cucumbers to make into dill pickle spears. We also found some green tomatoes. I was very excited to see them because I have been thinking about my great grandma’s pickled green tomatoes. We found some lovely peaches that will become Peach Bellini. We both were looking forward to having a fun filled day of canning. We started to talk about how we both heard that home canned Maraschino Cherries are out of this world, even if you don’t like Maraschino Cherries. We looked for cherries, but not one person had any. My student said he thinks Walnut Creek Produce had some and he would bring them to class.
I went home and started researching recipes for Maraschino Cherries. I found 4 or 5 recipes and thought they were doing it all wrong. So I did it my way… and typed up a recipe I thought would work well.

While I was doing research on Maraschino Cherries and I started thinking about Great Grandma’s Pickled Green Tomatoes started writing down what I could remember that was in those yummy pickled green tomatoes, so I called my sister and asked if she could remember what was in them. She said I never liked them and I think there was pumpkin pie spice. I said no wonder you didn’t like them, I will make them a lot better. I have an old pickling recipe book I got out and looked up Pickled Green Tomatoes and what I wrote down was pretty much right on.

The day of the class we started with coffee and home made cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting made with my Carrot Cake Preserves. I love that stuff. I had a small snack laid out with other goodies,  like pickled okra, jams, jelly and home made hummus. Later we sat down for lunch.

We worked with the green tomatoes first and the place was smelling like great grandma’s. I took a sample taste and it was as if I had walked back in time. All the hair on my arms were standing up with goosebumps.

I don’t know if it is the pickles or thinking about all that love in the jars that my grandparents put in them. Happy Canning

See you in class

Tomato Time

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Tomato season will be here soon. I just want to remind you to please use bottle lemon juice to ensure safe water-bath canning. Because the pH level of fresh lemons can vary,this is why I recommend you using bottled lemon juice. The required amount of lemon juice for pint jars is one tablespoon directly in the jar before the tomatoes and for quart jars two tablespoons of bottle lemon juice directly in the jar before the tomatoes.  This will ensure you have the proper acid in each jar.

Here is a tip on how to peel a tomato easily.

  1. Use a sharp knife to cut a shallow  x  into the bottom of each tomatoes.
  2. Working in batches, immerse the tomatoes in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes or until tomato skins start to split open.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl of ice water. When cool enough to handle, use your fingers or a pairing knife to peel off skin.

I do have a few tomato classes coming up if you are interested.

May 28 at 11:00am. at “The Farm”  All In A Jar’s place.
We will be making Puttanesca Pasta Sauce. This sauce has a lot going on with kalamata olives, capers, fresh oregano, and anchovies; it’s packed with layered flavors. Serve it with your favorite pasta shape, grilled fish, sautéed shrimp or steamed mussels.
Peach Bellini Drizzle is a cocktail-inspired dessert drizzle. Drizzle on Ice cream, Pound cake, Belgian Waffles or French toast. Think fancy syrup.
We will be sitting down for lunch, enjoying the Puttanesca sauce over some pasta with a salad adorned with one of All In A Jar condiment. We also will be making a pound cake to have with the Peach Bellini on top. You’ll go home with a jar from each recipe.

July 30 11:00am at “The Farm”  All In A Jar’s place.
We will be making Fire Roasted Chunky Tomato Salsa. This Roasted Chunky Salsa can be used with chips, eggs, tacos, or in a cheese quesadillas. Endless possibilities.
Apricot-Nectarine Pie Filling. Apricot pie is wonderful but add some nectarines and you have a pie that is just magical. You can use it to make a crisp, cobbler, put in crepes or on top your favorite ice cream.
You will be going home with a jar from each recipe. We will be sitting down for lunch enjoying tacos with the Fire Roasted Chunky Tomato Salsa, salad with one of All In A Jar condiment and Apricot-Nectarine Pie.

Happy Canning.

See you in class

 

Fermenting

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Fermenting is another wonderful why of preserving food. It has been around for thousands of years. Fermented foods are good for your digestive system, they contain live probiotics. Lets look at Sauerkraut, it has two ingredients, cabbage and sea salt. No chemicals, no additives, not even vinegar…so simple. When it comes to fermenting food and being successful it is about the quality of water, quality of salt and, quality of produce. The water needs to be clean no chloride, chloramine or fluoride. If you have city water you probably have all three chemicals. The chemicals will interrupt the process, making the produce soft and slimy. You can use filtered water or bring your water to a boil and keep it at a rolling boil for one minute to purify. At altitudes above one mile ( 1.6 kilometers), you should increase the rolling boil time to three minutes and allow it to completely cool before using. Use high quality sea salt. DO NOT use processed table salt. They have anti-cake agents and iodine in them and they will discolor and make the produce slimy. They have been stripped of minerals too. Quality of produce should be the freshest and organic if possible. Ferment time can vary. It can be 3 to 5 days or even weeks. Check your sauerkraut every day or two. Open the jar and smell it, use a clean fork taste it. Make sure the produce is still under liquid. After a few days , it should get bubbly, after a few more days , it should start to smell and taste sour. You can eat it at any time , this depends on you and how you like our fermented foods. If you like it crunchier put it in the refrigerator to slow the process. Some people like to eat their Sauerkraut after about 8 days.
Many fermentation recipes rely only on vegetables, sea salt, a knife and jars. No special tools needed. But, I have found this great tool to make fermenting food a lot easier. I know the produce is under liquid with this device. It is called ” Kraut Source” Fermentation Made Simple. I bought three of them. Easy to use. They gave me a little “How To Use Book” and it has some recipes too. If you want to ferment food I highly recommend this tool. Go to http://www.krautsource.com.

See you in class