Summer and Pickling

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Summer time is here and so is the produce. Lets talk about pickling again. I wrote a blog about pickling in Sept. 2013, letting you know a few things about pickling. I wanted to remind you of a few things. Pickling is easy and fast. What is the hard is waiting for it to pickle. Please use water without chlorine. Chlorine will make the produce soft and I know you would prefer a crunchy pickle. Please use the salt that the recipe is asking for. Never use table salt when canning, it has anti caking agent and iodine that will give the pickles a bad taste and turn them a dark color.If you read the blog in 2013 you will remember that I like  setting up little bowls to place the spices in for each jar. This makes it go fast, efficient and makes sure that the spices are evenly distributed. Lets talk about spices. Buy spices from a supplier with a rapid turnover. Spices lose their flavor with age and stale spices can spoil the taste of any dish or pickles.Ground spices lose their flavor within just a few months: therefore, it is usually better to buy whole spices and grind them as you need them. You can use so many spices when pickling. If you like heat, use red pepper flakes, black or brown mustard seeds, pepper corns, cayenne powder, chili powder, hot Indian curry powder, or red dried chiles. Here are a few more spices you may want to use: Cardamom, Cinnamon, Fenugreek.Clove, Coriander, Cumin, Curry Powder, Celery  Seeds, Bay Leaves, Fennel Seeds, Mustard Seeds, Nigella, Nutmeg, Saffron, Dill seeds, Turmeric, Garlic, Ginger, and Star Anise.

Star Anise comes by its name honestly, with it star shape and a licorice taste similar to regular anise, only stronger. Star Anise is a dried fruit seed pod of an evergreen tree ( Illicium Verum) grown in southwestern China and Japan. It is about one inch high with eight segments and a dark brown rust color. Like regular  anise, star anise gets it distinctive licorice taste from a chemical compound called anethol. However the two are not related botanically – Star Anise is a member of the Magnolia family. To know more about pickling, please go back to the blog from Sept. 2013 . Happy Canning and Pickling.

 

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Bad Information On The Internet

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With the first day of summer in just a few day, I think of all the beautiful fruit that is coming in to season.There are so many recipes we can make with fruit, like jams, chutney, curd and one of my favorites, pie filling. With this in mind, I decided to look at what is on the internet for pie fillings. Wow, there are a lot of recipes, but most are not safe. Please be careful when looking for recipes. Please go to these websites: National Center For Home Food Preservation and Ball. The recipes you find on these website are tested and safe. Never use flour or cornstarch when canning. They will go bad in the jar in a few weeks. You need to use Regular Clear Jel; this is a modified cornstarch made for canning. You can also use it to make sauces, gravy and anything you want to thicken. You can order this at http://www.barryfarm.com. Remember to look for small berries, they contain less water and will have more flavor. Happy Canning.
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How Long Does Jam Last?

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I had a student ask me a very important question the other day. “How long will the jam last after I open it and put it in the refrigerator?” I am so happy they asked this question. First, you may want to make jam in half pint sized jars so it won’t have enough time to go bad. You’ll eat it before it has time to spoil! I can with half-pint jars because sometimes, I get board eating the same canned goods – I want a different flavor. Sugar is the number one preservative in canned goods but sugar is not always a healthy choice. I use less sugar in my recipes which means that my jams and canned goods will have less preservatives and ultimately a shorter shelf life. I would prefer to healthy, great tasting food than have food that lasts forever.

You should always use clean utensils when canning. So many of us spread butter with a knife and then dip that same knife in the jam jar without realizing we have just contaminated the jam with foreign bacteria. That is how mold starts to grow in the jar. My personal rule for jams made with less sugar is 2 months in the refrigerator after being opened (but I’m sure you will eat them before then).
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