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

Action Packed Weekend

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What a fun weekend!!! It started on Thursday after class; one of my

students and I went on a field trip to Berkeley Bowl. I had a great time

showing her all the different produce that they have to offer. Just the variety of

mushrooms alone would blow you away.They have a bargain produce area

that is wonderful for canners to pick up some very ripe tomatoes, plums and a

few other things. We also picked up some organic vanilla beans at a

amazing price, four in a package for $3.99. Score!!! We also visited the bulk

section and picked up some mustard seed, raw sugar, spices and sesame

seeds. The next day I spent canning for my family. I had tomatoes left over

from class and I got two bags of tomatoes from the bargain produce 5

pounds for $2.78. Yes, people $2.78. Score again. I got some beautiful

green beans to make Fasolakia Green Beans in Tomato sauce. This is a

Greek recipe that my family loves. In order to put vegetables in a jar

with out vinegar (pickling) you need to use a pressure canner. So I had

the pressure canner making my green beans and had the water bath canner

going too. I had a lot more tomatoes then I thought so, I made a new Tomato

Jam. It is yummy with a hint of Garam Masala. This is a spice mix that has a lot

going on and is used in Indian food frequently. The ingredients are Coriander, Sichuan,

pepper, Anistar, Fennel seeds, Cumin, Seeds, Cloves, Kalpasi, Pepper Chili,

Black Cardamom, Bay Leaves, Cinnamon, and Ginger. Very rich in flavor.

For the other tomatoes I made a new Tomato Hot Sauce. If you have been

here for a hot sauce class you know I make hot sauce many ways, but this is

the first time I made it with tomatoes. It is full of flavor and just the right

amount of heat. But my weekend wasn’t over yet! I’m sure you have heard me say “The best part of food is, that it

is endless and we can ever get to the end.” Gotta love that. So on Sunday I went to the

Farm To Fermentation Festival and Fundraiser. WOW, I can’t wait for next

year to go again! It was a wonderful event and I learned so much. I wish I could

clone myself because there where classes coming on at the same time that I

would have loved to be in each one. Next year I think I will ask a few friends

to go with me, that way each person can go to a different class and take notes

and at the end we could sit and exchange notes. Some of the classes included: ” Your

Digestive Health”, “Making Healthy Sodas”, ” Using a Water Lock to make

Kimchi”, “Traditional Meat Curing” and much more. There were vendors as well selling

things like tools for home fermenting, Apple cider, goat cheese, kimchi and

some canning supplies. I can’t believe I was able to pack in so much fun and learning in one weekend!

See you in class

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.

 

See you in class