Creative Canning with Chef Mike Lund for Charlottesville Cooking School  & Friendly City Food Co-op:

Romano Beans with Indian Spice | Salsa Verde | Good Ketchup | Peach Chutney | Apple Lemon Curd | Horseradish Beer Mustard

Most all-good foods considered “gourmet delicacies” nowadays, stemmed from the simple necessity of preserving perishable surplus for later consumption. Bacon and other cured meats, pancetta, olives, pickles of all kinds, dried pasta, cheese, yogurt, needn’t we forget beer and wine are all delicious examples of preserved foods.

Relatively speaking, refrigeration is a new technology, one that has only been widespread for the last 100 years or so. Prior to the convenience of the supermarket and mass-transportation that brings us kiwis twelve months a year, we ate what was in season in our area.   It’s easy for us to take for granted now that certain foods grow, or are at least supposed to, only in certain times of the year and in certain areas of the world.

I am an avid gardener and an advocate of the economic and health benefits of supporting local and seasonal foods. There are deals to be had. Purchasing large amounts of fruits and vegetables in the peak of their natural season tends to be far cheaper than buying them imported at the supermarket out of season. Most farmers are happy to negotiate price on a peck of peaches or a bushel of tomatoes, especially when they have more than they know what to do with.

Currently, I am overwhelmed by the mere seven bountiful tomato plants in my backyard, they bare more than my small family can eat.   A little over a month into the season, I am almost even a little sick of tomatoes. However, come February, when I am longing for signs of spring and the lion that is March hasn’t even teased us yet, I will crack open a jar of roasted tomato passata, and at least for an evening my yearning will be quenched.

Pickling, preserving, canning or “put-up”, whatever you like to call it, it’s rewarding and fun. It can be easy and will get easier the more you do it. As with all cooking, the key to success is cleanliness, organization and timing. There are a few rules and guidelines.

  1. Always use foods in their peak. Don’t wait for beautiful berries to get mushy and then make jam, or for cucumbers to get soft and then pickle. Think of your jars as a completed dish, a dish is only as good as it’s raw ingredients!

  2. Sanitation, sanitation, sanitation! Canning in the US hit an all time high during WWII due to the wave of Victory Gardens, so did Botulism!

* Note, Botulism is common only in improperly canned low-acid foods. Everything we are doing is high-acid, Clostridium botulinum can not survive in high-acid environments.

* For meats, poultry and non-acidic vegetable recipes it is necessary to process in a pressure cooker to 240*F.

  • All jars most be processed in a boiling water bath for a minimum of 10 minutes or in a dishwasher that reaches at least 180*F.
  • All lids and rings must be processed in a boiling water bath for a minimum of 10 minutes. To be safe, its best hold them in the water until application
  • Don’t tighten screw caps until after a successful seal has been achieved. Tightening them too much prior to processing inhibits air from escaping and the gasket from sealing properly through steam pressure.
  • Use pickling salt or a brand of salt that’s ingredients read: salt. Anti-caking agents and iodine will cause a murky finished product.
  • Do not deviate from a recipe’s acid (vinegar, citrus), salt or sugar ratio. They are important to the safe preservation and flavor of canned products. Feel free to experiment and substitute to your liking, i.e. carrots for green beans and add an extra pepper or clove of garlic if you want extra spicy.

Suggested sources:

The River Cottage Preserves Handbook            Pam Corbin            Ten Speed Press, 2008

 The Joy of Pickling            Linda Ziedrich            The Harvard Common Press, 2009

 The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving   Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard            Firefly Books, 2007

 Canning for a New Generation            Liana Krissoff            Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2010

 Tart and Sweet            Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler            Rodale Books, 2010

 

Peach Chutney                                                                        The Joy of Pickling

Ingredients:

½ cup onion, chopped

½ pound golden raisins

1 garlic clove

4 pounds peaches; peeled, pitted and chopped

2/3 cup, fresh ginger, minced

2 cups cider vinegar

1.5 pounds brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground dried hot pepper

2 tablespoons whole yellow mustard seeds

1 tablespoon pickling salt

Directions:

  • Combine the onion, raisin and garlic in a food processor until very fine.
  • Combine the mixture with the remaining ingredients in a non-reactive pot and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about one hour, until it is thick and a rich brown color.
  • Pack into 4-ounce jars, leaving a ¼ inch headspace and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

 

Salsa Verde                                                                        Canning for a New Generation

Ingredients:

3.5 pounds tomatillos, husked and stemmed

1 medium onion, chopped

3 large Serrano chiles

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

5 ounce cup fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon pickling salt

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 450*F.
  • Place the the tomatillos, onions and peppers in a single layer on a sheet-pan and roast for 20-35 minutes, turning occasionally until blackened in spots and the tomatillos are softened.
  • Puree in a small batches, adding a little cilantro to each batch.
  • Pour the puree in a non-reactive pot, add the lime juice and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Distribute the salsa into 16 each 4 ounce jars and put the lids on.
  • Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.

 

Roasted Tomato Passata                                    The River Cottage Preserves Cookbook

Ingredients:

5 pounds ripe tomatoes

7 ounces shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

a few sprigs of rosemary, thyme, basil and oregano

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ cup olive oil

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350*.
  • Cut the tomatoes in half and place them slice side up in a large roasting pan.
  • Scatter the remaining ingredients over the top, sprinkling the salt, pepper and sugar and drizzling the oil.
  • Roast for about an hour, until the tomatoes are well softened.
  • Remove from the oven and puree with a food mill.
  • Prepare your hot, sterilized jars.
  • Put the tomato puree into a saucepan and bring to the boiling point.
  • Pour into the prepared jars and seal with the lids.
  • Place the jars in canning pot and cover with warm (100*) water.
  • Bring to a simmer over about 25 minutes and then simmer for10 minutes more.
  • Remove the jars and allow to cool undisturbed.
  • Check the seal.

 

Jardinière: Gardner’s Pickle                                    The Joy of Pickling

Ingredients:

2 medium red bell peppers, cut into strips

½ pound shallots

¼ pound carrots, cut into thin sticks

1 ¼ pound pickling cucumbers, blossom end trimmed

½ pound whole patty pan squash or large squash cut into thin sticks

5 large garlic cloves

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

20 whole allspice berries

5 tarragon sprigs

5 thyme sprigs

5 small fresh hot peppers

2 ¾ cups white wine vinegar

2 cups water

1 tablespoon pickling salt (kosher salt with no additives!)

Directions:

  • Into 5 mason jars, put 1 garlic clove, scant ¼ teaspoon of peppercorns, 4 allspice berries.
  • Divide the remaining vegetables evenly between the jars, including a tarragon and thyme sprig, and one hot pepper.
  • Lightly tap the jar to settle the vegetables.
  • In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the vinegar, water and salt to a boil.
  • Pour the hot liquid into the jars, leaving a ½ “ headspace.
  • Place the lids on the jars.
  • Process in a water bath for 20 minutes.
  • Store in a cool dark place for 3 weeks prior to eating.