Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Plum gone!

This morning I put the rest of the plum juice into pots and made up more plum jelly - Plum Cinnamon (inspired by Barbara's story of her German cherry-cinnamon jam making friend), and Plum Ginger. And yes, cleaning up the rest of my canning projects and other last minute projects does put a delay on other plans but at least I'll feel good about things. :)


Plum Cinnamon Jelly
  • 3 - 12 oz jars
  • 5 - 8 oz jars
  • 6 - 4 oz jars

Plum Ginger Jelly
  • 5 - 12 oz jars
  • 2 - 8 oz jars
  • 4 - 4 oz jars

Monday, July 27, 2009

In a pickle...

It is traditional, for me, to suffer from adequacy syndrome. That is, biting off more than I can chew. So, I find myself in a pickle - with large quantities of food to preserve and a schedule to leave town tomorrow around 1-2pm for camping by a river in the Trinity Forest. And yet - I am still in the kitchen!

With cucumbers and zucchini from James and my gardens, I put together some bread & butter pickles (yes, I know the cukes are too big around but...) and have a bowl of onions and squash layered with salt and ice to turn into zucchini bread & butter pickles in about an hour.

In that hour, I will make jelly from 16 cups of plum juice, cut up a small honey dew and small watermelon for breakfast and lunch tomorrow, juice 20 lemons, pack all my clothes and put together all the details for campgrounds on my itinerary in a PDF to print at Scott's house.

But seriously - the bread & butter pickles look great. Once the zucchini bread & butter pickles are in the jars, I'll have three types of pickles ready to eat in about 2 weeks.


Cucumber bread & butter pickles
  • 8 - 16 oz jars
  • 1 - 8 oz jar
Zucchini bread & butter pickles
  • 4 - 16 oz jars
  • 8 - 8 oz jars

4lbs cucumbers or zukes
2lbs onions

Slice and layer with salt, cover with ice and let sit at least 90 minutes - then drain, rinse, drain, rinse...

In a pan, 4 cups vinegar, 2-3 cups sugar and spices - mustard seed, cinnamon, fresh ginger or dried, black or white pepper - whatever you think works.

Bring to boiling - then add drained vegetables - bring to boiling again and then put into sterilized jars, wipe the edges of the jars and put on the 2 part lids, process for at least 10 minutes in hot water bath.

I put a serrano chile with the stem end snipped off with scissors in the bottom of each jar but you don't have to - you could put in a dried cayenne pepper!

Let the pickles sit for 2 weeks - then refrigerate to chill and eat. Try not to get caught eating them out of the jar with the refrigerator door open at 3am in your birthday suit. So embarrassing.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Figs, Beans & Tomatoes

GARDEN has been looking quite pathetic. James suggested I just get out the hoe and clear the whole area and start over. I'm determined that the volunteers and scraggly looking plants I got from the farmer's market will make it.

Since he's going out of town, James gave me 11 2' high tomato plants in half gallon pots, started from my seeds, which he had not the space and we worried they would die on the deck in his absence. I also was gifted a dozen small tomato plants in 2-4" pots by Scott's neighbor Devin.

So, as you may imagine, after a weekend of many other friend related tasks - I had a busy day today. I made up some green fig jam, spicy dilly beans, cleaned out James' fridge of perishables and then weeded my garden and found some cucumbers and planted tomatoes. I also harvested some cucumbers from my garden to give to Hastings & Catherine -- I have a bunch of cucumbers from James which I want to turn into bread & butter pickles before I leave on my trip on Tuesday.

SPICY DILLY BEANS - James gave me all the string beans in his garden since he won't be around to pick them or eat them for a week - together we cleared about a pound and a half. We agreed that they would make fine hot dilly beans. This time, they are going to be really spicy. And more garlic. I cut dill flowers and leaves from my garden (yay!) and included 1 habanero and 1 serrano and 2-4 cloves of garlic in each 12 oz jar.

GREEN FIG JAM - The figs that I picked ripe on Monday at Susie & Rich's kept pretty well in the fridge. I learned, however, that picking unripe figs and leaving them on the tray to ripen seems to result only in "hrm, not quite ready" to a giant hairy moldball the next day. So, the bowl of ripe figs in the fridge resulted in 4 cups of mashed, simmered fruit - and a fine light green fig jam.

  • 5 - 12 oz jars dilly beans
  • 8 - 4 oz jars green fig jam
  • 2 - 8 oz jars green fig jam

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Plum Habanero Jelly - with a twist!

Since the Plum Serrano came out with a nice bite - I decided to put a twist on the plum habanero this year. So far - I have managed to only rub the bottom of my nose so that's the only part of me affected by habanero tinged fingertips. No bathroom breaks or ear rubbing for a while - eep!

Plum Habanero Jelly with an Orange Twist
  • 10 c plum juice
  • 1 c water
  • 7 habanero chiles, seeded and quartered (but not separated to make it easier to yank'em out!)
  • 1 tsp decoriated cardamom
  • 3 Tb finely shaved/microplaned orange zest
  • 1 c orange juice (squeezed from same oranges zested)
  • 5 c demerara sugar (to taste)
  • pectin (per instructions)
I'm heating the juice to get the ingredients warmed up and then am going to simmer it down about half a cup and turn off the heat to let it steep. After it cools - check the flavor - I removed the habaneros and let the orange and cardamom steep for half a day because of other errands.

Next, I strained the orange and cardamom - measured 12 cups altogether - added 1/4 c lemon juice and then brought to a slow boil. I added the sugar with pectin, walked away and the pot overboiled so I lost 1.5 c of jelly on the stove. Could be worse, I suppose ... this stuff is yummy!

6 - 8 oz jars plum habanero w/twist of orange & cardamom
15 - 4 oz jars plum habanero w/twist of orange & cardamom

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Kitchen Notes

Given all the preserves I made in the past year, and excluding the liberal use of sucanat and molasses in chutneys and other cooking, I'm actually surprised that it took me 13 months to use 50# of unrefined cane sugar.

I'm only using 3 cups of sugar in 8 cups of plum juice for this batch of jelly (my idea of low sugar - compared to equal parts sugar & juice in most recipes). Time to go buy another 50# bag!I'm still mulling over the gustatory logistics of plum jelly for 2009 - I have completed a batch of plum serrano, and here is what I am considering for the rest of the jelly, to be done in batches of 8 cups of juice:
  • POP (plain ole plum)
  • plum-habanero w/orange peel (chile filtered out, fine peel left in)
  • plum lavender (a popular one last year)
  • plum cinnamon-clove
Any suggestions or special requests?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Apricot Jelly & Apricot Butter

Yesterday I opened up a gallon of apricot halves - mind you, these are peach size apricots - and started to simmer them down. I decided I wanted to make a really nice clear jelly like the white peach jelly I made last season. So, I used a wire strainer to get some juice and then put the fruit into the jelly bag in batches. I ended up with 6 cups of juice. Next, I got out the trusty food mill attachment for my Kitchen Aid (I'm really finding this useful!) and pureed the rest of the fruit - running it through twice - and ended up with about 7 cups of very fine puree. I put aside 3 cups of puree in the freezer for sorbet later and set up the pots to make jelly and apricot butter!

7 - 8 oz jars of apricot jelly
6 - 8 oz jars of apricot butter

Many many thanks to Larissa for generously inviting me to clear off her fruit tree when it was going nuts - hopefully our work clearing the tree will allow it to produce even more next year! She always has the choicest apricots - I've never seen any on a tree or Farmer's Market that compare to hers!

I still have 24 cups of chopped apricots in the freezer - that's going to be split between apricot chipotle jam and apricot chutney. Or maybe just apricot chutney since that stuff is so good!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Vegan Doughnuts & Candied Apricots


Just as I was pulling out the last jars from the hot water bath, my friend Eric popped over with a half dozen doughnuts from Voo Doo Doughnuts in Portland as my reward for visiting his kitty while he was on a road trip. Putting aside my excitement - I actually managed to chocolate dip a tray of candied apricots first - but have to do it in two batches because I ran out of chcolate.

  • 38 dark chocolate dipped candied apricot halves

DOUGHNUTS! Eric confessed two things - there's nobody over 35 in Portland, and they have a bizarre passion for doughnuts in general. Though he isn't generally a doughnut person, he said he likes what they're doing with vegan doughnuts and brought me 6 yummy confections in a pink box (as we all know - "good things come in pink boxes") -- a maple bar (my favorite!), a crazy purple fantasy frosted concoction, a yummy looking chocolate covered mystery, one covered with crushed oreos and vanilla frosted with coconut flakes.

And, yes, I did take pictures.

Plum Sauce 2009

After a bit more cooking, adding more plum puree and tinkering - I have decided that I have a satisfactory plum sauce - for 2009. Last year's has a lot more smooth gingery sweetness, but I'm not sure if that's a result of curing in the jar (it is, afterall, a bit like a chutney!).

Here's the recipe I arrived at - mind you, I added additional plum puree three times after reducing the entire pot about 1-1.5" - next year, I will reduce the vinegar by about half and might use malt or rice vinegar instead of apple cider.

  • 12 c plum puree
  • 3 chopped white onions
  • 3 Tb finely minced garlic (use the garlic press)
  • 10 Tb finely minced fresh ginger (mini-food processor)
  • 3 t Chinese 5 spice
  • 1 small cassia cinnamon stick
  • 4-5 star anise pods (unbroken - fish them out later)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 c apple cider vinegar
  • 4 c Sucanat/brown sugar
  • 1/4 c (wheat free) soy sauce
  • 1/2 c currants
After letting it rest overnight - the flavor was pretty good - a bit more vinegary but that might change after a couple months in the jar. I pureed two big batches of it, leaving some chunks of ginger and currant for texture.

12 - 8 oz jars
16 - 4 oz jars

I will give this a chance before giving it all away - last year I was so sick and tired of persimmons that I gave away nearly all the persimmon chutney and three months after making it realized I had very little left and it was very very tasty! Fortunately, I still have some persimmon pulp in the freezer which will go into a persimmon cake and persimmon sorbet for an August birthday, and the rest will be a new batch of persimmon chutney. That is, after I get done with plums, apricots and the figs I plan to pick on Monday!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Plum Sauce - Smacking myself in the head!

Last year, I took the puree from the jelly bag after making plum jelly and turned it into a wonderful plum sauce. As usual, I researched several variations of recipes and threw together and adjusted as I went since none of the recipes call for plum puree, but for whole plums. The plum sauce turned out amazing - dark, smoky, sweet, spicy, salty, garlicky and a hint of ginger - better than barbeque sauce. It's even a nice dark BBQ sauce brown.

This year, I got smart in terms of the puree production and used a Kitchen Aid attachment to get all the pulp out of the skins and mush - I got quite a lot of pulp: 24 cups!

So, I started putting together the plum sauce - 8 cups of puree and 3 chopped white onions, and then started scouring my blog, bookmarks and print-outs for which plum sauce recipes I consulted. I came up with very little that indicates what inspired last year's delciousness and so far, the sauce isn't turning out quite the same. I'm simmering it down now - and I may add more plum puree and adjust it a bit more.

Here's what I have so far:
  • 10 c plum puree
  • 3 chopped white onions
  • 3 T finely minced garlic (use the garlic press)
  • 3 T finely minced fresh ginger (mini-food processor)
  • 3 t Chinese 5 spice
  • 1 small cassia cinnamon stick
  • 4-5 star anise pods (unbroken - fish them out later)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 c apple cider vinegar
  • 2 c Sucanat
  • 1/4 c (wheat free) soy sauce
Re-reading other forums and recipes, it seems like they all call for a lot more sugar and vinegar - I don't remember using so much last year. In fact, it seemed rather simple and I just wish I could dig up my recipe. I'll let it simmer for a while and then cool it down so I can taste it properly against last year's version - welcoming any advise on recipe adjustments.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I suppose it counts in canning - today I ended up with apricot infused vodka to set for a few weeks, apricot jam, plum-serrano jelly and chopped the more firm apricots into 24 cups of coarse dice for chutney (frozen).

  • Apricot Infused Vodka - 4 half-gallon jars of apricots, pits saved from other chopped and processed apricots and vodka (two 1.75 L bottles)
  • Apricot Jam - 9 8 oz jars, 1 12 oz jar
  • Plum-Serrano Jelly 6 4 oz jars, 5 8 oz jars

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Apricots & Plums

10 gallons of cherry plums!

Last week, I picked 10 gallons of plums in my backyard - that resulted in 3 gallons of juice and nearly 2 gallons of puree - and I picked about 150 apricots on Wednesday. Today is going to be a big canning day. If you'd like to visit to see how I do it - drop a line here!



In priority, this week's projects will include:

  • Apricot infused vodka (first because it's the easiest!)
  • Apricot jam (plain apricot, apricot chipotle)
  • Apricot chutney
  • Apricot fruit leather
  • Candied apricots (they can hang out on the back burner)
  • Plum fruit leather (might be tart, though!)
  • Plum jelly (plain plum, plum serrano, plum habanero)
  • Plum sauce
Before I get started, I want to inventory current preserves still on the shelf. Then, Wash and prep all the jars. Next, a quick trip to BevMo to get the vodka, and then I will swing by Oakland's Chinatown to get the ginger (you can't argue with 50 cents a pound and ginger is not a highly pesticided crop, so...).

These apricots are massive - they are the size of small peaches! I put some into the dehydrator last night, so we'll see how they come out, if at all dried!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Jenn's Killer Carrot Cake

I like my carrot cake moist, rich and very cake-like. When I first tried the recipe in The Joy of Vegan Baking - I have to say, I was impressed but had to tweak it and went so far that I made a completely different carrot cake. I like to make cupcakes and also bigger baking dish sizes of carrot cake - and often do triple proportions of what the Joy of Vegan Baking calls for (that results in 42 muffins). Here's a slightly scaled down version of my take:

  • 6 Tb ground flaxseed
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 3 c grated carrots (peel only if bitter, otherwise just scrub well!)
  • 2 c chopped pecans
  • 2 c raisins (or sub 1 c. for chopped dried apples, apricots, persimmons or other dried fruit)
  • 3 c unbleached AP or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 c sugar and 1 c blackstrap molasses or sorghum (slightly less to 1.5 c total is ok - or sub with 1.5 c Sucanat which is sugar with molasses still in it but remember it cooks differently and may need more moisture from somewhere!)
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • freshly grated ginger - you like ginger? load up - you can't put too much in here, I swear!
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350, lightly crease your pan(s).
  2. Whip flaxseed & water in blender til thick, then add oil, applesauce and blend til mixed.
  3. Mix up carrots, nuts & fruit - stir in flaxseed/oil/applesauce mixture and molasses or sorghum.
  4. In a big bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, spices, salt).
  5. Stir in the wet ingredients until thoroughy combined. I like to use my kitchen aid - it's a lot easier than stirring this by hand and usually breaks up all the renegade dry mix globs!
  6. Spread into pan or muffin tins - I found that 1/4 cup into the muffin tins worked pretty well, though 1/3 cup is nice for bigger muffins.
  7. Bake until done - some people like the toothpick test, but this seems to bake so quickly, I can just touch the top and tell. Cupcakes finish in less tha 20 minutes!