Wednesday, August 19

Experimental Canning

Between getting fruit in our CSA share each week and actually having an apple harvest this year, I've been working with an entirely different flow of food into my kitchen this year than has been the case the last couple summers. 

In particular, I've been finding myself with just a few of this or that needing to be used
before they go bad - pears, peaches, nectarines, apples.

Enter Preserving by the Pint, the new book by Marisa McClellan - the author/blogger behind Food in Jars. I grabbed a copy from my library out of curiosity and knew I'd found exactly what I needed. Each PbtP recipe is small batch - usually resulting in only 1 or 2 pints of finished product - and therefore calls for very small amounts of ingredients. It's the perfect solution to effectively putting up that handful of miscellaneous produce that always seems to come ripe out of sync with everything else, or that randomly shows up in a CSA box.

I very much enjoyed having both the excuse and opportunity to experiment, and picked two recipes to start with: Rosemary Apple Jam and Pear Caramel Sauce. 

The jam was quick and stupid easy to make, but smells and tastes amazing! It's one of those concoctions that begs to be dumped over pork or chicken in a crockpot on a cold, blustery day with the promise of making your house smell delectable for hours and an easy dinner. (I am a huge fan of dump-it-in-the-crockpot-and-call-it-done dinners during the winter!) You can find the recipe neatly written out here.

The pear caramel was far too intriguing an idea not to try, and the end result left me seriously tempted to run out, grab a bushel of pears, and make a dozen or so more batches! It's a beautiful color, it stores neatly on your shelf (as opposed to so many caramel sauces that require refrigeration), and it contains no gluten, dairy, or other allergens - another giant bonus for those of us used to being frustrated by the ingredients in commercial sauces! Moreover, I can testify that it is amazing over both ice cream and crisp. [Supposedly you can do this with any fruit, and I look forward to experimenting with that further.] Note: I used less than the called for amount of sugar in my batch, and it turned out just fine.

Experimental canning has been tremendous fun thus far this summer, and I look forward to trying a few more new-to-me recipes if I find myself with the right combination of ingredients on hand. If you tend to find yourself with just a handful of this or that laying around, check out Food in Jars or grab Preserving by the Pint from your library!

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