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  • FoodSaver V3240 Vertical Vacuum Sealer, White
    FoodSaver V3240 Vertical Vacuum Sealer, White
    FoodSaver
    I just started using a FoodSaver vacuum sealer to seal foods and I can't believe I waited so long to get one. (Check out my first project: Sweet & Sour Green Bean Freezer Pickles!)
    For example: In the past I would take the time to pick beautiful berries, then would bring them home and stick them in a zippered baggie in the freezer. My berries would have ice crystals and taste freezer burnt after just a few short months. 
    Then I had a light-bulb moment: "Air is the enemy" of freshness. 
    When vacuum-sealed my berries last 3 to 4 times longer! I have similar results with other fruits, veggies and even meats & cheeses.
    The FoodSaver has been a fantastic discovery. ~ Brook
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    • Mehu-Liisa 10 Liter Stainless Steel Steam Juicer - Made in Finland
      Mehu-Liisa 10 Liter Stainless Steel Steam Juicer - Made in Finland
      Mehu-Liisa Products

      Some day I will replace my ancient graniteware Steam Juice Extractor with this gorgeous Mehu-Liisa brand Steam Juicer. My old Steam Juicer leaks steam, meaning I have to refill the water often, and it doesn't have anywhere close to the capacity of this one from Mehu-Liisa.
      If you want to experience the magic of a Steam Juicer, check out this 10 quart Mehu-Liisa. It will last you a lifetime and save you countless hours in the kitchen, whether your juicing fruit for  Plum Jelly or Apricot Nectar, not to mention it minimizes the mess of juicing large amounts of veggies!  ~ Brook

    • Ball Quilted Jelly Canning Jar 4 Oz (Pack of 12)
      Ball Quilted Jelly Canning Jar 4 Oz (Pack of 12)
      Ball
      What's the one jar size I always keep a couple extra cases of? 
      The Ball 4 ounce jar.
      It's basically 1/2 cup, and just the right size for gift-giving and for experimenting with small batches. Perfect for things like my famous Pear Honey.
      People can't help but say "That is so darn cute!" when they seem them. 
      ~ Brook

    • Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
      Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
      Presto
      Looking for an affordable, easy-to-use pressure canner, backed up by great customer service? Look no further than the Presto 23 quart Pressure Canner/Cooker. It's the one I recommend to all my students. ~ Brook

     

    Dilly Pickled Onion Slices on Punk Domestics

    • Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen (Orange) Instant Read Thermometer, Perfect for Barbecue, Home and Professional Cooking
      Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen (Orange) Instant Read Thermometer, Perfect for Barbecue, Home and Professional Cooking
      ThermoWorks
      Do you have a great instant-read thermometer, or are you still buying the 20 dollar ones that only last a year or two? This was one of my best kitchen purchases.
      Can't imagine cooking jam (or meat or candy) without it! 
      Take your jams to 220º and you'll have a perfect gel set every time. Also available in other colors, but why wouldn't you want orange? It's only the BEST COLOR EVER. ~ Brook

     

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    • The Home Preserving Bible (Living Free Guides)
      The Home Preserving Bible (Living Free Guides)
      by Carole Cancler
      If you're looking for a book that covers every preserving topic imaginable, this is the book for you. It doesn't have a flashy cover or glossy pictures, but it's full of great info. One of my very favorite resources. ~ Brook

    • OXO Good Grips Corn Stripper
      OXO Good Grips Corn Stripper
      OXO

      Last August my friend Kelli asked me if I wanted some fresh corn from her grandpa's garden. I said "Sure....I'd love to make a few jars of Sweet Corn Relish!"
      She showed up 6 hours later with 158 ears. Wasn't sure if I loved her or hated her for it.
      After a long hot day spent cutting kernels off all those cobs with a small paring knife, I decided I'd never be without a Corn Stripper again. ~ Brook

     

    Foodista Food Blog of the Day Badge

     

    

    I have attempted to share safe preserving methods however you alone are responsible for your health & safety in your own kitchen or location. Be aware of current safety recommendations. Please see "Full Disclaimer" page for suggested preserving resources.

    Full Disclaimer

    International Food Blogger Conference 2011 NOLA

    Monday
    Mar172014

    Drinking Vinegar, also known as "Shrub"

    This method takes 1 week, start-to-finish. About 1 hour active time.

    Approximate yield: 3 cups

         Drinking Vinegars, also known by some people as shrubs, are simple to make. If you're the creative type, the ability to mix & match fruit, vinegar and sweeteners will probably appeal to you. 

        The Food Lovers Companion definition of shrub says "Colonial-day shrubs were spiked with liquor (usually brandy or rum) but today these fruit juice, sugar and vinegar drinks are usually non-alcoholic. Shrubs are served over ice, with or without soda water."

        Try adding a few tablespoons of Drinking Vinegar to a glass with ice cubes and either soda or water for a really refreshing drink. Shrubs, as these zesty beverages were called by many, were well known in the eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries as great thirst quenchers, and were quite refreshing when battling summer heat. You'll discover that Drinking Vinegars can be straight-forward or amazingly complex, and are a fun alternative to fruit juice, soda pop and cocktail mixers.

        To use them as a cocktail mixer, first put ice in a glass, then add a few tablespoons of Drinking Vinegar, a shot of Vodka and then top the glass with club soda. A sprig of mint and a squeeze of lemon or lime are a nice addition too.

    • Start with any kind of fruit.
    • Seed and coarsely chop *whole fruit, and add it to a quart jar. 
    • Mash fruit in jar, using a wooden spoon, for a minute or so before adding the vinegar.
    • Top off the jar with any type of vinegar and let it sit at room temperature for about a week, stirring once per day. I like to write the content of the jar on a paper napkin, paper towel or doily, along with the date, then cover the jar with the napkin and secure it with a rubber band. This keeps fruit flies or dust out and helps me keep track of what's in the jar. Sometimes I have several going at once, and if I use different vinegars it's easy to forget what is in each and every jar.

    Some good combinations:

    Apples & Apple Cider Vinegar

    Pears & (unseasoned) Rice Vinegar

    Pineapple & Distilled White Vinegar

    Strawberries & White Balsamic Vinegar 

    Experimenting with different types of vinegar, like distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar can yield wildly varying results.(All good!)

    • After you let the fruit infuse into the vinegar for a week, strain the liquid into a saucepan and add some type of sweetener -- again -- you can get creative. I prefer evaporated cane juice sugar, but you can use white sugar, brown sugar, honey or pure maple syrup.
    • Add 1/2 cup of sweetener to the liquid and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring until the sweetener dissolves and incorporates. 
    • Filtering is optional, depending on whether you want your finished product to be clear. You can use a fine sieve, cheesecloth or coffee filters. Pears, for example, left behind a lot of sediment that would have made the Drinking Vinegar cloudy. Choosing to filter, or even filter twice, is purely a matter of esthetics. The sediment does not affect the flavor. Once filtered and stored in the refrigerator, tightly-capped, the Drinking Vinegars keep practically forever. I have a feeling you'll enjoy 'em so much that you'll want to try making them with a variety of fruits, and keep a few bottles in the fridge all year 'round. 

     *Use common sense. Organic apples don't need to be peeled. Pineapple needs to be peeled. 

     

    Sunday
    Mar162014

    Pineapple Drinking Vinegar

    This method takes 1 week, start-to-finish. About 1 hour active time.
    Makes approximately 3 cups.
     
       Try adding a few tablespoons of Pineapple Drinking Vinegar to a glass with ice cubes and top off with either soda or water for a really refreshing drink. To use them as a cocktail mixer, first put ice in a glass, then add a few tablespoons of Drinking Vinegar, a shot of Vodka and then top the glass with club soda and squeeze of lemon or lime. Whether you're making a mocktail or a cocktail, a sprig of fresh basil or mint are wonderful with the pineapple flavors. If you want to get really fancy, add a skewer of fresh pineapple chunks to the glass!
    • 2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
    • 2 cups rice vinegar (unseasoned)
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • Add pineapple chunks to a clean quart jar. 
    • Mash fruit in jar, using a wooden spoon, for a minute or so before adding the vinegar.
    • Add vinegar to the jar and let it sit at room temperature for about a week, stirring once per day. I like to write the content of the jar on a paper napkin, paper towel or doily, along with the date, then cover the jar with the napkin and secure it with a rubber band. This keeps fruit flies or dust out and helps me keep track of what's in the jar.
    • After you let the fruit infuse into the vinegar for a week, strain the liquid into a saucepan.
    • Add sugar to the vinegar in the saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring until the sweetener dissolves and incorporates. 
    • Filtering is optional, depending on whether you want your finished product to be clear. You can use a fine sieve, cheesecloth or coffee filters. (Choosing to filter, or even filter twice, is purely a matter of esthetics. The sediment does not affect the flavor.)
    •  Once filtered and stored in the refrigerator, tightly-capped, the Pineapple Drinking Vinegar will keep practically forever. 
    Sunday
    Mar162014

    Roasted Pineapple Ketchup

    This technique is similar to my Roasted Rhubarb Ketchup, but I changed up the ingredients a bit. After all, rhubarb is quite tart, and pineapple, of course is sweet, especially when cooked in any way. 

    It's a fun project, and it will make your kitchen smell quite exotic. Make this when you have the time and the inclination. You will be rewarded with the prettiest jars of condiments to show off on your shelf. 

    This recipe is loosely based on the Roasted Rhubarb Ketchup recipe in The River Cottage Preserves Handbook.

    Makes ~2-3 half-pints
    • 1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and chunked 
    • 1/2 red onion, peeled and cut in half again
    • 2 garlic cloves, no need to peel
    • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
    • 4 TBS cider vinegar
    • 2 TBS lime juice
    • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt, or more to taste
    • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
    • Note: Up to 2 cups of apple or pineapple juice may be necessary for extra moisture

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    2. Spread pineapple, red onion and garlic on a roasting pan, place in oven and roast for approximately one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. You will know it's completely cooked when the edges of pineapple chunks turn golden brown.

    Note: While you are waiting for the pineapple to roast you should prepare your canning jars!

    3.Scoop contents of roasting pan into a food processor and puree until smooth. (Add water, apple juice or pineapple juice 1/4 cup at a time, if the consistency is too thick to process. Fresh pineapples can vary in natural water content.) 

    4. Pour contents of food processor into a saucepan. Add remaining ingredients to saucepan and cook for 15-20 minutes covered over LOW heat, stirring often to be sure it isn't sticking to the bottom of the pan. The reason for covering the mixture is to prevent burns & stains from the simmering ketchup, which has a tendency to splatter.

    > If you want the ketchup to have a smooth pour-able consistency, you can blend it for a few seconds with an immersion blender, or you can run it through a food mill before bottling or sealing in jars. If not, the ketchup will be slightly chunky because of the fibrous nature of pineapple. 

    5. Remove from heat and ladle into jars. Look for any air bubbles in the jars and if you see any, use a chopstick or plastic knife to pop them before wiping rims clean with a dry paper towel. 

    6.  At this point you can either  cover jars with tight-fitting lids (and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months, or in the freezer for up to 6 months) or you can process by following these steps:

    7. Place a sealing lid on the jar, screw on a band until finger-tight then wipe jar rims spotlessly clean with a dry paper towel.

    9. Ladle into jars, and process in a Boiling Water Bath for 15 minutes for half-pint jars. (If needed, add extra hot water to be sure jars are completley submerged before covering Boiling Water Bath Canner with the lid.)

    10. Remove jars with a jar-lifter and place on a towel on the counter in a draft-free place. Let rest for 24 hours, then check for proper seal before storing.

    11. If jars lids seal, store them in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

    Note: Check lids for a proper seal by pressing the middle of the lid with a finger or thumb. If the lid stays down, it is sealed and will easily keep for up to one year in a cool dark place. If the lid springs up when you release your finger, the lid is unsealed. Place unsealed jars in your refrigerator and use within one month.


    Sunday
    Mar162014

    Pineapple-Jalapeño Chutney 

       I like the complex combination of sweet, savory, and tart, all at the same time. The Jalapeño peppers give this an added kick of spice. You can choose to add as many or as few of the Jalapeño pepper slices as you like, depending on your personal tastes. The peppers continue to add heat to the chutney the longer it's in the jar, so keep that in mind when adding them to your preserving pan. 

    --> Please chop ingredients by hand. If you use a food processor, the ingredients will probably end up too small, which results in a finished product that resembles an unappealing mush. You want to be able to recognize the ingredients in your chutney.

    Makes ~8 half pints

    • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped
    • 1 1/2 lbs Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
    • 5 TBS grated fresh ginger
    • 1 cup water
    • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
    • 1 TBS yellow mustard seeds
    • 1 TBS brown mustard seeds
    • 1 TBS (sea) salt
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 1 or more Jalapeño peppers, seeded and sliced 

    *Be very careful when working with fresh Jalapeño peppers. Always wear disposable gloves. Never touch your face when working with hot peppers! I have a small plastic cutting board that I use exclusively for prepping hot chiles. The Capsaicin oils are difficult to remove and you don't want cross-contamination.

    1.) Prepare your canning jars; prepare seals according to manufacturer's instructions.

    2.) Combine all ingredients except salt and sugars in a large, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pan. (In other words, don't use an aluminum, copper, or cast iron pan when cooking with lemon juice &/or vinegar.)

    3.) Mix well while bringing mixture to a boil over medium-low heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 10-20 minutes, or until fruit is slightly tender.

    4.) Add the salt, sugar and sliced Jalapeño pepper rings, and bring back to a boil, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved. Cook for 30 min or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the chutney has thickened to desired consistency. 

    4.) Once desired thickness has been achieved, remove the preserving pan from the heat then spoon mixture immediately into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. (1" headspace if you are freezing.)

    5.) Look for any air bubbles in the jars and if you see any, use a chopstick or plastic knife to pop them, then wipe rims of jars spotlessly clean. I like to use a damp paper towel for wiping rims.

    6.) At this point you can do one of 3 things:

          > Cover jars with tight-fitting lids and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. 

          > Cover jars with tight-fitting lids and store in the freezer for up to 6 months. 

          > Process the jars to create a shelf-stable preserve that won't need refrigeration. If processing, following these steps:

    A.) Use 2 piece lids made for canning jars - place sealing lid on jar, then screw on bands until they're fingertip-tight.

    B.) Process for 15 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath, then remove jars with a jar-lifter and place on a towel on the counter. Let rest for 24 hours, then check for proper seal before storing.

    C.) If jars lids seal, store them in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

    Helpful tip: Check lids for a proper seal by pressing the middle of the lid with a finger or thumb. If the lid stays down, it is sealed and will easily keep for up to one year in a cool dark place. If the lid springs up when you release your finger, the lid is unsealed. Place unsealed jars in your refrigerator and eat within 3 months, or within one month after opening.

    Recipe adapted from "Preserving" by Oded Schwartz
    Sunday
    Mar162014

    Pineapple Jam

       There's something special about the way the natural sugars in fresh pineapple take on an almost candy-like quality when cooked, then preserved. I love the flavors so much that on the rare occasion I find myself on a tropical vacation, I always find a way to put up a jar or two of pineapple preserves using local produce. Yes, even on vacation I can't resist the urge to preserve the freshness of something delicious.
    Note: It helps to be sure to rent a place with a kitchen. Canning in a hotel room? Not recommended. 

    Makes ~3 half pints

    • 4 cups fresh pineapple chunks (3 lb pineapple)
    • 2 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1/2 fresh lemon, thinly sliced and seeded
    • 1 cup water

    Note: Prepare canning jars before starting your preserving project.

    1.) Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed non-reactive saucepan.

    2.) Bring slowly to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Stir the fruit gently to reduce foaming. Once sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to a rapid boil.

    3.) As the mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. After about 10 minutes the fruit should be softening and you can periodically mash the chunks with a potato masher if you want smaller pieces. 

    4.) Continue boiling for 10-15 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the jam either thickens to your liking or until it reaches 220º on a candy thermometer.

    5.) Ladle jam into clean hot jars to within 1/4" of the top, and use a plastic knife to pop any bubbles that appear in the jam.

    6.) Wipe rims spotlessly clean using a damp paper towel.

    7.) Place a sealing lid on top of jar then screw a band onto the jar until it's "fingertip-tight".

    8.) Process for 10 minutes in a Boiling Water Bath. 

    9.) Turn kettle off and let jars rest in kettle for 5 more minutes.

    10.) Remove jars from kettle using jar-lifter tongs, and gently set aside to cool on the counter, on a kitchen towel, in a draft-free place. 

    10.) Let rest for 24 hours, then check for proper seal before storing.  

    > If jars lid seals it will easily keep for one year in a cool, dark place. If jar doesn't seal, place it in your refrigerator and eat within 3 months, and within one month after opening. 

    Recipe adapted from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.