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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

     

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    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.

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    International Food Blogger Conference 2011 NOLA

    Entries in mustard seeds (3)

    Monday
    Nov222010

    Pickled Cauliflower (with a few assorted veggies)

    These can be made spicy, if you like, or leave the red pepper flakes out altogether. The other spices, along with apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and a touch of sugar, still pack a wallop of flavor. (Toasting the whole spices makes a big difference.)

        This crunchy pickled vegetable mixture is great on an antipasti platter, eaten with cheese & crackers, served with hummus, or chopped up a bit and eaten on a burger.

        This makes a nice big batch, but you'll be glad you made a big batch when you taste it.

    NOTE: Ground turmeric gives the brine a slight yellowish tint and can make it a tiny bit cloudy sometimes too. If you want a perfectly clear brine, omit the ground turmeric. The pickled veggies will still be delicious, but the flavor will be a bit less complex.

    Yield: 3 or 4 quarts, or approx 7 pints. (Amount varies due to size of vegetables used.)

    • 1 head cauliflower - cored, then broken into 1 to 2-inch florets
    • carrots - peeled and sliced diagonally 1/2 inch thick
    • 1 red bell pepper - cored and cut into 1 inch chunks
    • yellow onion - peeled, then sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices
    • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
    • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds (brown or yellow or a mixture)
    • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
    • 6 cups apple cider vinegar
    • 3 cups water
    • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
    • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 4 TBS sea or kosher salt
    • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
    • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional, see note above)
    • 1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)


    1.) Layer the cauliflower, carrots, bell pepper and sliced onions in a large glass container or jar, or several smaller jars*. 

    2.) Toast the whole seeds (cumin, coriander and mustard) over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until fragrant and slightly darkened, about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar, water, garlic, ginger, sugar, salt, peppercorns, turmeric, red pepper flakes, to the toasted spices. Bring to a boil, stirring, long enough to dissolve sugar and salt. Turn off heat and let brine cool to room temperature. 

    3.) Pour the cooled brine over the vegetables.
    4.) Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 days, and up to 2 or 3 weeks.
    OR

    5.) If you want to process this mixture so that it's shelf-stable, layer the vegetables into clean, hot pint jars. Pour the hot brine over the vegetables, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
    6.) Remove any air bubbles with a thin plastic knife blade or a chopstick, wipe the rips perfectly clean and place the seals on the jars, then screw the bands on fingertip-tight. Process in a Boiling Water Bath canner for 15 minutes.

    7.) Remove jars from canner and let sit on the counter for 24 hours. Store in a cool dark place, and be sure to refrigerate after opening.

     

    *If planning on processing in a Boiling Water Bath for shelf-stability, you'll want to use canning jars.

    Thursday
    Oct142010

    Pear Chutney

       This recipe is remarkably simple to make. Once you prep your ingredients, it all goes into the preserving pan at the same time, and happily cooks away, without needing too much supervision. Chutneys can easily be made spicy, but even the non-spicy version is packed with so many complex flavors you'll wonder why you didn't make chutney sooner!

    --> 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

    • 4 pounds fresh pears, ripe or slightly green
    • 1 onion, chopped, about 1 cup
    • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
    • 1 lemon, zested and juiced OR 1/3 cup bottled lemon juice
    • 1 cup raisins
    • 1/2 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
    • 2 cups brown sugar
    • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
    • 1 heaping TBS mustard seeds
    • 2 teaspoons (sea) salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • IF you want it SPICY....add between 1 teaspoon and 1 TBS red chili flakes.

    > Before filling your canning jars they need to be heated so they don’t break during processing.  Place jars in a pan with enough water to cover the tops of them.  Bring the water to a simmer on your stove top, and keep jars in the gently simmering water until they are ready to be used. Remove the jars from the hot water, one at a time, as you are ready to fill them. Add more water occasionally, if needed.

    1. Place vinegar 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.)

    2. Peel pears, although it isn't neccessary, then remove stem ends & cores, then chop. Add pears to the vinegar in the preserving pan as you chop them, to prevent oxidation.

    3. Add remaining ingredients to pear/vinegar mixture and stir well.

    4. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about one hour. You want it to simmer constantly.

    5. 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 if you plan to process & seal them in jars, or 1" headspace if you plan to freeze them instead.

    6. 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.

    7. At this point you can cover jars with tight-fitting lids and either:

    a.) Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. 

    b.) Store in the freezer for up to 6 months. 

    c.) Process the jars to create a shelf-stable preserve that won't need refrigeration by following these steps:

    8.  Wipe rims clean, place lids atop jars, then screw on bands until they're finger-tight.

    9. 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.

    10. 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.

    My love letter to Pear Chutney

    Constructing Chutney

    Monday
    Sep272010

    Blue Ribbon Dill Pickles

    Crunchy, zesty and a real crowd-pleaser, this is a classic dill pickle. It can be eaten after a 24 hour waiting period, but will continue to become more flavorful with time, especially if you add peppers and/or garlic to the brine. Speaking of brine, if you have an issue with sodium, you can cut the salt back by as much as half, but the pickles won't taste the same, of course.

     Makes 4 quarts

    •  Approx. 3 dozen medium sized pickling cucumbers, gently scrubbed clean
    • 4 clusters fresh flowering dill heads
    • 8 peeled garlic cloves (optional: more or less as desired)
    • 4 hot peppers (optional: more or less as desired)
    • 3 cups distilled white vinegar
    • 3 cups water
    • 6 TBS "canning & pickling" salt (or less, as desired)
    • 1 tsp dill seed
    • 1 tsp yellow mustard seed
    • 1 tsp brown mustard seed (optional)

    Note: Prepare canning jars before starting your preserving project.

    1.) Into each wide-mouth quart jar, put one or more hot peppers, plus one cluster of fresh dill, and 2 or more garlic cloves.

    2.) Cut 1/8”-1/4” from the blossom* end of the each cuke, and pack them into jars atop garlic, dill and peppers.

    3.) In a pan, combine vinegar, water, dill seeds and mustard seeds. Bring to a boil, and then pour over cucumbers, leaving ½” head space.

    4.) Release any trapped air bubbles by carefully running a chopstick or other non-metallic utensil around the edges.

    5.) Wipe the rims of the jars clean. I find a damp paper towel works well for this.

    6.) Set lids on jars, and screw rings on finger-tight.

    7.) Place jars on rack in boiling water bath canner or large stockpot, and be sure jars are covered with at least 1" of boiling water. You might need to add more water, using a clean jar or water pitcher.

    8.) Cover with a tight-fitting lid, and bring water to a boil.

    9.) Process in a Boiling Water Bath Canner for 10** minutes.

    10.) Turn off heat, remove lid and let jars rest for 5 minutes in the canner/stockpot.

    11.) Remove from BWB canner using tongs and let the jars sit on the counter, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Test seals by pushing down on the center of the lid. If it flexes up & down, it is not sealed. If it stays down, the seal was successful.

    12.) 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 6 months. 

    *It is important to cut off the blossom end, as it contains enzymes that can make pickles undesirably soft.

    **0-1000 ft: process 10 minutes

    1,001-6,000 ft: process 15 minutes

    Above 6,000 ft: process 20 minutes

    Link to article about making Blue Ribbon Dills!