Preserves, Pickles, and Sauce, Oh My!
I stopped at a local produce market a friend has been trying to get me to for about a year, but I never quite managed it…and I am hooked. For under ten bucks I got out of there with 6 pretty zucchinis, 4 lbs of beautiful firm Roma tomatoes, a bunch of nectarines, and a couple more things, I don’t remember…
All of the above are now preserved in Ball jars on my counter.
I made Tomato Basil sauce from The Art of Preserving, which I reviewed at The Green Phone Booth yesterday. I made spiced zucchini pickles that were just too intriguing to pass up (and besides, I had the ingredients around–most pickle recipes require celery seed and turmeric, neither of which I had in the kitchen; cinnamon sticks and cloves I had.) I made a nectarine-raspberry preserve that’s a hybrid between a couple of other recipes; since fruits like that are high acid, I’m not worried about spoilage and botulism and stuff, so I felt okay messing with the recipe a bit. And a special, today-only bonus: there was a whole lot of leftover syrup after making the preserves, so I canned a jar of that too. (And put the leftover half jar into the fridge.)
Verdicts so far: Despite my love for tomatoes and my new-to-me-ebay Foley food mill, I don’t see tomato sauce as something I’ll be knocking myself out to produce on a regular basis, BPA in commercial can linings or not. It takes something like 45 lbs of tomatoes to produce maybe 7 quarts of product, and it’s just too damn much work. All those who make this happen on a regular basis–I salute you. But I don’t think it’ll be me. I only got about a pint and a half of sauce out of my mini-recipe, and one of the jars didn’t seal–I think I need to start leaving more head space in the jars, I underestimate how much expanding room the food needs when it heats…
The pickles I won’t know for a week, since part of the deal with pickling is that, well, you have to let the food pickle. They look and smell fairly amazing, though. Got three little half pints and one bigger pint; the small ones may be gifts. If I know anyone who likes spicy zucchini pickles. 🙂
The preserves look lovely–they are this gorgeous swirl of orange and red, like some exotic sunrise. I overfilled those too, but they sealed okay, I believe. (I’ll check it out tomorrow when they’ve cooled, to be sure. ) Got I think one pint and two half-pints out of that, and another half pint of syrup.
Still have the four jars of plum jam from last week.
None of these were huge batches; if I’m going to go all fubar on a new project, I’d rather do it on a smaller amount of produce, you know? Still, it was a very labor-intensive few hours, although I did find it helpful, as long as I paid attention, to move things in and out of the water bath without having to reheat the whole damn pot of water every time I had a new batch. That part worked okay.
But this is so very cool…I love having a new skill, and I love knowing that even though 6 days before a 2 week vacation was probably not the best time to buy a buttload of produce, it will all survive till we return and beyond.
So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go eat some nectarine-raspberry syrup out of the jar and then go to bed…