Another recipe from The Art of Preserving…for which I’ll respect the copyright and not reprint it here. But I still recommend the recipe (and the book!) and have fairly good faith that you can find an online caponata recipe online somewhere and doctor it to your liking.
Caponata, for the uninitiate and non-Sicilians who might read this (I’m not Sicilian either!) is an intense eggplanty relish-condiment-pasta-saucy-thing with capers and tomatoes and all kinds of good things. We are going out of town soon and I needed something to do with my ready-to-pick eggplant harvest, and this seemed like a good bet.
A note: the recipe in this book was developed to be acidic enough for water bath canning–as I’ve said before, unless you know you’re using high-acid foods or an established recipe, don’t improvise and assume your own variations are safe for this purpose! I’m even a little leery of this recipe, because despite the half cup of vinegar and high proportion of tomatoes, it also has onions and lots of eggplant, so I will probably keep it in the fridge. (The danger is botulism, which grows in warm moist oxygen-free environments like the inside of vacuum-processed jars. Fridge temperatures should be low enough that it can’t multiply and, like, kill you. Unlike other contaminants, it’s odorless and tasteless, which is what makes it so scary. Usual disclaimer: do your own homework, don’t automatically trust anything I say and assume I know what I’m talking about.)
Anyway, I’ve seen all kinds of caponata recipes–eggplant and capers seem to be key in all of them, and most have some tomatoes, but after that they are all over the map. Some have cinnamon and unsweetened cocoa (think mole), some have carrots and celery, some have zucchini (or use zucchini instead of eggplant), some have green or black olives. This particular version includes eggplant, tomatoes, onions, pine nuts, capers, and kalamata olives–it’s intense and salty and I expect once the flavors have time to meld it’ll be amazing. (It also, because of the water bath thing, may be a bit more sour and acidic than other recipes, because it has to be.)
I was also delighted to discover that this time (I came up short in the plum jam recipe in quantity, and it took much longer than the recipe suggested it should) I got exactly the yield the books said I should get (3 pints), and it took pretty much exactly the amount of time it said it should take. I processed it in the water bath (but am storing it in the fridge just in case, because I’m paranoid and saw that episode of Criminal Minds where this woman died of an extreme case of chemically engineered botulism) and it vacuum sealed beautifully. Got the head space thing right this time too. I hope this lives up to its promise…because it looks delicious.
What shall I preserve next?