Plum maple conserve

August 16, 2009

And so this weekend, the canning project was the Plum Maple Conserve from Small Batch Preserving. I followed the directions fairly faithfully (added an extra tablespoon of lemon juice, that was the only tweak), and have no complaints. It took a little while to boil down to the gel point– it seemed to get stuck at 212F for about an hour– but eventually it made it there, and boy is it delicious.  Another one that I may not be able to bring myself to share with others. Sharing never has been my strong point.

Also bought another box of tomatoes, but am out of energy to do anything with them today. The plum conserve took it out of me.  With luck, they’ll last until tomorrow, at which point, pizza sauce. I have a plan to make myself some french bread pizzas to freeze instead of spending an arm and a leg on store-bought ones. Made the baguettes for them today…I hope that they, too, will last until tomorrow.

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Peach Butter

August 10, 2009

Every year I make peach jam of some sort– one year it was peach and ginger, last year lemony peach (lemon zest and lemon balm, verbena, thyme). This year I decided to try something a little different– peach butter. The recipe is simple– 4 1/2 lbs medium peaches, peeled, seeded, chopped, boiled 20 minutes with 1/2 c. water and then run through a food processor (I used my stick blender).  Measure out the pulp (should be about 8 cups), add 4 cups sugar, the juice and zest of one lemon, and boil it down until it’s of spreadable consistency.  I added a teaspoon of ground cardamom and a splash of vanilla, too.  It’s that last step– boiling it down– that takes a while.  I expected a couple of hours, it was more like the better part of the day.  Definitely not a quick project. Lots of stirring towards the end to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom.  Some minor peach burns from spatters as it became thicker.   But the result! I may never go back to peach jam. The flavor was so bright and concentrated– peach jam with the volume turned up several notches. I got about 6 pints in the end, one of them in the form of 4oz jars for gift-giving, but I may not be able to bring myself to give any of it away.  My peach butter. All mine.

Carnivorous plants update: Something ate one of the pitchers on my S.  rubra, the venus flytraps seem to have survived my unnecessary repotting– one seems to have been trod upon by a cat-sized foot, not clear yet how well it will recover. One of the flytraps caught a housefly– you can see the little fly eyeballs staring out, cold and lifeless.  The sundew has dew and is thriving. The only one still in question is the Nep, still don’t know if it’s acclimating or dying a slow death.

Habanero Gold

August 2, 2009

Scored some habaneros at the farmer’s market yesterday and so was finally able to try out Habanero Gold. It is delicious.  I used Carol’s big batch adaptation of the recipe, which yielded 12- 4oz jars plus some extra, which I put in an extra jar for us to enjoy immediately (I always feel silly canning something and then opening a jar of it immediately).

I used about 1/3 c. of habaneros, which resulted in a nice burn that’s tempered nicely when you pair it with cheese. If you don’t like hot at all, this isn’t for you, and if you like hot a lot, you may want to put more habs in.  Personally, I have a lot in common with Goldilocks on this point, so 1/3 cup was just right.

pepperjelly

A note on getting the colorful bits distributed evenly throughout the jelly: you’re not supposed to invert jars, because it can break the seal. And that ‘tipping it gently’ thing advocated in some recipes doesn’t work for me. I found that rapidly twisting the jar on a flat surface (as though it were doing The Twist on the dance floor) worked pretty well. They floated back up again a little bit, but ended up better than they started, anyhow.