Food in Jars.  In her first book by the same name, McClellan does what I think everyone has been waiting for:  she makes canning easy because she does it in small batches.  “These are recipes that I prepare in my own apartment in Philadelphia, without the space and amenities of a huge kitchen, and they’re a terrific way to bring the bounty of a local farmers’ market into your home and serve it throughout the year,” says McClellan.  Having read her book, I actually believe now that small batch canning is possible.  But even more so?  It doesn’t require a huge chunk of my time to do it. "> Food in Jars.  In her first book by the same name, McClellan does what I think everyone has been waiting for:  she makes canning easy because she does it in small batches.  “These are recipes that I prepare in my own apartment in Philadelphia, without the space and amenities of a huge kitchen, and they’re a terrific way to bring the bounty of a local farmers’ market into your home and serve it throughout the year,” says McClellan.  Having read her book, I actually believe now that small batch canning is possible.  But even more so?  It doesn’t require a huge chunk of my time to do it. "> Food in Jars.  In her first book by the same name, McClellan does what I think everyone has been waiting for:  she makes canning easy because she does it in small batches.  “These are recipes that I prepare in my own apartment in Philadelphia, without the space and amenities of a huge kitchen, and they’re a terrific way to bring the bounty of a local farmers’ market into your home and serve it throughout the year,” says McClellan.  Having read her book, I actually believe now that small batch canning is possible.  But even more so?  It doesn’t require a huge chunk of my time to do it. "> Food Wednesdays: Cookbook Review: Food In Jars | In witfs Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor | witf.org
In witf's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Food Wednesdays: Cookbook Review: Food In Jars

Written by Donna Marie Desfor, Culinary Consultant and Chef | Aug 1, 2012 6:17 PM

Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round
By Marisa McClellan
Photos by Steve Lagato
Facts:  Running Press – 230 pages $23.00 (or at Amazon starting at $13.81; Kindle Edition at $10.99)
Recipes:  Over 100
Photos: 85 +
Give to: CSA share participants; Farm stand junkies and wholesale warehouse shoppers.

This is the best of times and the worst of times.  Markets, farm stands, and CSA baskets are unabashedly abundant with fresh produce, fresh fruits and a whole host of garden staples, like herbs and edible flowers.  We buy them, haul them home, but inevitably can’t get through all that food before it starts turning bad.  Being one that hates to waste or toss food, I somehow never have managed to get on the canning bandwagon.  Who needs the fuss or the mess?  And do any of us really even have that much time to dedicate to such a project?  I guess for me, the biggest hurdle is that my over-flowing bushel of food contains a multitude of things.  Certainly it’s not all going into one can! 

Enter Marisa McClellan of the popular blog Food in Jars.  In her first book by the same name, McClellan does what I think everyone has been waiting for:  she makes canning easy because she does it in small batches.  “These are recipes that I prepare in my own apartment in Philadelphia, without the space and amenities of a huge kitchen, and they’re a terrific way to bring the bounty of a local farmers’ market into your home and serve it throughout the year,” says McClellan.  Having read her book, I actually believe now that small batch canning is possible.  But even more so?  It doesn’t require a huge chunk of my time to do it. 

For the canning purist, McClellan goes through all the basics in the first few pages without turning canning into a science class.  She quickly, but thoroughly, covers everything you need to have and know, which is a surprisingly small list and mostly already present in your well-stocked kitchen.  As far as the processing stuff and tweaks and changes you might make to account for acidity or altitude?  She makes that easy, too.  Then with no apologies for canning only a few jars at a time, McClellan dives headlong into a progression of classic canned goods, from jams, fruit butters, jellies and marmalades to the uber-sophisticated curds and conserves.  Then she tackles the garden and the orchard including recipes for pickling, salsas and relishes, sauces, syrups, whole fruits and for the health conscious – she even includes granola and nut butters.

Let’s just say that after my first flip-through the pages, which are chock full of photos of the finished products (that look like they were photographed on one of our local Amish farmsteads, btw), I was ready to head into the kitchen and preserve whatever was there. 

Recently released, her timing is perfect.  I seem to have a lot of extras these days.  Farm stand visits and CSA takes are too abundant for my small family to consume in one weeks’ time.  McClellan shows me how to take what I have left over and, usually in under an hour, turn out a couple of processed jars that don’t take up an entire cold cellar, but instead a small corner of my pantry.  And with mouth-watering names to her recipes, like oven-roasted peach preserves, or spiced pickled pear halves, and even grape ketchup and spicy honey mustard, I’m paying a little more attention to what I’m bringing home in the hopes of getting them into jars before they disappear in my kids mouths.

I’m quite sure I’ll never be one to schedule that Saturday or Sunday for putting up my preserves, but I’ll happily tackle McClellan's book throughout the remainder of summer and put up a few jars of deliciousness in between all that summer fun!

 

food in jars blurberryRecipe: Slow Cooker Blueberry Butter
Though I’ve been a lifelong fan of blueberry jam, it was only very recently that it even occurred to me to take a stab at making blueberry butter. The resulting butter is just wonderful: Less sweet and sticky than a traditional jam, it ends up tasting like blueberry pie in a jar.

Makes 3 (1-pint/500 ml) jars

 

Ingredients
8 cups puréed blueberries (about 3 dry quarts/1.7 kg blueberries)
2 cups/400 g granulated sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Preparation

Put the puréed blueberries in a 4-quart capacity slow cooker. Place a lid on the pot and turn it on to low. After it has cooked for 1 hour, remove the lid and give it a stir. From this point forward, you will want keep the lid slightly cracked. I have found that propping it open with a wooden spoon or chopstick gives just enough room for the evaporating steam to escape.

This butter will need between 4 and to 8 total hours total in the slow cooker. The time varies depending on how hot your slow cooker cooks. Check the butter at least once an hour to track the progress.

In the final hour, add the sugar, lemon zest and juice, and spices. If you want to speed the evaporation, remove the lid and turn the cooker up to high. If you do this, make sure to check and stir the butter every 10 minutes to prevent scorching.

When the butter is nearing completion, prepare a boiling water bath and 3 regular-mouth 1-pint/500 ml jars according to the process (see below). Place the lids in a small saucepan, cover them with water, and simmer over very low heat.

Once it has cooked down to be as thick as ketchup and spreadable, determine whether you like a chunky or smooth butter. For a smoother texture, purée the butter using an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender); for a slight chunkiness, leave it as it is.

Turn the slow cooker off and ladle the butter into the prepared jars. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

The sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

 

How to process
1. If you’re starting with brand-new jars, remove their lids and rings. If you’re using older jars, check the rims to make sure there are no chips or cracks.

2. Put the rack into the canning pot and put the jars on top.

3. Fill the pot (and jars) with water to cover and bring to a boil. I have found that this is the very easiest way to heat up the jars in preparation for canning because you’re going to have to heat up the canning pot anyway. Why not use that energy to heat up the jars as well?

4. Put the lids in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring them to the barest simmer on the back of the stove.

5. While the canning pot comes to a boil, prepare your product.

6. When your recipe is complete, remove the jars from the canning pot (pouring the water back into the pot as you remove the jars) and set them on a clean towel on the counter. There’s no need to invert them; the jars will be so hot that any remaining water will rapidly evaporate. Remove the lids with tongs or a magnetic lid wand and lay them out on the clean towel.

7.  Carefully fill the jars with your product. Depending on the recipe, you’ll need to leave between 1/4 and 1/2 inch/6 mm and 12 mm of headspace (that’s the room between the surface of the product and the top of the jar). Jams and jellies typically get 1/4 inch/6 mm, while thicker products and pickles get 1/2 inch/12 mm.

8. Wipe the rims of the jar with a clean, damp paper towel or the edge of a clean kitchen towel. If the product you’re working with is very sticky, you can dip the edge of the cloth in distilled white vinegar for a bit of a cleaning boost.

9. Apply the lids and screw the bands on the jars to hold the lids down during processing. Tighten the bands with the tips of your fingers to ensure that they aren’t overly tight. This process is known as “fingertip tight.” 

10. Carefully lower the filled jars into the canning pot. You may need to remove some water as you put the jars in the pot. A heat-resistant measuring cup is the best tool for this job, as it won’t transfer heat to your hand.

11. Once the pot has returned to a rolling boil, start your timer. The length of the processing time will vary from recipe to recipe.

12. When your timer goes off, promptly remove the jars from the water bath. Gently place them back on the towel-lined countertop and let them cool.

13. The jar lids should begin to ping soon after they’ve been removed from the pot. The pinging is the sound of the seals forming; the center of the lids will become concave as the vacuum seal takes hold.

14. After the jars have cooled for 24 hours, remove the bands and check the seals. You do this by grasping the jar by the edges of the lid and gently lifting it an inch or two off the countertop. The lid should hold fast.

15. Once you’ve determined that your seals are good, you can store your jars in a cool, dark place (with the rings off, please) for up to a year. Any jars with bad seals can still be used—just store them in the refrigerator and use within 2 weeks.


6 jarsPeach Jam
Every summer, I make a point to buy my weight in peaches. I slice and freeze a bunch, can halves in light syrup, and make peachy sauce, butter, and jam. Glorious peach jam! Peaches have become one of those fruits that are nearly always available, but they are only transcendent during the months of July and August. Those mealy, impenetrable fruits that you pay a small fortune for during the winter can’t possibly compare. Make this jam during the season and forget those out-of-season abominations.

Makes 3 (1-pint/500 ml) jars

Ingredients
5 cups peeled, pitted, and chopped peaches (about 3 pounds/1.4 kg whole peaches)
3 cups/600 g granulated sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 (3-ounce/85 ml) packet liquid pectin

Preparation
Prepare a boiling water bath and 4 regular-mouth 1-pint/500 ml jars according to the process. Place the lids in a small saucepan, cover them with water, and simmer over very low heat.

Combine the peaches and sugar in a large, nonreactive pot. Stir so that the peaches begin to release their juice and mingle with the sugar. Bring to a boil and add the lemon zest and juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Let the jam continue to cook over high heat for 15 to 20 minutes.

If you like a smoother jam, use an immersion blender (taking care not to burn yourself with hot jam) to break down some of the chunks. Add the pectin and bring to a rolling boil for a full 5 minutes. It should look thick and spreadable.

Remove the pot from the heat and ladle the jam into the prepared jars. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Note: When it comes to peeling peaches, most instructions will tell you to blanch and peel them whole. I’ve found that it’s easier and less damaging to the fruit if you slice them in half and remove the pits prior to their hot-water dip. After 60 seconds in a pot of boiling water, the skin should easily pull away from the peach halves.

 

Recipes and photos are reprinted with permission from Food in Jars © 2012 by Marisa McClellan, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group.
Copyright © 2012 by WITF, Inc.

Published in In witfs Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

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