May 2010


Frankly this has not been the best can jam month for me. Right off the bat, the theme(s) this month are not exactly my cup of tea. I appreciate that there was a choice – but for me it was a presidential election type choice. Which candidate do I dislike less, Asparagus or Rhubarb? I am not a huge vegetable fan and there are a lot of veggies that I just flat refuse to try for various reasons, but of the ones that I have tried asparagus is tied right up at the top with green beans for my most loathed vegetable. Rhubarb I have never actually tried.

But rhubarb usually hangs out with my main man strawberry – so it can’t be all bad can it? Here in the south there really isn’t a rhubarb “tradition”, it doesn’t particularly like our climate and has never really gained the “acquired taste we love from childhood” status that I believe it has in other areas of the country. Other colder, norther areas. Added to that I do not care for things that are sour – so rhubarb has never been on the top of my to try list. But again, it has to beat asparagus.

3 Farmer’s Markets and 2 grocery stores later I determine, as did Bread Making Blog Lady, that rhubarb season here in Atlanta was last month. So I bit the bullet and went to the freezer section.

Bag of frozen rhubarb

Oh the SHAME!

I was ahead of the game. I had all of my ingredients ready to go and was going to can yesterday, but alas – this month’s can jam curse was upon me. Instead of a fun day canning with my mother (who brought me a whole flat of strawberries) we spent the first part of the day tracking down the horrid stench in my kitchen. Once we located the source we spent the rest of the day removing, disposing of and cleaning up after the DEAD RAT that had decided the space under my sink cabinet was a great place to shuffle of the mortal coil!

Which leaves me, once again, sneaking in under the wire.  There will be pictures after the mandatory 24 hour no touchie waiting period. Until then, y’all just have to be happy with the recipe. Took a picture – but really, not terribly exciting. I like shooting clear/semi-clear jams better.

Reluctant Rhubarb Chutney: ganked from tigress herself and a recipe over at Country Living

The Hardware: nothing special, check out the canning thing for equipment – this makes four 1/2 pints.

The Software:
1 lb frozen rhubarb (4 C)
2 C Brown Sugar
1 C Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 C Chopped Onion
1/2 t each ground Coriander and ground Ginger
1/2 t each ground Mustard and Salt
1/3 C each chopped dried Cherries and Apricots
2 T chopped fresh Cilantro

Combine sugar, vinegar and spices in a non-reactive saucepan and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Add the rhubarb and gently heat until it is no longer frozen. Add dried fruit and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes – stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and stir in cilantro.

Proceed to canning process – 1/2 inch head space. Boiling water bath for 30 minutes sea level, adjust time for your altitude.

Rhubarb Chutney on the Deck

Rhubarb al Fresco

In Conclusion:

I have no idea how this tastes. I wouldn’t even know what to eat it with, maybe pork? I have a feeling it will sit in my cabinet until I find some unsuspecting victim to foist it off upon. Or maybe I can con my hubby into eating it, I don’t know. I have a friend who is really into Indian food, maybe she will want it?

Hey, if you think this sounds good – and you promise to give me feedback maybe I can foist it off on you? Drop me a line if you got the cojones.

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Also known as Confetti Jelly in my house. Why? Because I can only write so much on the top of a canning jar lid. It is a quite tasty version of the traditional pepper jelly which has had onions and garlic added to the mix.

Garlic, Onion and Pepper Jelly

A different angle on Pepper Jelly

I decided to start a category of “Using It” because after you have put up jar after jar of various food stuffs – at some point  you need to consume them. There are always obvious ways of eating things: tomato sauce into spaghetti, jelly on toast, salsa on chips yadda, yadda, yadda … But sometimes you get bored.

And sometimes you are sick of the same-ole, same-ole.

And sometimes you run out of blackberry jam.

Then you start thinking to yourself – I have an entire shelf in my cabinet with various jams and jellies. You consider the peach, fig and orange-thyme-coriander. And then you have a crazy thought – Thai peanut sauce. Thai peanut sauce has peanuts, garlic, onions and peppers in it, the flavors meld well.

I know, crazy. But I am willing to throw myself off this particular cliff for y’all.

Peanut Butter and Pepper Jelly Sandwich

Just to prove I did it!

You know what? It was delicious. It was a savory PB&J with a little spicy kick in every other bite. It was an adult PB&J. I let my husband have a bite just to make sure that I wasn’t completely crazy. He was quite skeptical, but with one bite I won him over. I don’t know if I will be able to go back to regular jelly. Luckily I have about 4 more pints of this stuff.

Peanut Butter & Pepper Jelly Sandwich

I tried to take an interesting picture of it, really I did.

This delicious jelly is not a creation of my own, but from a recipe I found on the GardenWeb forums when I had two sacks full of banana peppers in my ‘fridge. Luckily GardenWeb has a wonderful archive and you can find it for yourself: Gina’s Onion, Garlic & Pepper Jelly. I personally used a combination of Banana Peppers and Jalapeno’s for the 1 1/2 C of chopped peppers. Another substitution I made was using red onions.

The jar of jelly that my hubster had opened was labeled “mild” which meant that there was 1/4 C of jalapenos in the mix. You can up the spicy pepper quotient to your heart’s desire. In the original post Gina suggests using the jelly as a glaze when roasting chicken and I must tell you that works great as does glazing pork loin. I canned it in pints – but in retrospect should have done 1/2 pints so that it was easier to give some away. Somehow only having 6 pints made me stingy, where if I had 12  1/2 pints I would have distributed them like mad.

Do y’all have any other ideas what I could do with this jelly?

There has been quite a bit of canning going on around here if you hadn’t noticed, and we have been consuming the canned products. Because that is why we can correct? One of the challenges with canning is that the product is sealed away and it is tough to know if it went well. There is the urge to crack it right back open to see how it turned out, but then there is an equal but oppisite urge to let it sit in the cupboard for as long as possible – because that is the whole point of canning right?

Quite the conundrum.

But we have been eating, and I want to share my thoughts on my results. First off, the citrus fest! The Orange Coriander and Thyme Jelly is delicious, but putting the sprig of thyme in there turned out to be kinda annoying. Sure it looked nice, but it is woody and you just have to pick it out. Next time I will stick with leaves and skip the sticks. And the Kiwi Lemon Marmalade – verrah tasty. Wouldn’t change a thing.

The Thai Basil Pickled Carrots were a big hit – for both of the people who sampled them. I know that a critique of only 2 people isn’t that great, but they each ate an entire jar. I only had 2 jars so I wasn’t able to get any additional opinions. Both tasters said that the carrots had a nice heat to them, but not so much that they were “fiery”. The hubby liked pulling out 3 or 4 and put them on his plate next to his lunchtime sandwich. He ate them straight like a side-dish. He has an order if for me to make more – I am debating trying different sizes and shapes. Spears are one possibility, but I have been thinking about using shredded carrots and making a hot slaw. The possibilities are manifold.

And finally, the B&B Pickled Onions.  It is really nice when something comes out exactly as envisioned.  They work beautifully as a sandwich topper and I cannot wait until grill season gets fire up and we can try them on hot-dogs and hamburgers.  Unlike the cucumber version, with these little puppies a little goes a long way. Next time I make them I believe I will pack and process them in 1/2 pints instead of full pints. You can get so many more onions in a jar when you don’t have those awkwardly shaped cucumbers to wrastle with.

So, there’s the skinny on some canning results. My big problem now is to figure out what to do for this month’s can jam. Citrus and Alliums inspired me, carrots challenged me – but in a good way. This month, well this month we have the choice between a vegetable that I categorically despise and a fruit that I loathe only slightly less than the vegetable. It really isn’t looking good for me.