Blueberry jam!!

Yesterday I received an email from my favorite berry farm, informing me that blueberries are ready for picking! But I have decided I’m not allowed to pick fruit if I still have that fruit in my freezer from last year. And despite my best efforts to eat, cook, and give away the fifty pounds of blueberries I froze last July, I still had a few pounds left. So I made jam!

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Tomato juice!

I like a bloody mary from time to time, but the real reason I canned tomato juice is: I make all that nice thick tomato puree, and it takes FOREVER to reduce it down and make it thick…and then I put it in soup and ADD WATER!  This is dumb and I’m not going to do it anymore.  Enter tomato juice! I will reserve the puree for when I actually need it. Continue reading

Red pepper pile, part 2: how to roast peppers

Conventional instructions are to put a whole pepper on top of your gas stove, right on the flame.  Let it char, turn it with tongs, and when the whole thing is blackened, put it in a paper bag and let it cool, while it steams itself in the bag.  Take the pepper out and you’ve got a slippery, wiggly pepper, and blackened skin that flakes off in a thousand little pieces.  The blackened skin flakes get all over the sink and your hands. Stop doing this! Continue reading

Red pepper pile, part 1

pile 'o peppersLast summer I got serious about peppers. I bought ten extra pounds from my CSA and chopped, roasted and froze them.  I ran out in February, and made a mental note to get very, very serious in 2011.  Behold twenty-seven pounds of organic red peppers!

Bell peppers (red, green and otherwise) are on the list of vegetables and fruits that I’ll only buy organic.  Conventionally grown peppers carry pesticide residues you can’t wash off–carcinogens, hormone disruptors, reproductive toxins–yummy! But organic peppers in the grocery store can cost $8 per pound, and they’re imported from thousands of miles away.  When locally grown food is fresher AND cheaper, it makes those supermarket peppers look a lot less attractive. Continue reading

Grape jam?

I made grape jelly last summer and it’s pretty runny.  I’m no expert jellymaker so I’m sure I did something wrong.  What about grape jam, though? It seems like the better way to go because you don’t throw out the grapes after letting the juice drip out.  I’m gonna try it.

This site says: “I make jam because making jelly from real fruit (as opposed to bottled or frozen fruit juice, bought from the store) is a complete waste of good food. Jelly is merely sugar-intense fruit-flavored water boiled to the jelly point, whereas jam contains the pulp and the inner skin vitamin and flavor rich part of the grapes. It’s got a richer texture and a lot more flavor than jelly, and produces some excellent grape must for use in fermenting basalmic and wine vinegars.”

Who wants my must?

Peaches!

squishyA few weeks ago I got a good deal on peaches from Clarkdale, and made peach jam for the first time. It’s not great, but it will serve its purpose, which is to distract me from the strawberry jam (I made ONLY eighteen jars, and I’m afraid I might eat it all by January).

Tom asked if I was going to can peaches in syrup again.  For the past two years I’ve canned peaches and I was pretty unhappy with them.  The flavor was fine, but the texture was awful.  The fruit may have been overripe, but for whatever reason, the peaches were stringy and fell apart.  I swore I would swear off peach canning forever, but that made Tom sad (he likes to eat them on vanilla ice cream with homemade granola), so I decided to try again. Continue reading