hot water canning

Fruity banana chutney

Posted on June 14, 2010 at 7:38 pm

Ah, chutney. A loanword from the Hindi chatni, it means “spicy preparations to accompany a main dish”. It is also an awesome accompaniment to grilled foods, roasts, and cheeses. As an added bonus, chutney is a great way for parents to sneak extra fruit and veggies onto the plates of fussy eaters!

This recipe combines bananas and dates, two of the favourite foods of our own non-fussy eater, producing a wonderfully tangy, sweet and fruity condiment. Preparing chutney combines two skills you probably already have – making jam and making pickles.

Yield: between 5 and 8 jelly jars (8oz), depending on how thick you like it:
1.5 cups cider vinegar
1 cup chopped, cored, peeled apple
1.5 cups mashed bananas (approximately 3 medium sized bananas)
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 cup chopped putted prunes
1 cup chopped onion
0.5 cup chopped dried apricot
0.5 cup mixed candied peel (I omitted this when I made this recipe as I didn’t have any!)
3 cloves chopped garlic
1.5 cups lightly packed dark brown sugar
0.5 cup water
1.5 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp fresh grated ginger

In a large stainless steel saucepan combine vinegar and apple. Add bananas, dates, prunes, onions, apricots, candied peel (if using) and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add brown sugar, water, coriander, cayenne, allspice, turmeric, and ginger, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil gently, stirring frequently, until it reaches your desired consistency – I like a thicker, more spreadable chutney but you may prefer a more liquid one.

While this is going on, have your jars in the hot water bath canner to sterilise. Clean and prepare the lids and rings.

Ladle the hot chutney into the hot, sterilised jars, leaving 0.5 inch headroom. Remove bubbles and adjust headroom by adding or removing hot chutney. Wipe rim, centre the lid on the rim, and screw down the ring until finger-tight (just tighten the screw ring until the jar starts spinning, don’t screw them down tight).

Process in your hot water bath canner for 10 minutes at a boil. After 10 minutes remove the canner from the heat, remove the lid from the canner, and let them sit for 5 minutes. Remove the jars from the canner and place on a cookie rack or a towel and leave for 24 hours to cool. Label, store, and eat 🙂

chutney with cheese and crackers

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Bread and Butter pickles

Posted on June 13, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Supposedly so tasty all you need to have with them with is bread and butter, these are the perfect accompaniment to burgers, cold cuts, cheese, and so on. The pickles should be sweet, tangy, and crisp.

Bread and Butter pickles

  • 10 cups sliced trimmed stuff*
  • 4 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup pickling or canning salt
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1tsp celery seeds
  • 1tsp turmeric

In a non-reactive (stainless steel, glass, or plastic) bowl combine [stuff], onions, and salt. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours then transfer to a colander, rinse thoroughly with cool running water and drain.

Sterilise jars and prepare lids and rings.

In a large non-reactive (stainless steel) saucepan combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and turmeric. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir in [stuff] and return to a boil.

Pack room temperature (or chilled) vegetables into hot jars within a generous ½ inch of the top of the jar. Ladle hot pickling liquid into the jar to cover vegetables leaving ½ inch headspace.

Put into hot water bath canner, process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid, wait for 5 minutes, remove jars, cool, and store.

* Above I say “stuff”. What do I mean by “stuff”? Well… cucumber, zucchini (courgette), yellow squash… let your imagination, tastebuds, and seasonal produce be your guide! You can also tweak and customise the spices to match your personal tastes – I like to add 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seed to the pickling mix, and throw a dehydrated chilli pepper into the jar – this tweak will not affect the preservation, but will allow you to make something completely to your own tastes. Go on, have some fun!

Why do I say to use room temperature or chilled veggies, when that will reduce the lifespan of the pickles? If you are like me and really enjoy crunchy pickles, cold-packed cucumbers retain a lot of crunch. And if you like them like I do, you won’t notice the reduced shelf life as they will all have been eaten anyway!

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Strawberry jam

Posted on May 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Everyone’s favourite, strawberry jam is very simple and easy to make. The only reason why there are so many ingredients in the commercial versions is to make the jam shelf stable for, apparently, decades. Home made strawberry jam is so delicious you won’t have to worry about shelf life!

  • 8 cups crushed hulled strawberries that have been rinsed off in a 50/50 white vinegar/water solution (unless they are 100% organic)
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)
  1. Prepare cans and lids.
  2. Combine strawberries, lemon juice (if using) and sugar in a large non-reactive pan. Heat over medium-low heat until the sugar has all melted. Boil, stirring frequently, until the jam passes the sheet test or whatever test you prefer – when you pick up some of the jam on a spoon, it should all come off in one sheet when you tip the spoon into the pan.
  3. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, remove canner from the heat, remove the lid, and leave the jars for 5 further minutes. Your jam is done!

See, I told you it’d be easy. As an added bonus, your whole house will smell of strawberries for hours after!

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Piccalilli

Posted on May 9, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Ah, piccalilli. Condiment, relish, essential ingredient to ploughman’s lunches, and really hard to find at a semi reasonable price in the USA. So, as usual, I make it myself!

Before I go any further, I want to say a word about cleaning your produce. If you are anything like me, you want to use organic produce but find them a bit cost prohibitive. You can avoid the worst of the pesticides by thoroughly scrubbing your produce in a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water. This will lift off the dirt, wax, and pretty much all the pesticides – they are water proof, not acid proof!

For this recipe I used about 2.3kg / 5lbs of mixed veg, being cauliflower, zucchini/courgette, carrots, mixed bell peppers, and onions. Split the cauliflower into individual florets and slice the rest of the veg evenly – I used a slicer attachment on my KitchenAid, you can also use a food processor or the mark 1.0 human hand. Put the veg into a large bowl, liberally sprinkling each layer with salt. You will need 1 cup of salt for this stage, then cover the veg in 10 cups of water and let it relax overnight in the fridge. Next day rinse the veg thoroughly to remove as much of the salt as possible.

pretty mixed veggies waiting to be relished
Pretty, isn’t it?

Next day, get all your mis en place in place.

You will need:
1.25 cup white sugar
2-ish garlic cloves – I used a heaped teaspoon of prepared garlic
2-ish teaspoon mustard powder
1-ish teaspoon ground ginger (I tend to use more because I love ginger)
4.5 cups white vinegar
1/3 cup AP/plain flour
1 tablespoon turmeric

Add the remaining half cup of vinegar, the flour, and the turmeric together and keep to one side.

Put the sugar, garlic, mustard, ginger, and 4 cups of the vinegar into a saucepan and heat gently till the sugar has all dissolved. At this point you will have a pan full of goo:

panful of goo

Pour the goo over the vegetable mixture and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until the veg just softens, then add the reserved mess of vinegar, flour, and turmeric. Bring back to a boil and simmer until the piccalilli is nice and thick.

Once this has all come together, you can process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Yield is about 7 pint jars of lovely piccalilli.

Enjoy!

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