Thursday, March 1, 2012

Canning from the 21st Floor and a Book Review

One World Trade Center rises across the Hudson.
Hello friends, I am writing from our new home in Jersey City. As 2011 ended, hubby and I downsized from our suburban split level in Edison to a 2 bedroom apartment in a high rise. In anticipation of a much smaller kitchen and storage area, I had packed away all my canning equipment like the water-bath canner, jars and utensils, and left them at my mother's house, along with dozens of jars of jam and pickles. Little did I imagine then, that I would be cooking up new recipes and canning within a few months. I am making do without the aforementioned equipment, for example, using the same large stock pot that I cooked the jams in, (washed clean) to process the jars. Filling the jars without the wide funnel and holding them with tongs and not the special jar lifter is rather clumsy, but can be managed. Actually, I think I will order a set of those utensils from, and probably the steam canner as well, because it can double as a water-bath canner for pickles and relishes. Anyway, I found that I had a more than adequate kitchen stove, and prep area, to do it again. It's kind of amazing to look out the window at the very urban Manhattan skyline and be chopping oranges for a new marmalade.

The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving 
Much of the inspiration for this winter canning came from the books I received as Christmas gifts and I'd like to share my impressions with you of each book, with mentions of a recipe I tried. First is "The Complete Book of Small-Batch Canning" 2nd edition, by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard, published by Firefly Books, over 300 recipes for sweet spreads, pickles and relishes, flavored oils and vinegars, and intriguing recipes for foods made with these products as ingredients. I recommend this book for its solid introduction to preserving food and canning it. One great feature is that the recipes are fun and easy to do - they take just an hour or two and make a half -dozen jars or so, therefore, you are not killing yourself in the kitchen. And there are beautifully styled color photos - one of a teapot, jam and scones started me dreaming. 
Of course, since it is winter I have had to make a few allowances in my self-styled blog. In February and March, there is no "farm' or "farmer's market" to buy my produce. Do you mind too much that I am using imported fruits like oranges, citruses and pineapples from the supermarket?  How else will I get to make marmalade ?!
Here are two recipes from the book:  Microwavable Curd and Tangerine Grapefruit Marmalade I had cooked up a batch or two of orange marmalade, and was ready to try using tangerines in these ways. 

You make this recipe (page 111) for curd in the microwave, and may substitute tangerines for lemons. There are only four ingredients and cooking time is 5 minutes! I used a microplane to grate the rind. It did a fine job (pun intended). I had everything ready to go, and then found that my microwave cannot be set to reduced power. Therefore, I brought up the saucepan and cooked it whisking continuously until thick. I was hoping to give you a report of making curd in the microwave but I'll ask you to try it and let ME know.

Microwave Lemon Curd
2-3 lemons, ( or tangerines, or limes)          3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter ( 4 tablespoons)                  2 large eggs

Finished Tangerine Curd ready to spread on a scone 
Finely grate zest of lemons. Squeeze lemons and measure 1/2 cup juice.
In a microwavable container, like a quart canning jar, combine the zest, juice, and butter. Microwave on high for a minute until the butter melts. Remove and stir.
In a bowl, beat eggs. Then slowly add the juice mixture to the eggs, stirring rapidly. Return the mixture to the jar, and cook at 50% power for 2 minutes,STOPPING every 30 seconds to stir it well. It should get thick like a cream sauce. Do not let it boil. Transfer to a storage jar or container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks ( not likely, it's really good) or freeze it.

Tangerine Grapefruit Marmalade, page 83
2 or 3 tangerines, to make about 1/2 cup peel           Seeds from all these fruits
2 lemons, to make about 1/2 cup peel
1 small grapefruit, to make about 1/3 cup peel
3 cups water
2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
Steaming mixed citrus fruits for Tangerine Grapefruit Marmalade
Peel the rind from the tangerines. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the rind from the lemon and the grapefruits. Slice all the peels into very thin strips, and add to a saucepan.  Put the seeds in a tea ball-they are very high in pectin. Add the water and bring to a boil, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the white pith from the fruit and discard. Chop the fruit pulp in a food processor. Add this pulp to the saucepan and cook another 20 minutes. Remove and discard the seeds. (At this point, I would let this stand overnight, I think it makes a much more tender peel, but this book doesn't call for it) Add the sugar to the saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook, at a fast boil, uncovered and stirring, until the mixture forms a gel. Ladle into hot jars, seal and process in a waterbath canner for 10 minutes, or refrigerate. Frankly, I prefer to use a pouch of liquid pectin for a consistent texture of my product, and I do recommend it. This book has recipes without pectin, and in fact, has a recipe for making your own at home from apples.

1 comment:

  1. They look delicious! I will definitely try the microwave curd recipe- how much easier can it get!!