Posts tagged preserving

Four Rhubarb Jams with a Twist

Making your own jam enables you to move beyond the expected, like mixing rhubarb with ginger, lavender, or even balsamic vinegar. Here are four simple rhubarb preserves recipes interspersed with scenes from the heather garden in Fort Tryon Park.

Lavender Rhubarb
6 cups of chopped rhubarb
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of local honey
2 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoons of lavender flowers, placed in tea infuser

Place all ingredients in kettle over medium heat, stirring occasionally for an hour or so, until it reaches your desired consistency. Discard lavender. Spoon jam into dishes and freeze, or process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Place lavender flowers in tea infuser.
(Does it look like there’s a baby in this flower?)

Ginger Rhubarb

(Slight variation from Lavender Rhubarb)
6 cups of chopped rhubarb
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of local honey
2 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoons of finely ground ginger

Place all ingredients in kettle over medium heat, stirring occasionally for an hour or so, until it reaches your desired consistency. Spoon into dishes and freeze, or process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Balsamic Vanilla Rhubarb
Inspired by Delectable Musings
6 cups of chopped rhubarb
2 cups of water
2 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of honey
Dash of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar

Place all ingredients except for balsamic vinegar in kettle over medium heat, stirring occasionally for an hour or so, until it reaches your desired consistency. Add balsamic and return to boil for five minutes more. Spoon into dishes and freeze, or process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Rhubarb Orange
Slightly adapted from Ball Home Preserving
2 oranges (nope, not local)
5 cups of finely chopped rhubarb
1 package of natural fruit pectin
3-4 cups of sugar

Using vegetable peeler, remove peel from one orange and cut into very thin slivers. Squeeze juice from both orange and add water until filling one cup. Combine orange juice, orange peel, juice, and pectin and whisk until dissolved. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Add sugar and return to boil, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and skim off foam. Spoon into dishes and freeze, or process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel from one orange.

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Apple Cinnamon Butter

7:45am is one of my favorite times of the day. There is a quiet in my apartment that is palpable. The sun glows over the buildings on Broadway, and I can hear the whispered hum of my refrigerator. In only an hour, I’ll be on the subway headed for the tangled wilderness of midtown Manhattan, but for now I have the world to myself.

Apple Cinnamon Butter
Makes 12 4-once jars

6-7 apples, cored and peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves

Place apples in large pan, add water and bring to boil over high heat. Boil until apples break down, upwards of 30 minutes. Mash in pan or puree apples in blender.

Return apples to pan, and add sugar and spices. Bring to a boil and then simmer for a few hours, until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.

Freeze, or process in water bath for 10 minutes.

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Two Pear Preserves

In the city that never sleeps, one can have anything delivered at any time of day in 30 minutes or less. (Yes, I’m talking about you, Bangkok Heights Thai Cuisine.) That’s not necessarily a good thing. When I’m incredibly busy, it’s hard to make time to peel squash, roast Brussels sprouts, or braise collard greens. I’ve had a week of garlic naan, pad see ew, and mushroom pizza.

Although I haven’t made much time to prepare many “simple and realistic” local food meals this week, I spent the midnight hour a few nights ago working magic with some pears.  

Butternut Squash and Pear Preserves

Modified just a bit from
Makes 3 half-pints for about $5

1 butternut squash
1 1/2 pounds pears
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves

Peel butternut squash, scoop out seeds, and cut into 1/4-inch dice.

Remove stem and core from pears, and cut into 1/4-inch dice. Add squash, pear, sugar, molasses, water, and spices to soup kettle. Cook over medium high heat, stirring often, for 20 minutes.

Raise heat to high, and cook—stirring frequently—until most but not all of the liquid has evaporated.

Refrigerate, freeze, or process in boiling water bath for 30 minutes.
Pear Cinnamon Jam

Modified just a bit from Food in Jars
Makes 3 pints and costs about $4

8 cups cored and chopped pears with thin skins (no need to peel)
3-4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Combine pears and sugar in large soup kettle and cook over medium heat until the pears can be easily mashed with a spoon, about 20-40 minutes. Use a potato masher to mash to your desired consistency. 

Add cinnamon and lemon juice, and cook until thickened.

Refrigerate, freeze, or process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

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Cranberry Apple Chutney

This is a winner. Tart, sweet, savory, chewy, and sour. All at the same time. Will wonders never cease?

Cranberry Apple Chutney

Adapted from a few sources
Makes about two pints for about $5

1/2 onion of your choosing, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2” piece of ginger, finely chopped
4 cups of cranberries, chopped
1 apple, cored, chopped (and peeled, if you’d like)
1 cup of water
1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of golden raisins
1 cup of packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
Dash of cinnamon

In a soup kettle, saute onion, garlic and ginger over medium heat for a few minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook for 40-45 minutes over medium-low heat.

Serve warm or cold. Refrigerate, freeze, or can preserve.image
Slowly cook down over medium-low heat.
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Halloween Blizzard Apple Pancake

As you may have heard, the Northeast endured a freak Nor’easter last Saturday. The view from my apartment window briskly convinced me to cancel all plans for the afternoon.

View out apartment window
Instead, I brewed a pot of coffee, fired up the iPod, and spent the late morning in the kitchen. The best dish for an autumn brunch is an Apple Pancake. I’ve tried a few variations of this in the past, but this time (inspired by The Kitchn) takes the…pancake.

Apple Pancake
Serves four and costs about $8

3 large or 4 medium apples of your choice
4 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of butter
1 cup of milk
5 medium eggs
Just under 3/4 cup of flour
1/4 salt
Dash of nutmeg
About a teaspoon of cinnamon
Dash of vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Core and chop apples, leaving skin on. Melt butter in an oven-safe skillet, add brown sugar and apples, and gently stir. Sprinkle with three tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon. Place the skillet in the oven:
Step one of Apple Pancake
Whisk flour, one tablespoon of sugar, nutmeg, and salt. Slowly add milk and vanilla. When combined, add eggs to batter:
Step two of Apple Pancake
Remove skillet from oven and take in a deep smell of goodness. Pour batter over the apple mixture and return to oven. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden.
Step three of Apple Pancake
After the swirling scents of nutmeg and sugar dissipate, here’s a quick and simple option for a light lunch:  roasted butternut squash soup with a side of roasted cauliflower.

Peel and chop one butternut squash and place in a 8x12 baking dish. Peel away greens, wash and chop one head of cauliflower and add to the baking dish. Top with 1/2 chopped onion and drizzle with a few tablespoons of oil and seasonings to taste (be sure to include cayenne pepper). Roast at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes. Remove butternut squash from dish and transfer to a food processor. Add a few chunks of Parmesan cheese to the cauliflower and return to oven. Pour about 1/2 cup of milk to the butternut squash and carefully puree. Pour the butternut puree into a saucepan and heat through. Remove cauliflower from oven and serve.

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Getting Canned

No local food journey would be complete without preserving the harvest. Freezing, drying, pickling, and…canning. I grew up with dusty glass jars shelved like aged books below the basement steps, each lid personally labeled by my mom or an aunt.

I recently ordered canning equipment through and set aside time on a Saturday to can crushed tomatoes, pasta sauce, and apple butter.

Tomatoes back from the market
First step: Pick up 25 pounds of tomatoes from the Union Square Greenmarket.

Scoring tomatoes
Second step: Score, peel, and cook tomatoes for a really, really long time.

Tomatoes in canning bath
Third step: Sterilize jars, fill with sauce, seal, immerse in canning bath, and boil until processed.

Canned tomatoes
Final step: Cool jars and store for up to a year.

The process was somewhat tedious and surprisingly enjoyable. I mean, what New Yorker spends a weekend afternoon canning tomatoes? My small supply would never fill the shelves below the basement steps, but I do grin whenever I open my Manhattan kitchen cupboard and see a handful of jars filled with tomato goodness.

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Apples to Apples

Apple treeOn a recent rainy Saturday, I squeezed into a cozy zipcar with four other Manhattanites, and headed to the Hudson Valley. Destination: Masker Orchards for an afternoon of apple picking. I’m always surprised by how quickly the towering gray skyscrapers of the city are overthrown by soaring tress of green. Add to the mix just a blush of autumn orange, and you have yourself a lovely afternoon.

In the orchardsWe pulled off the interstate and surged up a bucolic/muddy path and parked the rental. After long, wonderstruck gazes in every direction and a few “you’ve gotta be kidding me” proclamations to the Hudson Valley, we filled our lungs with fresh, cool air and headed for the trees. There is something incredibly simple, yet thrilling, about trafficking an orchard. The act of snatching a Macintosh from its bulky branch or smacking on a McCowen dripping in dew is surprisingly amusing.

Bag of applesWith our bags bursting with our bounty, we headed back to a drizzly city and parted ways.

Now, what to do with all of the apples?

Answer:  Apple pie. Apple rings. Apply chutney. Apple sauce. Apple butter.

I spent a large portion of the next afternoon improvising in my New York kitchen. I can’t remember if I’ve ever made apple pie, so I took a good look at couple of recipes (including this one) that looked easy enough to produce. Turned out pretty well. Here’s a taste:

Apple pie

Apple ringsThe apple rings were the easiest…if you have a food dehydrator. Slice four apples and toss in a bowl of water with a few splashes of lemon or lime juice. After 10-15 minutes, layer them on the dehydrator trays, sprinkle cinnamon and/or nutmeg, and process at 135 degrees for about 4 hours.

You can even make them in your oven, but it takes much longer.

Apple chutneyApple Chutney

2 pounds of apples
1 pound of onion
Seasonings as desired (get creative here)
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of white vinegar

Wash, peel (if you’d like), core, and chop apples. Toss in a saucepan with chopped onion and seasonings and bring to gentle boil. After a few minutes, add brown sugar and vinegar and continuing gently boiling to taste.

Refrigerate or freeze for later. Chutney is great cold or warm, and is a good accompaniment to meats or potatoes.

Apple sauceApple Sauce

16 apples
4 pears
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon of butter
Cinnamon, nutmeg to taste

Wash, core, and cut apples into quarters, leaving the peel on some or all of the apples. Wash, peel, and chop pears. Throw apples and pears in a large sauce pan or soup kettle and fill it just below halfway with water. Cook over medium heat for about one hour, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and add brown sugar, honey, butter, and seasonings. Cook for 15-30 minutes more until you reach desired consistency. Discard larger peels if desired. Spoon sauce into jars and refrigerate or freeze.

Middle Lane

Apple Butter

15-20 apples
4 cups of sugar
Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to taste

Wash, peel, core, and cut apples into quarters. Throw apples in a large sauce pan and add 2 cups of water. Cook over medium-low heat until apples soften. If you’d like, transfer apples to food processor and gently pulse. Carry apple pulp back to pan and add remaining ingredients, cooking over low heat until you reach desired consistency.

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