Summer Canning Update

My friend Andrea and I haven’t managed to coordinate our schedules this summer to do any canning days, but I’ve still been able to get some preserving in. There have been lots of fridge pickles and small batches of jam in my kitchen so far this summer, and much of it has been made on work at home days – that is the beauty of the small batch!

Strawberry jammin'
Making two kinds of strawberry jam after work, as you do.

Dilly Beans – Pickled green beans. Delicious! In the past Andrea has just made up a recipe, but this year I used the Dilled Beans recipe in Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving as my starting point. I omitted the bell pepper, added crushed red pepper and I believe used pickling spices instead of just peppercorns. The basket of beans I bought at the farmer’s market filled four pint jars, so I made slightly less brine to compensate. At this point these are the only pickles I heat process so they’re shelf stable. They get better the longer they sit, so I haven’t tried them.

Radish Pickles – From Canning for a New Generation. I made some radish pickles a couple of years ago, and found that they were a nice complement to potato salad. So, when I took some potatoes at my CSA with the intention of making potato salad, I grabbed a bunch of radishes as well and pickled them. They turned out well, but I forgot that pickled radishes smell like old socks when you open the jar. (They do not smell when you just have a few on your plate.) So, be warned.

Almost everything else comes from two other books.

Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin
Pomona’s Pectin allows for a lot more flexibility in the size of your batch, and the types of jams you can make, than the Sure Jell pectin pouches I started with. (Which are a great product, don’t get me wrong.) You can also more easily control whether your jam is on the runny side, which I prefer, or on the stiff side.

Blueberry Jam – Not my favorite type of jam, but I made some for Handsome, at his request. I did two half-batches of the recipe (mainly because it turns out that a quart of berries is about enough for a half batch), using the full amount of pectin called for as Handsome prefers a hard set (typically I will halve the amount called for). One of the batches had a low yield, I think from accidentally being cooked down too much as I tried to juggle two other recipes at the same time.

Peach Preserves – Peach jam is my favorite kind, and I make at least one batch of plain peach jam every year. I got four half-pints out of this batch, and given how carefully I rationed this last winter, I think another will be in order.

Preserving by the Pint
A great small-batch canning book focused on providing really interesting recipes for small amounts of produce – like a pound or two. More thoughts on this book here.

Apricot Thyme Jam – I picked up some apricots on a whim at the farmer’s market and found a recipe in this book for Apricot Rosemary Jam. I didn’t have fresh rosemary and didn’t want to buy any, so instead I substituted thyme from my little container garden. Turned out well! I had just shy of half of the amount of apricots called for, so I wound up with two quarter pints (4oz jars) of this one. Which is just fine, as it it destined as a cheese plate pairing option.

Honey-Sweetened Strawberry Jam and Whole Strawberries in Vanilla Syrup – I’m mentioning these two together as I made them at the same time, and managed to confuse myself along the way. At this point I forget exactly what I did, but I made a note that in the future I should probably not try to do two recipes using the same type of fruit at the same time. However I am confident they will still be delicious, even if the consistencies aren’t quite what the author intended.

Salted Brown Sugar Peach Jam – I also like to make a batch or two of some other kind of peach jam. Last year I tried a batch with vanilla and a batch with ginger, both of which were fine but neither really stuck with me.

Garlic Dill Pickle Spears – This is my favorite fridge pickle recipe (this year at least, it tends to change). It’s very easy and conveniently fits in a quart jar. I’ve made several batches.

Bread-and-Butter Zucchini Pickles – Another great fridge pickle recipe, which I’ve already talked about. I’m not usually a big fan of bread & butter pickles, but I wanted to try pickling zucchini. These are delicious and disappeared in a flash at a barbecue.

Blender Salsa – I’ve made this a couple of times now, using crushed tomatoes I put up last year, and omitting the citric acid called for since I’m just keeping it in the fridge. Dead easy and pretty tasty.