While last week’s episode focused on the quick and easy, this week is all about slowing down and reveling in the act of making. The prospect of home canning has intrigued me for years but feeling intimidated by the process held me back. That is until I met Jen Smith, an inspiring artist, cook and canning enthusiast who completely demystified the process for me in one afternoon. Hopefully you’ll find this as informative and fun as I did. And if you decide to take the plunge and try your hand at canning, please let me know what you’re making and how it turns out! I would love to know. Today it’s all about Peach Jam and Dilly Beans. Behold episode numero due.
Full recipes after the jump.
Yields 3 ½-pint jars
One bright spot to the end of summer is the abundance of fresh produce at killer prices. Last September, I found ripe and juicy peaches for $1 a pound at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market. My friend Jen Smith had recently taught me how to make peach jam, so I bought ten pounds of peaches and spent the afternoon preserving them. This is such a great recipe and you can use it as a blueprint for preserving any fruit (plums with rosemary is my new favorite). If you’re thinking about tackling this project, I suggest purchasing a canning kit, which might include a jar rack, a funnel and jar tongs. It will make your life a whole lot easier.
2 ½ pounds peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into ½-inch wedges
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice & zest of ½ a lemon
Sterilize 3 half-pint sized mason jars by submerging them in boiling water for 10 minutes. Boil new lids for a few minutes (while the rings and jars are reusable, to insure sterilization and a proper seal, the lid needs to be used only once when canning).
Combine all of the ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan (stainless steel or enamel-lined cast iron – think Le Creuset). Bring to a boil, while stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is glassy and the liquid runs off the side of a spoon in thick, heavy drops, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
Once the consistency has thickened from that of a light syrup to a golden gel, spoon the jam into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space at the top. Carefully wipe off the tops of the jars and loosely seal with lids and rings.
Place jars in canning rack and carefully submerge in rapidly boiling water for ten minutes. Pull from the water and allow to cool for 24 hours. Make sure the lid is vacuum sealed (there will be a victorious popping sound shortly after the jars come out of the water). Store jam in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
*download a printable version HERE
Yields 2 pints
The first time I met Jen Smith was at a beautiful brunch in the Hollywood Hills. Right away I noticed little bowls of pickled veggies scattered between frittatas and fruit salads and your more standard brunch fare. I had to find out who was behind this exquisite spread and while roaming the kitchen, I found my answer. Turns out in addition to working as a caterer for fashion and art events in LA, Jen is a canning enthusiast (she even runs a “Pickle of the Month Club” – how cool is that?). I asked if she would teach me how to “put up” my summer bounty, and many jars later, I am hooked. Pickling is an incredibly satisfying way to spend an afternoon, not to mention to savor the season. Jen’s Dilly Beans are the perfect place to start.
1 tablespoon pickling spice (see recipe below)
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon pure sea salt (without anti-caking agent)
2 bay leaves
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 chili arbol
1 pound small green beans, such as haricot vert
Sterilize 2 pint sized mason jars by submerging them boiling water for 10 minutes. Boil new lids for a few minutes(while the rings and jars are reusable, to insure sterilization and a proper seal, the lid needs to be used only once when canning goods.)
Make the brine by bringing vinegar, water and salt to a rapid boil in a non-reactive pan (stainless steel or enamel-lined cast iron).
Remove jars from water and fill each jar with one garlic glove, one whole bay leaf, 1 chili and 1 tablespoon of pickling spice.
Tightly pack jars with beans (if the beans are too long and stick out of the top of the jar, simply trim them with a paring knife). Fill with hot brine leaving a 3/4 inch head room from the top of the jar. Carefully wipe off the tops of jars and loosely seal with lids and rings.
Place jars in canning rack and carefully submerge in rapidly boiling water for ten minutes. Pull from the water and allow to cool for 24 hours. Make sure the lid is vacuum sealed (there will be a victorious popping sound shortly after the jars come out of the water). Dilly beans stay good in the fridge for many months.
To make the pickling spice, combine the following ingredients and store in a mason jar with your dried herbs and spices.
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons allspice berries
2 tablespoons dill seeds
2 tablespoons celery seed
1 tablespoon whole cloves
2 small cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken into pieces
12 bay leaves, crumbled
*download a printable version HERE