For some people when they hear the phrase "it's that time of year," they might think of the holiday season, but for avid gardeners who cannot wait to preserve or pickle that phrase means it's canning season.
Canning season typically begins late summer. This is when you might find your kitchen bursting with the bounty of vegetables and fruits from your garden. There is nothing quite like being able to enjoy the benefits of your own homegrown produce, but if you don't have a green thumb or space to garden don't fret. You can use produce from the local farmer's market or store-bought produce.
Have you heard of pectin? Scientifically speaking, pectin is a structural acidic heteropolysaccharide contained in the primary and middle lamella and cell walls of terrestrial plants. Its main component is galacturonic acid, a sugar acid derived from galactose. Does this bring you back to those chemistry class days? Pectin as far as canning is concerned is important because your jam will need to have the right amount of it to set properly. Different fruits contain different amounts of pectin. You'll want to do a little more digging on the pectin levels of certain fruits to know whether or not how much sugar or bitter to add to your jam.
To start you will need jars. There are jars for jams and jars for pickling. It's important to know which ones will work best. For jams, we recommend a jar with a screw-top lid, whereas for pickling or making chutney you will want a clip-top jar. Us Vermonters like to recycle, so yes you can use a recycled jam or other condiment jar. Just double check that the jars do not have any chips or cracks and that the lids fit securely.
Make sure your jars are also properly sterilized before use. Wash the jars in hot soapy water, then rinse in hot water let air-dry.
Here's everything you need to get canning:
There a re a few different methods to the madness... just kidding. For jams there's the traditional way or the macerating way. The traditional way involves cooking the fruit before adding the sugar and boiling to setting point. Then there's the macerating way, which involves allowing the fruit and sugar to macerate together before cooking. This draws the moisture and juices from the fruit and pressures the flavor. Now, I won't go into all the details about making jam in this blog, but just know that there are tons of jam making recipes on the web. However, I do recommend the book Preserves and Pickles - 25 Delicious Recipes for Jams, Chutneys, and Relishes by Gloria Nichol, which you can find in-store and online. Not only does this book provide several different recipes, it also talks more in detail about the canning process with preparation, cooking temperature, and questions like why jam goes moldy.
Now that you've gotten a very brief overview of canning, I'll conclude this blog with one of my favorite recipes Red Tomato and Garlic Chutney from Preserves and Pickles - 25 Delicious Recipes for Jams, Chutneys, and Relishes. Recipe link online as well.
This is an easy recipe to make right at home and pairs well many different cheeses. Great for a charcuterie or cheese platter.
1 tsp, whole allspice
1 tsp, coriander seeds
2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 pieces of fresh ginger root
3 1/4 pounds of red tomato, skinned and chopped
1 pound of cooking apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 cup of red wine vinegar
1 tsp coarse salt
7/8 cup, packed warmed good-quality brown sugar
* You can find some of the spices mentioned above at New Morning Natural Foods and Juice Bar conveniently located next door to us*
1 - Place the whole spices and brushed ginger in a piece of muslin and tie it into a bag with string.
2 - Place all the ingredients except the sugar in a stainless steel preserving pan and bring to the boil, then simmer until tender. Add the warmed sugar and stir over low heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil, then simmer gently for approximately 1 1/2 hours until the chutney is thick but still juicy, stirring occasionally.
3 - Remove the muslin bag, then pour the chutney into hot, sterilized jars and seal.
Thanks for reading!