Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rhubarb Chutney

Did you know that if you harvest rhubarb the plant will regrow (and more than once, I get three growths off my plants - though the stalks get thinner with each) In addition to my plants one of my across the alley neighbors (who has the bigggest rhubarb patch I've ever seen) had offered me free range to harvest her rhubarb. The plot in question is 4 or 5 massive plants that take up a space about 4 foot by 5 foot. Now imagine that regenerating twice over. At least one other neighbor also harvests from her and there's still tons growing back there.

Now I hate to see perfectly good plants go to waste but how much more rhubarb could I deal with? I've already made three types of jam with rhubarb, one pie, and have rhubarb for three more pies frozen in the deep freeze. Chutney came to mind as the perfect solution and I started searching online. I've made this recipe up after looking at three or four different options and verifying the solid to vinegar and sugar ration would be accurate and was off.

Danielle's Rhubarb Chutney

4 cups diced rhubarb
3 cups brown sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups chopped onion (I sliced mine in 1/8" sliced and then cut the sliced into third, short slices really)
1 1/4 cups currants
1 tbsp salt (I use kosher)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4ish tsp cayenne pepper (mine was a generous 1/4 tsp)

Toss all the ingredients into a non reactive pot (stainless steel or enameled cast iron) and don't freak out when it looks like you'll have no stirring room, the mixtures smooshes down pretty quickly once it heats up.

Give the pot a good stir to mix everything together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 30ish minutes stirring often.

Pour hot chutney into hot jars. Add lids and screw bands (fingertip tight) and process in a hot water bath for 20 minutes (Calgary altitude).

Makes 3 pints.

**Canning instructions here are not fully detailed, if not an experienced canner, refer to general canning safety rules regarding processing times, etc.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Crabapple Sauce

The tree in our backyard is a huge and beautiful crab apple. It's about 50 years old and wasn't necessarily trimmed properly for those 50 years, leaving us with branches threatening power lines and blocking sunlight to the garden. Two summers ago however we gave it a pretty solid trimming, and took off one more large limb last summer before it game out of it's winter slumber. The task however left us with a thrillingly healthy tree of epic proportions for last healthy in fact that I threw out over 10 000 crab apples last year after the tree bloomed and bloomed and bloomed. And I made two batches of crab apple jelly then too.

This year has been less sunny and more wet so the tree is simply producing to proportions that we can manage however I still don't want to throw away food unnecessarily. I'll be making jelly again (I created a fantastic sauce for pork roast using last years batch) but wanted to use up more apples. Figuring that crab apples are simply small tart apples I came up with the following sauce, which is simply amazing. We ate one jar with pork chops tonight and I canned the rest in half pint jars.

Crab Apple Sauce
9 cups crab apple pieces (skin left on, blossom ends and cores removed)
water to cover (3ish cups)
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 TBSP lemon juice
1 1.2 tsp cinnamon

Bring crab apples and water to a boil. Cook until apples soften then coarsely mash with potato masher. Add sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Cook another 10 minutes on medium-high heat. Use immersion blender to puree into sauce. Continue cooking until desired consistency reached (if not thick enough for your tastes, add another cup or two of diced crab apple).

Ladle hot sauce into hot jars leaving 1/2" headspace. Remove any air bubbles, wipe lids of jars. Center hot lids onto jars. Apply screwbands until finger tip tight. Place jars in canner ensuring that the water level is at least two inches above jar tops. Process jars for 20 minutes (Calgary altitude). Remove jars and set aside to cool.

Makes 9 half pint jars.

**Canning instructions here are not fully detailed, if not an experienced canner, refer to general canning safety rules regarding processing times, etc.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chicken Stock

The weather has been kind of cool and blah all day today which made it a perfect time to get a batch of chicken stock going on the stove.

My stock is typically made of odds and ends that I've frozen making it essentially a zero cost project. The stock simmering on my stove is made up of 4 chicken carcasses (mostly precooked with a few uncooked bones) and 2 medium freezer bags full of vegetable ends (including carrots, celery, onions, bell pepper, broccoli, and tomato) plus some seasonings. If I were to make this batch from scratch I'd need:

3-4 chicken carcasses
2 onions (quartered)
4 carrots (cut in half)
4-6 large pieces celery (cut in half)
3/4 cherry tomatoes
4 cloves garlic (cut in half)
4 small bay leaves (or 2 decent sized ones)
1 tbsp peppercorns
salt to taste

Cover with water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 3-4 hours. Strain, cool completely skim off fat layer from top of stock. Portion out into containers for the freezer and make soup.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Old Fashioned Raspberry Jam

It's been a crap year for my garden. There's been a lot of rain, not enough sun, and cooler than usual overall temperatures - all things that tend not to please plants such as tomatoes and green beans. The silver lining however is that our raspberry bushes are producing over triple what we got last year and there is more to come. I've already harvested about 8 cups of raspberries and there's probably another 8 cups to come.

Yesterday morning I went outside, picked a solid 4 cups of perfectly ripe berries and decided that I needed to make jam I did.

From the Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving - Old Fashioned Raspberry Jam

4 cups raspberries
4 cups sugar

Place sugar in an ovenproof shallow pan and warm in a 250 oven for 15 minutes (the book tells me that warm sugar dissolves better)

Place berries in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a full boil over high heat, mashing berries with a potato masher as they heat. Boil hard for 1 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add sugar, return to a boil and boil until mixture will form a gel.

Ladle into hot jars and process for 10 minutes (plus whatever adjustment is needed for your altitude - it was 20 minutes for me in Calgary)

Makes 4.5 cups