While some may feel the approach of spring, our grass and gardens are still below several feet of snow. Yuck! And, those constant grey skies looming over head are starting to wear on my nerves. Even the coldest (-20C), windiest, sunny day is better than a blah and dreary warmer day (and by warmer I mean -3C). Around these here parts we are in desperate need of a little pick me up. Thankfully, we have just the jars of fruit to do the job; strawberries in light syrup and frozen rhubarb.
I can almost imagine the warmth of the sunny spring day we picked and prepared the strawberries and rhubarb. If there is anything to console someone with the winter blues it’s a fresh homemade pie. The smell of the kitchen brightens even the dullest spirit.
RECIPE FOR STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE FILLING:
- 4 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb; washed and cut into 1/2″-1″ pieces
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1L or quart jar of strawberries in light syrup
- In a large stainless steel or glass bowl combine frozen rhubarb with all of the dry ingredients. Mix well making sure all fruit is well coated. Let stand in a cool place for 15 minutes.
- Add strawberries in light syrup to the rhubarb mixture and stir to combine.
RECIPE FOR 10 INCH DOUBLE PIE CRUST:
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 cup lard
- 6 tablespoons ice water
- Sift together the flour and the salt.
- Add the vegetable shortening into the dry ingredients and blend well using a pastry blender.
- Gradually add the ice water into the dough and combine until the consistency changes and the dough just holds together.
- Divide the dough in half and roll out into two equal circles.
- Line the 10″ pie plate with the pastry dough.
- Pour the fruit filling into the pie plate.
- Cut the second pastry circle into 3/4″ wide strips the length of the 10″ pie plate. Weave the lattice top over the pie filling, trim excess dough, and pinch the edges together.
- Bake in a pre-heated 400F oven for 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
- Let cool before slicing and serving.
This pie will brighten even the gloomiest winter day!
When people think of preserving food they often think of summer. Seeds are planted, gardens are tended, and the abundance and variety of foods available during the summer months is incredible. But, we’re here to remind you there are tons of canning projects to tackle during the winter months.
Here in Northern Ontario our landscape is covered in snow for the better part of five months. Our plants lay dormant and most of us shut ourselves in to hibernate. Winter makes for the perfect time to commit to those preserving tasks which require more time, like soup. Matt and I thoroughly relish spending Saturday and Sunday stirring over a huge pot of soup. The process is time-consuming especially if your recipe calls for stock and pressure canning times are lengthy but the results are well worth the effort.
Ontario grown root vegetables including rutabaga, carrots, turnips, and squash are hardy keepers and can be found in most grocery stores throughout the winter months. So, think soup! It’s a great winter project and there’s nothing like a steaming boil of soup to take away the chill on a cold winter’s day. Here are two of our favorite soup recipes Tuscan Minestrone and Spicy Chick Pea and Butternut Squash.
Winter is also a great time to put up those foods you didn’t have time to deal with in the throes of canning season. When the growing is good most of us can’t keep up with everything that’s harvested and some times the best way to manage your time during the summer is to freeze fruits and veggies you can tend later. Now is later. Dig deep into your freezer and pull out your stock pile of elderberries, raspberries, strawberries or whatever didn’t make it into jars and take care of it while you have some extra time. We froze over 9lbs of elderberries and can now spend the time making it into delicious jams and jellies.
Citrus is also everywhere so dive in head first and try your hand at making some bitter-sweet marmalade. Whether you live in Canada or the United States (or further a field) now is the time to work with citrus. The varieties are vast, providing you with a tremendous assortment of oranges (blood oranges, navel, valencia, cara cara) as well as different types of sweet grapefruits, lemons, and limes. Skies the limit. Over the past few years we’ve been fortunate to be visiting family in Florida during the hub of citrus harvest and we’ve made about ten different kinds. A few of our favorites include Blood Orange Marmalade, or one with a little extra heat Bitter Heat .
While we are talking about Florida, let’s inspire those living in warmer climates to think about picking and preserving in-season fruits and vegetables. In Florida strawberries, tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers are ready to find their way into jars. A few weeks ago, (while visiting family in Florida) we spent the day picking in the fields at Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market. It’s awesome for a country Canadian girl to be hanging out in the dirt on a sunny afternoon (in the middle of winter) surrounded by so much preserving possibility and having the entire family embrace the adventure. It was a great afternoon and everyone picked oodles of berries. My sister-in-law was turning her gangs collection into jam and freezing the rest. While my mom ended up doing the bulk of the work for the rest of us, washing and slicing over 12lbs of strawberries to dehydrate. She’s become a master dehydrator.
We would be remiss if we did not mention making tomatillo mexican salsa, tomato jam, tomato sauce, and pressure canning some stewed tomatoes. We will have to wait until next August and September before our Ontario grown tomatoes and tomatillos are ready to preserve but for residents of Florida these darlings are calling out to be canned. The above mentioned recipes are staples in our home and with each passing summer we put up more and more bushels as we find a greater number of recipes to include them in. Next summer, we are going to tackle whole tomatoes which we’ll be able to use during the winter in some of our soups.
Hopefully, this has provided you with some food for thought and inspired you to think about canning all year-long. In fact, we find the winter months the opportune time to preserve because there is less pressure to get the food out of the garden and into jars. We have more time to focus on experimenting with recipes and our efforts are not as divided as they are in the summer when we are tending to the garden, property, and running our busy art business.
We’d love to hear about your winter preserving projects? Where you live and what is available?
Scotland is one of our most favorite countries to visit. The rugged lush green landscape is dotted with livestock, castles, and abbeys and in every town the people are welcoming and friendly. It’s truly the place one can learn what the term “Highland Hospitality” means. It’s been a few years since we were last there but at any time we are able to revisit it in our minds. And we do!
Our next recipe is a sort of salute to Robert Burns, Scotland’s most famous poet, who resided in the town of Ayr in the 18th century (above a photo of his cottage). Every year on or around the poet’s birthday (January 25, 1759) Scots (and those who wish they were) gather together to enjoy a feast of traditional Scottish dishes. This feast typically includes haggis and a series of toasts where glasses are raised and whiskey is consumed. While, a feast of haggis is not in the cards one of our favorite marmalade recipes is.
RECIPE FOR SINGLE MALT MARMALADE:
- 6 valencia or cara cara oranges (these are both sweet oranges with thinner skin than the navel orange)
- 1 Granny Smith apple; peeled, cored and grated
- 4 cups carrots; peeled and finely grated; about 4 large carrots
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 large lemon; juiced to equal approximately 1/3 of a cup
- 1/4 cup single malt Scotch whiskey (only the good stuff for you Robbie)
- 1/2 tsp whole allspice
- 1 cinnamon stick; broken into pieces to fit spice ball
- Prepare for water bath canning. The preparation time for this recipe is approximately 1 hour so start your water bath and sterilize your jars while cooking the marmalade. Sterilizing jars in the over at 250F for 30 minutes is our preferred method.
- Place a plate and/or a few spoons in the freezer for set test.
- Place allspice and cinnamon pieces into a spiceball or double layered piece of cheesecloth. Set aside.
- Wash oranges and lemon well. Using a vegetable peeler remove the outer peel from both the oranges and the lemon. Cut the citrus peel into thin strips using a pair of sharp scissors. Note: the thickness of the peel is a personal choice and will affect the consistency of the marmalade. We trim the citrus peel into very thin pieces and leave them long. Set aside.
- Juice the peeled lemon and reserve the juice (should equal approximately 1/3 cup).
- Working over a glass or stainless steel bowl, to collect any juice, remove the membrane of the orange from the pith. Discard the white pith and seeds.
- Place orange segments into a large stainless steel saucepan. Add grated apple, carrots, water, reserved orange and lemon peel and spiceball to the stainless steel saucepan. Note: we use a very fine grater for the carrots ~ again it’s all about the texture you want to achieve with the finish product.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Reduce heat, cover and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add sugar and lemon juice and stir to combine well. Boil rapidly, stirring often, until marmalade reaches the set point, approximately 20-25 minutes. Do a set test using the plate and/or spoons from the freezer and dropping a dab of the marmalade on the plate. Place back in the freezer for 1 minute, remove and run finger through the middle. If it stays separated it is ready. If not, continue boiling and check again in a few minutes.
- Once marmalade has set stir in Scotch.
- Remove marmalade from the heat and discard spiceball. Skim foam.
- Ladle hot marmalade into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Remove air bubbles and top up with marmalade, if necessary. Wipe rims with a damp paper towel, center lids on jars and screw bands on adjusting so that they are just finger-tip tight. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove lid and wait 5 minutes before removing jars to a folded towel on the counter.
- Check seals, label jars, and store. Refrigerate any unsealed jars.
This marmalade is excellent and brings a smile to our faces every time we crack a jar (even if it does smell like Barbie dolls). Just the name “single malt marmalade” reminds of us of our adventure in Scotland and how thoroughly we relished every experience. We can’t wait to go back!
Put up Total:
- 5 x 236mL regular mouth mason jars
This is our 200th post. Wow! Really? Yup. Hard to believe!?! Especially, since I’m not able to bring a meal together and Matt does all of our cooking. However, when it comes to preserving the bounty I’m able to step up to the counter and get’er done.
This journey really started as an effort to document our canning and preserving. Along the way, it turned into something more, a kind of meeting place for like-minded people. It’s been a stepping stone on a path of “PRESERVING passion” that’s led us to discover other fabulous blogs, fellow canners and foodies, and all of you, whose support and encouragement keeps us writing it all down. A big thank you to all of you who choose to read, comment, and subscribe!!!
Over the last few months, I admit, I’ve lost my focus (just a little bit). While we are still cooking, canning, and baking daily in our kitchen, it’s been a struggle to get on the computer to tell you about it. Why? Because, I’ve found my spare moments consumed by the birth of my fabulous growing nephew (and, I haven’t wanted to miss a moment). Okay, there you have it. I’ve turned to mush and become all loverish over my sister’s baby. But, I’m back with this 200th post to say “we are still committed to sharing our recipes and canning practices and every attempt will be made to post at least once a week.” So let’s get to it….
It’s common practice around these frigid parts to spend the winter months huddled inside by the fire making and consuming copious amounts of soup. We did it last year and we vowed to do it again this year. Some of the recipes we’ll share evolve out of an abundance of gifted ingredients. Like this next recipe. Our dear friend, arrived to our place for a dinner party carrying multiple large boxes of varying home-grown squash. Score!
Squash is one of those vegetables with a tremendously long shelf life (if stored properly) but there comes a point when enough is enough and putting it into jars seems like the next natural step. And, that’s what we did.
RECIPE FOR ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP:
- 8 large carrots; coarsely sliced = 2lbs or 6 cups
- 5 celery ribs; coarsely chopped = 12 oz or 3 cups
- 3 large cooking onions; coarsely chopped = 20 oz or 5 cups
- 1 large parsnip; chopped = 8 oz or 2 cups
- 4 medium acorn squash; peeled and chopped = 2lb or 7 cups
- 1 large pattison squash or summer squash; peeled and chopped = 2lb or 6 cups
- 6 cloves garlic; peeled
- 1/2 cup butter
- 10 cups chicken stock
- 2 cans (340mL) V-8 juice
- 1 L stewed tomatoes
- 2 cups beer ~ we used Flying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp Louisiana sauce
- Melt butter in a large stainless steel stockpot over medium heat.
- Add vegetables and saute for 15 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently until vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes.
- Remove from heat. In the pot, purée the soup using an immersion blender until smooth and creamy. Or, working in batches using the food processor. Don’t rush this step as the soup consistency is greatly improved by extending the pureeing time. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Ladle soup into hot sterilized jars leaving 1″ headspace. Remove air bubbles and top up with soup if necessary. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lid and ring on each jar, adjusting the ring so that it’s just finger-tight.
- Process in a pressure canner following directions carefully. We pressure canned this soup at 10lbs of pressure for 75 minutes. Please follow the instructions and guidelines outlined in your pressure canning manual.
There seems to be an endless array of squash out there so don’t be afraid to use what’s on hand. There are no hard and fast rules and ingredients can be swapped or left out to suit your tastes.
Put up Total (two batches):
- 17 x 1Litre regular mouth mason jars
The merriment of the holidays will swell tonight as family and friends gather to celebrate the coming of a New Year. So eat, drink, and be merry…tomorrow is the start of a New Year!
We are days away from Christmas and I know I should be posting about baking tasty cookies that ooze homemade jam or the best way to decorate your jars for gift giving or even providing you all with wonderful tips for enhancing your Christmas dinner but like most people at this time of year I’ve been swept away by it all. So, instead I will proceed on the course I set out to complete many months ago.
The post should have appeared in October when tomatillos are harvested and available here in Northern Ontario. However, I know for a fact lots of southern US states will be seeing these guys make their way to farmers markets very soon! They are part of the tomato family and should ripen along side their red cousins.
Tomatillos are those delicious tomato like fruit used in an assortment of mexican dishes. I fell in love with them after just one bite. Now, some will probably think I’m crazy but I actually enjoy eating them out of hand. They are tart yet sweet, with a firm texture and very small seeds. Perhaps a cross between an asian pear and a kiwi!?! If you can get them to grow, they will take over because they are a weed so it is a good idea to plant them in a separate area. A weed bearing fruit?…what an excellent idea! I “heart” tomatillos!
In the early fall and before the frost hits, I helped a friend harvest these golden green little gems. There were so many it was hard to imagine putting them all up. I took about 30lbs of them, many were gifted to fellow canners, some added to sandwiches, and those left behind were turned into the soil to grow up again next year.
About 16lbs of tomatillos were made into Tomatillo Mexican Salsa (a true must) leaving another 14lbs to contend with. We concluded soup was a quick and easy way to put up the remaining tomatillos.
TOMATILLO CHICKEN SOUP:
- 2 whole organic chickens
- 12 cups chicken stock
- 8 cups onions; approximately 6 onions or 1 kg; coarsely chopped
- 3 cups carrots; approximately 4 large carrots or 1 lb; chopped
- 14 lbs tomatillos; husked and quartered
- 3/4 cup garlic; approximately 15 cloves; minced
- 1 1/2 cups hot banana peppers; approximately 3
Clearly, we had a glut of tomatillos and this recipe was derived out of the need to put them to good use. You can do it on a much smaller scale using boneless skinless chicken breasts but we decided we were going to need more than just a few chicken breasts to make this soup hearty. So, two whole chickens was the most economical way to proceed.
- Place the quartered chickens in the oven at 325F to roast for 1h30.
- Once cooked, remove chickens from oven and allow to cool slightly. Remove skin and all meat, chop into small bite size pieces. Set aside to add to soup later.
- In a large stainless steel saucepan, add 3 tablespoons of the fat from the stock (or 2-3 tablespoons olive oil). Add onions, carrots, and garlic and sauté until golden brown (about 10 minutes).
- Stir in prepared tomatillos, banana peppers, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer covered pot for 15-20 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and remove.
- Using an immersion blender or working in batches in a food processor purée the soup. Tomatillos’ tartness is balanced out with heat so be sure to taste the soup and if it requires more fire add some hot sauce, cayenne pepper or chili flakes. Do it bit by bit. Personally, I can’t handle too much heat so recipes presented here are always adjusted to suit my tastes (a comprise my husband adjusts when food is served by pouring on the Franks). You can always spice it up more when served.
- Return to medium-high heat and add chicken. Stir to combine. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper if necessary.
- Remove from the heat and ladle into hot sterilized 1 litre (quart) jars leaving 1″ headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace by topping with hot soup. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lid and ring on each jar, adjusting the ring so that it’s just finger-tight.
- Process in a pressure canner following directions carefully. We pressure canned this soup at 10lbs of pressure for 80 minutes. Please follow the instructions and guidelines outlined in your pressure canning manual or found on The National Center For Home Food Preservation. This soup can also be served fresh or jarred and refrigerated to be eaten over the next couple of days.
Put up Total:
- 9 x 1L regular mouth mason jars