Lemon Curd: A Canning Fail

Recently I posted this recipe for lemon cheesecake bars. This recipe was born out of necessity.

Necessity because I wanted to make and can my own lemon curd. And this would have been awesome, except that my canning efforts failed miserably (a whole bunch of the curd vented from the jars, preventing them from forming a good seal). But the curd itself turned out just beautifully.

I will not be telling you how to can this (until I can get it together myself) but I will share with you how I made the curd. It will stay good in the fridge for about two weeks without canning.

Lemon Curd

Ingredients:

  • 6 large lemons
  • 2 C. sugar
  • 10 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks

Step 1: Whisk together the eggs and yolks in a large glass or metal bowl. Then Zest 4 of the lemons, and juice all of them. Strain the lemon juice and whisk it into  the eggs. Whisk in the zest.

Step 2: Fill a saucepan with water and place the bowl over it (but not touching the water). Bring the water to a simmer, then whisk the sugar in to the lemon juice and egg mixture.

lemon curd (3)Step 3: Keep whisking the mixture, and once it begins to heat up, start adding the butter a tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly. If you don’t have arm muscles now, you will when the curd is done.

Step 4: After all the butter is added and melted, keep whisking until the curd begins to thicken. This can take anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes. Once it begins to thicken, whisk and cook for about 5 minutes more. It should be thick, buttery, and perfectly smooth.

lemon curd (6)Pour it into a jar or other resealable container and let it cool before putting the lid on. Then refrigerate until cold.

Now you can go make these cheesecake bars with your own, homemade lemon curd!

The Wife


Elevating the Loquat

I had no idea what a loquat was, until we moved to Texas and I discovered a loquat tree in our backyard. Unfortunately, the squirrels got to them before I knew exactly what I had in my backyard. So all last year I researched and planned, and found a million wonderful canning recipes for loquats that I was just dying to try.

And then, we moved. We moved before our loquat tree bore any fruit this year, and that made me sad. Now what was I going to do with all these wonderful recipes? You can’t usually buy loquats in the grocery store.

And then I met our new next door neighbor, Nikki. Nikki, who happens to have a loquat tree in her back yard that produces more fruit than she can eat. So she let me raid it for my own nefarious purposes. This was my haul:

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Despite their name, loquats are more closely related to apples than anything else. They taste like a plum and an apricot had a baby. And, since they are an asian fruit, I decided to go for broke and make a Chinese five-spice preserve.

Chinese Five Spice Loquat Preserves

Ingredients:

  • 4 Pints loquats (about 6 cups)
  • 4-5 C. granulated sugar
  • 1 C. water
  • 3 tsp. bottled lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger

Step 1: Prepare your jars, lids, and canner. If you have never canned before, see the tutorial here. Throw a couple of ceramic plates in the freezer. You’ll need them to test for gelling later.

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Step 2: While your lids and canner are heating, slice the loquats into thin slices. The loquats have a large seed in the middle (sometimes t hey have more than one). I find it easiest to slice around the middle of the loquat long-ways, and remove the seed before slicing.

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also, loquats turn brown once sliced, so unless you work very quickly (or you are lazy, like me) I’d recommend sprinkling some lemon juice over the sliced loquats as you go.

Step 3: Add the sliced loquats to a deep pot. Pour in the water, sugar, lemon juice, and spices, and bring everything to a boil. I added 4 C. of sugar and then tasted it for sweetness. 4 C. was enough for me.

blog 107Once everything comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer it for about 25-30 minutes. Stir it frequently to keep the bottom from scorching.

Step 4: Once the preserves have simmered away for 25 minutes, take one of your plates out of the freezer. Spoon a little of the preserve on the cold plate, and put it back in the freezer for a few minutes. Take it out again and push your fingernail against the side of  the pool of preserve. If the surface wrinkles, it’s done! If it doesn’t you can either cook it for five minutes more, or add a Tablespoon or two (go with two) of powdered pectin to the mix. I didn’t do either of these things, and my preserves were a little runny. They still taste good, though.

Step 5: Once your preserves are ready, ladle them into 1/2 pint jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. This recipe made 4 1/2 pint jars for me.

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Add the lids and screw bands and proccess the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. let them sit for 24 hours, then store them in a cool dark place.

These preserves almost remind me of spiced peaches. Almost. I’ve been eating them stirred into yogurt, but they’d be good on just about anything.

If you have access to a loquat  tree, or access to a friend who has access to a loquat tree, tell them you’ll give them a jar if they let you pick as many as you want. You won’t be sorry, and neither will they.

The Wife

P.S. Is it weird that rainy days make my kitchen look super-yellow? It’s not really that yellow, I promise.


An Over Abundance of Eggs

One of the doctor’s at The Renaissance Man’s clinic keeps chickens. And, apparently, he keeps more chickens than his family can keep up with, egg-wise. So, he brings the extras in to the clinic, and people can take them if they want them.

The other day, nobody wanted eggs (apparently) and Dr. J made TRM take home two dozen eggs. That is on top of the two dozen he brough home a few days before that. And there’s only two of us, so it takes a while to work through a dozen eggs.

This is what my kitchen looked like over the weekend:

eggs

Of course, when faced with such over-abundance, my first instinct is to figure out how to preserve the bounty. Unfortunately, there are not many ways to preserve eggs. The most popular way is to pickle them. Pickled eggs keep for about a month in the fridge, unless you talk to anyone who has ever pickled them; they will tell you that they last several months at least.

So I pickled 16 eggs.

Purple Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 1 beet, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 C. vinegar
  • 2 C. beet juice
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 8 whole allspice
  • 16 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 16 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 1-quart mason jars

Step 1: Hard boil your eggs. It helps if you do this the night before, since cold eggs are way easier to peel.

Step 2: After you peel and slice the beet, place the slices in a saucepan and cover them with water. Bring them to a boil and then reduce the heat and cover, simmering for about 30 minutes.

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Step 3: While the beets are simmering, add the vinegar, sugar, and whole spices to a large saucepan. Slice the onion and add that to the pot, too. Once the beets are finished, add them and 2 C. of the beet liquid to the pot. Bring everything to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat.

Step 4: Put one beet slice and a few onion slices in the bottom of each jar. Add some boiled, peeled eggs to each jar (I fit 8 into each). Oh yeah, if you didn’t peel your eggs, now is the time. Ladel enough of the hot pickling brine into each jar to cover the eggs completely. I added another beet slice on top. Shake the jar just a little to dislodge any air bubbles, then put the lid on them and let the jars sit until they cool off.

Step 5: Once the jars are cool, put them in the fridge for at least 2 days before you eat them. The longer they sit, the more the brine penetrates the eggs.

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You can tell that this jar was just filled, because the eggs still appaear white. They will begin to turn purple as the brine penetrates the egg white.

We have not opened our jars yet, since it hasn’t been 48 hours, but people use pickled eggs as a garnish for salads, or as an extra-flavorful deviled egg.

The Wife

P.S. I still have 32 eggs left. Any more suggestions on what to do with them?


Pressure Canning: Garbanzo Beans

I have been kind of obsessed with hummus for the last few weeks. Obsessed to the point of getting tired of going to the store every few days to buy canned chick peas (or garbanzo beans, if you will).

Then it occurred to me: I can black beans so that this doesn’t happen. Why can’t I can chick peas?

As it turns out, I can. And I did. I used the method I use for my black beans here.

Chick peas are bigger than black beans, so I cut the amount per pint jar down to 1/2 C. In retrospect that was not necessary. 2/3 C. would be fine.

blog 089Then I boiled some water and filled each jar to 1/4″ headspace.

blog 093I processed them at 10 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes. I lost quite a bit of liquid, which probably would not have happened with the full 2/3 C. of dried chick peas in there.

One pound of chick peas yielded 7 pint jars. If you fill them with 2/3 C. of chick peas, it will be more like 4 or 5.

Now I won’t have to run to the store for at least a few weeks!

The Wife


Winter Canning: Banana Sauce

I love to cook and can (duh.) but in the Winter, canning sometimes falls by the wayside.  I can dried beans in the Winter to replenish our supply, but other than that, there’s not a whole lot of produce begging to be canned.

So when I ended up with a batch of dangerously ripe bananas for the second time in two weeks, I started to investigate whether or not it is feasible to can bananas.

As it turns out, there are ways to do it, and this is one of them. I found several recipes for banana jam, banana’s foster jam, or brown sugar banana jam. So I combined them all to make what I call a sauce: it’s looser than a jam, and is meant to be spooned over ice cream or cake. Or anything, really.

And I have to tell you, the result of this experiment is a caramel-colored jar of banana heaven. Rum extract and cinnamon give it the classic “banana’s foster” flavors, and ripe bananas boost the flavor even more.

So if you end up with a bunch (ha!) of ripe bananas, think about mixing up a batch of this sauce.

Spiced Banana Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 10 ripe bananas, peeled and diced
  • 7 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. fruit fresh (optional)
  • 3 C. granulated sugar
  • 2 C. dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. powdered pectin
  • 2 tsp. rum extract

Step 1: Dice the bananas and place in a large pot. If you are canning this, get your canner, jars, and lids ready. Sprinkled the lemon juice over the bananas and stir. I did not use fruit fresh for this recipe, not because I didn’t want to, but because I thought I was out. As it turns out, I had a whole new jar tucked away in my pantry. Oh well! If you are using fruit fresh, sprinkle it in with the bananas and lemon juice, and stir to coat the bananas.

blog 083Step 2: Add the sugars, cinnamon, and butter. Heat on medium until the sugar goes from this:

blog 084to this:

blog 085Step 3: Bring the mixture to a boil. Once at a boil, add the pectin. Return the mixture to a boil and boil hard for 2 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the rum extract. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes before ladling into hot jars.

Step 4: Fill the jars to 1/4″ headspace. Put on the lids and screw bands and place in the canner. Process for 10 minutes.

blog 086This stuff is to die for spooned over homemade frozen yogurt. in fact, it’s so good, I’m going to share my homemade frozen yogurt recipe on Wednesday! No ice cream maker required!

The Wife

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Christmas Gifts: The Culmination

I finished my Christmas canning, which meant it was time to think about gift presentation.

I have always been a fan of gift baskets for giving gifts to people you’re not terribly close with. These gift baskets are for the families I sit for, with the addition of wrapped presents for the kids.

blog 140Included in my gift basket is a jar of brandied apple butter, a jar of honey-lemon marmalade, and a large jar with cranberry bran muffin mix in it (recipe to come). Plus a card, and books for the kiddos.

The labels came from My Own Labels. They have quite the array of labels for all kids of things, and a whole section of labels specifically sized for canning jars.

blog 138I got baskets from Hobby Lobby during a 50% off sale, and lined them with festive tissue paper. The hardest part of the whole thing was the canning!

I bet you wish you were on my gift list, now, don’t you?

What are you gifting this year? Is it homemade, or store bought? Do you think it’ll be “re-gifted”?

The Wife

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Christmas In A Jar

I have been posting the canned goods I’ve been making to give as gifts this holiday season. This particular recipe is not a gift. It’s too good, I am going to hoard it all for myself. But it would make a wonderful holiday gift, and the taste can only be described as “Christmas in a jar”. It is cranberry conserve, and while it’s best use is spooned over poultry, I am not above stirring it into yogurt, spreading it on toast, or eating it right out of the jar.

Conserve is a fruit preserve that includes nuts and dried fruits as well as fresh. It sounds like an odd mix, but I promise it is oh, so right. In this conserve I used pecans and dried apricots, but walnuts and raisins would be good, too.

This recipe is perfect for canning, and uses the boiling water bath method. It yields approximately 8 1/2 pint jars.

Cranberry Conserve

Ingredients:

  • 1 orange, seeds removed and chopped
  • 3 C. water
  • 6 C. fresh cranberries
  • 3 C. granulated sugar
  • 1 C. brown sugar
  • 1 C. dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 1 C. pecans, chopped

If you are canning this recipe, assemble your canning supplies and begin to heat your lids and jars right when you start the recipe. Everything will be ready at the same time this way.

Step 1: Chop the orange into small pieces, leaving the peel on. In a stainless steel pot, combine the oranges and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 5 minutes.

Step 2: Once the orange peel has softened, add the sugars, cranberries, and chopped apricots (oh, yeah. Chop the apricots.)

Stir everything together and bring it back to a boil. Boil hard for about 10 minutes.

Step 3: If the gel is important to you, remove the conserve from the heat and test the gel. If it is not set enough for you, return to the heat and boil for another 5 minutes. If not (it wasn’t important to me), remove it from the heat and stir in the chopped pecans. Ladle it into hot jars.

Fill the jars to 1/4″ headspace, wipe the rims (this stuff is sticky!) , top with hot lids and screw bands, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Aside from being really beautiful in the jar, this stuff is good on everything. Spread some on a turkey sandwich. Dollop some over ice cream. The possibilities are endless.

The Wife