In the old days, pickling or preserving occurred on the hottest day of the year. It involved a great deal of boiling water, scalding jars, cleaning fruit and vegetables, and sweat. In short, preserving of old was hard work. Thankfully, the process has been streamlined. Although it still involves preparation, science has simplified the steps, equipment is easier and you can opt to do it at your convenience, not on a blazing hot day in summer.
There is nothing to beat the flavour of your own preserves. Choose your recipe wisely. By that I mean, only put your labour into something you love to eat and is hard or expensive to buy. If you plan on giving your preserves to friends, give them to people who will appreciate their value because preserving is a labour of love. It involves effort. There are numerous hints to make preserving fun; here are some that work for me:
•Preserve with a friend
•Preserving does not have to be done in the heat of the summer. The easiest preserving is freezing. You can freeze fruit and vegetables (or use frozen) and use them in a preserving recipe when you feel you want to make the recipe even in winter!
•Choose the recipe you enjoy eating, and if it is an old one from a family member, be sure to look up an updated version as ingredients change. For example, your grandmother’s recipe may now have slightly different quantities because the ingredients themselves have changed with time. Recipes from Bernardin (the pickling people) have been well-tested and are updated. Get a copy of their publication or look them up on line to compare their recipe with yours. Canadian Living and Chatelaine are all tested recipes too.
•Make a trip to Canadian Tire to get a small canner (that is the kettle with the trivet) necessary to sanitize jars before filling with product. This will hold six (8 oz) jars and will save you hours of back-breaking labour.
•Splurge and buy the preserving pack from Bernardin which has a funnel to fill jars, a magnetized stick to get lids from boiling water (saves your hands and your temper), rubberized tongs to lift jars from the boiling water of the canner, rubber spatula to run inside jar for air to escape.
•Plan to make one or two recipes only per day. Any more is hard work.
•At the end, line up the fruits of your labour on the prettiest tea towel you own and admire your handiwork. The taste of your preserve will bring back tasty memories in the dead of winter.
Cauliflower Mustard Pickles
Make the most of autumn cauliflower with this recipe. This old fashioned pickle can have a new fashioned face when served as a condiment to curries, oriental dishes or a spread on tortillas or pita with cheese.
cauliflower (4 cups 1 L) florets
2 cups (500 mL) chopped onions
1 each, chopped red and green pepper
2 tbsp (25mL) pickling salt
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) all purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) each, turmeric, mustard seed and celery seed
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) white vinegar
1/2 cup (125 mL) water
In large bowl, combine cauliflower, onions, and peppers with salt and 1 cup (250 mL) water. Let stand one hour. Drain well. In large stainless steel saucepan, stir together sugar, flour, mustard, turmeric, mustard seed and celery seed. Gradually stir in vinegar and water. Bring to boil. Drain vegetables. Add to spice mixture and return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes stirring frequently until vegetables are tender. Ladle pickle mixture into hot, sterilized jars to within one-half inch (1 cm) of top of rim. Remove air bubbles, by sliding rubber spatula between glass and food. Readjust head space to one-half inch (1 cm). Using damp clean cloth, wipe rim free of any stickiness. Center snap lid on jar. Apply screw band just until fingertip tight. Place jar in canner. Repeat with remaining pickles. Cover canner. Return water to boil. Process 10 minutes. Remove jars. Cool 24 hours. Check jar for seal, that means the lid should curve downwards. If you touch the lid and it springs back, air is trapped under the lid and you should refrigerate the product and use up within the next two weeks. Wipe jars with seal, label and store in cool, dark place for up to one year.
Bring the flavours o summer back to a winter breakfast with this marmalade. It makes an excellent glaze for poultry too!
3-4 limes scrubbed
2 lemons, scrubbed
1/2 cup (125 ml) crystallized ginger, chopped (optional)
Cut the limes and lemons in half. Remove seeds. Slice the fruit thinly. Measure the fruit and juice and add three times the amount of water. Cover this mixture and refrigerate 12 hours. Simmer mixture 20 minutes. Cover and refrigerate another 12 hours. Measure this fruit water mixture. For every 1 cup (250 mL) of fruit mixture add 3/4 cup (175 ml) granulated sugar. Cook this fruit and sugar mixture in a large non-aluminum saucepan until the desired consistency of jelly about 2 to 2 ? hours. You can test by putting a spoonful in a small dish under refrigeration. When cool stir with a spoon to see if is the consistency you like. The crystallized ginger may be added during the last half hour of cooking. Spoon marmalade into sterilized jars (jars should be washed in hot soapy water, preferably dishwasher and then filled with boiling water. Drained and while still hot filled with the marmalade. Cover with the sterilized lids, process in the boiling water bath 10 minutes; cooled on cooling rack and once the seal is checked (lid is down in center) label and date. Marmalade will keep well for up to one year in a cool, dark spot; once opened, marmalade should be refrigerated.