This preserving post is courtesy of our contributor Carolyn…I can remember, as a child, a couple weekends a year the ladies of the family would get together and we would spend the weekend pickling. Mostly dill pickles, but also dill carrots, pickled beets, and various other garden treats. While reviewing Best of Bridge Home Preserving, I was reminded of how fond I am of those weekends and how I hope to someday pass on a similar tradition to the next generation. I was also reminded that the hardest part was always waiting the weeks upon weeks to eat the goodies.
Because our local farmers market has not opened, I have decided to approach this cookbook review a bit differently; instead of trying a few different recipes, I read through an entire cookbook. Yes, that was the first time I’ve ever read a cookbook from cover to cover. With my scattered attention span this was a bit of a feat! I’ll have to say I only skimmed through the recipes section because after a while I began to realize the process in most of the preserving recipes is pretty similar, but I am excited about how much I learned about the preserving process. Did you know preserving has the terms “Headspace” and “Pectin”? (Okay, all the terminology made me giggle)
I also loved reading about the history of home preserving and its comeback into modern kitchens. Preserving is no longer a necessity with fridges and freezers but nothing compares to fresh, homemade product.
I was reminded of the value in preserving and my favorite section was the “7 Great Reasons to Preserve”. My two favorite reasons were Economical Price and Gift-Giving. I hope everyone wants pickles for Christmas!
I am yet to try any of the recipes. After reading through the What You’ll Need section, I realized I am missing a lot of the equipment. After doing some research, I learned there are kits you can buy at several different grocery super centers that will get you started and those stores should have the rest of the equipment as well!
As soon as our farmers market opens at the end of the month, the produce on my shopping list includes cucumbers, onions, and garlic for the Bread and Butter Pickles. Yum!
I also want to try one of the jams or jellies, but as a jam and jelly newbie I feel a though the stars might need to align to get it right (my aunty tells me otherwise). There are a lot of steps and a lot of ways to ruin the recipe but Best of Bridge Home Preserving lets you know them all in great detail. I know a stand at my farmers market had both raspberries and plums so the Raspberry and Plum Jam could be made.
The last recipe that really caught my eye was Black Bean Tomato Salsa. I LOVE Salsa! I would eat homemade salsa out of the jar, with a spoon, when no one was watching! Okay, I have done this when I lived with roommates who had their dad’s homemade salsa in the fridge. Shhh! The best part about this recipe, it can be eaten pretty soon after it’s made and sealed jars can be preserved for future use.
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 12 cups chopped peeled plum (Roma) tomatoes
- 1 1⁄2 cups chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1⁄4 cup finely chopped seeded jalapeño peppers
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp pickling or canning salt
- 2 cups cider vinegar
- 2 cups drained rinsed canned or cooked black beans*
- 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or oregano
- In a small dry skillet, over medium heat, toast cumin, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute or until fragrant and slightly darker but not yet popping.
- Immediately transfer to a Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot.
- Add tomatoes, onions, red and green peppers, jalapeños, garlic, sugar, salt and vinegar to the pot.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often.
- Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring often, for about 1 hour or until salsa is reduced by about half and is thick enough to mound on a spoon.
- Stir beans into salsa and boil gently, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until beans are very hot. Stir in cilantro.
- Ladle into sterilized jars to within 1⁄2 inch (1 cm) of rim.
- Remove any air pockets and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot salsa; wipe rims.
- Apply prepared lids and rings; tighten rings just until fingertip-tight.
- Process jars in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.
- Turn off heat and remove canner lid.
- Let jars stand in water for 5 minutes.
- Transfer jars to a towel-lined surface and let rest at room temperature until cooled.
- Check seals; refrigerate any unsealed jars for up to 3 weeks.
- *If using canned black beans, you’ll need one 19-oz (540 mL) can. If you have smaller cans, you’ll need two. Don’t be tempted to add the extra beans to the salsa — it will alter the acid balance. Add them to a salad, mash them with some salsa to make burritos or freeze them for later use.
After experimenting with a few of the recipes, I’ll be sure to share with you my hilarious mishaps and delightful successes in Home Preserving. Stay tuned!
Images & recipe courtesy of Best of Bridge Home Preserving:120 Recipes for Canning Fruits & Vegetables by Best of Bridge Publishing Ltd. 2014 © www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.
*Disclosure: We received a copy of this cookbook in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are our own.