Showing posts with label preserving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label preserving. Show all posts

August 19, 2013

Fig Frenzy

I think I have fig fatigue -- brought on of course by this weekend's fig frenzy. 

In my entire life, I've eaten fresh figs only a handful of times. They are intrigueing little bundles of goodness though, so naturally I jumped at the chance to go fig picking with a friend. Within 30 minutes, I had a bounty of figs (and mosquito bites!)

Motivated by the fact that figs go bad very quickly, I set off to make the most of my fruity finds as quickly as possible. 

I tried my hand at canning years ago when I lived in England. My raspberry jam was a gooey mess that needed to be consumed within a week. Looking back, I'm sure I didn't use pectin, or even proper canning jars. I don't remember ever sealing anything. I've never bothered to can jam since. Besides, I usually receive a stash of yummy homemade jam over the holidays from other friends and since the Sailor and I don't eat it everyday, I don't really feel the need to make my own batch. 

Chutney, however, is in high demand in our household. It really is such a versatile condiment, in my book. You can serve it with meat, use it on a sandwich, or simply eat it with a nice cheese.

I made peach chutney the other week, and this weekend, I tried my hand at fig chutney. I found this recipe from David Lebovitz and it turned out fig-fantastic. 

One pound of figs makes about two cups worth, so you can easily just keep it in the fridge and consume it right after making it. I kept a little bit out to eat that night, and then canned several small jars worth to save for later. I have a feeling they're not going to last very long though. 

Apparently I wasn't alone in my preserving party -- this past weekend was National Can-It-Foward Day. Even if you missed it, there's still plenty of time to can all kinds of good stuff. Ball has a great PDF on the basics of canning here.

{I see you eyeballing my Pyrex bowls at the top. The small Gooseberry pink cinderella bowl cost me a whole $1 recently, as did the Town and Country mixing bowl at a local thrift store. I already have the same small Gooseberry bowl in my collection, so I'm thinking that perhaps another giveaway is in the blog's future? What do you think? In the meantime, you can see more Gooseberry goodness here.}

July 25, 2013

Peach Chutney

I had never tasted chutney until my 20s, when I ordered curry at an Indian restaurant in the UK. I always associated chutney with Indian food from then on. I had no idea what else you could do with it.

Then I married the Sailor and he introduced me to a whole new world of chutney-related items. Earlier this month, I mentioned that my go-to roast these days included a bottle of Mrs Balls Chutney. I still haven't found Mrs Balls Chutney locally. 

What I did find was my mother-in-law's recipe book. Years ago, in a bid to learn more Afrikaans, and to help the Sailor's mother, I typed out her recipes and bound them together in a book. There are numerous typos (really, I didn't know any Afrikaans when I set out to do this project... and most of the recipes were scraps of paper written out by hand). I still need the Sailor's help to translate a number of the recipes, but the book is a wonderful reference. 

It's peach season where we are and it reminded me of South Africa. My father-in-law cultivates amazing peach trees -- you can read more about those peaches here and see another photo here from our last trip to the Southern Hemisphere. The Sailor reminded me this week that there is a peach chutney recipe in that book.

I've been wanting to try my hand at preserving food for a long time now, plus, I needed an excuse to use the giant stainless steel pot I recently scored at a thrift store.

I started off with a very small manageable batch -- only six jars worth. 

While the chutney simmered, the Sailor breathed in deeply and said it smelled like his family's house. It certainly did. When we left  South Africa earlier this year, my mother-in-law tried desperately to send us home with jars full of chutney. Baggage handlers and breakables don't usually go well together, so we declined the offer, but our taste buds regretted it the moment we got back to America. 

I'm beginning to realize how significant it is to carry on cooking traditions from both sides of my family. In January, I wrote a post on Family Kitchen Mergers -- you can read that here, in case you missed it. When I sent my mother-in-law a photo of the chutney cooking, her response implied she was over the moon. I think most families love to see a little of their history getting passed along.

We may have turned down importing my mother-in-law's stash of chutney, but I think she's just as pleased that we learned to make it ourselves. As per her instructions, we need to wait at least a week to sample the goods. Rest assured, I'll let you know the canning results.