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It’s Caramelized, Not Burned

August 16, 2012

This week, the email from Harvest Valley Farms guessed that I would receive “white sweet corn, nectarines, watermelon, mixed cherry tomatoes, red potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, romaine lettuce”. However, instead of watermelon, I was hit with double corn! Not cool. I was super excited about pickling watermelon rinds! However, it’s an excellent excuse to can more salsa.

 In my last post, I mentioned that I was making Vanilla Melon Jam, salsa, pickles, and sauerkraut. All of these things happened – but some were more successful than others. I was using the Vanilla Melon Jam recipe from The Preservation Kitchen but there was a typo in the recipe so it listed lemon juice in the ingredients but never included it in the directions … awkward. So I continued blindly forward and burned the cantaloupe – or as I described it on the label “caramelized” it. “Whatever,” I thought, “it will probably still be good.” So I canned it. A couple days ago, I finally opened a jar (after it occurred to me that the lack of lemon juice could screw up the acidity and therefore, it might go bad). It tastes … ok. So now I need to figure out what to do with bland, cantaloupe jam that is not actually that tasty. I’m thinking of using it for baked brie or thumbprint cookies with the idea that if I surround it with other delicious things, it will work out ok.

My next disaster was my first attempt at sauerkraut. I had acquired this awesome, large jar and some cherry leaves from some friends of mine. I immediately got to work shredding the cabbage, salting it, and packing it into the jar. I used a half-pint jar filled with water as a weight. I was super excited. Every half-hour, I checked on it and pushed down on the small jar/weight. After a couple of hours of this, the cabbage started to more obviously compress and I was able to pop the small jar all the way into the large jar. Oops. I realized that it was not going to be as easy to get the small jar out of the large jar as it was to get it in. Also, this small jar was now blocking all of my soon-to-be-sauerkraut. “Whatever,” I thought, “I will figure it out later.” So I let it ferment and my roommates banished it to the basement because it smelled bad. After a week of this, it occurred to me that I hadn’t sterilized my weight that was now stuck in my jar. And the basement is creepy/mildewy. And the small jar was blocking the opening so I couldn’t skim the weirdness off the top. So I trashed the creepy sauerkraut and have still not managed to remove the small jar from inside the large jar … I’m working on it.

However, the salsa was a success! It was a very mild, sweet salsa. I’m at a point where I feel like pickling is very easy/accessible but slightly more complicated things like fermentation and jam are not quite within my grasp. So this week, I’m going to make another attempt at jam! After using an internet recipe for the salsa, I got all freaked out about food safety. So I ordered the book I should have purchased to begin with – the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. There’s a reason that they call this book the “Bible” of home food preservation. It has an awesome troubleshooting guide and really helpful explanations of how food preservation works. I feel so much more confident in what I am doing now. It also has several salsa recipes – so I’ll be trying one this week (have to use that corn!). I also purchased Food in Jars, which has lots of jam recipes. I think I will try their Small Batch Mixed Stone Fruit Jam to ease myself into it with the nectarines. Maybe if that goes well, I will try a jam that requires pectin! One step at a time …

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 16, 2012 21:20

    I laughed out loud at the title of this post.

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