Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why You Should Buy US Shrimp

If you look on the back of a bag of frozen shrimp you're likely to see that it comes from Thailand or Vietnam. The shrimp is good and cheap. However, someone is paying a price: children and workers.
Domestic shrimp is sometimes harder to find and more expensive than imported shrimp but I hope you will consider going the extra mile and paying the additional money after reading this article.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Canning Applesauce

A friend recently brought by a dozen apples from the tree in his yard. I had no idea what kind they were but they joined an already full plate of fruit from a variety of sources.

My own apple tree is getting close to harvest-time so I thought this might be a good test run on canning some applesauce.

So I ran down to my local hardware store and picked up a dozen half pint jars. I came home and stuck some in the dishwasher to get them sterilized. I followed my earlier recipe for applesauce again using some honey in lieu of sugar. In order to can the applesauce, follow the earlier recipe and then add these steps.

Once the applesauce is processed, bring the applesauce back to a boil. Using a canning funnel, ladle in the hot applesauce into sterile jars leaving a half inch of head space. Use a wooden chop stick or other non-reactive utensil to stir out any air bubbles. Clean the rim and screw on sterile lids.

Set the jars in a boiling hot water bath for 20 minutes. Remove them from the water and let cool on a towel for 12 hours. Check that the lids sealed. Put them away to enjoy in a future recipe.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Canning Peaches

Last year, I made jam out of the peach harvest. I still have some jars in the pantry. This year's harvest was just canned over the last two weekends. It was quite an event with multiple pans going all at once: the hot water bath pan, a saucepan to boil the lids, boiling water to dip the peaches into, and a simple syrup.

I have an old Ball Blue Book from the '50's and it's pretty much the bible for canning. When I went online and looked canning peaches, it's amazing how little has changed. If you don't have this book, you need to get a copy.

So here are the "cheat sheet" directions

  • Drop batches of peaches into boiling water for about 1 minute and then transfer to a bowl of ice water. The riper the peaches, the easier the peel will come off.
  • Remove skin; halve and pit; place face down in a sterile jar. You may need to quarter the peaches.
  • Gently push down on the peaches to maximize the space as you begin to fill up the jar.
  • Ladle in syrup to cover leaving about a 1/2 of head space.
  • Run a knife along the inside edge of the peaches to remove air bubbles.
  • Clean the rim of the jar with a damp paper towel.
  • Put on the lid and drop into a boiling water bath with a water level above the jar lid.
  • Boil for 30 minutes and remove.
  • Place jars on a towel to dry for 12 hours.
  • Listen for the "pop" of the jars as the lids seal as it cools.
For this first time run, I went with the extra light syrup and I had to make a second batch:

  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 1/4 water
Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Bring to a boil and ladle into jars.

Here's the formula:
Extra light = 1 1/4 cups sugar to 5 1/4 cups water
Light = 2 1/4 cup sugar to 5 cups water
Medium = 3 1/4 cup sugar to 5 cups water
Heavy = 4 /1/4 cups sugar to 4 /1/4 cups water

Here are some YouTube videos that demonstrate the process.