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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Yes You Can Can!

After spending a glorious summer outdoors cultivating a thriving garden, many gardeners are wondering what to do with the remainder of their bounty. Here & Now’s resident chef Kathy Gunst says “can it!” and look no further. Check below for some of Kathy’s favorite end of summer recipes and her tips on canning.

More:

End-of-the-Season Roasted Tomato Sauce (PDF)

Kathy’s take: Roasting at a high temperature gives tomatoes a rich, slightly smoky flavor, and onions and garlic become sweet as they caramelize. For those with a fear of canning, this is a no-fail tomato sauce that can be refrigerated for three to five days, or it can be frozen in a tightly sealed plastic bag for several months. The sauce can also be placed in sterilized Mason jars and processed (30 minutes in a boiling water bath); it will keep for up to a year.

Toss the sauce with pasta, serve it over grilled chicken or fish, or in any dish that calls for regular tomato sauce. You can cut the recipe in half or make a huge batch, depending on how many tomatoes you have. Feel free to add pitted olives, drained capers, chopped sweet or hot peppers, anchovies, or any other fresh herbs you have on hand.

Canning Tips
◊ Always run your canning jars through the dishwasher and then sterilize them in boiling hot water for about 4-5 minutes. Drain and let dry.

◊ Always add sauces and liquid to canning jars when they are warm and not boiling hot or cold — except when making pickles with salt or a cold brine.

◊ Always fill jars ¾ (not all the way) full.

◊ If there are bubbles trapped within a jar take a clean kitchen knife and run it around the rim of the jar. This will loosen any air bubbles.

◊ Be sure to run a paper towel or clean kitchen towel around the rim after you’ve filled the jars to make sure there’s nothing spilling over. Even the smallest bit of sauce on the outside edge can cause bacteria.

◊ Put clean lids on the jars, seal the rim on tightly and process in boiling water.

Recipe:
About 10 pounds ripe tomatoes, any variety, cored and quartered*
8 medium onions, peeled, and quartered or chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled, and left whole
5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, and/or chives)
About 1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Generous grinding of black pepper
A few tablespoons sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a large roasting pan, gently toss together the tomatoes, onions, whole and chopped garlic, herbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes. Gently stir the vegetables. Roast for another 25 minutes and gently toss. Add any of the optional ingredients listed above and roast for another 45 minutes to an hour, or until the tomatoes have softened and somewhat broken down into a sauce, with a golden brown crust on top. Remove and taste for seasoning. If the sauce tastes bitter, add a few tablespoons of the sugar.

Let cool and place in clean, sterile jars, or tightly sealed plastic bags, and refrigerate, freeze, or can. If canning the jars, process for 30 to 35 minutes.

Makes about 10 to 12 cups.

*I don’t peel my tomatoes when I make this sauce because high temperature roasting produces a peel that is very edible. However if you truly dislike tomato peels, simple remove them by placing the tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds and then, immediately, place them into a bowl of ice cold water. The peel will come off easily.

Peach Butter (PDF)

Kathy’s take:This is like a cross between a jam and a fruit butter. Find a local peach farm and ask for seconds (the bruised, slightly imperfect fruit) to make this sweet peach butter. Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice provide the spice and a touch of sugar adds some extra sweetness. The only other ingredient is patience—you want the butter to simmer slowly for about 2 to 3 1/2 hours until the butter is thick and full of the fragrant sweetness of a perfectly ripe peach.

◊ After the jars have come out of the boiling water and are cooling you’ll hear a “pop” sound, which indicates the jars are cooling and the seal is tight. Once the jars are cool make sure your seal is tight by checking the lid; it shouldn’t be loose or come off.

◊ If you have a bad seal you have several options: re-can in a clean jar, place the sauce in a plastic bag and freeze it, or simply place the unsealed jar in the refrigerator and use sauce within a few weeks.

◊ Make your own labels. Buy blank stick on labels at an office supply shop and write out your own label in colored ink or a small drawing. Be sure to always add the date so you can keep track of the shelf life of your canned goods.

◊  Store canned goods in a cool, dark spot.

You can place the butter into clean glass jars and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or process it and keep up to a year. It’s excellent on morning toast, muffins, pancakes, waffles, or served with a cheese platter or roasted meats. It also makes an excellent glaze on roast pork.

Recipe:
About 10 pound ripe peaches and/or nectarines
About 1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Take the ripe peaches and, working over a large bowl, use your fingers to peel the skin from the fruit. Discard the skin, pit and chop the peach flesh making sure to catch all of the juices in the bowl. Place all the chopped peaches and juices in a large pot.

Add the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, uncovered, for about 2 to 3 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, depending on how much juice the fruit contains. Be careful to stir the bottom of the pot and make sure it doesn’t burn. Taste for seasoning and add more sugar if you like, or more spices if you want a spicier fruit butter. When the fruit has broken down and the juices have thickened enough to coat a spoon, remove from heat and let cool a bit. (It will continue to thicken when it cools.)

The butter will keep in a covered jar in the refrigerator for several weeks. If canning, process the butter for 30 minutes.

Makes about 10 pints.


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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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