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Packing and Pressure Canning Tuna

One of my kindred spirits in the food blogging community is Heather of Voodoo and Sauce. She is an inspiration. I remember reading a post last year in which she packed her own Albacore tuna. As you know I like to challenge myself and I was determined to do this on my own . I love  canned tuna, especially the more expensive ones found in specialty stores with better grades of olive oil and spices as flavor. Once you make your own , all else pales in comparison. It’s great to have on hand to toss into salads and  other dishes. Pressure canning tuna may intimidate some, but its easier than you think. You just need a pressure canner as opposed to the water bath method to ensure all the harmful micro organisms are killed as it’s a low acidic food. I won’t say this experiment was flawless. For the first time ever I had two jars explode while canning and that is why my house smelled of fragrant tuna. The odds were it was bound to happen and could be attributed to a few reasons . Nevertheless I still had some great jars left that survived intact and have been enjoying them. I used Blue Fin tuna as I couldn’t find Albacore. I varied my flavors with dried lemongrass ,  fresh rosemary or fresh dill. You can use water or olive oil. I prefer oil, but be prepared for more mess when canning.


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Packing and Pressure Canning Tuna
Author: 
Recipe type: entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Canning fresh tuna
Ingredients
  • Bluefin or Albacore Tuna
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh or dried herbs like dill, rosemary, peppercorns, lemongrass
  • Peppercorns
  • Olive Oil or water
  • ½ pint jars
  • Pressure Canner
Instructions
  1. Sterilize your jars and lids according to manufactures instructions.
  2. Cut your fresh raw tuna into medallions or pieces that will fit into the jar when packed.
  3. Pour olive oil or water carefully into the jar. Fill just to cover but leave ample head space below the ring ( approx ½ inch to ¾ of an inch) as the fish will make its own juices. If its overfilled , the lid wont seal.
  4. Pack you choice of herbs and spices.
  5. Top each jar with ½ teaspoon of Kosher salt.
  6. Wipe rims and carefully seal.
  7. Take a Pressure canner with a rack and and fill with 1.5 inches- 2 inches of water. The rack is essential so the jars wont break form the heat and rattling pressure. Make sure there is enough water , but it doesn't reach the ring of the jar. Unlike water batch canning , the jars don't have to be submerged in water. Pressure canning builds up humidity but you don't want the canner to run dry as its dangerous to open under pressure.
  8. Follow Pressure Canner instructions and use the weight pressure of 11.
  9. Pressure Can for at least 90 minutes. Watch carefully and reduce heat if necessary according the canners instructions on maintaining proper pressure.
  10. After the time has elapsed , let canner cool down and remove when cool.
  11. Place jars on a rack or towel and wait for the ping sound to signify if the jars are properly sealed. This will happen over the course of the next few hours. When you press down on the center there should be no resistance. ( See you jar manufacturers instructions).
  12. If not sealed refrigerate and consume immediately over the next few days.
  13. There may be some grease residue on outside of jar after canning and that can be cleaned and removed with vinegar and water.
  14. Can be kept in a dry cool place for 6 months to max of 1 year.
Notes
Please read and follow your jars and Pressure canning instructions.

 

Pickled Pepquinos with Daikon and Carrots

What is Pepquino, you may ask? That’s what I thought as saw these tiny vegetables looking like micro watermelons. Freaks of nature or genetically engineered? Pepquinos are a native and ancient species  from South America and marketed and brought to world by the Dutch company Koppert Kress.

Looking like watermelon on the outside, they are green on in the inside and have a sour like cucumber taste. You can pop them in your mouth raw , or pickle them, as I did.I can even imagine a fantastic cucumber like martini.Use your foodie imagination. I wanted to play with sweet and sour with some acidity. Pepquinos Availability is from April to November .

I cant go throughout summer without canning or pickling something and I quickly went to work on the Pequinos. I had some Daikon Radish and rainbow hued carrots , which once in the hot brine gave the liquid a pinkish hue. I love my relish and have been eating it with sandwiches, cheeses, pates, etc. You can process the batch or just refrigerate immediately if you plan to serve and consume within the next few weeks. The Pepquinos will definitely be a conversation starter with your guests.

Pickled Pepquinos with Daikon and Carrots
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetiser
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
A pickled relish with the micro fruit Pepquinos.
Ingredients
  • 8 oz Pepquinos
  • 4 rainbow hues carrots , peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1 yellow onion sliced into rings
  • ½ of a large Daikon Radish, peeled and cut into strips
  • ⅓ cup Kosher Salt
  • Brine solution of 1 part sugar to 2 parts vinegar
  • 2 dried chili peppers per canning jar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
Instructions
  1. Prep your vegetables .
  2. Wash your Pepquinos.
  3. Peel and slice your carrots, onions and Daikon radish.
  4. In a bowl add your Pepquinos,onions, carrots, Daikon . Add Kosher salt and cover with cold water.Chill overnight or for at least 4 hours.
  5. Drain vegetables.
  6. In a sauce pan heat vinegar and sugar with mustard seeds and dried chilies.Heat until a boiling.
  7. Prep and sanitize your jars (in hot boiling water).
  8. Pack your vegetables in to the jars and put the hot brine over the vegetables. Slide the dried chilies into the jar and add the lids.
  9. From this point you can refrigerate to eat immediatlety or process in a water batch for about 7-10 minutes. Don't over-process as you want the vegetables to remain crisp.
Notes
You can either process in a hot water batch to put up or refrigerated to consume immediately.Lasts a few weeks refrigerated.

 

 

 

Apple Onion Jam Made with All Natural Sweetener Xyla

 

Xylitol….Sounds like a chemical doesn’t it? That’s what I thought and at first and ignored the request to review Xyla from Emerald Forest. Come to find out Xylitol is all natural, derived from fruits and vegetables, and is actually good for teeth. Imagine less cavities with this sweetener than from sugar! After two gum surgeries this year I am all over that fact! Xylitiol is popular in Europe and has been used extensively in chewing gum and toothpaste production for a while. But best of all  it has a low glycemic index and can be used just as you would sugar, part for part. Thereby, making it safe for diabetics.Baking with Xylitol is a bit trickier but can be done. Products may be dryer and wont caramelize or brown. So a baker may need to add more butter, liquid, xantham gum or lecithin.Also Xylitol doesn’t react with yeast, causing it to rise, when bread baking. It can , however be even be grounded up and used as powdered sugar.

So naturally canning season is coming around, and I would rather can than bake in this heat. I was curious how Xylitol would perform in a jam or jelly. I haven’t been having the best of luck with jams or jellies, and maybe this would be a complete waste. But its all about learning from your mistakes. Yet, this wasn’t a mistake and never have I had a thicker jam/jelly without using pectin . I guess the two apple cores I added helped along with the lemon juice. But I loved how the Xylitol liquefied and then boiled down to a thick consistency.  I had some onions and apples  and wanted a savory jam to use for sandwiches or appetizers. The result is a bold savory sweet flavor that would be awesome with duck, chicken,turkey, or pork based sandwiches or quesadillas  . What I love the most is that its fewer calories than sugar, yet still sweet. One pound of Xylitol  produced a small batch of 2 pints, you can multiply this recipe easily.

* Note :

After refrigeration with an open bottle, I’m noticing some crystallization and hardening. I still used it as a spread in my  hot sandwich and it was fine. So keep at room temp on shelf if unopened. If opened , expect for it to crystallize. But upon heat , etc, it should be fine.

Apple Onion Jam Made with All Natural Sweetener Xyla
Author: 
Recipe type: Jam, Condiment
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
A sweet and savory jam made with the low glycemic , but all natural Xylitol.
Ingredients
  • 1 onion chopped fine
  • 2 apples chopped ( save cores to add)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 lb Xylitol
  • 2 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 4 cloves whole Allspice
  • Juice of half lemon
  • 2 tablespoons water
Instructions
  1. In a heavy bottomed pot, add chopped apples, cores, onion, and garlic.
  2. Add 1 lb Xylitol.
  3. Add water and lemon juice.
  4. Add mustard seeds and Allspice.
  5. Mix up .
  6. Heat on medium high until Xylitol starts to melt within the liquid and starts to boil.
  7. Reduce heat and simmer on low for approximately 45 min or until onions and apples are candied, translucent and liquid has been reduced.
  8. Remove apple cores.
  9. Remove from heat and process for 5 minutes in a water bath in sterilized jars and lids.
  10. If you don't process refrigerate and use within the next few weeks.
Notes
Small batch, makes two pints. Can be multiplied easily.

 

 

 

Fermented Dill Pickles…Experiments in the Kitchen

I’m positive my readers are sick of my preserving posts. I cant help myself, forgive me. Preserving ,like baking is a science.Maybe my long dormant genetics of coming from a long line of scientists and doctors, is coming up and revealing itself and manifesting itself in the kitchen. I have always embraced the artistic and creative maternal side. What I do know is that my kitchen is becoming a laboratory of sorts with crocks fermenting, bottles of this and that brewing, and I love it!
I have always loved a good sour Kosher Dill pickle. A childhood treat would be my parents allowing me to pick one from a  wooden barrel to eat. That crispy crunchy pickle with flavors of garlic and dill were a taste bud treat for my little mouth. It wasn’t until years later I found out that the taste and process is through lactic acid fermentation. Sauerkraut,pickles, kimchee,cheese, yogurt, wines, beer, etc all get their unique flavors as acidity increases thereby causing the flavors, colors to change and develop over a period of around three weeks. The beauty of science! If you want to know more about wild fermentation , this is an excellent resource.

Now once you have your product you can take one of two routes. As the lactobacilli which are produced are considered healthy for us and our bodies, to process it would be to kill those beneficial properties.Fully fermented products can be stored in original container in the refrigerator for 4-6 months.However if you can process the product and retain the flavor and extend the life. As its just the two of us , I was worried on being able to consume my batch of pickles during that time frame, I took the canning route.Plus I want to give some away, so canning was the better option for me. However one day when time permits, I will keep a batch ‘live ‘ and consume.

I did not use whole cucumbers, but chose the riskier option of making dill chips. The risk is that slicing can result in a soggier product. I found my slices were not too soggy and acceptable.I did go a little heavy on the salt, erring on the side of caution. But they were still good. Next time I will slightly reduce the salt, as I used  to about 1/2 cup for 3 large cucumbers sliced.  I threw in some garlic cloves from  my Wisconsin grown garlic, some dried chilies, dried dill( fresh is even better!),mustard seeds, and my favorite whole allspice. The seasoning mix is up to you. The following is my process, however be sure to read this great link as well.

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Fermented Dill Pickles

makes approx 4 pints

*adapted loosley from the “Complete Guide to Home Canning,” Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA, revised 2009.

makes approx 4 pints depending on amounts of cucumbers used

  • 3-4 lbs whole 4 inch organic and unwaxed pickling cucumbers or about 3 large thickly sliced( as I used)
  • 2 tbsp dried dill or several fresh sprigs of fresh dill weed
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt or Pickling Salt. Do not used iodized salt!
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar with an acidity of 5%
  • water to cover weighted vegetables in a crock or food grade container

Seasonings:

  • 4 whole cloves of garlic
  • 4 dried chili peppers
  • 2 tbsp hot mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp whole allspice
  1. Wash cucumbers and slice (optional).Be sure to cut of 1/16 end of blossom slice and discard. This part is toxic, so its important to remove.
  2. In your crock or food grade container, place  your seasonings.
  3. Add thickly sliced cucumber.
  4. Dissolve salt and vinegar. Add enough water to cover( depending on size of crock).
  5. Cover cucumbers  with a saucer,or plate that fits within the crock.
  6. Weight down the plate, with another type of cylinder container (filled with water and lidded).
  7. Cover Crock with  plastic bag or cheese cloth.
  8. Place aside for 3 weeks, checking a few times each week.
  9. Ideal temperature for storage are 70 -75 degrees  thereby only needing 3-4 weeks of fermentation.
  10. Lower temps of 55-65 degrees require a longer fermentation of 5-6 weeks
  11. Any excessive temperature of over 80  degrees will result in a soft pickle and bad fermentation
  12. Check surfaces for any mold or scum that may form. If this occurs remove. I have never developed any mold on my few projects.
  13. If pickles become too slimy, soft or have a bad order, discard immediately and do not consume.
  14. After full fermentation store in original crock in the fridge in its brine for 4-6 months.

or

  1. Heat brine and its spices.
  2. Pack pickles in sterilized jars  with a bit of the garlic and chilies from the brine.
  3. Pour hot brine over pickles.
  4. Seal lids.
  5. Process in water bath for 10 minutes in sterilized jars.
  6. 15 min for high altitudes for extended shelf life.
  7. * note processing may contribute to  some additional softness.

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Various Pickled Peppers and Scuppernong Fail… Ideas for Meatless Monday

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Food Blogs are full of culinary success stories. Few of us own up to our failures. As you know I’m on a canning kick this summer,but have failed miserably with my confitures. Now my pickles have been exceptional! No jam or jelly I have attempted this year has set properly. Yes I used pectin and still fail. I don’t know about you but the thought of remaking and reprocessing doesn’t appeal to me at all. A peach brown sugar /balsamic jam turned into a lovely glaze for pork and chicken. So not a complete fail. I read one high brow blogger in her air of superiority claim

Pectin was for the timid…

Well color me timid, because if it doesn’t work with pectin, its not going to work for me without pectin. And some fruits need that Pectin push more so than others due to natures genetic makeup.

I find my inspiration to blog from the grocery aisles , travels,dining out, and markets. I saw these ugly yet beautiful Scuppernongs in the new market around the corner. I have always been fascinated with name Scuppernong. It resounds in my mind and I can’t place the origin. Scuppernong are a form of muscadine that’s prevalent in the Southern states, particularly North Carolina. Wines and jellies are common culinary applications . Scuppernongs have thick skins and seeds, but yield plenty of juice. After mashing , cooking , and straining, my beautiful golden jelly did not set. They still sit sealed , as I wonder what to do with them. Perhaps a pate fruit? I hate waste.

I have had some success over the past month. They are proving popular as I give them away to friends.

I love pickled onions. And I love heat. Playing around with various peppers I came up with the this great pickle to use atop sandwiches or serve up with greens. Use your imagination.

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Pickled Onions and Peppers

* I’m not exact giving measurements , as that would depend on your batch. But this roughly makes 6 pint jars. Vary your peppers according to taste and heat sensitivity.

  • 2 large red onions, sliced
  • 2 Habenero Peppers
  • 6-7 Serrano
  • 2 Cubannelle or other sweet pepper
  • 2-3 whole all spice
  • 1 teaspoon hot mustard seed
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic sliced into slivers
  • 1/4 cup Coarse Kosher Salt
  • White Vinegar
  1. Slice your peppers. Leave the seeds in the Serranos, but seed your Cubanelles and Habenerros.
  2. In a lidded food grade container, place your sliced onions, and peppers.
  3. Cover with salt and add water to cover.
  4. Let soak overnight in the refridgerator.
  5. Drain salt water off the onions and peppers.
  6. Sterilize jars and lids.
  7. Heat White Vinegar and all spice to a boil.
  8. Pack the onions and peppers tightly with some garlic slivers for each jar.
  9. Pour hot vinegar solution over the vegetables leaving slight head space.
  10. Cap and Seal.
  11. Process for 10 minutes in a water bath.
  12. Let flavors settle in jar for at least 2 days .

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This recipe follows the same principle as above. I was walking with my friend Beth last week at the Logan Square Market and knew I had to pickle these babies. I added fresh basil and local Wisconsin garlic to the mix. Pickled whole, they will be beautiful on and Antipasti or relish tray for the heat lover.

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Pickled Michigan Cherry Pepper Poppers

* makes 4 pint jars

  • 1 pint/punnet of pepper poppers or cherry peppers.
  • White Vinegar to cover
  • 1/4 cup Kosher Salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Dried Italian herbs
  • 2-3 cloves whole garlic
  1. Stem and soak whole pepper with seeds intact in salt and water solution.They may float so you can weight down with plate. Soak for 4-6 hours.
  2. Drain.
  3. Sterilize jars and lids
  4. Heat Vinegar , sugar, and dried herbs to a rolling boil.
  5. Pack whole peppers, basil, and garlic in jars tightly. They may crush a bit and that’s OK.
  6. Cap and seal.
  7. Process in water bath for 10 minutes.
  8. Let set for 2 days in the jar.

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I suggest you consider these pickled vegetables to jazz up your Meatless Monday Fare. Think Falafel sandwiches!