Farm Fresh

… Fresh on to the farm. Here is an occassional chronicle of a new family in a small town.

Eggplant

Looks like I’ll be making this soon. Natalie is bringing me some eggplant…  I imagine adding some red pepper flakes to heat things up.

Eggplant Preserved in Oil from http://eatingisforfood.blogspot.com

I have made this recipe several times and L-O-V-E it. It’s a *bit* of trouble, but mostly passive waiting time, and is a great way to use up quite a bit of eggplant in one fell swoop (read: eggplants for $1 each at the farmer’s market and I couldn’t resist)…and you also get a bonus out of this recipe: flavored dipping oil (due to the large quantity of olive oil required). The finished product makes an excellent pizza topping, pasta or salad add-in, or can simply be placed on top of toasted bruschetta (with a little goat cheese, too). You can also mash or puree the eggplant and some of the oil and additional salt and pepper together to make a quick dip. I suggest dried herbs and garlic as fresh ones can often lead to premature spoilage; feel free to adjust the herbs/spices to suit your taste. It is also very important to make sure as much excess water is expressed from the eggplant (NOTE: if you decide to roast or broil the eggplant, don’t let the “dry” appearance fool you…let cool and squeeze with a clean towel.) I have had jars of this last over a year, but I suggest 3-6 months in a cool, dark place for optimum quality.
  • 4 lbs eggplant
  • 6 Tbs cider, wine or balsamic vinegar*
  • 2-4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil (approx 4 cups)
Trim eggplant of stem and blossom end and rinse well; you can peel the skin off at this point, but the end product will be much softer and probably even disintegrate quite a bit–the skin actually becomes rather soft so I always leave it on. Slice or cube (I prefer slices as they can be left whole or chopped up later on). Layer in a large bowl or pan, and sprinkle layers liberally with salt. Let sit at least 2 hours or overnight. Blanch eggplant for 2-3 minutes in boiling water (alternatively, roast or broil at 450 deg. F for 6-8 minutes on each side, careful not to burn). Drain in colander and press or squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible. One good way to do this is set a plate on top of the eggplant and weight it down with something heavy, a stack of bowls, a jug of juice, but also press down on it; alternatively, squeeze COOLED eggplant pieces in a clean tea towel (not your nicest one, though, as it will stain).

*This is merely a flavor preference, although the balsamic will definitely darken the final product more than the other options.

In a large bowl, combine vinegar and spices. Toss drained eggplant pieces in vinegar mixture to coat. Spoon into sterilized jars (do not pack!), leaving 1/2-inch headspace (note: these do NOT have to be sealing canning jars). Pour olive oil over eggplant to cover by 1/4-inch. Carefully slide a butter knife along the edges of the jars, pressing inward gently, to release any air bubbles.
After eggplant has cooled, place lids on jars and leave jars in the sun for 10-12 days, shaking gently each day to distribute the flavorings.

Eat now or let sit.  Use a good vegetable oil if you want to keep it for a long time- up to a year.

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Filed under: Food

Pear Jam

I swore I wouldn’t make pear jam. I really don’t need any more jam. Really and I didn’t think I would like it. Well, I had already lost half of the pears I gleaned from my neighbor and time was ticking so I canned three quarts in sugar syrup, filled my dehydrator, set some aside for Porter and still, there were pears. So I made this recipe from Local Kitchen Blog. No variations except I didn’t have the patience to caramelize. I was over it!

Filed under: Food

Spicy Carrots and Jalepenos

I managed to finally put up some of the carrots that have been stalking me (ha ha).  I changed the below recipe by doubling the jalepenos, adding onion and mustard seeds.  They are really delicious. Thanks to Dad Cooks Dinner recipe.

Recipe: Spicy Pickled Carrots from http://www.dadcooksdinner.com/2010/08/spicy-pickled-carrots.html
Adapted From: University Of Georgia, National Center for Home Food Preservation: Pickled Carrots

Equipment:

  • 4 clean pint or 1/2 liter jars (I used wide mouth pint jars)
  • Wide mouth funnel (Optional if you have steady hands when spooning boiling liquids.)
  • (Optional, if canning) Large pot for the canning water bath, and a rack to lift the jars from the bottom of the pot
  • (Optional, but useful) Canning tools – jar lifting tongs, bubble removal tool, and lid lifter

Ingredients:
This recipe makes four pints of pickled carrots, and scales up easily

  • 2 1/2 lbs carrots, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 5 1/2 cups vinegar (white or cider)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp canning salt
  • 2 Jalapeno or Serrano peppers
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 20 peppercorns
  • 4 tsp salt

Directions:
For an overview of boiling water canning, see the Principles of Home Canning or pick up a copy of the Ball Blue Book 

1. Prep the ingredients: Trim the carrots, then slice into 1/4″ thick slices. (I use the thin slicing disk on my food processor.) If canning the carrots, put the canning pot on the stove and fill it with enough water to cover the jars when they are added. Cover the pot, and bring to a simmer.

2. Simmer the carrots: Meanwhile, put the carrots, vinegar, water, sugar and 2 tbsp canning salt in a large saucepan or dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer the carrots for 15 minutes.

3. Fill the jars: In each pint jar, put 1/2 a jalapeno pepper, 1 bay leaf, 5 peppercorns, and 1 tsp salt. Using a slotted spoon, fill each jar with carrots, leaving 1/2″ of head space at the top of each jar. Ladle enough brine into each jar to cover the carrots, again leaving 1/2″ of head space. If you are doing refrigerator pickles, you’re done – cover the jars and skip to the “rest for at least a week” step. If you’re canning the pickles, read on…
*This step is where the canning funnel comes in handy. Spooning hot carrots and ladling hot brine is a mess. The funnel helps get everything into the jars, and not all over the counter top.

4. Process the jars: Wipe the rims of the jars and apply the lids. Lower the jars into the canning pot, and make sure they are covered with 1″ of water. Cover the pot with its lid, bring the water to a rolling boil, then process in the hot water bath for 15 minutes. Remove the jars from the pot, and let rest for 12 to 24 hours before testing the seal on the lids.

*This step is where the jar tongs really come in handy. If you don’t have them, wrap a rubber band around the heads of your regular kitchen tongs to give them extra grip, and be very careful.

5. Rest and serve: Let the jars rest for at least a week, two if possible, before using. If the jars were processed in the hot water bath, and sealed properly, they will last at room temperature for a year. Once you open a jar, store it in the refrigerator, and it will be good for a month or two. The same goes for refrigerator pickles – since they weren’t processed, they work just like a jar that has been opened: keep them refrigerated for a month or two.

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PS – I have tried them- they are good!!!!!

Filed under: Food