Kitchen Projects

IMG_7315

putting green beans up for winter

The green beans look beautiful this year. So do the purple beans. And the yellow ones. I can’t seem to leave the market without several pounds. But that’s okay. I love dilly beans and that is the best way to put beans in jars, as far as I’m concerned. But I also adore crisp, fresh green beans, blanched quickly, then sauteed in olive oil and shallots. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll add some toasted almonds and lemon zest. To enjoy this treat all year ’round, I freeze beans at the height of the season. It takes just a few minutes each week to put a some portioned packages into the freezer. After a handful of work days like that, you’ll be set for all those […]

IMG_7130

caramel apricot pistachio conserve

Apricot season lasts only a minute or two so now is the time to make some apricot preserves. Here is what you need to know. Apricots vary enormously. Some have a sweet, perfumed scent and are juicy and tender like a peach. And some have thin melt-away skin. And then there are the tougher skinned ones, and virtually-tasteless-until-cooked types. All of them make for lovely jams. Even mushy apricots transform in the preserving pot to make a wonderful buttery spread. Buy your apricots when they are firm and have no spots. If black spots are evident anywhere, the fruit may have been picked or packed when damp. These fruits will spoil quickly, and as all apricots benefit from additional ripening off the tree, the spoilage […]

IMG_7059

the original seven day pickle?

In the last two weeks, I’ve made dozens of pickles. My favorite sweet pickles were first on the list, and if you have been reading along, or had a quick lunch over here in MrsW’s kitchen, you know I serve these all year long. This is a pickle that’s worth the (very minimal) work. They are sweet and briny with a sharp vinegar bite. Without a doubt, the best part is the crispness. They are the perfect deviled egg, egg salad, tuna salad or chicken salad pickle. They pair with rich salty charcuterie in a wonderful way. And they are perfect for that refrigerator contemplation… the “what’s for dinner” stare … that requires something lifted aimlessly from jar to mouth while thinking.   There’s no […]

IMG_7154

cherry preserves, straight talk about pectin and a can-it-forward giveaway

Pectin. No Sugar Pectin. Ball. Certo. SureJel. Pomona. Pectin Jaune. Confusing, right? Let’s talk pectin. What follows is strictly my opinion and reflects my own experiences with various commercial pectins. I am not endorsing or dismissing any of these products. They are all effective and useful. Choose the pectin, or no pectin, according to your own expectations and desires. Pectin is necessary to build a gel for preserves, to suspend the fruit in a syrup. All fruit has some pectin, but some fruits have a lot of pectin and others have hardly any. Apples, citrus, gooseberries all have loads of natural pectin, while most stone fruits (cherries, apricots, peaches and plums) do not. Consequently, making apple jam or marmalade that sets up is a relatively […]

IMG_0503

in season. gooseberry pectin and raspberry violette preserves.

Last weekend the first gooseberries arrived at the market. They were the bright green, super tart, barely ripe berries that make exceptional pectin. Homemade pectin is a very useful pantry items as we go into the stone fruit season. Cherries, apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines are my favorite of all the summer fruits, so I go into full on preserving mode, putting them up in any and every variation. Sadly, these fruits lack natural pectin, which is not an issue for chutney, salsa, pie filling or fruit in syrup. But jam? confitures? That’s tricky… I do this preserving for the art, the connection to some ancient way, long before grocery stores and boxes of pectin. I want to take the magic ingredients of fruit, sugar and […]

IMG_6946

secrets to successful canning (and a giveaway, too)

Bet that title got your attention. I’ve been thinking, as the season gets going, and I make a few batches of jam and pickles, just to flex my muscles before teaching. And a few more batches to test some recipes. As I go through the motions, get my natural rhythms and instinctive moves fired up, as I doe-si-doe in my kitchen, I realize I’ve developed a whole choreography over the years, and I bet you will, or have already, too. Today, I’m sharing ten things that get me through the canning season. My ten commandments of canning. 1. Time management. Don’t try to can when you are rushed. If you get slammed at work and can’t get home to make the  jam, don’t fret – […]