Soil and Cellar

Growing and preserving foods in Seattle


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Raspberry Picking

Raspberry-blueberry compote on waffles... an a-ok way to start a Sunday.

Raspberry-blueberry compote on waffles… an a-ok way to start a Sunday.

We woke up with a hankering to get out of the city. We planned to go on a hike, but I also wanted to tie in a trip to a fruit stand or farm. I’ve been SO busy this year and have barely had time to shop, let alone do any canning. Here I have 2 days to take on a small project or two, and I plan to take advantage!

Remlinger Farms berry picking... it was a gray day and I didn't get a great photo.

Remlinger Farms berry picking… it was a gray day and I didn’t get a great photo.

We decided to go “easy” and hit up Remlinger Farms, in Carnation, WA. It’s the big name berry farm out here, they sell berries and pies in all our grocery stores, they have a kids carnival area, and it’s pretty touristy. I was hoping they’d have flats of berries, but as we drove up saw they had raspberry picking, yay!

Picking boxes piled high... I guess it wasn't a very busy day at the farm.

Picking boxes piled high… I guess it wasn’t a very busy day at the farm.

It was kind of misty, and the berries were nearly at the end, but we found some great berries! There weren’t many easy pickins, but if you lifted branches or squatted down you could get a good selection.

There they are! Hiding...

There they are! Hiding…

Witness the bounty!

Witness the bounty!

After a half hour we had 2 pounds, which cost $4. A fun outing and cheap berries, works for me!

Here's our haul. The white bits aren't bad, just weird looking.

Here’s our haul. The white bits aren’t bad, just weird looking.

Not quite enough berries to make jam, and I’m not sure I have time to do that anyway. So instead, I froze most of them (to put on cereal, yum!)

I love my new refrigerator! It has the drawer freezer on the bottom, so I can now freeze in much larger batches than before.

I love my new refrigerator! It has the drawer freezer on the bottom, so I can now freeze in much larger batches than before.

and make a quick raspberry-blueberry compote for waffles this morning. Double yum!

Blueberries and raspberries cooked over medium heat, adding a little sugar if needed, basically until everything melts.

Blueberries and raspberries cooked over medium heat, adding a little sugar if needed, basically until everything melts. Eat on waffles!

I also got pickling cukes and late-season cherries, so I have a lot more projects to get to. Better get back to it!


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Ramps for Breakfast

Spring veggies on display at Pike Place Market.

Spring veggies on display at Pike Place Market.

I have heard a lot about ramps in the last few years. These wild oniony garlicky beasts are darlings of chefs around the country. But I don’t feel like they grow wild here like they do out east. If they do, I’ve never heard of it, anyway. But after hearing so much about them and their mellow garlicky flavor, I wanted to try them! I think of them like this: Leeks are to onions as ramps are to garlic. Or something. Anyway, alliums are the best, and they are all welcome in my home!

Ramps washed and ready to cut.

Ramps washed and ready to cut.

My SIL and BIL were in town for a short weekend visit, and they’d never done the Pike Place Market. Now, Pike Place is one of the few tourist attractions that even Seattlites enjoy. And why not? We’re all about local fresh foods. We planning on wandering through the market and window shopping, but it’s hardly ever that simple. We ended up with some beautiful purple asparagus, ramps, some dried strawberries (yum!) pastries, yogurt, and salami.

Chopping. I love the rainbow effect on the stems! And you can see the purple asparagus in the background.

Chopping. I love the rainbow effect on the stems! And you can see the purple asparagus in the background.

Never having cooked ramps, I went with the standard for fresh veg – lightly sautéed and then scrambled with eggs. Throw a little cheese on top, and even the blandest veg are made super! Start with delicious veggies, and holy smokes, what could be better?

I sauteed the stems with the asparagus for a minute or two first, before adding the leaves. Then I wilted the leaves just so before adding the eggs.

I sauteed the stems with the asparagus for a minute or two first, before adding the leaves. Then I wilted the leaves just so before adding the eggs.

To top things off (because I like to pretend I run a B&B when I have house guests) I made popovers, which we ate with homemade jam (of course.) Voila! A perfect spring breakfast.

Now, don't you want to come visit?

Now, don’t you want to come visit?

Now that I’ve sampled them, next year I’ll look for ramps again. Any ideas how I should prepare them?


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Spicy Pickled Carrots with the LPS

These are my taco truck's spicy carrots. Oh heavens, they are phenomenal. I've been trying to copy them for years now.

These are my taco truck’s spicy carrots. Oh heavens, they are phenomenal. I’ve been trying to copy them for years now.

I keep trying to make spicy pickled carrots. I just haven’t found the perfect recipe yet, but I feel like I’m honing in on something. I’m learning, at any rate, and it’s totally fun to keep trying! I think pickled jalapeños and carrots was the first thing I ever pickled… maybe? It’s been awhile.

I don’t know if you go to taco trucks, but they are the original food trucks in Seattle, and have been around forever. We used to hit Tacos El Asadero on Rainier about once a week for a great cheap meal. We’re a little further away now, but we still go just about every month.

Beautiful fresh carrots. Too fresh for this recipe, if you can believe it! They were thin and softened quite quickly. Ahh well...

Beautiful fresh carrots. Too fresh for this recipe, if you can believe it! They were thin and softened quite quickly. Ahh well…

They have the most delicious pickled carrots. They’re served free as a condiment, next to the limes and jalapenos and radishes. We try to put them in every bite of burritos. But lately they’ve been making them too spicy for me! I’m not one to shy away from spice, but I do prefer it medium hot rather than hot-hot. And lately they’ve been hot-hot. So I’d love to be able to make the same recipe but just leave a few of the peppers out. Then I could have spicy pickled carrots whenever I want! On burgers? On salads? In a quesadilla? Yes yes yes!

The pickling liquid: cider vinegar, water, and spices.

The pickling liquid: cider vinegar, water, and spices.

So this recipe was taken from a friend’s book, Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry, and we made it for LPS in February. I like the flavor ok, and I think the heat is just about right. There is too much cinnamon, though, and it takes away from the carrotiness. Also, we were using small local fresh carrots, and those took less time to cook than suggested, so they are pretty soft. I like a good firm carrot, almost crunchy, in my burritos!

Prepping the jars - in sterile and still hot jars, add garlic, thyme, and red chili flakes.

Prepping the jars – in sterile and still hot jars, add garlic, thyme, and red chili flakes.

Spicy Carrot Pickles
Makes 4 pint jars

2 pounds carrots, trimmed and scrubbed
5 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 Tbsp kosher salt
3 Tbsp sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
8 dried hot chilies, stemmed
4 cloves garlic, sliced
4 sprigs thyme, kept whole
1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced lengthwise

Peel or scrub the carrots, cut into sticks 4″ long and about 1/2″ thick.

Combine the vinegar, 1 C water, the salt, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and cook until just crisp-tender. The recipe says 8-10 minutes, but that was much too long in my opinion. Remove carrots from water. We weren’t quite ready with the jars here, so I the carrots cooked even longer! Not cool.

Loading carrots into jars. This is hot business!

Loading carrots into jars. This is hot business!

While the carrots are cooking, divide the chilies, garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes, and peppercorns among the jars. Put the still-hot carrots into the jars (do not pack them too tightly) and fill the empty spaces loosely with slivers of onion. Ladle the hot pickling liquid into the jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace at the top. Use a chopstick to remove air bubbles around the inside of each jar. Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel, then put a lid and ring on each jar.

Add onions and pickling liquid, leaving 1/2" head space.

Add onions and pickling liquid, leaving 1/2″ head space.

Process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes. Remove the jars and cool on the counter overnight.

As I said, this isn’t quite what I was looking for. But it’s still tasty, and very very pretty! I’ll keep trying, but in the meantime, enjoy!

Gorgeous! Here they are ready to be sealed and processed.

Gorgeous! Here they are ready to be sealed and processed.


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Making Pretzels with Family

Mmm... salty crispy homemade pretzels.

Mmm… salty crispy homemade pretzels.

We go to Buffalo most Christmases. D is from Buffalo, and his parents still live in the same house he grew up in. (Which is wild to me, my Dad literally built my childhood home and we still moved out of it 10 years later!) It’s always great seeing the family, but I must say the cold wet gray of Buffalo isn’t exactly a great respite from the cold wet gray of Seattle. A group cooking project is a great way to bond and have fun without having to bundle up and venture outdoors.

St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, the morning of an ice storm. A great way to come in out of the cold!

St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, the morning of an ice storm. A great way to come in out of the cold!

D and I took a weekend trip up to Toronto. We walked to the St. Lawrence Market, which D told me National Geographic rated the BEST FOOD MARKET IN THE WORLD. When he said that, it was all over, there was no chance we were going anywhere else. I mean, I live within a couple miles of Pike Place Market, and it’s supposed to be better than that? Sign me up. Well, it is great, but I would love to go another time of the year to see if there is more produce. But they do have cheese like crazy, olives, meats and seafood (if you’re into that kind of thing), spices, mustards, jams… all delicious and amazing. We had a fantastic, deceptively simple lunch of egg and cheese sandwiches, sampled foods, and came home with bread, cheeses, a terrine, and a delicious mustard. That mustard will appear again in this post…

My new mustard purveyor - Kozlik's. We tasted them all, and it was genuinely hard to decide. We got honey-garlic, but a close second was the balsamic fig.

My new mustard purveyor – Kozlik’s. We tasted them all, and it was genuinely hard to decide. We got honey-garlic, but a close second was the balsamic fig.

Back in Buffalo, the snow was falling, and our pace slowed a little. Lucky for me, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law are great cooks who enjoy sharing the kitchen. Upon D’s suggestion, we decided to make pretzels one afternoon. It might have been Christmas day, and it was a lovely afternoon of baking with friends and family.

The recipe is easy, but it takes a little prep time and planning, because it is a yeast bread and needs to rise a bit. (Although I’ve never had to do the twisting, that part looks a little hard). These pretzels make an incredible snack, and would go great with a beer. We keep saying we’ll be doing it for game night, but keep forgetting. It’s a great communal project, fun and with a great reward at the end! I will caution you against making them alone the first time… D and I ate all of them in one day (with this cheese dip) and felt ill. But they are so good you will want to eat as many as you can get your hands on!

We use this recipe from Alton Brown:

1 1/2 cups warm tap water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for bowl
Cooking spray, for pans
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt (we couldn’t find this, so used large crystal sea salt)

Kneading the dough for the pretzels.

Kneading the dough for the pretzels.

Combine water, sugar, salt, and yeast packet in a bowl. Let this sit for about 5 minutes, or until the yeast starts to foam a bit. Add the flour and butter, and mix using a dough-hook attachment for about 4-5 minutes, until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. (We didn’t have a stand mixer, so my SIL kneaded the dough for about 8 minutes, like a trooper.) Remove dough from bowl and coat the bowl with vegetable oil. Then return the dough the the bowl, cover bowl with saran wrap, and let sit in a warm place for an hour – until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450. Line 2 baking pans with parchment and spray with cooking spray.

Ready the water and baking soda, and bring to a boil.

Action shot! The gang twisting the dough into long ropes. It helps to let gravity do some of the work.

Action shot! The gang twisting the dough into long ropes. It helps to let gravity do some of the work.

Oil a work surface (we used the counter) and divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (the original recipe says 8. We had 6 people so wanted to have an even number of pretzels per person. You can adjust as you like.) Roll each piece into a long rope about a half inch thick, about 24″ long. The dough might rebound so go back and stretch as needed.

Make the ropes into a “U” shape. Hold the ends off the counter, twist, and press onto the bottom of the U, making it look like a pretzel. It’ll take some practice, I hear, but lopsided pretzels taste just as good!

Dip the pretzels into the boiling water. This makes them chewy (like bagels), and the baking soda gives them that classic "pretzel" taste.

Dip the pretzels into the boiling water. This makes them chewy (like bagels), and the baking soda gives them that classic “pretzel” taste.

Put the pretzels into the boiling water/baking soda, one at a time, for 30 seconds each. Remove, and put onto the parchment lined baking tray. Give an inch or more of space between each pretzel.

Here the pretzels have been boiled, egg-washed, and sprinkled with salt. Ready for the oven!

Here the pretzels have been boiled, egg-washed, and sprinkled with salt. Ready for the oven!

Make egg wash with one yolk and a little water. Brush each pretzel (this will make them brown beautifully.) Then sprinkle with salt. More is better, in my opinion, because you can always brush it off later, and some people like them really salty.

Bake about 12 – 14 minutes, until a rich brown color. Cool on a cooling rack at least 5 minutes, and enjoy!

All done! And they only have to cool for a couple minutes, unlike other breads, so you can enjoy right away while still warm!

All done! And they only have to cool for a couple minutes, unlike other breads, so you can eat them warm!

We like them plain, or with cheese dip, as I mentioned above, or with mustard. The mustard we had is garlic honey mustard, sweet and very spicy, but a really wonderful flavor.

A little of this spicy mustard goes a long way. Enjoy!

A little of this spicy mustard goes a long way. Enjoy!

Happy New Year to you all! I count this blog, and you readers, in my blessings. I hope you have a year filled with fun projects, exciting adventures, and just plain pleasant times with friends and family.


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Popovers – the best way to eat jam!

Popovers, ready to eat! The left has peach with cardamom jam, and the right has strawberry jam.

Popovers, ready to eat! The left has peach – cardamom jam, and the right has strawberry jam.

I’ve made a lot of jam this year. I mean, a lot a lot. Combine my obsession with learning to can, love of making jam, trying to use seasonal fruits… I have basically infinite jam in my basement right now. I will be giving a lot out as holiday gifts (hi everyone!), but D and I will be eating much of it ourselves.

I try to find fun ways to use jam, like in baked goods, or with cheese at parties. But mostly, I eat it the way God intended – on toast.

But the best way of all to eat jam is on popovers. I make popovers every few months. They’re for special occasions, like Sunday morning football, or when you have houseguests. It’s not a hard recipe, not by any stretch, but if we each ate 6 popovers a weekend, well. That’s just not healthy. And they don’t keep, so you have to be ready to eat them all the same morning.

Popovers, just put in the oven.

Popovers, just put in the oven. Wait till you see what comes next!

Popovers (and their brothers in another world, Yorkshire pudding), are the coolest thing you’ll ever bake. Their name is apt, they puff up so much they pop over the sides of the pan! They’re terribly fun to watch grow in the oven, but the best part is eating them. Buttery, eggy, crispy, light and fluffy.  Add a little jam, and you’ve got yourself an amazing breakfast treat.

I’ve played around with different recipes and different pans for years. I even bought a special popover pan from Williams Sonoma. That pan failed me, but it did give me a recipe that I like.

Here they are at the time I turn the temp down, a little more than half done.

Here they are at the time I turn the temp down, a little more than half done.

Popovers (adapted from the one that came on my popover pan)

Makes 12 popovers. This recipe can easily be doubled if you have more people to feed.

2 Tbsp salted butter, melted
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup AP flour
½ tsp salt
Cooking spray with flour in it*

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Spray muffin tin with cooking spray that contains flour (I use Pam Baking).

*This step is really important, as otherwise the popovers stick in the tin, and you kind of ruin them getting them out. Even regular cooking spray and butter were trouble for me. It’s the only thing I use this type of Pam for, but it’s worth it. I gave up on popovers for two years before I learned this trick from Nadine (a friend, who also blogs at Delicious Nadine), and she was right!

Add a couple drops of melted butter to each muffin cup, as well.

And here they are, all ready to eat! You can almost feel the crispiness, can't you!

And here they are, all ready to eat! You can almost feel the crispiness, can’t you?

Whisk together milk and eggs. Mix in remaining melted butter (about 1 Tbsp). Add flour and salt, and whisk together until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Pour the batter into the muffin cups, filling each one about 2/3 full.

Cook at 450 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325, and cook for 8 more minutes.

Remove from muffin tin onto a cooling rack or plate. Eat as soon as possible, they deflate by the minute as they cool. They are still delicious deflated, but it’s fun to tear them apart while they are light and fluffy.

Resting on the rack. We have to take turns choosing, because some come out fluffier than others :)

Resting on the rack. We have to take turns choosing, because some come out fluffier than others 🙂

Serve with jam, and enjoy!

I just told D that I was writing this post. Then on what I thought was another track, asked what he’d like for Sunday’s breakfast. He said, shockingly, “popovers!” so I’ll be making them this weekend. And to go with it, the jams that are currently open are the peach-cardamom jam that my friend made, strawberry jam that I made, and some pomegranate-raspberry I made with the Preservation Society the other day (post coming soon.) Yay!


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Cafe Flora at the Urban Spoon Dinner – IFBC

I wanted to write a post about the food at IFBC (the International Food Blogger Conference), but it was just too overwhelming. There was so much good food! From the swag bags to meal after meal of great food provided by local restaurants and bakeries. Rather than wade through a long list of yummy foods, I thought I’d just write about the best dining experience of the weekend. Spoondinner.

Our menu for the evening.

Our menu for the evening.

Spoondinner (#spoondinner on twitter was trending locally that night) was a really amazing benefit to the conference attendees. Sponsored by Urban Spoon, we were brought to one of 25 local restaurants and treated to a special meal, where we met chefs or owners, and mingled with new friends. I was taken to Café Flora, in Madison Park, because I’m vegetarian. Café Flora is already one of my favorite restaurants – I’ve been there for many a happy hour and birthday dinner. I was a little sad to not be sent somewhere new, but also knew I’d be treated to some great seasonal vegetarian food. I was right!

Yam fries with cayenne aioli, fantastic.

Yam fries with cayenne aioli, fantastic.

I arrived a little early, because I drove separately. There were 2 other bloggers already there, and we got to talking about food. It turns out that one of them, Pavi, is from the city in India I visited this summer, Chennai, and has a blog on South Indian cooking. I’m hoping we’ll get together soon to do some cooking.

Chanterelle mushroom and potato pierogi.

Chanterelle mushroom and potato pierogi.

Once the rest of the group arrived and we were all seated, we enjoyed 6 courses of wonderful food. Appetizers were a lentil-pecan pate and yam fries, my happy hour faves. Next we had chanterelle mushroom and potato pierogies with sour cream and chive dip. Then came my favorite course, the salads. It’s pretty rare I’m raving about a salad after a great meal, but the nectarine and black rice salad (arugula, avocado, radish, peanuts, with a citrus vinaigrette) was the perfect blend of textures and flavors using seasonal ingredients. And the other salad, a Caesar, was vegan! I dread restaurant Caesars because of the hidden anchovy. Instead, Cafe Flora uses fried capers for that hint of brininess.

Two salads - a vegan Ceasar with fried capers (brilliant!) and the nectarine and black rice salad. SO delicious!

Two salads – the vegan Ceasar with fried capers (brilliant!) and the nectarine and black rice salad. SO delicious!

As an aside, if you ever dine with a table full of bloggers who will be writing (and tweeting) about the experience, you’re going to need to wait for everyone to take photos of the food, from a variety of angles, before you dig in. And don’t be offended if they are on their phone during dinner, they’re tweeting about the food.

Heirloom tomato with sweet corn pizza - vegan. I sort of wished there were cheese on it, but that's just a universal truth with me.

Heirloom tomato with sweet corn pizza – vegan. I sort of wished there were cheese on it, but that’s just a universal truth with me.

Next came the pizza course (which, btw, should probably be a regular course, like the fish course or the cheese course.) We ended up with about one pizza per person at our table, which was insane, but it was because the people at Café Flora were so accommodating. We had gluten free people, lactose free, vegan, vegetarian, and even a person with a tomato allergy. Our waitress was so sweet, and was able to juggle who had which restrictions (even after a few of us switched seats!)

Oaxaca tacos - oh yeah!

Oaxaca tacos – oh yeah!

The last course before dessert was the Café Flora classic dish, the Oaxaca Tacos. These are tacos filled with cheesy mashed potatoes. Um… do you know how perfect potato tacos are? I know of a few places in town that have them, and they are always delicious. The Oaxaca tacos are a perennial hit, and have been on the menu for years, even though the restaurant changes other dishes seasonally. We we served the entire meal, not a smaller version of it. I was so full at this point I just ate the mashed potatoes with smoked mozzarella (ha, like that would help with me being full?) and the pico de gallo and braised greens on the side.

We were all having a blast and laughing, telling stories about food (many of us are vegetarian but our partners are not, so we talked about how we navigate that.) All the sudden, the conversation froze, and after a brief pause we all started laughing. Dessert was coming out, and it was huge. HUGE. I’m not really sure why we weren’t splitting desserts at this point, but we weren’t. I had peach blackberry crisp. I love a fruit dessert, but honestly after tasting all three I liked the chocolate brownie one best (although about 3 bites would have been enough.)

Three dessert options - coconut layer cake, chocolate brownie coupe, and peach blackberry crisp. All vegan, and all incredibly rich - I'll have mine with coffee, thanks!

Three dessert options – coconut layer cake, chocolate brownie coupe, and peach blackberry crisp. All vegan, and all incredibly rich – I’ll have mine with coffee, thanks!

So that’s the food, and I haven’t even told you one of the best parts! The owner of Café Flora, Nat Stratton-Clarke, came and talked with us about the restaurant and his history there. He used to work as the manager, and bought the café 8 years ago when the owners were going to retire. He has maintained the restaurant with much the same philosophy – local, fresh, vegetarian, and keeping the focus on produce and not proteins. I especially appreciate that last part, because I don’t connect with the reliance on “fake meat” in some vegetarian restaurants. As Nat said, there is so much great food that just happens to be vegetarian. Café Flora is also a “scratch kitchen,” so they make everything in house (including syrups for the cocktails). The chef, Janine Doran, has been at Flora for over 20 years!

Nat Stratton-Clark, owner, telling us about Cafe Flora's history and mission.

Nat Stratton-Clarke, owner, telling us about Cafe Flora’s history and mission, while the diners tweet about and photograph the food.

They buy from at least 40 different farms, but really like Whistling Train Farm in Kent, WA (just southeast of Seattle). As an aside, I was at the Columbia City Farmer’s Market last week and I swear I saw Nat. He was asking about something called “cheese pumpkins” which they didn’t have in yet. I Googled it, and they look like a really nice squash, beautiful to look at and tasty to eat. Thanks for the recommendation, Nat! I tried to follow Nat to see what else he was getting, but he was so fast that he got away (another aside – following people at the market is a great way to learn about new ingredients!) I might go out to Café Flora again in the next few weeks to see what they do with the cheese pumpkin.

I’d like to thank Urban Spoon for hosting this dinner. I know it couldn’t have been cheap, but I think that it really was an inspired event. It’s one thing to have food delivered, but it’s entirely different to go out to a restaurant and spend the evening talking with new friends. And of course a huge thank you to Café Flora, for being delicious and gracious, and such a great Seattle tradition.

ifbc2013

And as a reminder to my other food blogger friends, IFBC will be in Seattle again next September! You can register here. I highly recommend it, regardless of your level as a blogger. I’m new and had a great weekend. I think that professional bloggers got a lot out of it, too, judging by the responses on Twitter, Facebook, and in their blogs. It’s a great opportunity to network, learn a lot, and get inspired. I hope to see you there!


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Tomato Jam with the Ladies’ Preservation Society

Roma tomatoes

Roma tomatoes

Last weekend, a friend and I braved the rain and drove north to another friend’s house to make tomato jam. It was a dreary day, which sort of added to the fun. Cooking with friends, taking breaks to eat wine and cheese, just feels like a very fall thing to do. And while I’ve resisted fall like crazy, it does appear to be not going anywhere (it’s actually beautiful today – a rare treat for a fall Saturday).

Dicing the tomatoes.

Dicing the tomatoes.

We wanted to do something with tomatoes, sort of a last hurrah to summer, and settled on jam because none of us had made anything like this before, and also we do love jam. We chose a recipe from Food in Jars. This recipe has holiday spices, so if you’re looking for something more straight up savory I’d recommend this one.

All the ingredients go into the pot at the same time.

All the ingredients go into the pot at the same time.

This recipe is one of those super easy yet time consuming projects. Perfect for a rainy afternoon with friends! It’s great because you don’t have to peel or seed the tomatoes. And, after combining all the ingredients, you cook for an hour and a half or more. We enjoyed wine, some good music, and a potluck lunch, while occasionally popping up to stir.

Hard to see the color - but this is bright red about a half hour into cooking. Everything is mixing together but not yet reduced.

Hard to see the color – but this is bright red about a half hour into cooking. Everything is mixing together but not yet reduced.

Aside: One of my friends has a sister that works as an ethnobotanist for a tribe in the SW, and she makes foods using traditional native ingredients. As a result, we had prickly pear jelly and wild grape jelly with lunch, what a treat! The prickly pear was especially wonderful – and it was bright pink! Perfect.

Here are the prickly pear jelly (front) and wild grape jelly (rear), which were really special.

Here are the prickly pear jelly (front) and wild grape jelly (rear), which were really special.

The tomato jam has a really interesting flavor – acidic and tomato-y, but sweet too. And it contains chili flakes and cloves, so it’s hot and heady, too.  We were brainstorming what to do with it – on toast with butter, over a mild cheese, on burgers or pork. I’m glad we made it in tiny jars, so I can experiment but still have some really cute ones for holiday parties.

Here it is after a couple hours, the color has turned to a brick red and it is reduced by about half. Looks like marinara but is totally different.

Here it is after a couple hours, the color has turned to a brick red and it is reduced by about half. Looks like marinara but is totally different.

Spiced Tomato Jam (recipe from Food in Jars, here)

5 pounds tomatoes, finely chopped (no need to seed or peel, yay!)
3 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup lime juice
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp red chili flakes

Here you can see the texture of the jam a little better. It is thick and chunky.

Here you can see the texture of the jam a little better. It is thick and chunky. And look at the color, so rich.

Combine all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer (we did medium low). Cook, stirring regularly, until it reduces and gets the thickness you desire. This took us about 2 hours. We did the plate test – keep a small plate in the freezer and put the warm jam on it. Put back in the freezer for 2 minutes, and if it wrinkles when you touch it it will set into jam.

Filling the jars.

Filling the jars. We got 9 quarter pints and one half pint – so that’s about 3 pints. The recipe yield may be different based on what tomatoes you use and how long you cook them.

Remove from heat and fill jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and twist on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes. (Umm… I think we may have done it for 10 minutes? Whoops.)

And scene...

And scene…