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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New Years Resolutions and 2014 Recap

OK, it’s been a really long time since I’ve written. Not just for the blog, but anything! I’ve been at my “new” job for 9 months now, so I guess it’s time for me to stop feeling like it’s a temporary schedule. My job (see this post here) is wonderful, but my commute is making it so that I have less time at home, and less energy, to do the things I enjoy. Things like cooking, canning, seeing friends, and writing.

Well, that needs to stop. So what if I’m in the car 3 hours a day? I have time on the ferry to write, and time on the weekends for cooking projects. I need to stop spending my weekends in non-stop “catch up on sleep” mode. The New Year is a classic time to make changes and recommit to the life I want to live. My resolution is to stop letting my commute rule my life. So this post is my first in months. Soon I’ll be starting projects again, but for now I’ll just catch up on what I’ve missed.

Canning Projects

I didn’t make nearly as many canning projects this year as the last – mostly due to time constraints. The recipes I took on were mostly repeats – things I know I like and will eat.

Leeks Vinaigrette, or oil-preserved leeks. Great as a side or on salads.

Leeks Vinaigrette, or oil-preserved leeks. Great as a side or on salads.

Oil preserved Leeks (called “Leeks Vinaigrette” but it is not salad dressing, which I would actually love to make sometime) with the Ladies Preservation Society

Strawberry Jam (here’s a post on this from a couple years ago)

Raspberry Jam

Raspberry jam (left) and strawberry jam (right). I made these a week apart in a very productive moment last summer.

Raspberry jam (left) and strawberry jam (right). I made these a week apart in a very productive moment last summer.

Apricot Jam (this one was new – made with my friends in the Ladies Preservation Society – and was really fun. The resulting jam is a little tart for my taste, but has great apricot flavor.)

Peach Jam – we took a field trip to the Yakima farmer’s market and bought peaches there. Yakima is about 2-3 hours east, and is the heart of farm country in WA. Their farmer’s market is basically heaven.

Bread and Butter Pickles (recipe here)

Concord Grape Jelly – my neighbors have a grape vine that produces more fruit than they can use, so they put out a call to the neighborhood to come take them. 1 hour later I was washing and stemming 9 lbs in my giant sink. I made juice, and the next week made it into jelly. Next year (they say I can use their grapes again next year!) I’d like to try grape jam. I think it’ll be a little more work, but jelly is still kind of weird to me. I think I have enough photos to make this one into its own post, actually. Maybe I’ll do that soon.

Concord grapes picked moments before. These were turned into jelly.

Concord grapes picked moments before. These were turned into jelly.

Geez – is that all I did? I’m sure there were a few others, but these are the bulky items. See what I mean? I’ve really got to get back into the swing of things. I had enough jam for Christmas and hostess gifts this year, but only just.

So, onward, upward, and into the garden! Next week I’ll write about the projects going on in our little garden. Happy New Year!


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Strawberry Leather

Strawberry-apple leather, rolled up in wax paper. A great snack!

Strawberry-apple leather, rolled up in wax paper. A great snack!

When I was a kid, my dad built a solar food drier – he was a craftsman by trade for most of my childhood. It was a box made of plexi that had screens as sliding trays, and the sun would bake the box passively, drying anything inside. My parents made dried fruits, mostly apples. But my favorite favorite was the fruit leather. Mom mashed strawberries and put them on wax paper – that’s all. No store bought fruit rollup has ever come close to that flavor. So I’ve been wanting to try it myself.

Strawberries, after a few days in the fridge. Not amazing, but still worth using!

Strawberries, after a few days in the fridge. Not amazing, but still worth using!

The strawberries I had on hand weren’t actually that great – they were kind of old. I had tried to get strawberries at the farm near my work, to make jam, but sheesh. I got there 3 minutes after they opened and they had already sold out! So I bought strawberries at my grocery store. They were fine, but not as good as the ones I have had straight from farmers. Sad face.

Chop those strawberries!

Chop those strawberries!

After making jam, I had a couple pints of berries left over. So… fruit leather time!

“The Dehydrator Bible” – my resource for food drying – doesn’t have any recipes for plain strawberry leather. I took that to mean that maybe strawberries would be too runny on their own. They suggest either strawberry-apple or strawberry-banana. I went with strawberry-apple.

I realized that I needed to blend the strawberries with the apples, or the apples wouldn't blend well.

I realized that I needed to blend the strawberries with the apples, or the apples wouldn’t blend well.

After cutting out the bad parts of the strawberries, I had the perfect amount: 2 cups chopped. Then peel and chop up an apple – something firm like granny smith – and blend the two together. I also added about a quarter cup of sugar, for flavor, but don’t add much more than that. It won’t dry right and will be tacky or sticky. And if your fruit is tastier than mine, no sugar necessary.

All smooshed up. Here's where I taste tested, and realized it needed a little sugar. I added bakers sugar because it's finer and would mix in quicker.

All smooshed up. Here’s where I taste tested, and realized it needed a little sugar. I added bakers sugar because it’s finer and would mix in quicker.

Then just pour the mixture onto a leather tray (solid plastic, no holes) and put in the dehydrator at 135 for 5-8 hours. Mine was on the upper end of that range. If you don’t have a leather tray, you can try putting parchment on a jerky tray.

Pour and spread the fruit until it is about 1/8" thick. Try to make it even so it dries at the same rate. The 2 cups of mashed fruit took up 2 leather trays.

Pour and spread the fruit until it is about 1/8″ thick. Try to make it even so it dries at the same rate. The 2 cups of mashed fruit took up 2 leather trays.

Once it’s done, while still warm, pull off the tray and put right onto wax paper or saran wrap. It may not look pretty or square, but it’s all good. Then just roll it up in the paper and seal in a plastic bag. They say it’ll last for 6 months in an airtight container, but I can’t imagine how it could last 6 days. It’s far too delicious!

Dried and ready to peel!

Dried and ready to peel!

I have about 10 rollups. I’ve been taking them to work as snacks all week, and it is such a wonderful treat! I’m excited to try making other leathers throughout the summer.


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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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Ladies’ Preservation Society Pickles Beets!

Pickled beets, canned and ready for storage.

Pickled beets, canned and ready for storage.

I have made pickled beets many times but never canned them to store. I’ve always just made refrigerator pickled beets. The recipes aren’t different, much, but whenever you can something it’s best to go with a real recipe from a trusted source, so that you know the acids and sugars are in balance and will properly preserve your food. My other recipe is sort of made up, which is just fine if you are refrigerating and eating within a few weeks.

Trim leaves to an inch or so, and wash the beets well.

Trim leaves to an inch or so, and wash the beets well.

For the Ladies’ Preservation Society in January, we pickled beets. I didn’t write about it sooner because we had to wait 3 weeks for them to be ready. Then, you know, I got a case of the lazies and haven’t been writing much this winter.

Cooking the beets. 7 pounds of beets is a lot!

Cooking the beets. 7 pounds of beets is a lot!

But boy oh boy, eating beets and cottage cheese for lunch is one of my favorite things. It’s nostalgic and really wonderful. Do you ever eat cottage cheese this way? I know people seem to fall on one side or the other, eating cottage cheese with sweet foods (like canned peaches – which I made but forgot to blog about!) or savory, like with salt and pepper. Eating it with pickled beets is the perfect marriage of the two sides. That’s me; unable to choose a side so I tiptoe down the middle. Yup!

After beets have cooled enough to hold, remove the skins. Here my friend is rubbing the skin off with a paper towel.

After beets have cooled enough to hold, remove the skins. Here my friend is rubbing the skin off with a paper towel.

We got the recipe from The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich (another Christmas present!) and I really like it. I don’t know if it’s as great as my mom’s recipe, but what could ever be? Next time I make them I might reduce the allspice or cloves slightly to let the beet flavor shine.

This little beet was shaped like a heart! Also - check out those pink fingers. I made my friends do all of the peeling and slicing because I had an interview the next day, and beets can stain for a day or so. For that reason, wear dark colors or an apron.

This little beet was shaped like a heart! Also – check out those pink fingers. I made my friends do all of the peeling and slicing because I had an interview the next day, and beets can stain for a day or so. For that reason, wear dark colors or an apron.

Here’s the recipe: (Makes 7 pints)

7 lbs beets, cleaned (ok to leave on roots and a little of the stem, you’ll cut those off later.)
2 cinnamon sticks, broken into small pieces
1 Tbsp whole allspice
1 tsp whole cloves
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 quart cider vinegar
2 cups water

Sliced beets.

Sliced beets.

Cover beets with boiling water, in a large pot. Cover and return to a boil, then boil for 15 to 35 minutes, until they are just tender – this will depend on the size of the beets. They will be processed for 30 minutes later, so you don’t want them soft at this stage. Drain and then cover with cold water, to stop them cooking.

Filling jars with beets, using tongs. A wide mouth funnel would be useful, but we found we didn't need it.

Filling jars with beets, using tongs. A wide mouth funnel would be useful, but we found we were fine without it for this step.

When the beets are cool, remove their skins. This can be done by rubbing with a paper towel, or a vegetable peeler, or a knife. Some beets will peel easily, some won’t.

Slice all the beets ¼” thick.

Tie up all the spices in a cheesecloth bag.

Tie up all the spices in a cheesecloth bag.

Tie the spices into a cheesecloth bag. Put this into a pot with both sugars, salt, vinegar, and water. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. (The smell of boiling vinegar is very harsh! I recommend leaving the room while it boils, or opening windows and doors.)

Cooking the vinegar, water, sugar, and spices.

Cooking the vinegar, water, sugar, and spices.

As the liquid is simmering, pack the beets into sterilized pint jars. When the liquid is done cooking, pour over the beets, leaving ½” headspace from the top of the jar. Run a chopstick around the inside of the jar, to remove air bubbles. Add more liquid if needed. Wipe rims, put on lids, and process the jars for 30 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Jars filled with beets, ready for the hot vinegar mixture.

Jars filled with beets, ready for the hot vinegar mixture.

After processing for 30 minutes, let cool. Label, and store. They need to sit at least 3 weeks before they are ready to be eating. The waiting is the hardest part, as they say. I like to label the lids with the “open on” date so I can remember.

At last, after at least 3 weeks of waiting, I was able to have beets and cottage cheese for lunch. Yay!

At last, after at least 3 weeks of waiting, I was able to have beets and cottage cheese for lunch. Yay!


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Anyone Need Any Banana Chips?

Have a banana chip, please! (I will be storing any I don't eat soon in plastic bags inside the jars, but they are so much prettier this way for now.)

Banana Bonanza! (I’ll keep the ones I plant to eat soon in jars, but most of these will be put into will be plastic bags inside the jars. But they are so much prettier this way for now.)

So get this. I went to the fruit stand the other day, looking for a snack. I was buying smoothie fixins at the sale fruit table, when I saw it: a box of about 30 bananas for $0.99! A dollar? Sure, they were ugly, but even if only half were edible, that’s still an insane price. I had to stop myself from buying 2 boxes.

Box of bananas for a buck!

Box of bananas for a buck!

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’ve done this kind of thing before. You see a great sale on something, buy too much, and then have it coming out of your ears for months. It’s the same with gardening, you love tomatoes so much you plant 6 plants, and then are finding ways to eat tomatoes with every meal. No? Come on, be honest, we’re all friends here. Learning food preservation has enabled my habit, because now sale food isn’t as likely to go to waste.

It turned out the bananas weren’t as bad as they looked. They were actually slightly under-ripe, with only a few bad spots on the flesh. My guess is that they were unsellable because the peels were covered in brown spots, or were the onesies left over by people breaking off a few from a bunch. I think there was only one that was actually mush.

Letting bananas sit in cool water with lemon juice, to keep them from browning.

Letting bananas sit in cool water with lemon juice, to keep them from browning. But don’t let them sit in there too long, they go soggy.

And as it happens, D doesn’t like bananas. So here I had 30 bananas that I needed to use up all by my lonesome, and I knew just what to do with them… dry them!

I got a wonderful gift this year for Christmas from my S-I-L, a food dehydrator, (plus a great book called The Dehydrator Bible.) I’ve wanted a dehydrator for a year or more, but never felt like shelling out the money for something my oven or the sun could do just as well. But of course, the oven is too hot, and I never use the sun, because I’m not that on top of it. I’d probably forget them outside.

There she is! I keep the dehydrator in the basement, even though it's nice and quiet. It's just so big and I don't have many outlets in my old kitchen.

There she is! I keep the dehydrator in the basement, even though it’s nice and quiet. It’s just so big and I don’t have many outlets in my old kitchen.

My dehydrator has been great so far. I’ve dried apples, blueberries, pineapples (my favorite!), and bananas. They haven’t all been hits (I don’t recommend Pink Lady apples for drying, they turn into something not unlike Styrofoam), but even when they weren’t great, it was always fun or unexpected. I didn’t dry the blueberries correctly, but I still thought they were really good on oatmeal, little bursts of flavor.

My dehydrator is definitely making it so that I’m seeking out the cheapest fruits, because I know I can extend their life and create lots of great snacks.

I think I dried a total of 8 trays, each holding about 3 bananas. Try to keep them spaced so they aren't touching, to allow for better air circulation and also so they don't dry stuck together.

I dried a total of 8 trays, each holding about 3 bananas. Try to keep them spaced so they aren’t touching, to allow for better air circulation and also so they don’t dry stuck together.

The last time I did bananas I got those tiny bananas and sliced them length-wise. This time they were full sized, so I sliced them in rounds (more or less) about 1/3” thick. I let them sit in a bowl of water mixed with lemon juice to keep them from browning while I chopped (and chopped, and chopped). Then I dried them for 8.5-10 hours at 135 degrees.

Here they are finished. You can see they stick a bit to the tray, so do remove them while they are still warm.

Here they are finished. You can see they stick a bit to the tray, so do remove them while they are still warm.

And now I have banana chips. Lots and lots of banana chips. They are slightly chewy, they should be firm and almost leathery when done, not like those rock hard ones you used to get in trail mix. Some slices took longer than others, but that was easy enough to remedy. I pulled them all off the trays and any that were very squishy got put back in for another hour or so.

When they are done they should be a little flexible. However, you don't want them to be "juicy" anymore. A fine line, perhaps? I did notice that the bananas that weren't as ripe dried faster and have a chalkier texture, although they are still quite tasty!

When they are done they should be a little flexible. However, you don’t want them to be “juicy” anymore. A fine line, perhaps? I did notice that the bananas that weren’t as ripe dried faster and have a firmer texture, although they are still quite tasty!

Also, I learned from my book that bananas should be removed from the trays when still warm, or they stick. I can attest to this! Also, things the book won’t tell you: my basement smells like bananas, and I’ve had that song lyric “this s**t is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s” in my head all week.

If you want some banana chips, come on over, I’d be happy to share!


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Citrus Fruit Cocktail

Citrus fruit cocktail cooling on the counter. I swear this sunbeam was total happenstance, but it was so beautiful!

Citrus fruit cocktail cooling on the counter. This sunbeam was total happenstance, but it was so beautiful, I probably took 30 different pictures!

For Christmas this year I got a bunch of books, including Saving the Season by Kevin West. This is a wonderful book, you should definitely check it out. It contains lots of great stories and recipes, all organized by season. There are descriptive pictures and how-to’s, which are useful for a novice home canner.

Fruits, ready to be prepped. I had fun at the Chinese grocer near my home, they have such beautiful fruits for really great prices.

Fruits, ready to be prepped. I had fun at the Chinese grocer near my home, they have such beautiful fruits for really great prices.

Winter is, of course, focused on citrus. If you’re like me, you wait all year for the wonderful grapefruit that come out in winter. What a treat! And I love oranges, grapefruit, lemon, lime, and all other citrus (except maybe kumquats?) but I don’t love marmalade. It’s too bitter for me. And it seems like most recipes for preserving citrus are marmalades. But one of the first recipes in the section is for a winter fruit cocktail. Fruit cocktail! I don’t think I’ve had that since I was a kid and mom was packing my lunches. (Odd memory, one day, she forgot to pack a spoon, and I got clever and used a carrot stick to eat it. Heh.)

Peeling the grapefruit with a peeler.

Removing strips of the grapefruit skin with a peeler. I cut off way more than I needed, it turned out.

This fruit cocktail is all citrus, no pears or cherries. I totally love it! I used a variety of citrus in different colors, but you could just use this as a way to can oranges, frankly. There’s not even that much sugar in it, for you sugar-conscious peeps. I find the grapefruit flavor dominates the others, so if you’re not into that, leave the grapefruit out, or only use 1 (I used 2.)

The hardest part of this recipe is supreming the fruit. It takes a long time, and if your fruit is as ripe as it should be, is really sloppy. I’d definitely take this project on when you’re feeling like spacing out and listening to some good music, or Marketplace on NPR, whatever suits your fancy. But you really do need to supreme the fruit, so that you get all the skins off each section.

Supreme the fruit. Cut off the top and bottom, and set it on one end. Cut the strips of the skin off following the curvature of the fruit. Remove as much of the white part as possible. A sharp knife will be your best friend.

Supreme the fruit. Cut off the top and bottom, and set it on one end. Cut the strips of the skin off following the curvature of the fruit. Remove as much of the white part as possible. A sharp knife will be your best friend.

Recipe, from Saving the Season

6 pounds mixed citrus (I used Cara Cara oranges, red grapefruit, blood oranges, and Satsuma mandarins)
3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 whole lemon (for zest)
½ cup sugar
(Optional: you can add Cointreau, brandy, bourbon, or other alcohol. Since I thought this could be a snack for the nephews at some point I left it out. But if you’d like to do that, add in ¼ cup of the alcohol just at the end of the boiling process, before filling jars.)

Hold the fruit in one hand (over a bowl, to catch drips), and with the other, cut out each slice. Some will be easier than others, but remove it with no skin. I've never filleted a salmon, but I feel like I could after supreming 6 lbs of citrus. :)

Hold the fruit in one hand (over a bowl, to catch drips), and with the other, cut out each slice. Some will be easier than others, but remove it with no skin. I’ve never filleted a salmon (and don’t plan on it), but I feel like I could after supreming 6 lbs of citrus. 🙂

1. Wash the skins thoroughly, as you’ll be using the zest. With a veggie peeler, remove large strips of the peels of an orange, a grapefruit, and the lemon. Set aside.

2. “Supreme” the fruits. See my photos, but basically you cut off the top and bottom, set it upright “like a barrel” and cut off the skins and all the pith, and then remove each section of fruit with a knife. I did this while holding it over the bowl I was putting the cut fruit in, because it’s a very juicy proposition.

Squeeze out the remainder of the juice from the piths. I kept it all in one bowl until I was ready to use it, which was actually 2 days later. Typical me.

Squeeze out the remainder of the juice. I kept the juice and fruit all in one bowl until I was ready to can it, which was actually 2 days later. Typical me.

3. Squeeze the leftover piths to get all the rest of the juice from the fruit.

4. Separate fruit from juice using a slotted spoon.

Fruit and juice. Look at those colors, man, it looks fake!

Fruit and juice. Look at those colors, man, it looks fake! After sitting for awhile, they’ve all taken on that pink cast of the juice, sadly.

5. Add a strip of lemon peel, orange peel, and grapefruit peel into each of 3 sterilized pint jars. Pack the fruit loosely into jars, keeping about ¾” to an inch of headspace.

6. Measure out the juice, and add the lemon juice if you haven’t already. If you don’t have enough juice, add water to bring it up to 1 ½ cups.

Fruit, juice, and peels, pretty much all you need.

Fruit, juice, and peels, pretty much all you need.

7. Combine juice with ½ cup sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. (Here is when you’d add the alcohol, if using.)

8. Pour hot liquid over the fruit, leaving ½” headspace. Remove air pockets (I use a chopstick) and top off if needed. Wipe the jar rims clean, and put on lids and rings.

9. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

I learned something new with this recipe, about “venting.” When I make things like canned peaches or pickles, some of the liquid gets out while processing, making the jars super sticky. This is because of venting, which is when the jars are removed from the water and the quick temperature change causes some of the liquid to escape. So when you’re doing foods in liquid, turn off the heat under the water bath canner at the end of the required time, and let the jars sit in the water for 5 more minutes. Then when you pull out the jars they are less likely to vent. Yay!

Close up of the finished product (in that same sunbeam.) Pretty pretty pretty!

Close up of the finished product (in that same sunbeam.) Pretty pretty pretty!

I actually got 2.5 pints, not a full 3. So I put the half jar in the fridge. I’ve been enjoying eating it (trying to remember to not eat it all at once is a little hard though!) The rest I’ll be saving for late spring or early fall, when I’m antsy for juicy and delicious citrus.