Category Archive: Preserving Food at its Seasonal Best

Freezing Cherry Tomatoes for Long Term Storage

Freezing Tomatoes at 1840 FarmI love heirloom tomato season.  When our garden is producing ripe tomatoes, we enjoy them at almost every meal.  We also put them up for the long New England winter that lies ahead.  We have found that cherry tomatoes are ideally suited for long-term storage in the freezer.

I know that most people preserve tomato season by canning diced tomatoes.  I much prefer freezing cherry and small sized tomatoes.  There’s no need to blanch, peel, or stand over a boiling pot of water on an already hot summer day.  Instead, I can preserve the fresh summer flavor of our homegrown tomatoes in minutes and skip the steamy process of prepping and canning them.

Once I discovered how simple the process was and how delicious the resulting tomatoes were, I started planting more cherry tomatoes.  Year after year, I find myself planting just a few more in my quest to ensure that we can make it to the end of winter before we find that we have exhausted our supply of homegrown tomatoes.

The process is amazingly simple.  Washed cherry, grape, and salad sized tomatoes are allowed to air dry before freezing them in a single layer on a baking tray overnight.  I like to line the tray with a piece of freezer paper to ensure that they don’t stick to the tray. Once they are frozen solid, we transfer them to freezer bags and store them for use during the long winter season.

This method of preservation is simple and effective.  We enjoy fresh tomato sauces with the intense flavor of these cherry tomatoes all winter long.  I also use them in recipes that call for diced tomatoes like our favorite chili.  With each delicious bite, we are reminded that the next tomato season is one day closer.  During our long New England winter, that reminder is a very welcome sight!

We’re offering our favorite heirloom tomato varieties in our 2016 Heirloom Tomato Seed Collection.  You can learn all about it in The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.

 


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Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2015/08/freezing-cherry-tomatoes-for-long-term-storage/

Make Your Own Canning Rack

How to Make Your Own Canning Rack from 1840 FarmNo Canning Rack?  No Problem!

Have you ever wished that you had a canning rack that would adjust to every pot in your kitchen? I did. I never seemed to have a rack that I liked or that fit very well into whichever pot I was using for canning.

Then I discovered that I could use my stockpile of canning jar rings to make a rack in any pot. Simply arrange the rings in a single layer on the bottom of a pot and proceed as usual. The jars sit on top of the rings and I don’t have to add another single use piece of kitchen equipment to our farmhouse kitchen. Problem solved!

How to Make Your Own Canning Rack at 1840 Farm


To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
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We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2015/06/makeyourowncanningrack/

Strawberry Syrup

Ripe Strawberry at 1840 FarmThe flavor of a ripe strawberry. is always welcome at our farmhouse table.  During strawberry season, we enjoy our strawberries eaten freshly picked from the berry patch, added to a few of our favorite baking recipes, and preserve many more as jam to last us through the long New England winter.  On a blustery snowy day, that burst of strawberry flavor is a delicious reminder that we’re one day closer to the next strawberry season.

Several years ago, I decided to try making a strawberry syrup that could be used to flavor cocktails, nonalcoholic drinks, and baked goods.  It was so delicious that we’ve been making it ever since. It’s not overly sweet, with just the right hint of tartness and a lovely earthy sweetness courtesy of the homemade vanilla extract.  It adds that wonderful ripe strawberry flavor to any dish it is paired with.  It’s also divine when drizzled over Great Grandma’s Daffodil Cake or vanilla bean ice cream.   I even use it to make my Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting.

This is such a simple recipe to prepare and keep at the ready.  It can be stored for several weeks in the refrigerator.  It can also be prepared for long term storage in a water bath canner.  I process this syrup in half pint jars with 1/4 inch headspace for 10 minutes.  While it can be stored for a year when properly canned, our jars never last that long.

Added to lemonade, it can transform an ordinary beverage into something extraordinary.  If you prefer your beverage to be carbonated, I have added soda water to lemonade concentrate and a healthy dose of this syrup to make a delicious bubbly strawberry lemonade that is always a hit with our friends and family.

I can’t wait to hear how you put this delicious syrup to use!

Strawberry Simple Syrup

1 pound strawberries, washed and stems removed
2 cups (384 grams) granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Slice or roughly chop the strawberries before adding them to a medium pot with the remaining ingredients.  Using a large wooden spoon or potato masher, crush the berries slightly.  Set them aside for 20 to 30 minutes in order to allow the berries to begin releasing their juice.

Place the pot over low heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Simmer over low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved, approximately 5 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.  Add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.  At this point, you can choose to strain the mixture or leave the remaining pieces of strawberry in the syrup.  If you strain the syrup, the berries can be added to a recipe or served as a topping over yogurt, ice cream, or a slice of cake.

The syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.  I like to store a batch of strained syrup in a clean, repurposed bottle with a pourer spout in the refrigerator for adding to lemonade or using as a base for cocktails.  Syrup with berries can be stored in the refrigerator in a mason jar or other glass container with a lid or canned as mentioned above.


To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2015/06/strawberry-syrup/

Strawberry Jam with Natural Pectin

 Strawberry Jam at 1840 FarmStrawberry Jam with Natural Pectin
yields approximately 4 half pints

Most strawberry jam recipes call for adding pectin in order to properly gel the jam. Strawberries have very little pectin, so a source of pectin must be added. I StrawberriesJamWMprefer to use the natural pectin in an apple rather than add commercially produced powdered pectin. I find that an apple adds plenty of pectin along with a touch of tangy flavor that offers a nice counterpoint to the sweet earthiness of the fresh strawberries.

The grated apple softens as the jam cooks, releasing its pectin and becoming nearly unrecognizable in the finished jam. The apple peel should be removed before canning the finished jam. At our house, the apple peel coated in rich strawberry jam is a delicacy. It’s like the best fruit leather on earth and is happily devoured by the whole family!

1 ½ pounds strawberries, washed, stemmed, and cut into small pieces
2 cups (384 grams) granulated sugar
1 medium apple, prepared as directed below
Juice of ½ lemon (approximately 2 Tablespoons)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Place several plates or large spoons in the freezer for use in gel test. If you are planning to can the jam, ready your canning pot, jars, lids, rings, and canning equipment. I like to use 4 or 8 ounce canning jars when processing this jam.

StrawberriesAppleWMUsing a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the apple in long strips. Core and quarter the apple. Use a grater to grate the apple quarters. Add the grated apple and apple peel to a large non-reactive pot with the strawberries and sugar. Stir gently to combine and place the pot on a burner over medium heat.

Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat slightly and continue to boil for 15 minutes, stirring as needed to prevent the sugars from burning. Using a slotted spoon, remove the strawberry pieces from the pot and transfer to a medium bowl. Removing the strawberries will help them to maintain a firmer texture in the final jam.

Continue to boil the liquid in the pot for another 15 minutes. Return the reserved berries to the pot and add the lemon juice. Stir to combine and continue to boil gently for another 15 minutes or until the mixture passes the gel test when allowed to cool on the chilled plates or spoons set aside in the freezer.

While the gel test may sound like a daunting scientific experiment, it is actually a simple, visual method for determining if your jam has reached the ideal consistency. This test will allow you to measure the finished consistency of your jam. If the mixture is too loose, it can be boiled further to allow a bit more of the liquid to evaporate. If the mixture has boiled too long and is slightly too thick, a small bit of liquid can be added to loosen the mixture before canning.

Performing the gel test involves placing a bit of the hot jam on a plate or large spoon that has been StrawberryGelTestWMchilled in the freezer. When the mixture has been allowed to cool, the consistency can be accurately gauged. When cool, the jam should form a cohesive mixture, forming a wrinkle as it moves when pressed with your finger. If you run a finger through the small puddle of jam, it should split apart and then return to a cohesive puddle moments later.

Once the mixture has passed the gel test, remove the pot from the heat. Remove the apple peel and stir in the vanilla.  Ladle hot jam into sterilized 4 or 8 ounce jars leaving ¼ inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles from the side of the jar.  Using a clean cloth, remove any residue from the rim of the jar.  Place a lid on the jar and tighten with band.  Gently lower the filled jar into the boiling water canner.  Repeat until all jars have been added to the pot.  Place lid on canning pot.  Return water to a boil.

Once the water has returned to a boil, process half-pint jars of jam for 15 minutes.  Turn off the heat and remove the lid from pot.  Allow the jars to rest in the water for at least five minutes.  Carefully remove jars to a towel lined baking sheet.  Allow jars to cool up to 24 hours before checking the seals and labeling the jars for storage. A properly sealed jar of strawberry jam can be stored and used for up to one year.



To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.

Our newsletter isn’t the only way to follow what’s happening here at 1840 Farm.
You’re always welcome at 1840 Farm
and at The 1840 Farm Mercantile Shop on Etsy.
You can also find 1840 Farm throughout the social media universe on
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and Bloglovin‘.

We even created a new 1840 Farm Community Newsletter Pinterest board to catalog
our newsletter content so that you could easily pin your favorites to your own boards.

Come add your voice to our conversation!
We’ll hope to see you there!


 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2014/06/strawberry-jam/

Caramelized Onion and Red Wine Jam

When life hands you lemons you can choose to make lemonade.  But what do you do when life cruelly hands you a corked bottle of wine?  Well, I mean what do you do after lamenting the fact that the nectar of the gods has been replaced by a liquid with the aroma of a musty, flooded basement?

I used to simply bemoan my bad fortune and pour the offending liquid down the drain.  Moments later, the empty bottle would clink to the bottom of the kitchen recycling bin and I would sigh, knowing that this imperfection is the chance you take when drinking a bottle of wine.  It simply goes with the territory.

Wine becomes corked after coming into contact with a cork that is contaminated.  An infected cork can contain millions of microorganisms called trichloroanisole (TCA) lying in wait to feast on a perfectly processed bottle of wine.    Because cork is a natural product, there is no way to completely guarantee that one will not carry this offensive contaminant into a bottle of wine.  For this reason, many wineries have moved to screw tops and synthetic corks.

After I had learned the how and why a bottle becomes corked, I learned that corked wine could be used for cooking.  No, I wouldn’t use it to flavor a light sauce as I feared that the corked aroma and taste would surely impart its funk to whatever it touched.  Instead, corked wine was suited to cooking over a longer period of time.  As it cooked, its offensiveness would evaporate away leaving the rich flavor that the wine was meant to bring to my glass when it was opened.

It was hard for me to believe that I could turn a musty, overpowering liquid into something edible, but my curiosity was piqued.  I had nothing to lose.  The wine in its natural state was, ironically unnatural and unpotable.  It was time to get creative and get cooking.

My goal was to make a caramelized onion red wine jam that could grace our weekend cheese platter.  It seemed fitting that I would turn corked wine into a condiment for a cheese course that would accompany a glass of perfectly delicious and uncorked wine.   I began gathering ingredients and mentally forming the recipe.  In minutes, the onions were cooking down in a heavy bottomed saucepan and I was reaching into the cabinets for ingredients that would help round out the flavor.

 I was shocked at how delicious this savory jam was.  I removed several types of cheese from the refrigerator and we went to work testing the onion jam with each of them.  Raw milk cheddar and an aged Piave were good companions for the jam, but a beautifully crafted Bayley Hazen Blue cheese from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont was its soul mate.

It’s been several years since my initial corked red wine experiment.  In that time, the wine gods have smiled on us and we have not been handed many corked bottles of wine.  When it does happen, I no longer cringe.  Instead, I get busy making caramelized onion jam with red wine and break out the Bayley Hazen Blue.

I have even taken to making a delectable Red, Wine, and Blue Grilled Cheese Sandwich out of this misfortune.  The melted blue cheese sings when paired with the caramelized onion red wine jam.  It’s as if they were meant to be together.

This savory jam and the resulting sandwich are as close as I can get to making lemonade from a bottle of red wine that could literally be labeled a lemon.  Maybe 1840 Farm needs a lemonade stand.  I am sure that it wouldn’t be long until there was a line forming for a Caramelized Onion and Red Wine Jam and warm Red, Wine, and Blue Grilled Cheese Sandwiches!

Caramelized Onion and Red Wine Jam
fills four half pint jars

While I typically use a bottle of less than perfect wine for this recipe, any red wine will do.  I have been known to freeze small portions of leftover red wine until I have enough to make a batch of this jam.  Frozen, corked, or leftover:  it just doesn’t seem to matter.  This jam comes out delicious every time.  The finished jam can be canned by processing in half pint jars with 1/2″ headspace for 10 minutes in a hot water bath.

1 pound yellow onions, sliced thinly
1/2 cup (96 grams) brown sugar
4 Tablespoons honey
18 ounces red wine
4 ounces balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dried or 4 teaspoons fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons dried or 4 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Place a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat.  Add sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.  Add the brown sugar and stir to combine.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook for 20 – 40 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are softened and caramelized.

Remove the pan from the heat, add the honey and stir to fully incorporate.  Add the remaining ingredients and return the pan to medium heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 20 – 30 minutes or until the liquid is thick and syrupy.

Taste for seasoning, break out the blue cheese! You can also use this jam to make my recipe for a Red, Wine, and Blue Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  It’s a showstopper!

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Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/12/caramelized-onion-and-red-wine-jam/

Brown Butter Bourbon Applesauce

brown-butter-bourbon-applesauce-brandedThis recipe started out as a kitchen experiment.  Our dear friends had been kind enough to share their apple harvest with us.  I found myself standing in the kitchen wondering if I could make something with these fresh apples that was a little different than your average applesauce.

I scanned through cookbooks and food blogs looking for inspiration.  When I came up empty, I went to the refrigerator to remove the apples from the crisper drawer and saw the answer literally staring me in the face:  butter.

What can I say, I grew up watching Julia Child.  She taught me so much, the least of which was that butter makes everything taste better.  I was sure that she would have agreed that butter could even improve the taste of applesauce, but I wasn’t ready to stop there.

Instead, I was going to use brown butter to bring more flavor and depth to the applesauce. I would use brown sugar instead of white, knowing that it would bring a beautiful amber color and a hint of molasses to the sauce.  Then divine inspiration struck me and I decided that a little bourbon certainly wouldn’t hurt.

I made a small batch, unsure if my instincts were right.  As soon as the batch was finished, I called my family into the kitchen to taste test my grand experiment.  They all shared the same criticism:  I hadn’t made a big enough batch.

I have gone on to duplicate this recipe several times since that first day.  My family can’t seem to get enough of this flavorful applesauce.  With local apples just coming into season, I’ll be sure to be making much more in the coming months.

Brown Butter Bourbon Applesauce
Print
Ingredients
  1. 10 medium to large apples, peeled and cored (should yield around 1 pound of flesh)
  2. 4 Tablespoons (2 ounces) butter
  3. 1/2 cup (96 grams) brown sugar
  4. 1/4 cup (2 ounces) bourbon
  5. pinch sea salt
  6. 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Wash, peel, and core the apples. The apples can be left in quarters. They will break down as they cook, making chopping unnecessary.
  2. Place the butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Allow the butter to melt. After the butter melts, you will notice that the milk solids will begin to separate. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally to allow those solids to brown slightly. You will notice a slight change in color and aroma. Brown butter has a slightly nutty aroma which will signal that the solids have caramelized and that the brown butter has finished cooking.
  3. Add the brown sugar, stirring to combine with the brown butter. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the sugar until it begins to bubble slightly. Add the apples, bourbon, and pinch of salt to the pot and stir to coat.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the apples begin to fall apart, approximately 20-35 minutes depending on the variety. You can speed up this process by crushing the cooked apples with the back of a wooden spoon or by using a potato masher. Taste for seasoning, adding additional sugar if necessary.
  5. Remove the pot from the heat. Add the vanilla extract and stir to combine. I prefer my applesauce to have a chunky texture, but you can puree the sauce using an immersion blender if you prefer a smoother texture.
Notes
  1. The amount of sugar needed in this recipe can be adjusted to match the tartness of the apples you are using. Simply add a bit of sugar during the final stages to adjust it to your liking.
1840farm.com http://1840farm.com/

This post is included in our 1840 Farmhouse Thanksgiving Gallery.
You’ll find our favorite Thanksgiving recipes all gathered in one place so that you can easily include them in your family’s celebration.  I’ll be adding new recipes  right up until the big day, so check back to see even more delicious and fabulous Thanksgiving posts.

 

thanksgiving-gallery-ss


 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2013/09/brown-butter-bourbon-applesauce/

Clementine Marmalade

Sometimes Mother Nature really irks me.  This is one of those times.  We finally tasted the beauty of the spring of 2011 only to be pulled straight into an unending succession of rainy, damp days.  Then came heat and humidity the likes of August in the Midwest.  Now we’re back to the cool, crisp days that we have come to expect during a New England spring.   We may have survived The Rapture, but I’m not sure that I will survive another week of Mother Nature’s roulette wheel of spring weather.

This winter was a tough one.  In fact, I’ve already labeled it as The Winter of My Discontent.  It seemed as though it would never end.  Even the chickens here at the farm seem visibly happy to see that spring actually exists.  Given that they were hatched last fall, I can easily believe that they wondered if the existence of spring in New England was the chicken equivalent of Area 51.

Back to spring.  Its presence allows me to happily dream of spending eight hours a day working in the summer vegetable garden.  I know that there will be months of hard work before we eat our first tomato in spite of the fact that they are already planted.  I know that some vegetables that I spend hours planting and tending will do their best to disappoint me.  I have only to think about the Three Sisters Garden that I toiled over last year.  I spent weeks preparing the planting bed and months tending to the beans, squash, and corn only to end up with nothing more than a handful of beans and a few corn husks to show for it.

It’s okay.  I’m a gardener.  I’ve made peace with last year’s disappointments and I’m ready to try again.  I know that the rewards will far outweigh the frustration.  In fact, it won’t be very long before we can start harvesting strawberries and making fresh jam.  At least I hope that it won’t be long.  We’ve been waiting rather impatiently since late December when we reluctantly finished the final jar from last summer’s garden.

While I can’t garden during the New England winter, canning has no season.  I’ve been keeping my jam skills fresh by making clementine marmalade all winter.  It helped me shake off the months of cold mornings in our farmhouse.  It’s bright citrus flavor and surprisingly earthy vanilla undertones reminded me every day that I was one day closer to spring.

Like gardening, this recipe requires a few tools in order to do it correctly.  A mandoline and a food scale will make the preparation easier.   If you don’t have a mandoline, you could slice the clementines thinly with a very sharp knife.  Without a food scale, you will be left to guess just how much sugar needs to be added to your fruit mixture.  I’m an adventurous cook, but guessing on this one could translate to spending an hour preparing a mixture too thin to pass the gel test, so I prefer the scale.

I’m off to make my last batch of clementine marmalade for the season.  I have to.  I only have two jars left.  I know that we have a few more weeks of unpredictable spring mornings looming ahead of us before I can sigh with relief that summer is here.

I’ll be thrilled to see summer when it finally arrives, but I will be sorry to see my marmalade season come to an end.  Well, I’ll be sad until the first batch of strawberry jam is bubbling away on the stove and perfuming the kitchen with the aroma of summer.  Until then, I’ll be happy to have a spoonful of sunshine on my breakfast plate.

Clementine Vanilla Marmalade
yields 5 half pint jars

  

   

I can’t take credit for this recipe.  I found it by pure luck on the Seasons and Suppers site.  It is perfectly written and yields me predictably delicious results.

10 clementines
sugar
brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Place plates in the freezer for use in gel test.  Wash clementines and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Chilling the clementines will make it easier to slice them.

Using mandoline, slice seven of the clementines on the 1/8″ setting.  Remove any seeds and place slices in large saucepan.  Add cold water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for ten minutes.  Drain clementines and discard the cooking liquid.

Once the simmered clementines are cool enough to handle, roughly chop them using a knife or food processor until they are the desired texture.  Weigh the fruit and return the chopped clementines to the saucepan.  Add sugar to the saucepan equal to the weight of the fruit.  I like to mix white and brown sugar at a 50/50 ratio to achieve the total amount of sugar required.

Prepare the canning pot with a rack in the bottom by filling with water and bringing it to a boil.  Sterilize the half pint canning jars and lids and keep warm until ready to use.

Juice the remaining three clementines.  If necessary, add water to the juice in order to equal one half cup of liquid.  Add this liquid to the saucepan and stir to combine.  Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and boil until the mixture passes the gel test when allowed to cool on the chilled plates set aside in the freezer.  This process will take between 15 and 30 minutes depending on the amount of liquid in your mixture.

Once the mixture has passed the gel test, remove the marmalade from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Ladle hot marmalade into sterilized half-pint jars.  Remove air bubbles from the side of the jar.  Using a clean cloth, remove any residue from the rim of the jar.  Place a lid on the jar and tighten with band.  Gently lower the filled jar into the boiling water canner.  Repeat until all jars have been added to the pot.  Place lid on canning pot.  Return water to a boil.

Process half-pint jars of marmalade for 15 minutes.  Turn off heat and remove lid from pot.  Allow to sit for five minutes.  Carefully remove jars to a towel lined baking sheet.  Allow jars to cool up to 24 hours before checking the seals and labeling the jars for storage.

Properly sealed clementine marmalade can be stored up to one year.

This post participated in the Farm Girl Friday Blog Hop.

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2011/06/clementine-marmalade/