Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Day Spent Canning: Grapefruit Marmalade, Orange Marmalade, Pumpkin Cranberry Chutney

Yesterday I spent the day canning. One of the things we want to be able to offer for the business is choices of homemade spreads for scones. My plan is to buy fruit whenever it is in season, fresh and relatively cheap. I will then make various jams, jellies, marmalades, curds, etc. to store for later.

If you haven't canned before, you will probably find it easier than you think. It's more logistics than anything. You just need a large pot with some sort of insert to keep your glass from directly contacting the hot bottom. The jars are kept submerged in simmering water to stay sterile until you need them, and the same with the lid rings and seals in a separate pot. When it is time to actually fill the jars, having done your mise en place is really important. That includes having a tool to lift out the jars. I have a magnet on the end of a long plastic rod which is really useful for retrieving seals and lids.

To can something, you pull out a hot jar, dumping the water back into the pot. Fill the jar, leaving adequate airspace at the top (this will vary by the size of the jar, and what you are canning. Clean the rim, and place a seal on top. Screw a ring on, just tight enough to keep the seal in place. The seal needs to be able to allow air bubbles to escape. The sealed jars are returned to the water, and completely submerged. They need to sit in the boiling water for a length of time, which will again vary by the size of the jar and what is in it.

A classmate had given me three large, ripe white grapefruit, so I decided to make marmalade out of them. The recipe I adapted is this one from I peeled the grapefruit with a sharp vegetable peeler, then went back over the peel with a sharp knife, to eliminate any remaining white pith. I then cut the peels into a fine julienne. I then peeled the remaining pith off the grapefruit, and carefully cut out supremes from the inner membranes. I did squeeze out as much juice as possible from the remaining core.

The cores were wrapped in cheesecloth, and cooked with everything else to help add pectin for jelling. I didn't trust it to jell naturally, however, so added a pouch of liquid pectin. The juice, segments, and zest are cooked with a little water and a whole lot of sugar until it reaches 220 F. It takes a while to get there, a lot of water has to evaporate to allow it to get to that temperature.

Once it got to the required temperature, I added the liquid pectin, and cooked it further. Finally, the cheesecloth bag was removed, and squeezed to get out as much marmalade as possible. The result was canned.

It turned out having a very strong grapefruit taste. Despite the huge amount of sugar, it retains a lot of the grapefruit bitterness. You may need to be a grapefruit fan to like this.

I had a lot of oranges left over from the SCA lunch we did last weekend. I thought was a good idea to use alt east some of them for orange marmalade.  All the orange marmalade recipes I found included lemons. I adapted this one from Sure Jell. It had me cook the fruit with the pectin first, then add the sugar. I realize now that the recipe expects powdered pectin, not liquid. It worked, so no complaints. I think next time I'll do it the same as the above recipe.

I did the same with the peels as above. I removed them from the fruit, cleaned them up with a sharp knife, and julienned them. I sectioned the fruit the same way.

The peels were simmered with a little baking soda in water for a bit, then the fruit and juice added. This was simmered some more, Then measured out. The recipe wants exactly 4 cups of fruit and peel mixture. Luckily for me, that is exactly what I had.

The mixture is brought to a boil, have the pectin added, then brought back to a boil. The sugar is added, and it is once again brought back to a boil. It is cooked for one minute, then removed from the heat, and canned.

It has a nice orange flavor, and the lemons help give it a bit of sharpness.

One trick I figured out with the marmalades. If you do not want all the peel to end up at the top of the jar, while the jars are cooling and the jell is setting, every five or ten minutes give the jars a good shake. As it gets thicker, it gets harder for all the peel to float to the top.

After Thanksgiving, we had a very nice pumpkin that we cut up and froze the meat. We wanted to do something with it. However, the National Center for Home Food Preservation (of course there is a National Center for Home Food Preservation) does not recommend canning pumpkin butter. Pumpkin butter is too low acid to be safely canned using the water bath method.

Chutneys, however, are a pickled product. All the added vinegar makes it more than acidic enough to can. I started with this recipe, but replaced the dried cranberries with fresh, added currants, and used date molasses rather than maple syrup.

I caramelized sliced onion in olive oil, then added the pumpkin, cranberries, currants, minced Serrano chili, molasses, date molasses, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, minced ginger, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, salt, and a little water. This was allowed to simmer for forty five minutes, until thick, and the pumpkin and cranberries tender.

This was then canned.

It is a really nice sweet, spicy, vinegary mix. I could just eat a bowl with a spoon. Will make a great butter for scones.


Grapefruit Marmalade

3 large, ripe white grapefruit
7 cups sugar
1 pouch liquid pectin
4 cups water

Use a vegetable peeler to remove skin. Use a sharp knife to remove any remaining white pith on the zest. Cut the strips of peel into a fine julienne. 

Remove remaining pith from the fruit, and cut out the sections of fruit without taking any inner membrane. squeeze out any juice from the remaining cores. Wrap cores in cheesecloth, and tie securely.

Place peel, fruit, juice, water, and sugar in a large pot over medium heat. Once it comes to a simmer and the sugar is dissolved, add the cheesecloth with the cores.

Allow to simmer until mixture reaches 220 F. Add in pectin. bring back to a simmer, cook for seven minutes. Remove cheesecloth bag, squeezing out as much liquid as possible. Remove pot from heat, allow to stand for five minutes. Ladle into jars, seal and process in a water bath for ten minutes.

Makes 7 half pint jars.

Orange Marmalade

4 large navel oranges
4 small lemons
2 1/2 cups water
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 pouch liquid pectin
5 1/2 cups sugar

Use a vegetable peeler to remove skin. Use a sharp knife to remove any remaining white pith on the zest. Cut the strips of peel into a fine julienne. 

Remove remaining pith from the fruit, and cut out the sections of fruit without taking any inner membrane. squeeze out any juice from the remaining cores.

Place peels, water, and baking soda in a pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, cook 20 minutes. Add fruit and juice, bring back to a simmer, cook another ten minutes.

Transfer mixture to a large pot. Bring to a full boil, add pectin. Bring back to a boil. Add sugar. Bring back to a boil, cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat. Ladle into jars, process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Pumpkin Cranberry Chutney

1 onion, cut into thin slices
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. fresh or fresh frozen pumpkin, cut into 1/2" cubes
4 oz. fresh or fresh frozen cranberries, rough chopped
4 oz. currants
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup date molasses
1/4 cup molasses
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Serrano chili, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. yellow mustard seeds

In a large pot over medium high heat, add olive oil. Add onion, cook until caramelized. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a simmer, cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

When mixture is thickened, and pumpkin and cranberries are tender, ladle into jars. Process in a water bath for 15 minutes.

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Equipment Review: Beater Blade Pro

This is the first time I've discussed a product on the blog. I don't know if this will become a regular thing. Probably not. I am doing this because I have been seriously impressed by both the product and the company that made it.

The product is the Beater Blade  Pro by NewMetro Design. It is a self scraping beater blade. Mine is for my Kitchen Aide. They make versions for Cuisinart, Kenwood, and Viking mixers as well. It scrapes the bowl while working, so you don't have to stop and scrape the bowl.

It is made of some light weight resin or polymer. I was surprised by that when I bought one as a Christmas gift for the spouse last year.  We used to often, and it held up well. Recently I noticed a small crack in one of the support struts.

I contacted the company, and asked if there was any sort of warranty. I honestly didn't expect any. I was very pleasantly surprised when they said that all I had to do was e-mail them a picture of the broken one, and they would send me a replacement.

I got the replacement today. I am very impressed with the customer service. They were unfailingly polite and pleasant. I can't remember the last time a company just went and did the right thing, rather than the cheap thing.

So there you have it, for what it's worth. My first unasked for endorsement. Take it as you will.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Intermediate Culinary and Bread Classes: Final Grades

For my bread class, our practical final was to make a loaf of sourdough bread from then starter we created in class. I was pretty happy with mine. We had to submit a slice, with a short description of our experience. We also had a short written final, with questions about types of flours, and types of pre-ferments for making bread. I don't know exactly what my score was on either, but I can infer that both were good, as the posted grade for the course was an A+.

For my intermediate culinary class, we had a practical final where we had to make a composed salad and a stable vinaigrette. This is my salad. It is baby greens with yellow bell pepper, candied pine nuts, feta cheese, Persian cucumbers, kalamata olives, baby red onions, and pomegranate seeds. I made a cracker of puff pastry with a pomegranate molasses glaze. My vinaigrette was olive oil, pomegranate red wine vinegar, red currant mustard, and fresh basil. I got a 43 out of 50.

On the written final, I scored 42 out of 50. That gave me a final of 184 out of 200 points for the class, or a 92% and therefore an A.

I can live with that.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Trio of Medieval Stews

Yesterday I was responsible for a lunch for my local SCA  group. The person running the event wanted hearty stews. Turns out to have been a good choice, as it was a cold and rainy day. I apologize for no pictures, I'd intended to take pictures, but was so focused on getting service out that I forgot. I really need to remember to find someone to be responsible for photos.

I'd spent a little time looking for interesting winter stews. I like to try to do foods at least inspired by Medieval or Renaissance recipes. I'm most concerned with providing a delicious, filling, satisfying meal, but it is nice to support the atmosphere with food that is at least consistent with period.

I ended up going with three options. For the first, I went with a middle eastern lamb stew. I was inspired by this recipe.  It is based on a recipe from the Al-Bagdadi cookbook. My version had boneless leg of lamb cut into bite sized pieces, and simmered with cinnamon stick and fresh coriander. I made a spice mix of black pepper, long pepper, grains of paradise, and coriander seed. I used that mix to season the lamb. I added onion, leek, and carrot by way of vegetables. I added raisins and dried Turkish figs. The stew was also flavored with red wine vinegar and honey.

I wanted a poultry option for the second choice. I was inspired by this recipe. I thought it could easily be modified to a stew. I used a mix of boneless chicken thighs and breasts cut into bite sized pieces. I simmered the chicken in chicken stock and moscato. I added celery and onions, as well as dates and currants. I added a little sugar to balance the stew, and seasoned it with ground mace and fresh ground black pepper. About five minutes before service, I added orange supremes.

For the third choice, I wanted a vegan option. I found this recipe based on an ancient Greek recipe. I used red lentils, and added carrots, leeks, onions, and celery. It was flavored with a little red wine vinegar and honey. I provided a little olive oil and crushed coriander seed to garnish the stew, as desired.

I made sourdough rolls, multi-grain rolls, and gluten free scones by way of bread. Yeah, I know, modern scones are not in anyway period. They are, however, a way of providing a gluten free bread option that I feel confident will be tasty. Good gluten free bread is just difficult to do,

All three of these recipes came out the way I intended. The broth for the lamb was particularly tasty.


Spice Mix for Lamb

4 long pepper pods
1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
2 tsp. grains of paradise
2 tsp. coriander seeds

Place all ingredients in a spice grinder. Grind to a fine powder.

Sikbaj (Lamb with Raisins and Figs)

2 lbs. lamb, cut into 3/4" cubes
1/2 onion, diced
1 leek, tough tops removed, diced
1/2 lb. carrots, diced
1 small bunch cilantro
1/2 cinnamon stick
3 oz. raisins
2 oz. Turkish figs, diced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. Spice Mix for Lamb
salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add lamb, cooked until browned on all sides. Season with Spice Mix and salt. Add water to cover, add cinnamon stick and bunch of cilantro. Bring to a simmer, cook for one hour. 

Remove cinnamon and cilantro. Add vegetables and more Spice Mix and salt to taste. Simmer one hour. 

Add figs, raisins, vinegar, and honey. simmer one hour.

Adjust seasoning, serve.

Chicken with Oranges and Currants

2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts and thighs, cut into bite size pieces
1 pint chicken stock
1 pint moscato wine
1/2 stalk celery, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 3/4 oz. dates, diced
2 oz. currants
2 1/2 oranges peeled, cut into supremes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. ground mace
sugar to taste
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add chicken, brown on all sides. Add stock and wine. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer one hour,

Add vegetables and dried fruit. Add mace. Simmer one hour.

Add sugar as necessary. Add orange segments. Simmer five minutes. Adjust seasoning as necessary, then serve.

Zeno's Lentil Stew

1 lb. red lentils, rinsed
1 quart vegetable stock
water as needed
1 leek, tough tops removed, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 lb. carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil and crushed coriander for garnish

In a stock pot over medium heat, combine lentils and stock. Simmer until lentils are tender, about an hour. Add water as necessary to keep lentils covered. 

Add vegetables and simmer until tender. Add vinegar and honey. Season with salt and pepper.

Optionally, garnish a bowl of stew with a dollop of olive oil and a pinch of crushed coriander seeds.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bread Class: Tef Paper

For my bread class, we were required to write a paper on a type of flour. I decided to do it on tef, an ancient grain grown in east Africa, and only recently becoming popular in the US.

We finally got our papers back today, and I am happy to say I got an A+. Yay!

So, here is my paper, just in case anyone is interested.


Tef is an ancient grain which until recently was almost entirely limited to Ethiopia and Eritrea Tef is a grass, and has the smallest seed of any domesticated grain. It can be grown in areas that other grains find inhospitable. Tef has recently caught the attention of those needing a gluten free diet, as it has a negligible amount of the protein.

Tef is the only domesticated member of the large Eragrostis family of grasses(Ingram, 2003). It's exact ancestor species is unknown, but there are a number of similar wild species of eragrostis that are gathered during times of food scarcity(National Research Council, 1996). The primary difference between tef and closely related wild species is that in tef the seed head remains intact at maturity, facilitating harvesting(Ingram, 2003). Tef has the smallest seed size of any domesticated grain. This allows a large area of ground to be sown with a small volume of grain. The straw makes nutritious fodder for livestock. Tef is adapted to a variety of terrains , but does especially well in dry uplands, where other crops have trouble.

The exact time of tef's domestication is uncertain. It appears likely that some time between 4000 and 1000 BCE was when the grain was domesticated (Ketema, 1997). It has been speculated that tef may have been first raised by pastoralists as foster for animals, and only later became a primary food source for human (D'Andrea, 2011).

Tef is the overwhelmingly most popular grain in Ethiopia, occupying more than half the acreage used for growing grains (National Research Council, 1996). Several varieties are grown, with white tef being considered the best, and red tef the least desirable However, white tef is trickier to grow, and produces less grain per acre than the red variety. In Ethiopia, the primary use of tef is to grind it into flour to make injera(Ketema, 1997). Injera is produced by fermenting the flour for three days, then fried on one side to make a large spongy griddlecake. Injera is used to serve food on, and pieces are used as a utensil to scoop up food.

In 1986, Wayne Carlson began growing tef in Idaho (Kelly, 03 Oct 2012). While farmers were skeptical of the value of the crop, he has found a ready market for tef flour in markets and restaurants that cater to East African immigrants. Very recently, tef has begun to catch the attention of those interested in a gluten free diet. This has resulted in increased demand for tef flour. Tef has a distinctive flavor, somewhat reminiscent of buckwheat (Hilson, Jan 2010). It is very high in protein .

Tef is an ancient grain, but one that has been unknown outside of East Africa until recently. It is a hardy plant that grows well in semi-arid highlands, and requires minimal tilling to plant. It is just now beginning to move beyond it's traditional usage in Ethiopian cuisine. Because of it has no gluten, it has caught the attention of cooks looking to expand the available flours for a gluten free lifestyle.

Works Cited

D'Andrea, A. Catherine, and Wadge, Pamela, “T'ef (Eragrostis tef): A Legacy of Pastoralism?”, Windows on the African Past: Current Approaches to African Archaeobotany, Africa Magna Verlag Press, 2011.

Hilson, Beth, ”Gluten-Free Flour Power”, Living Without, Jan 2010, 29 Oct 2013. <>

Ingram, Amanda L., and Doyle Jeff J., “The Origin and Evolution of Eragrostis Tef “, American Journal of Botany, vol 90(1), 2003.

Kelly, James Patrick , “What the Teff?”, Boise Weekly, 03 Oct 2012, 29 Oct 2013.

Ketema, Seyfu, Tef, Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, 1997.

National Research Council's Board on Science and Technology for International Development, Lost Crops of Africa volume I: Grains, National Academy Press, 1996.