Strawberry Rosemary Chutney

Strawberry Rosemary Chutney

Its summer time, preserving season. I’m quite excited to bring this recipe to you for a couple of reasons. First of all it’s my first and only completely original chutney recipe. I’ve never seen any recipe for a rosemary strawberry chutney before. It’s a wonderful chutney to go on really any kind of white meat, be it chicken or fish. Its also a fabulous accompaniment for a mediumly strong cheese with crackers. It’s got this lovely strawberry sweetness paired with the the delicate sublime taste of rosemary.

My interest in this started several years ago when I felt I had too much strawberry jam and was mindful of my mission that year to have both a chutney and a jam come out of the year’s crop. I also wanted to figure out a way to use Pomona’s to make chutneys as I had not been successful to that point. The idea with the recipe is to make it like a jam until the pectin is added, and then add the vinegar & salt. The reasoning is that the chemical changes to make jam have all happened so the vinegar is added after the jam is on its way to setting.

The other reason I’m excited to bring this to you is because I’ve developed a Google sheet application for this recipe. I’ve been using Google Sheets for recipes in other posts -for example my sourdough bread, pesto or sausages. As a spreadsheet application, Google sheets allows you to do the calculations needed to get your recipe consistent and just right.

When you go into your garden or the market to get whatever you are going to preserve, you don’t really know how much it’s going to weigh, but usually you do want to be able to use all you got. A given recipe will usually have volume or weight measures, and inevitably you need to scale it up or down. The sheet that I’ve developed with this recipe allows you to input the volume of the strawberries and from there all of the rest of the ingredients are calculated, including the number of jars you will need. If you really like this recipe and want to make it your own you can download the file as an Excel sheet or select ‘make a copy’ and continue in Google Sheets. That done you can make whatever adjustments you wish for yourself

If you’ve read my other blogs you’ll know that I really like to operate by weight so this one is something of an exception. The original formulation of the recipe was done not by weight but by volume, and I simply haven’t done the weight calculation yet. There should not be a surprise as strawberries are 99% water anyway so 1L should be 1000g.

In this as in all my other jam and chutney recipes I use Pomona’s pectin. Pomona’s pectin is pretty special because it’s a low sugar pectin using honey so you can pretty much eat the jams and chutneys you make with Pomona’s guilt-free. In this particular recipe I have used one and a half times the pectin suggested for the usual quantities. This is for a couple of reasons:

  1. Pomona’s needs more pectin in dealing with a high acidic environment such as a chutney
  2. there is a large addition of vinegar which increases both the acidity and volume.

That all said, you don’t have to have Pomona’s to do this chutney. All of you will have your favorite jam and chutney ways of preparing things, so use what has worked for you in the past to gel chutneys. My preference is to use my BBQ. I use the side burner to heat the the the jars for for the water bath, and to heat the chutney, I take off the the grill bars and set the pot on top of the heat deflectors.

Finally,. you don’t HAVE to go to the spreadsheet in order to do this recipe. Here is a recipe for 1 litre of strawberries, or 2 pints. If you are not using Pomona’s, use whatever amount of pectin is recommended for 2 pints/1litre of strawberries times 1.5.

Ingredients

1 L Strawberries (or 2 pints)
3 tsp calcium water
1.5 cup honey
3 tsp POMONA’s pectin powder
20. g salt
3. tbs rosemary
125.ml apple cider vinegar
125.ml white vinegar
Total yield: 1.63 L

Materials needed

20170813_154406.jpg

  • 1x 1 Litre jar for preparing the strawberries
  • Pot for boiling fruit
  • Canning pot for water bath
  • 8 250ml jars (7 should be all you need for this quantity)
  • 8 lids and tops
  • Collandar to hold the jar lids
  • Sharp knife
  • Breadboard
  • 1L measuring cup
  • bowl for compost
  • Teaspoon measuring set
  • Potato masher
  • 3 dishtowels or pot holders
  • Rubber spatula (heat resistant)
  • Wooden spoon
  • Canning tongs
  • Labels

Instructions

  1. Wash and prepare 8 250ml jars
  2. Prepare the strawberries: wash, cut off tops and other undesirable bits and pack into a litre jar.20170813_104356.jpg20170813_105032.jpg
  3. Measure/prepare: rosemary, calcium water, vinegars
  4. Prepare water bath: half fill your canning pot, and heat. Put jars in, Put lids in a colander and set in the boiling water about 5 minutes before you fill your jars.20170813_161540.jpg
  5. Mix together honey and pectin, stir thoroughly. In Pomona’s method, the pectin powder is added to the honey. The Pectin/honey is added only once the calcium water and fruit have come to a boil. Do NOT add this in with the fruit initially.
  6. Boil strawberries, rosemary. Use the potato masher to mash the berries. 20170813_154702.jpg
  7. Add calcium water and stir thoroughly. Bring back to a boil
  8. Add pectin/honey mix and stir thoroughly. Bring back to a boil. This is meant to come to a boil, but do not keep it boiling as this will ruin the gelling ability of the pectin.
  9. Remove the 8 250ml jars from the water bath and prepare them to receive the chutney. Make sure your water bath is boiling vigorously.
  10. Once chutney is boiling while stirring, cut the heat.
  11. Working quickly, mix in vinegar and salt
  12. Taste for saltiness/vinegar in that order. You may want to not add all of the vinegar and salt at once – do it according to taste. What you taste at this stage is what you will get once it is is all done.
  13. Can and water bath for 10 minutes. The water must be boiling during this time. Do not boil longer as it will affect the gelling ability of the pectin.20170813_162737.jpg
  14. Add labels once cooled.

Resources

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1siuJueFndek7weBeSnUguPrdloonpkjEiTxCc8gMDoc/edit?usp=sharing

http://www.pomonapectin.com/

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DIY Cultured Cashew Cheese

Hi everyone – its been a while since I blogged. The busy-ness of life has got in the way. A few months ago I tracked down Reece  – a member of our food coop – as he had published this amazing recipe for cultured cheese in our local co-op magazine. Reece is a hard core fermenter who does all sorts of very cool stuff with lactic acid bacteria and its my honour to have him as a guest blogger here. As a bonus – there are some cool other links to pursue at the end. 

Burns

First of all, thanks to Burns for inviting me to write a guest post on his blog. My name is Reece. I’m a college librarian, cooking, baking, and fermenting/brewing enthusiast, and a fan of listening to podcasts and audiobooks on long walks. I met Burns through Karma Food Co-op in Toronto, and occasionally write a zine, and on my blog peakes.wordpress.com.
I’ve been making cultured cashew cheeses for a few years now, and appreciate this type of fermentation for the ease of achieving really tasty, quick (for a fermentation), and varied results with easily available ingredients.
Cashew cheese, actually a fermented nut paté, is dairy-free and simple to make at home with natural ingredients and basic kitchen equipment. Culturing the cheese increases the nutritional value of the raw ingredients, adding probiotics to your diet, and adds complexity to the flavour.
The instructions below provide the basics for making a spreadable cashew cheese. It’s just a beginning, though: by adjusting the recipe and adding ingredients, you can make a wide variety of cashew cheeses. By changing the nuts, you can get an even wider variety of nut cheeses. You can also air dry cashew cheese to make a sharp, hard, salty block. More about ways to be creative with this recipe at the end.

Materials Required

  • Large wide-mouth jar
  • Cheesecloth
  • Elastic band that will fit around jar mouth (a wide elastic will hold the cheesecloth best)
  • Food processor or powerful blender
  • A container/containers with lid(s). These will be your cheese molds – choose plastic, silicone, or glass. If using the latter, it’s easiest to remove the cheese from the mold if you line it with plastic wrap or parchment paper first.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 4-8 hours
  • ⅔ cup nutritional yeast (optional, but recommended)
  • ½ cup rejuvelac (see instructions on making rejuvelac below): requires ¼ C dry whole raw grain or pseudograin
  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Step 1: Make Rejuvelac (Days 1-6)

Rejuvelac is a cultured sprouted grain beverage that is used to provide beneficial bacteria to the cheese (the miso does as well). If you have sprouted grains, seeds, or legumes before you may already have a process for sprouting – feel free to use that method for the first part of the rejuvelac-making process. My method is below. This makes enough rejuvelac for several batches of cheese, and it can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for months at a time.

Rejuvelac

Ingredients

¼ cup dry whole raw grains or pseudo grains (e.g., brown rice, quinoa, spelt groats, millet)

Water

  • Put the grain in your wide mouth jar and fill the jar up to the top with water. Cut a 2-layer piece of cheesecloth big enough to cover the mouth of your jar and use the elastic band to secure it in place. Let the grain soak over night.
  • In the morning pour the water out of the jar through the cheesecloth. Then rinse the grain by filling the jar up with fresh water and dumping it out a couple of times. This prevents the grain from going moldy. Set the jar upside but on an angle so that excess water can drain out. A dish rack works well for this.

Rejuvelac2

  • Repeat step 2 two-three times per day until the grain begins to sprout (about 3 days). For some grains you must look closely to see the tiny white tails begin to emerge. Grains will sprout more quickly when it’s warm, and need to be rinsed more regularly in very hot weather.
  • After the grains have sprouted, add 1.5 cups water to your jar. Set the jar aside at room temperature for 3 days, keeping it out of direct sunlight and away from sources of high heat. After 3 days, the water should be somewhat cloudy, and smell a little earthy. It may taste tart as well. Now you have rejuvelac! Compost the grains (their nutrients have leached into the water), and save the liquid.

Step 2: Combine Ingredients (Day 7)

  • Add all ingredients to your food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth, stopping to scrape the sides a few times.
  • and cover. Now the fermenting process continues!

Step 3: Fermentation (Days 7-9/10)

  • Leave your covered container(s) of cheese in a warm area for 2-3 days. Sample the cheese as time goes by, if you like. After maximum 3 days transfer to the fridge, and let firm for 6 hours before eating. The cheese will continue to slowly sharpen in the fridge. It will last in the fridge for a few weeks, or in the freezer for months.

Get Creative

There is no reason to stick to this exact recipe – I’m offering it for guidance, and to get you started. Get creative by replacing the cashews with hemp seeds, or add sun-dried tomatoes or fresh or dried herbs to the cheese. Sage, smoked paprika, chives, peppercorns, etc. are all great options, just add to taste. A small amount of additional cultured food will also enhance your cheese and make the flavour more complex – try sauerkraut, brine of kraut or pickles, kimchi, additional miso, or yogurt (dairy or non). Just make sure to check and see that what you are adding is unpasteurized, live cultured and contains no preservatives, sulphites, etc. (which could prevent the cheese from fermenting). Enjoy, and feel free to contact me at reeceaxl@gmail.com.

 

More Information

Wild Fermentation http://www.wildfermentation.com This site is full of information on making and using all sorts of fermented foods, and on the benefits of fermented foods.

Punk Domestics http://www.punkdomestics.com A site of recipes for fermented foods, including dairy and cashew cheese.

Fermented Vegan Cheese http://fermentedvegancheese.blogspot.ca A blog of fermented cashew cheese instructions and a cheesecake recipe. Includes information on making harder cheeses in molds.

Post-Punk Kitchen http://www.theppk.com If you don’t have time to make fermented cheese, the recipe section of this site offers several non-fermented nut and seed cheese dishes.

Cranberries!

I’ve updated the blog – the results of my cranberry ferments.

homecookexplorer

Note: the November 22 entry refers to recipes and events in the October 8 entry below it.

November 22

Its been a while since I last blogged. I blame getting an unusual number of students in the online courses I teach. I was expecting a handful. I got 42.

But a response (below) asking what happened makes me put the course aside for a moment and do an update.

So essentially I made our usual (Canadian) thanksgiving cranberry relish the way I always have done it (not fermented) and I made a fermented version. I also tried the cranberry chutney noted below – a honey ferment. So here is what happened to these various experiments:

  • whole cranberries in a brine: These have lasted fine and continue to ferment although the fermentation is not nearly as vigorous as what I am used to. I don’t get much of a strong LAB…

View original post 1,082 more words

Cranberries!

Note: the November 22 entry refers to recipes and events in the October 8 entry below it.

November 22

Its been a while since I last blogged. I blame getting an unusual number of students in the online courses I teach. I was expecting a handful. I got 42.

But a response (below) asking what happened makes me put the course aside for a moment and do an update.

So essentially I made our usual (Canadian) thanksgiving cranberry relish the way I always have done it (not fermented) and I made a fermented version. I also tried the cranberry chutney noted below – a honey ferment. So here is what happened to these various experiments:

  • whole cranberries in a brine: These have lasted fine and continue to ferment although the fermentation is not nearly as vigorous as what I am used to. I don’t get much of a strong LAB taste – which is fine – I don’t want it in a cranberry condiment.
  • whole cranberries in honey with a little water. Same as above. 
  • chopped cranberries in honey. This one was interesting. Again as above there is not a strong LAB taste – yet at the same time there is no evidence of mould. 
  • The remains   – about 200g  – of our non fermented cranberry chutney became mouldy in the fridge after about 2 weeks.
  • The same fermented chutney was kept outside the fridge, and did not mould.
  • The raspberry ginger ferment likewise was fine – inside or outside the fridge.

What to make of it?

Cranberries on their own are naturally acidic  – apparently around 2.5 pH on their own. (FDA) Oranges and apples too are acidic  – between 3-4 pH. So even without fermentation, our cranberry orange relish is going to last a long time (or should) as its a pretty acidic mix. Looking back, its surprising that there was surface mould after a couple of weeks. The ferments however were also pressed down, with little to no air contact.

I’m questioning whether they actually fermented in this time, or if the natural acidity combined with lack of exposure to air on the surface was the most significant factor.

I also have to keep my goals in mind. In this case its not to make a ferment per se. I’ve already got enough of that in my life. Its simply to make a great condiment that can exist happily outside the fridge for a few months. It would appear that the type of container would be important. The air contact needs to be controlled.  A standard mason jar filled to the neck with cranberry material either whole, chopped or a chutney, covered with honey should work well. With time, it should ferment too.

 Next Steps

I’m going to try putting up 2L each of our usual relish and the raspberry ginger relish, in 1L standard mouth mason jars that will be left in the basement. Due to the difficulty of keeping the liquid (honey slightly diluted)  on the top, I’m not going to puree them in the ferment phase. I’ll use whole fruits, or chopped oranges and apples. When I need some for a condiment, I’ll take what I need and puree it before serving. Currently fresh cranberries are not available to me – so I’ll need to decide whether to wait a few weeks or to do it sooner with frozen cranberries.

 

October 8 2015

For years, I’ve made Molly  Katzen’s Cranberry Orange relish to accompany our Canadian Thanksgiving dinner. It was published in her truly excellent Still Life with Menu cookbook as part of a vegetarian thanksgiving dinner.

Then this year I found out about fermenting. Everything has strangely changed.

Oh – I’m still making the same Cranberry Orange Relish  – I would have some serious familial discord if I didn’t. But I did buy a 3 kilo bag of berries from my coop and this afternoon I did some experimentation.

I should also say that this is going to be a different kind of a blog. Most food blogs are what I would call ‘TA DA!!!’ blogs: great food porn picture at the top of the finished product, a cool story that gives context and personal interest, and the recipe. Everything done and cleaned up – fait complit.

This is definitely not a TA DA blog. Its definitely an ‘in process’ blog where its all about what I am trying to do, as I really have no idea of where it will all end up. I will do a followup blog: I’ll tack on the newest bit on top in a few weeks once I see how my experimentation went and reblog it. Either way, you will get recipes, promise.

So In this I am asking the following questions:

  1. Can our usual Cranberry Orange Relish be fermented?
  2. Trying out someone else’s fermented cranberry condiment recipe (yum!)
  3. Is it better to ferment cranberries in honey or in a brine?
  4. What difference will chopping the cranberries make (honey ferment)?
The mise en scene for this little experiment.

The mise en scene for this little experiment.

The Cranberry Orange Relish essentially is this:

  • Chop in a food processor:
  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • ½ an orange including the peel
  • ½ cup brown sugar.

That’s it. Super simple, super delicious. Now go and buy Mollie’s book ’cause there’s a ton of really excellent stuff in there!

As you can see, getting the fruit mash below the water will be a challenge.

As you can see, getting the fruit mash below the water will be a challenge.

For the fermented version I substituted honey instead of the sugar. A little tasting shows what I knew and what  I should have done: a little less honey. We’ll see what difference the fermentation makes.  I’m planning on fermenting it for a week. It was a little challenging getting that water on the very top – so I’ll have to keep on top of the molds. 

I started my investigation into fermenting cranberries by posting a query on the Wild Fermentation FB page about other people’s experience with cranberries and got some interesting and quite useful feedback – and a recipe from Sara Kueber McKoy.

Here is her recipe:

Sara Kueber McKoy’s cranberry raspberry ginger chutney

  • 1 litre chopped cranberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 3/4″ diameter piece of fresh ginger  2″ in length into thin planks & then cut into 1/2″ long strips,
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • Let it sit overnight in airlocked jar and in morning top up with water and then adjust salt to taste. Ferment for 5-7 days at 71-73F and in then refrigerate.

The effect of the raspberry and ginger on the cranberries is quite magical. Its definitely something to experiment more with  – I’m thinking of taking some of it for a salad dressing.

This one is looking great and tasting great even before it ferments.

This one is looking great and tasting great even before it ferments.

Generally the feedback from the FB page  was to use honey instead of  brine as the fermenting agent. That made sense – cranberries are definitely tart.

After that I prepared the following brines – setting up single bottles to check out my questions. I now have:

  • whole cranberries in a brine
  • whole cranberries in honey with a little water
  • chopped cranberries in honey.
  • I might have done chopped cranberries in a brine but ran out of cranberries.

So that’s what happened today in my kitchen. Not quite. I also wrestled with some sourdough starter too – but that is another story.

So you want to make your own delicious homemade tomato sauce…

This blog post is a supplement to my previous blog documenting my own personal process. The purpose is to help the reader sort out how they can best do canned tomatoes. You may be doing it for the first time, or it could be something you have tried before. This article is intended to help you plan it out.

How much you do depends largely on the equipment you have, what your needs are, and to a lesser extent how much you want to spend.

Here in  Ontario, Canada, you should be able to buy conventional tomatoes for about $20 (cdn) per bushel and about $40 for organic, if you can get them. One bushel yields between 18-22 L, depending on the juciness and how much you have reduced them.  Flats are about  half a bushel, or approximately 10 Litres. Add in the costs of garlic, onions, herbs and spices, and propane/electricity, and you are making a litre of homemade organic tomato sauce for approximately $1.50 a jar for conventional tomatoes, $3.50/jar for organic.

The next consideration is the equipment. If you decide to put up multiple bushels such as is described here, you are going to need some specialized equipment. If you are doing a single flat – 10 or so jars, you could do this with your biggest pot, no specialized equipment, and in your (albeit hot) kitchen.  You may wish to consider doing this with  friends, where each of you purchases the burners, presses, and large pots.

Alternatives to a tomato press

Tomato presses separate the seeds and skin from the flesh of the tomato. If you think about great tomato sauces you have tasted, you may recall there are no seeds or skin bits floating around in the mix. If you are trying this for the first time and unsure about the investment, one alternative is to blanch each tomato to loosen the skins, manually take each off, and then once the sauce is cooking, put it through a strainer. As you can imagine this is going to be a thankless task. You could also put up with the seeds and skins in your mix. If you go in this direction, I’d suggest pureeing the tomatoes before cooking them. If you wish to invest in a press, check out cooking equipment stores or hardware stores in neighbourhoods where preserving is part of life.

Alternatives to the burners:

I use a 60k btu outdoor propane burner . Its a massive unit that puts out a lot of heat. You could use it for other purposes – a huge stew for 20 people, a community corn roast – but most of us don’t need this, nor have the space to store it. I started with one, moved to 2 and recently got a third. If you are doing lesser quantities and have a BBQ with a side burner, you can use the side burner to boil the jars, and remove the grills and use the BBQ to boil the sauce. You could also do it inside …… which could work for a single flat, but would get tedious beyond that.

Recipes:

Here are 3 recipes – the only difference being their volume. The process remains the same for each, so its noted only once.

One flat (approximately 10L)

  • 1 flat of tomatoes
  • 10 medium large onions, cut fine
  • 2 garlic bulbs, minced
  • 50g salt (and taste for more before you can them)
  • ¼ tsp pepper (& to taste)
  • 1 tbs each basil, oregano, and thyme (& to taste)
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • enough oil to cook the mash

Bushel (2 flats yields @20L)

  • 1 bushel (MUST BE ROMA) tomatoes
  • 2 pints large onions
  • 3-4 large bulbs garlic
  • approximately 2tbs each of basil, oregano thyme
  • 5-6 or so bay leaves
  • enough sunflower oil to cook the mash – a 1/4 cup or so.
  • 3/4 tbs pepper
  • 100g (.5tsp/litre) salt – check to taste later (+1 tbs/bushel at end of cooking)

4 bushels

  • 4 bushels (MUST BE ROMA) tomatoes
  • 8 pints large onions
  • 10 large bulbs garlic
  • approximately 1/2 cup each of basil, oregano thyme
  • 20 or so bay leaves
  • enough sunflower oil to cook the mash – a cup or so.
  • 2 tbs pepper
  • 400g (.5tsp/litre) salt – check to taste later

Equipment needed

  • a good food processor
  • 2-3 full bbq tanks
  • 1-2 large boiling pots
  • 1-2 large cooking pots
  • 2-3 outdoor 60k btu burners
  • 2 -3 small tables
  • containers to transport finished sauce
  • 1 large spoon (i.e. 1m in length)
  • 80 L of jars – 1 L, 1.5 l sizes
  • 2 tongs – canning tongs and bbq tongs
  • 4 l measuring cup
  • sharp knife
  • breadboard
  • hose and water
  • metal collander
  • oven mits
  • matches or BBQ lighter
  • tomato press
  • canning funnel

METHOD

  • Cut onions, garlic  – food processor with slicing attachment used
  • Add in spices and oil
  • Cook mash until onions are translucent
  • Divide mash into bowls according to how many batches of sauce  you have
  • Set up: make sure the grinding operation and  burners form a triangle around you.
  • The grinder must be on a firm surface with space. There needs to be a place for the seeds to fall, and a surface for the sauce to drop. There needs to be a place for the breadboard and knife to the right of the grinder, a pot of rinse water beside it, and a platform for the bushel basket to sit on above the pot.
  • Fill the canning pot half way up with water, heat it up until boiling
  • Prepare jars, separating lids, tops and jars. Discard any questionable lids. Place lids in a collander that can be easily inserted then removed from boiling water.
  • Pour one batch of herb mash in the cooking pot, and begin grinding the tomatoes, adding to the mash. Light the burner once the first bowl of tomato juice has been prepared. Keep on a high boil, stirring frequently. (This is the key to a thick and reduced sauce). Once the bushel has been ground and is cooking, taste and adjust for salt.
  • Reduce the sauce  – full boil while stirring for about 30 minutes
  • Shortly before canning, put the bottles and lids in the waterbath for a few minutes. Remove them and set yourself up for filling: lids and caps separate, canning funnel and pouring jar ready.
  • Taste to see if you need more salt
  • Fill leaving 1/4″ at top. Tighten the lids before immersing them in the waterbath. (If you need to add more water, DO NOT add cold water if the jars are already in the waterbath. They will crack and break – guaranteed. Take all the jars out, add the water, put the hot jars back in.)
  • Put on a rolling boil for 25 minutes.
  • Let cool, make sure all the lids have popped down. Lids that have not popped down indicate an air leak. Use these jars first, and refrigerate them until use.

Good luck! I hope you do feel inspired to do this. You will never look back!

Tomato Sauce: The yearly ritual

I have been making my own tomato sauce for over 25 years.

It all started when I was living in the Dundas/Bathurst area of Toronto – at that point a community that was 1/3 Portuguese, 1/3 Chinese, and 1/3 Anglo & others. There was a corner hardware store right at Dundas and Palmerston – and like all good Portuguese hardware stores of the time, it brought in tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and grapes in bushel baskets for the intense canning and wine making in the neighbourhood.

A friend at work suggested I get into it, and I thought it a good idea.

Needless to say Luisa at the hardware store was more than willing to help out me getting started. I still have the 2 50K BTU burners, still the original press, still the same 100L & 150 L pot from way back then.

Nowadays, I keep it all up at our cottage  – by far a nicer environment to do the canning.

And – I do it outside.

Interesting doing your cooking outside – without a nice hard, clean floor beneath you – on the ground. Dealing with tomatoes that themselves may have dirt and sand on them  – and one has to get it into the pots and then the jars cleanly – no dirt, only food. Like anything else one devises ones methods. Mine involves a hose, lots of water, 2 white plastic restaurant bus bins, a sharp knife, and temporary ergonomically suitable platforms and clamps for the equipment  – as you can see in the picture.

My tomato grinding set up - temporary 2-by-x and posts to hold the grinder and bin in place.

My tomato grinding set up – temporary 2-by-x and posts to hold the grinder and bin in place.

But lets get to the recipe. 1 bushel of Romas makes 20 litres. This includes 1 medium onion per litre, a couple of cloves of garlic, and (this is all approximate) 1tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp ea of basil, thyme, oregano, and a bay leaf. And oil. Enough to cook the onions and spices in beforehand. Usually a couple of cups for the 4 bushels I make with my cottage neighbour, L. I’m sorry I can’t be more exact – but the recipe is fairly forgiving – except where the salt and pepper are concerned. Less is better – you can add more when a batch has all come together.

The day before I do our 4 bushels we cut the onions and garlic – definitely a tedious job – and best done outside with a glass of wine on the side in eager anticipation of the treat to follow the next day. I do ALL of the onions, garlic, herbs and spices  – mix them all together. First thing next morning I cook them up in the pot, covered, low flame, stirring frequently until the onions are cooked. They are then separated into 3 bowls to be added to each batch of tomatoes as they are ground.

So for each bushel  – one grinds, pours into the cooking pot, add the onion and herb mash,  work at the grinding until the bushel is done, reduce the sauce (when the pot is full you can boil the hell out of it as long as you stir occasionally.

Meanwhile heat up our litre jars in another  – larger (120L or so) pot on another burner  – once you are near to the sauce being done, remove them, fill them with sauce, and can them – I do 25 minutes on a rolling boil. Remove, inspect, store.

The first bushel has been processed and is cooking down. To the left is the pot for boiling the jars.

The first bushel has been processed and is cooking down. To the left is the pot for boiling the jars.

That is basically it. It takes all day for a couple of us to put up our 4 bushels. Make sure you have nothing else going on!

The day before I prepare the setup  – burners, propane, grinding stand. 

Tomato sauce

Ingredients for 80 litres (Adjust as needed for the quantity you have!)

  • 4 bushels (MUST BE ROMA) tomatoes
  • 8 pints large onions
  • 10 large bulbs garlic
  • approximately 1/2 cup each of basil, oregano thyme
  • 20 or so bay leaves
  • enough sunflower oil to cook the mash – a cup or so.
  • 2 tbs pepper
  • 400g (.5tsp/litre) salt – check to taste later

And  – I’m guessing for most starting out that 1 bushel will be challenge enough. Here are the proportions for a batch of 20L:

  • 1 bushel (MUST BE ROMA) tomatoes
  • 2 pints large onions
  • 3-4 large bulbs garlic
  • approximately 2tbs each of basil, oregano thyme
  • 5-6 or so bay leaves
  • enough sunflower oil to cook the mash – a 1/4 cup or so.
  • 3/4 tbs pepper
  • 100g (.5tsp/litre) salt – check to taste later (+1 tbs/bushel at end of cooking)

Other stuff needed

  • a good food processor
  • 2-3 full bbq tanks
  • 1-2 large boiling pots
  • 1-2 large cooking pots
  • 2-3 outdoor 50k btu burners
  • 2 -3 small tables
  • containers to transport finished sauce
  • 1 large spoon (i.e. 1m in length)
  • 80 L of jars – 1 L, 1.5 l sizes
  • 2 tongs – canning tongs and bbq tongs
  • 4 l measuring cups
  • sharp knife
  • breadboard
  • hose and water
  • collander
  • oven mits
  • matches
  • tomato press

METHOD

  • (the night before) Cut onions, garlic  – food processor with slicing attachment used
  • Prepare jars, separating lids, tops and jars. Discard any questionable lids. Place lids in a collander that can be easily inserted then removed from boiling water.
  • Add in spices and oil
  • Cook mash until onions are translucent
First step - cook up the mash!

First step – cook up the mash!

  • Divide mash into bowls according to how many bushels you have
  • Set up: make sure the grinding operation and 2 burners form a triangle around you – about 1.5 metres apart
  • The grinder must be on a firm surface with space. There needs to be a place for the seeds to fall, and a surface for the sauce to drop. There needs a place for the breadboard and knife to the right of the grinder, a pot of rinse water beside it, and a platform for the bushel basket to sit on above the pot.

The set up

  • Fill the canning pot half way up with water, and put in the jars.
  • Pour one patch of herb mash in the cooking pot, and begin grinding the tomatoes, adding to the mash. Light the burner once the first bowl of tomato juice has been prepared. Keep on a high boil, stirring frequently. (This is the key to a thick and reduced sauce). Once the bushel has been ground and is cooking, taste and adjust for salt.
  • Reduce the sauce  – full boil while stirring for about 30 minutes
  • Remove heated jars and lids from the canning pot and fill leaving 1/4″ at top
  • Place caps on, boil for 25 minutes. Let cool, make sure all the lids have popped down.
On the shelf!

On the shelf!

Fermented vegetables #2: wild onions

A brief note: I first drafted this blog entry in May 2015, though the posting of it comes in August 2015. Its been a busy time for me and the blog seems to be the first thing that goes in the general triage of life.

I’ve decided to keep it unchanged as its a great reflection of my very initial understanding and approach to fermented vegetables at that point.

 

Ever gone foraging for wild onions? A wonderful experience. The earthy smell of spring as the early green of buds is on the trees, the promise of a rich summer to come. The reaping of the year’s first crop.

We were at our place up north first week of May at the height of the wild onion season. This is nature’s  yearly event where all the wild onions are up – their earthy garlicy pungent air – both sublime and yet not so subtle either.  

I picked what I could but for the short term I really had too much and I did not want to throw any of it away. I knew those lovely leaves probably had about a week in the fridge before they were compost material.  I did not want them to go to ruin. What to do? I wondered about making them into a fermented vegetable product.  I had heard about this that very day at the market. One of the vendors was selling a fermented vegetable condiment.

I thought, “Let’s check this out” and looked on the web. Essentially the process involves soaking the vegetable in a brine,  leaving it out of the fridge for 3 days and then putting it into the fridge for 3 weeks. That seems simple enough.

Here then is the recipe

Ingredients:

wild onion leaves

salt

water

a large leaf of a tough vegetable like kale or cabbage

Equipment needed

2 pots: 1 large pot and a smaller one to prepare the brine

a couple of jars. I use a 500ml widemouth mason jar

A rock that will fit inside your jar

A pestle to pack down the leaves.

Method

The leaves before processing

The leaves before processing

  1. Identify the jar and rock to weigh things down
  2. sterilize jar, rock and pestle.
  3. make a brine: 1litre of water, 50g salt. (20:1 solution) Heat the water and add the salt until the salt is dissolved. Take off the stove and let cool. The instructions that I saw gave volume measurements but I’ve made a ‘typical’ 20:1 brine 1 liter of water: 50g salt.
  4. Clean and cut the leaves. I decided to cut them very small because it would be likely I’m using this as a condiment so I’d want it in very small bits – almost a paste.
  5. Place the leaves in a very clean jar  – in my case a wide mouth 1L mason jar and crush/mash them with a pestle.  

    After cutting them, they are crushed with a pestle.

    After cutting them, they are crushed with a pestle.

  6. Take a large leaf of cabbage or kale as an additional barrier between the wild onion leaves and the air. NONE of the leaves can be in contact with the air and at this stage they need to be pressed down. For this purpose I used a combination of a small mason jar lid and a rock (I I subsequently realized that a small mason jar lid with a 250 ml mason jar filled with water acts as an effective press for such a little amount.)
The brine added, they will be pushed belwo the surface with the weight of the rock (or jar of water.

The brine added, they will be pushed below the surface with the weight of the rock (or jar of water.

  1. Leave the jar at room temperature for  3 days and then refrigerate for 3 weeks although it  could be eaten at this point.

What to do with it?

  • Think Umeboshi plum paste: as an addition to a rice or vegetable dish
  • Mustard flavoring – either subtle or not so subtle
  • a condiment on the side – be careful – its strong!
  • as part of the flavor palette of a viniagrette
  • a BBQ rub in place of garlic
  • a flavoring ingredient in a sauce.

In retrospect, and several months into fermenting,  I would not change a lot about this. I would add a little salt and massage the leaves before cutting them to bruise the leaves and begin the fermentation process, but I still think its a vegetable that needs the brine liquid added to it (as opposed to only massaging with salt). The 20:1 (5%) brine is, I believe correct  – but who am I to say?