Thursday, October 30, 2008

VeganMoFo: Cannin', Jammin', Preservin'

I always feel so industrious and full of virtue when I actually get around to canning. It makes me fussy when food goes to waste, so of course I find it very gratifying to see food set aside for the dark days of winter. Such as they are in Santa Cruz.

Raspberry Jam: so good, so red. It's like liquid gold as far as I'm concerned. I use the raspberries from my grandpa's garden. All summer, whenever there is a big abundance, I tuck some away in the freezer until I have enough for a batch of jam. This is the only flavor of jam that I can make my way through in a year. I usually keep 2 or 3 jars for myself and give the others away as gifts. But I must say, those Chewy Chocolate Raspberry cookies from Veganomicon have made it that little bit harder to give away raspberry jam.

By the way, whenever I make jam or jelly, I use the Sure-Jell "Low or No Sugar" fruit pectin. I prefer the low sugar recipes. The no-sugar is a bit spartan for my tastes, and the full sugar variety is seriously a LOT of sugar.

Today I finished a canning project I've wanted to try out for quite a while: Quince Butter.
I got this recipe from "Local Flavors" by Deborah Madison. Freaky Wow! This stuff has the most intoxicating aroma and flavor. And just look at the color! In her cookbook, she suggests using it as a base in a nut tart, which has completely captivated my imagination. I must try it.

And Quince Jelly! It's just so beautiful. How is it that quince transform so magically from a weird lumpy, fuzzy rock-hard fruit into this jewel-tone jelly!? I had a bit of a trial making this jelly... my first attempt didn't set (relying on the natural pectin in the quince). But I was not to be deterred. Nor was all that hard-earned quince juice going to waste! So I re-boiled it with Sure-Set Low Sugar Pectin, and the second time was a great success. I really have no idea what to do with 7 jars of quince jelly... In truth, I have never even had quince jelly before. I hope I like it!

One last quince recipe: Quince Pip Tea. This is also from "Local Flavors" - basically it's just the skins, pips, and cores of roughly 4 quince, boiled in two quarts of water until it reduces to 1 quart, and then sweetened with agave. Apparently it lasts a long time in the fridge, and is very beneficial for sore throats. I love that "use every bit" mentality, and this beverage is actually quite pleasant. I don't actually get sore throats all that often, but I liked the idea all the same. This afternoon I made a second batch, and now my jar is full to the brim and my house smells like a magical spicy floral perfume factory. It's awesome.

This was my first year ever cooking with quince, and along with my canned Spiced Quince, I am feeling pretty set up in the quince department. I still have about 10 on my coffee table, looking beautiful. No big plans for those yet.

Our small apple tree continues its prolific output. I had a whole milk crate full of wormy apples, and made a gi-normous batch of Applesauce. In fact there were two more jars, but I've given them to my grandpa. My grandmother used to make applesauce every year, and now my grandpa has to buy store-bought stuff... so I knew he'd be happy to eat this up.

One last treat, in the spirit of "waste not, want not." I bought a couple sugar pie pumpkins from our local pumpkin patch, in anticipation of holiday baking. I roasted one, put it through the food mill, used some, and froze another 4 cups of yummy pumpkin puree. Of course I also roasted the seeds with a little touch of Earth Balance and some salt. mmmmm, heaven! Today is a cold, rainy day, feeling much more like winter than fall, so it was a perfect morning for roasting pumpkin seeds and making quince butter.

One more day of VeganMoFo... spooky!



    MoFo came and went quite quickly!

  2. oh man, so much quince loveliness! quince butter sounds so intriguing! we made and canned a few jars of jam this summer, but then we ate all of them. *blush* I heart jam. =)

  3. Wow, what a fantastic post. I have always wanted to try canning, but I don't have a garden or an abundance of anything - unless I go a little crazy at the supermarket that is!

    And I have to say, I really love reading your blog for those little stories about your family and friends. It sounds like you have a really great foundation of wonderful people in your life, and it's just really nice to see that. You're very lucky.

    Oh and the little labels on the jars - too cute.

  4. I just tried quince jam (or butter maybe) in Greece this past summer. A sweet old lady who didn't speak a lick of English brought it to us and in the end we had to get out the dictionary with some pointing to figure out it was quince because I had never had it before.
    The raspberry looks amazing!

  5. I so wish I had a grandpa with lots of raspberries!! And wow, that quince jam has such an amazing color! Looks like you had fun jammin'!

  6. What a nice post! I feel like you have channelled both Grandmommy and me and taken it all to a new level. The jelly is absolutely beautiful.

    I've loved all the VeganMoFo posts.

    Xo Mom

  7. Quince jelly is my absolute favourite! So great that you do all the canning yourself.

  8. So inspiring! I also love quince and greatly enjoy quince jam. I'm totally inspired to make my own now. It's gorgeous.

  9. Mmm, applesauce! I love it! Did you make that wonderful grape jam again??

  10. your jam looks great. fun fun fun. may i humbly suggest, though, ditching the sure-jell and checking out what kind of pectin your local natural foods store carries. if you research what is in sure-jell you will surely not be so happy.


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