Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Easy Peach Jam Recipe

Easy peach jam


I’ve made peach jam several times, thanks in part to an annual delivery of peaches courtesy of the Washington Stone Fruit Growers, but I continue to look for ways to simplify the canning process. Standard peach jam recipes call for a lot of sugar and some powder or liquid pectin. The result is good, but can be a bit on the sweet side and a little rubbery. My preference is for a softer jam with less sugar and frankly less fuss. I wondered if there might be a way to make jam without bothering with the tedious job of peeling peaches? It turns out, there is. 

The key to this recipe is the peels. Lemon peel and peach peel are high in pectin and so if you cook the peaches with them, you won’t need to add any additional pectin. I started with a recipe from A Sweet Spoonful, but the main difference was I skipped peeling the fruit and used the lemon peel as well as the juice. I added some slices of fresh ginger in my first batch but I didn’t find it added much flavor so I’m skipping it. You could certainly add some powdered ginger, candied ginger or even scraped vanilla bean if you like. 

This jam is in between jam and preserves. It has some skin in it, but it’s silky smooth and doesn’t detract from the texture or flavor of the peaches. The pureed skins add a pretty rosy tint. How much you puree is up to you, I estimate I pureed about 1/3 cup or so. Note: You could can this in half pint or pint jars. I used  a combination of both. 

Easy Peach Jam
Makes 2 1/2 pints

Ingredients

4 pounds washed peaches, pitted and cut into chunks, about 8 cups 
2 cups ganulated sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon rind from one lemon, cut into large pieces

Instructions

Fill a canner with water and bring to a boil. Place the jars in the canner and boil. Put a small plate in the freezer so you can test the jam later. 

Place the peach chunks in a large non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice. Don’t stir–just let the sugar sit and macerate, this helps to release the natural juices of the fruit. Allow to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours.

Add the fruit along with the lemon peel to a large pot and bring to a boil. Using a potato masher mash the peaches. Continue stirring the peaches as they cook, using a wooden spoon. After about 10 minutes skim as much of the peels out of the pot using a slotted spoon and puree them in a blender then add them back to the pot. Remove the lemon peel and discard. Continue cooking until the mixtures thickens, about another 20 minutes. Test the thickness by placing a teaspoon full of the jam on the chilled plate and let it rest for about 30 seconds. Run your finger through the dollop and if it stays separated where your finger was, it’s thick enough. 

Lift the jars out of the canner, pouring the hot water back into the canner. Ladle the jam into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. After filling the jar, release the air bubbles by inserting a narrow silicone spatula or similar tool between the jam and the inside of the jar. Place the rims on top of each jar and loosely seal with the bands. Carefully place the jars back in the canner and process/boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the canner and let rest overnight, you may hear the lids pop. Store for up to one year. 

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Peaches were provided to me as part of the canbassador program by Washington State Stone Fruit Growers and to Ball Home Canning for the jars. 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Alison's Peach Chutney Recipe

Peach Chutney Recipe


I met Alison McQuade 15 years ago. She wanted me to try her chutney and invited me to meet her at a local wine bar. At that time she was on the verge of quitting her day job and becoming a full time artisanal food producer. While to this day she doesn’t describe herself as a cook, she has mad skills when it comes to chutney. She is also quite a wonderful person and we quickly became friends. 

Over the years I have bought McQuade's Celtic Chutney to give as gifts, made recipes using her various varieties of chutney and been an all around fan of her products. Faced with a box full of peaches this year supplied to me by the Washington State Stone Fruit Growers, I knew I wanted to make chutney but couldn’t imagine just turning to any old recipe. So I called on Alison for some guidance. Her recipe uses weights, so if you don’t have a digital scale, please use this as the excuse to buy one, they are not expensive and are essential for baking. The one I currently use is a SmartWeight model that cost less than $20 and displays pounds, ounces, grams and milliliters. You'll note the chutney is in Ball jars for gifting, and the company that produces them makes a donation to Feeding America for every package purchased (up to $150k). 

Alison has a keen sense of what flavors will go together and balancing heat, acidity and sweetness. Her chutneys are always chunky, fresh tasting and highlight the fruit. They are not goopy, gloppy, too sweet or sour and always have just the right amount of zing. This peach chutney is particularly wonderful. It uses a mixture of different vinegars and classic spices, fresh ginger, cinnamon and allspice. If you’re wondering how to use chutney, it’s terrifc with cheese of course, but also on sandwiches, with stews and curries on sausages or chops, or mixed in chicken salad. Honestly I could eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon! 

Note: This recipe makes 3 pints, but you can easily use 6 half pint jars if you prefer. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if you want to make a bigger batch. 

Alison's Peach Chutney 

Makes about 3 pints

Ingredients

2 yellow onions, peeled and diced
800 ml apple cider vinegar
200 ml malt vinegar
400 gm brown sugar
Knob ginger peeled and grated, about 2 Tablespoons
1.5 kg ripe but firm peaches, about 3 1/2 pounds
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons allspice 
180 gm golden raisins

Instructions

Fill a canner with water and bring to a boil. Add the peaches to the water and cook for about a minute then transfer the peaches using a slotted spoon to a boil with cold water. Peel and coarsely chop the peaches and set aside. Place the jars in the canner and boil for 10 minutes. 

In a large stock pot combine the onion, vinegars, sugar, ginger, salt, cinnamon and allspice. Bring to a boil then simmer, stirring occasionally until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Add the peaches and stir occasionally, adding golden raisins after about 15 minutes, continue cooking until tender and jam-like about 30-40 minutes total. Chutney will thicken further after being processed. 

Lift the jars out of the canner, pouring the hot water back into the canner. Ladle the chutney into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. After filling the jar, release the air bubbles by inserting a narrow silicone spatula or similar tool between the chutney and the inner surface of the jar. Place the rims on top of each jar and loosely seal with the bands. Carefully place the jars back in the canner and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from the canner and let rest overnight, you may hear the lids pop. Store for up to one year. 

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: A special thanks to Alison McQuade for helping with the recipe. Peaches were provided to me as part of the canbassador program by Washington State Stone Fruit Growers and to Ball Home Canning for the jars. This post includes one affiliate link. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Halibut Burgers Recipe

Halibut burgers
I get a delivery of seafood once per week from Real Good Fish, and for two weeks in a row, it's been halibut. Rather than just cook the filets, I decided to go in a different direction, burgers. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a burger even if it’s not a hamburger. Salmon is very popular for burgers, but halibut works too. The trick with fish burgers, much like fish cakes, is to minimize the filler. 

I came across a brilliant technique from Melissa Trainer, who wrote that she learned it from chef Jordan Mackey. The trick is to use pureed raw fish as the binder, rather than bread crumbs or egg. That’s pretty much it. The burgers hold together beautifully. Halibut is lean though, so it's important not to overcook it. You can check the temperature if you like and when it’s 145 degrees it’s done, but I just cook it until it’s firm. 

I like my burger served on a bun, but you could also serve it on a bed of greens. It does benefit from a slathering of tartar sauce. Use any recipe for tartar sauce that you like. Tartar sauce is just mayo, lemon juice and some chopped capers and pickle relish or chopped cornichons. If you’re not planning to use tartar sauce but just mayo, double the salt in the burgers. 

Halibut Burgers 
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 pound halibut, skin and bones removed
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
Pinch sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 Tablespoon minced fresh dill
Oil for grilling

Instructions 

Roughly dice the halibut into about 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle the diced halibut with salt and sugar and let rest for 10 minutes. Remove about 1/3 of the fish and process in a food processor until smooth. Add the puree back to the remaining fish along with the mustard, lemon peel and dill and stir until well combined then form 4 patties. 

Heat a grill pan or skillet and lightly oil it. When hot, add the burgers and cook for 3 minutes over medium high heat. Flip the burgers and cook until cooked through but still moist, about 3 minutes. Serve on a bun with tartar sauce, arugula and a slice of tomato.

Enjoy!  

Disclaimer: My thanks to Real Good Fish for providing me with the halibut used in creating this recipe. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Bourbon Cherries Recipe


The pleasure of fresh cherries is fleeting, so while there may be nothing better than eating them soon after they are picked, if you want to enjoy them year round, canning is the answer. This year I decided to make bourbon cherries from the wonderfully sweet cherries kindly sent to me by the Northwest Cherry Growers as part of the “Canbassador” program. They are terrific in cocktails but also spooned over vanilla ice cream. 

This year I finally bit the bullet and bought a canner, it's a small one, it holds 7 pint jars which is just fine for me. Over the years I’ve accumulated a number of canning accoutrement—the jar lifter, the jar funnel and the lid lifter. I use a variety of jars, but am particularly fond of the Ball®  Sharing Jars I received from Ball® Home Canning. Designed for gifting, the company that produces them makes a donation to Feeding America for every package purchased (up to $150k). 

This year I used a recipe from Ball but I’ve expanded the recipe instructions to include all the steps you need to take. I’ve also replaced the brandy in their recipe with bourbon. I recommend choosing a delicious bourbon that isn't too hot and has vanilla, spice and caramel flavors to complement the cherries. 
Bourbon cherries
The sharing jars are on the right, a classic Ball jar is on the left

Bourbon Cherries - adapted from Ball Canning
Makes about 6 or 7 pints

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice
6 pounds cherries, washed, stemmed and pitted
1 1/4 cups bourbon

Instructions

Get your jars, lids and band rims ready. Wash pint canning jars with soapy water. Rinse the jars throughly and place in a canner or very large pot. Fill the pot with water, cover and bring to a boil. Meanwhile combine the sugar, water and lemon juice in a pot large enough to hold all of the cherries. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir to make sure the sugar is fully disolved. Add the cherries. When heated through add take the pot off the stove and add the bourbon. 

Lift the jars out of the water, emptying the water back into the pot as you go. Ladle the cherry mixture into the hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Wipe the rims and twist the rim band until “fingertip” tight. Place the jars careully into the boiling waterthen boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the jars to rest for 5 minutes in the canner. Remove the jars and allow to rest to 12 hours before testing to make sure the jars are properly sealed. Store for up to one year. 

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to both Northwest Cherry Growers and Ball® Home Canning both are great resources for recipes and information.