Pectin Ideas

   Pectin is used in the making of jam, preserves and jelly (I’ll refer to them all as jam) for primarily one reason, the speed of cooking to reach a jelling state.  It is about a fifteen minute process between putting the ingredients in the pot and pouring the jam into jars.  Not only is time saved flavors do diminish when heat is applied.  Unfortunately nothing is perfect.  In order to make jelling happen using pectin the brix level (sugar measurement of the mixture) must be between 55 and 60.  This translates into a lot of sugar.  Cooking jams the old French way may require an hour of stirring but the sugar can be added to the user’s desire.  And although the additional cooking reduces the flavor the concentrating of the fruit compounds flavor so take a little give a little.  But all said, pectin rules in the jam world.  The problem is that it is not always available, especially from fall until Berry season again begins.  What to do?

   Enter Pacific Pectin, a family owned company.  I have used their products for fifteen years.  And the really good news, they are a business not a seasonal spot on a shelf.  Not only do they sell bulk pectin at about a 1/3 to a 1/4 of what the little packs cost, they offer a liquid pectin mix and a host of other ingredients; plus, there are people there to help with questions and challenges.  They have no idea I am writing this, maybe don’t even know I have sung their praises in both my canning books for my purpose is not to get a “kick back” it is to offer to my readers the best and in this case the nicest products available.

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Canning Salt

   As the canning season gets long in the tooth less and less of the specialized ingredients are available in local stores.  Ordering is always an option but an expensive one unless purchasing in bulk.  here is one of  two helpful hints.

SALT-we use a lot of this when canning and regular salt just won’t do.  Some contains iodine which will turn veggies purple, some contains anti-caking agents that leave “dust” in the jar bottom while others like sea salt and Kosher salt contain minerals that might rust color or tarnish ingredients.  Canning salt is pure salt-100% sodium chloride.  The little boxes cost about $4.00 for about a pound BUT Morton’s( you know your local grocer does business with them) has 25# bags of pure sodium chloride available.  I purchase mine at a regional grocer for $3.99.  A bag will last a year and it is just one more ingredient one does not have to worry about running out of.  -next pectin

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Update

  I have just completed the biggest Farmers’ Market of the season and now can relax a bit.   This week I’ll be able to add a few more recipes for the holiday times.

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Cranberry-Orange Sauce

I promised this and it took an extra day to get it to my liking.  But here is a new and exciting way to enjoy those reheated turkey slices that never seems to go away.  As a matter of fact, I’m planning to get a bigger turkey so they’ll be plenty for the days after.  So let’s let the parade of canned recipes for this turkey holiday begin.  And oh, by the by-going away for Thanksgiving, take a jar as a gift.  You will be asked back.

The recipe makes 6 half pint jars.  It is a simple hot pack recipe that does not require a waterbath process. pH is low, around 3.2 so no testing is required.  One can make as many jars as she/he pleases although the reduction process for a large run might get tedious.

  • 1     cup     Sugar, white-granulated
  • 1/4 cup     Water
  • 1/4 cup     Sherry vinegar
  • 4 ea.          Oranges, plugs only (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cup Cranberries, rough chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup Fresh Orange Juice
  • 1 1/2 cup Cranberry Juice-pure
  • 1/4 cup    Shallots, minced
  • 1/2 cup    Butter
  • 1/4 cup    Zest, orange
  • 2 Tbl        Cornstarch

Place the sugar, water and sherry vinegar in a non reactive pot on medium high and stirring often reduce until dark and thickening-about 20 minutes.  Add all remaining ingredients EXCEPT the cornstarch.  Bring to a boil, reduce to medium and cook until consistency just begins to thicken.  Remove a 1/4 cup of the liquid and mix well the cornstarch.  Place in pot mix well and continue to cook on medium high until cornstarch thicken mixture.  Pour hot sauce into sterile jars and seal with sterile lids.

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Cranberry Orange Sauce

     When I was much younger my favorite dining out supper was Duck (Canard) a l’Orange.  Done to perfection little can compete but as heart disease sources became known and common knowledge less and less duck was on menus.  For awhile when I was living on a boat I discover a Duck a l”Orange frozen dinner.  Every night I dined like a French king but knew from what the surgeons said I was taking the short course through life.  Fortunately the company went under before I did.

     I still remember those duck meals and so for my canning book that is due on bookshelves shortly I designed a shelf stable orange sauce for duck, chicken and anything else one chooses to a l’orange-try sweet potatoes.  This morning when I was at Whole Foods picking up some cheeses and grass fed beef I noted a display of fresh cranberries.  Now I have already labored over a Cranberry-Orange Relish (a big seller and in the forthcoming book) for those after Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches so I thought, why not!  Why not create a Cranberry-Orange Sauce just for turkey.  I have been working on the mix all day.  By tomorrow I’ll have a recipe to share with my blogging community.  I have also decided to create a seasonal Cranberry-Pepper Jelly.  I’ll be sharing that one this week also.  Now it’s back to the lab (kitchen).

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Balsamic Pepper Jelly

I’ve been working on this for a few days.  Finally it’s perfected and is delicious.  Nearly black with specks of red, yellow and green, it is a bit off the beaten pepper jelly path, but frankly, its hands down better. It’s unique, and has uses way beyond the cream cheese and cracker spread standard.  Last evening I slathered a bit on baked chicken, the day before I added some to a chicken salad mix.  Dribbled a little black line along the top of a flounder fillet.  And I cannot wait for turkey left overs.  The uses can make a simple put together supper into a feast fix for royalty. 

The sweet and meat theme has been with me for years beginning with Ivar’s salmon in Seattle.  The two make for an extraordinary combination and it is not so unusual; consider steak sauce and beef, or BBQ sauce and pork.  These are just a beginning.  My second canning book, due out in February, explores this topic in detail with recipes for use with many meats, poultry and fish.

Balsamic Pepper Jelly

  • 2 1/2 cups     Bell Peppers, chopped or diced fine*
  • 1/2 cup          Hot peppers, chopped fine**
  • 2 tbls              Red onion, chopped fine
  • 2 ea.               Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup              Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup          Red wine vinegar
  • 5 1/2 cups     Sugar, white-granulated
  • 1 cup              Sugar, light brown
  • 1 pouch         Certo liquid pectin

* Use red and yellow for a full color display.  Greens work but because of color get lost in the mix.  If dicing make no bigger than 1/4 inch.  Smaller is fine but not too small.

**Hot peppers- The scoville scale ranges from 0 for bells to 350,000 for habaneros.  Serranos at 5,000 work well for this recipe but if a palate is hot adverse go lower or even increase the bells and drop the hot all together. 

Put all but the pectin in the non-reactive pot and bring to a strong boil.  Hold for one minute.  Add the pectin making sure all comes out of the pouch.  Begin timing.  After 1 1/2 minutes there should be ample signs of jelling, if not boil for another 30 seconds.  Remove pot from heat and stir down the foam while allowing the mix to drop below 212 deg.  Fill half pint jars according to good canning practices.  Recipe makes 8 jars.  This recipe can be doubled.  It requires a pot with a broad base (about 10″) and the time on the stove boiling is doubled and after the  2 pouches of pectin go in timing becomes critical.  Jelling signs will begin to show after a minute or so but the heat must be held for about 2 1/2 minutes for the product to jell effectively.  Pectin effectiveness is destroyed after about four/five minutes on high heat so proceed with care.  It is a fine line but I make double runs almost exclusively.  

**Hot Peppers-red are prettier than green but can be hotter.  The type of pepper, the heat and the color are up to the maker.  Total pepper mix in the pepper jelly batch cannot exceed 3 cups

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Basic Pepper Jelly

This is the most basic of the pepper jelly recipes.  There is no heat added to this basic but I offer this as a foundation for those wanting to experiment with their own creations.  If doing so, one needs to understand that a pepper is a pepper so a hot pepper can be substituted for bells and  even multiple colored bells can be used instead of just green or red BUT the quantities must remain the constant.  Never more than 2 1/2 cups of peppers can go into a single run recipe.  Some people will remember these jellies as red or green.  Often food dyes were used to color the clear vinegar.  Food dyes are finally getting the rap they deserve and it is not good.  Actually the FDA, the last organization to do anything in the name of safety, has removed certain food colors from the marketplace.  Beware, none are good.

This recipe makes 6+ half pint jars.  No testing is required other than insuring the jars are properly sealed. And as with all home canning make sure the jars, lids, counter tops and utensils are sterile.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups     Peppers, diced in 3/8″ squares (see copy above for types)
  • 1 1/2 cups     Vinegar, distilled
  • 6 1/2 cups     Sugar, white-granulated
  • 1 pack            Certo liquid pectin

Bring the ingredients EXCEPT the pectin to a rolling boil.  Add the pectin and return to a strong boil.  Time for 1  1/2 minutes before taking off burner.  Hot pack according to earlier posted blogs.  The peppers will float to the surface.  Shake the jars as the liquid begins to jell so that the pepper chunks are dispersed throughout and stay.  This has to be done repeatedly until the jelling sets the particles.  As the jelling sets make sure all jars are right-side up.

This recipe can be doubled.  To be successful use a non reactive pot with a thick large bottom of about 10″ in diameter.  Increase the boiling time after putting in the pectin from 1 1/2 minutes to 2 or 3 minutes while checking for sure signs of jelling after 2 minutes.

Not only are pepper jellies over cheese a mainstay entertainment food, they make an amazing accompaniment when cooking pork, chicken and fish.  Slather atop after the cooking is complete.  Allow the protein to finish with the pepper jelly on top.  Serves with it on or removed, either way it will add a demension adored but not likely tasted before.  

                                                                                          

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Pepper Jellies

Pepper jellies have become a mainstay for casual entertaining.  A block of cream cheese with half an 8 oz. jar of pepper jelly ladled over the top, a surround of water crackers and, bingo!, an hors d’oeuvre is ready; 2 minutes max.  And pepper jelly over cream cheese is where the crowd will congregate.  Easy and quick to make-and the recipe can be doubled- with less than an hour’s effort one can have enough jars of this delightful jelly for the entire forthcoming holiday season.

Although vegetables (bell peppers/hot peppers/onion/garlic/etc.) are the chief ingredients behind sugar and vinegar if the measurements are followed there will be no testing required.  There is enough sugar in these recipes to saturate the peppers thereby removing any water from within plus the acid agent, vinegar, does double duty as an acidifying agent as well as a liquefier.

Cream cheese is the standard for the jelly to go over but exotic cheeses can raise the bar on pepper jelly hors d’oeuvres.  It is up to each server to determine what might work best based on her palate.  But remember cream cheese always works and it’s inexpensive.  I mentioned water crackers in the first paragraph.  A bit more expensive than the competition, there is no comparison.  The lightness, lacking of strong flavor and the thinness will win over the simple (plain) water cracker every time.

During this first week of November I’ll provide recipes enough for pepper jellies for the holidays.  Stay tuned.

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Canning Alert

Canning supplies are dwindling as the presumed season of canning is coming to an end.  Yesterday I hit all my supply haunts cleaning them out of jars, lids and pectin both powdered and liquid.  They probably won’t reorder until spring but my canning season spans 12 months so I’m stocking up now.

But just in case you’re too late and can not find the supplies you need, before one orders on line and spends a fortune on transportation see if there is a glass distributor in your area.  Often these companies are will to sell to you lots of ten cases of jars and lids.  Pectin is less of a problem and is often carried year around.  I just am not willing to take the chance.   

November is the beginning of holiday entertaining plus it’s Turkey Day in the United States.  This means cranberry chutney, cranberry relish, sweet potato sauce, sweet orange sauce, and let’s not forget the multitude of pepper jellies to serve over cream, brie and other soft cheeses.  Often called the fastest hors d’oeuvre in the country, one just has to plop a half a jar over a block of cheese, spread some water crackers about and-bingo! It doesn’t get much better, no matter what.  Stay with me, all these recipes and coming this month of November.

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Seasonal Delights

Often it is the last minute additives that turn a food into something incredible, just think of chocolate pouring over ice cream or the sprinkles we used to request or ice cream cones be rolled in.  The same goes for meals.  It is steak sauce on rib-eyes and it is dark brown sugar and butter on sweet potatoes.  Canned, home put up recipes will provide a table with additives that are beyond a store shelf’s capability.  They can turn an ordinary meat and potatoes kind of supper into an extravagant world class dinner and they can save a family money when compared with dining out.

As the season of holidays rushes upon us many of our thoughts turn to entertaining.  Before the first big feast readers might consider getting started with a putting up regimen.  Yesterday I made Cranberry-Orange Relish, this morning it will be Cranberry chutney.  I have about 20 recipes just for the holidays.  Over the next few weeks I’ll share some of them, others can be found in my book, Putting Up, available at book and cooking stores nationwide as well as on the web.

Make a few.  I will only offer recipes that are safe and do not require testing.  They will more than benefit your holiday season and I am here to answer your questions as you progress.

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