ReLocavore: Redefining "local"

Back to Wisconsin, my cheesehead friends

Who is the Saint for canning and preserving?

6 Comments


I may need some prayers and good thoughts tonight. Who is the patron saint of canning and preserving? Saint Christopher?

My first canning load of the season and the very first jar I put into the boiling water blew up in the hot water bath canner. 

I guess there’s one last jar of spicy rhubarb compote. Darn.

Advertisements


1 Comment

The price of my homemade strawberry jam=$0.22/ounce

2015-06-22 08.38.34Here’s the sick thing… I did the math and my homemade jam costs about as much per ounce as Bonne Maman’s high-end grocery store jam: $0.22 per ounce.

I made 30.5 pints of jam, using 34 jars (some were half-pint jars for gifts), inputting 28 lbs of strawberries, 7 packets of Certo pectin and 21.462 pounds of sugar.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Jar and ring – reusable and depreciating resource.
  • Canning equipment – depreciating resource.
  • Canning jar lid. $1.99 for 12 = $0.17 per lid, or $5.78 for lids.
  • Sugar. $2.59 at the COOP for a 4 pound bag = $0.65 per pound or $14.07 for sugar.
  • Strawberries at $2.50 per pound and 28 lbs of berries into the recipe = $70 for strawberries.
  • Certo is $4.59 for 2 pouches = $2.30/pouch so $16.10 on pectin.

Grand total = $105.95 for 30.5 pints of jam. That’s $0.22 per ounce. 

Bonne Mamans jam was on sale at the COOP for $2.99 for a 13 ounce jar or $0.23 per ounce.

I hope some of you are jumping up and down right now and pointing out the serious flaws in my calculation… I don’t take into Labor costs, which was about 13.5 woman-hours. I don’t take into account the cost of my “facility” to produce jam. I don’t take into account transportation, and I’ve discounted my equipment. But hey! My jam is a heck of a lot tastier than anything you’d ever buy in a store. Plus I have a great memory of spending a hot, muggy day in the kitchen with my sister. That’s worth a lot more than $0.23 per ounce.


Leave a comment

Fruit, sugar, pectin needed to make strawberry jam in quantity

I got sick of doing the math every year, so I made a table for large batches of strawberry jam. The recipe is based on using Certo liquid pectin.

Certo Pectin Pouches Strawberries
Pounds
Strawberries
Hulled and crushed
cups
Sugar
cups
Sugar
Ounces
Sugar
Pounds
Yield
Pints
1 4 4 7 49 3.066 4
2 8 8 14 98 6.132 8
3 12 12 21 147 9.198 12
4 16 16 28 196 12.264 16
5 20 20 35 245 15.33 20
6 24 24 42 294 18.396 24
7 28 28 49 343 21.462 28
8 32 32 56 392 24.528 32


2 Comments

Gross Corn, or 12 x 12 = 144

The going price at the market for corn in Vermont and New Hampshire is anywhere from 6 ears for $4 up to $1 per year – or $8-12 per dozen. As a kid, the teenagers in pickup trucks along the side of the road charged, at most, $2/dozen, and we could often talk them down to $1.50. In Madison, I could buy a bakers dozen ears (13×13) from a local sweet corn farm, and they’d even haul the bags to my car for $3.50/dozen, and often not charge me for the full Baker’s gross. The most offensive price in the Midwest for an ear of sweet corn is at the Sun Prairie Corn Festival where FIBs* and Cheeseheads get overcharged for sweet corn- $2/ear including salt and butter. Last year, I got lucky and coaxed a kid to $5/dozen and complained to everybody around about the price of sweet corn.  So, paying $8 for a dozen ears of corn offends my Midwestern sensibilities. I was not going to pay $8 per dozen to freeze corn this year. 

We headed to upstate New York over Labor Day, where fertile soil and normal market pricing mechanisms conspire to produce cheap, high-quality sweet corn. I was determined to buy as much corn as I could haul back and put it into the freezer for the year. I accomplished my goal. $4 per dozen. A gross of corn (a dozen dozen), and we produced 43 zipper bags holding about 2 cups of corn each. Mission accomplished. 

Click on an image to read a full description. 


2 Comments

Anybody else sick of zucchini yet?

Late August is the only time that New Englanders lock their car doors. If you leave your car unlocked, somebody will leave you a box of orphan zucchini on your front seat. (Photo from greenstag.net)

We have the first week of our CSA where we don’t have lettuce and do have more zucchini (and other summer squash) than we expect to eat in a week. This marks a big move in our Summer eating. Up until this point, we have new vegetables trickling in for the first time – the first cucumber, the first tomato, the first zucchini. We’ve now reached the peak of novelty and descended into bounty. We must smash tomatoes into jars because there are just too many to eat. The cucumbers get huge, bitter, and neglected on the vine. The lettuce, spinach and other greens have gone to seed and are bitter and inedible. We now have to hide zucchini in other foods. We now move into crisis mode. There are vegetables coming out our ears.

I have a lot of strategies for handling the bounty. Of course, you’ve read about my adventures with canning, drying, and other odd types of preserving. I also have strategic approaches for cooking that use up lots of vegetables. I went through some of  my recipes for using lots and lots of greens, and now over the next few days, I will let you in on my secrets on how to cook a lot of zucchini. 

Yes, I will share my recipe for chocolate zucchini cake. 

Until then!

 

 


3 Comments

My Fermenting Adventures

Even given my kvetching, Sandor Katz fermenting workshop had a strong influence on me. I guess I may be developing my skills as an amature fermento. I have now fermented:

The Kimchi is clearly my biggest fermentation success. Yummy yum. I think I got the balance of spice and saltiness, and since we had the space to let the stink dissipate, I was able to let it ferment for a month and get very sour. Next time – more ginger, for sure. I have enjoyed eating my kimchi on pizza. The flavors of kimchi are very similar to the flavors of pepperoni and pepperoncini: hot, tangy, and salty. In fact, some pepperoni are actually fermented by being inoculated with flavor-enhancing molds!

Mixed vegetable kraut we made at the Katz workshop. It’s shredded carrots, radishes, white turnips and onions. I have let it sit for a few weeks and flavors have mellowed and gotten more sour. The onion smell was initially very strong – I was slightly worried I would get a charge on my hotel bill for cleaning out the stank. But over a few weeks the onion smell has become milder and richer with more umami. We have been eating it all along the fermenting time and I think it gets better every time I eat some.

Blueberry Soda was demoed at the workshop, so after picking blueberries, I used some to make my own soda. I used about 1/2 cup of sugar, a pint of blueberries and about a quart of water. I mixed it together without crushing the berries and kept stirring over 4 days. The final product went into a growler and has been hanging in the fridge. It’s a light pink color with a mild effervescence, kind of like kombucha. It’s OK, but I wouldn’t want to drink a lot. I’m not a big fan of sweet drinks, but it would be a good mixer.

I found an accidental glut of cucumbers in the garden last week and decided to try to make half-sour pickles. The cukes were too big for whole pickles, so I cut them into spears. Whole cucumbers will ferment for weeks or months and still stay slightly crisp, but fermenting cucumber spears will inevitably lead to mushy pickles after a week or so. I decided to make half-sour pickles, which are in a stronger brine and fermented for a short period. Into big quart jars I added two crushed garlic cloves, a big sprig of fresh dill, and a 3% salt brine – about two tablespoons of salt for a quart of water. They hung out on the kitchen counter for 4 days. They came out crisp, yet salty and a little tangy. Sam seems to be a big fan of them.


2 Comments

Wide Mouth Canning Jar Accessories

Thanks to Cool Tools for their recent overview of wide mouth canning  jar accessories.

They covered:

  • The Cuppow: A lid that lets you drink from your canning jar.
  • The Kraut Cap: An airlock for a canning jar for anaerobic fermenting.
  • Re-Cap: A pour spout and lid for a canning jar. This would be great for salad dressings.
  • The Holdster: A handle for a canning jar.

I would also add these other accessories that extend the usefullness of your canning jars:

  • The Bnto from Cuppow: A cup that fits inside a canning jar, giving two separate storage spaces.
  • Plastic jar lids: Dishwasher-safe and reusable lids for foods that are NOT shelf stable.
  • Shaker jar lids: Turn your jar into a spice shaker. I use this for nutritional yeast on my popcorn.