Monday, July 26, 2010

Bottling (canning)

As well as sometimes struggling with the different expressions and getting frequently mixed up between English and American terms (I read so many American blogs that I automatically use words now that most people I might be talking to have never heard of so I have to search for the English equivalent, lots of which I don't really know as the whole area of canning really wasn't ever big in Ireland) I also have to struggle with trying to find the right words in German. Germans have at least three words for the American 'canning' depending on whether you've actually cooked what you put in the jars or not and how it has been done. I think. I'm still trying to figure out the subtle differences between einkochen, einmachen and einlegen. So far I think einlegen refers more to pickled things, einkochen is when you cook something first and/or process it in a canner and einmachen is somewhere between the two. And all that on top of having to convert American volume amounts in recipes to metric so I can figure out how much of something to buy before I start cooking. Access to so much information from all over the world is great in many ways but can be hard work sometimes!

Here's some of what I've done over the past week. Excuse the not-very-good photos, my sore shoulder is making my hands a bit shaky if I try to hold still and that on top of my still never having gotten used to a digital camera has caused some blurring. Believe me, I dumped the worst of them.

Three-berry jam just starting to cook. Redcurrant, raspberry and strawberry jam. I used ordinary sugar on a 1:1 basis, it didn't really set and is very sweet. C'est la vie!

Here's a shot of the spice mix gone a little bit wrong for the bread and butter pickles I made for the bio-garden. It's a bit dark but I still like it.

And this is what it went towards making. Bread and butter pickles on the left. On the right of the picture in the jars with the screwtop lids is the cucumber conserve from Mary Norwak's vegetable cookbook - 2 kilos cucumber, 2 kilos sugar, 50g fresh ginger and 48 hours later. Everyone agreed it was far too sweet although one nice lady suggested maybe a spoonful in a spicy dish might be nice. I had a tiny taste as well and if even I couldn't taste the cucumber I think someone else's verdict that it's an awfully complicated way to make honey might not be far wrong. Still, it was fun to try an old recipe and it did get rid of 2 kilos of cucumbers.

This is the cucumbers, onions and chili mix before being processed.

And the dilly beans that I made yesteday. That was a bit of an adventure as I realised I wouldn't have enough for two litre jars or even one and a half and so the beans weren't packed all that tightly. Which means of course that the space had to be taken up with more brine but I'd only made half the amount in the recipe as I only had half the amount of beans. So I had to really quickly make up some more brine. I did process these in a waterbath but I think just to be on the safe side I will probably eat them fairly quickly. I also left more headspace than necesary in the large jar as this is only the second one I've used of this lot, which I bought off ebay at the end of last summer. The lid of the jar actually gives you that kind of headspace so it isn't really necessary to leave a lot in the jar itself. But all the jars have sealed so far (actually two of the leifheit jars from the first batch of bread and butter pickles had to be processed twice but that's because I managed to put two lids on one jar and the other one seemed to have a celery seed trapped on the rim although I know I wiped them carefully. But obviously not carefully enough and it's good to know that something as small as a celery seed can make a difference and learn that lesson in person (as opposed to just reading about it) at an early stage of my preserving career). I do like those traditional German glass jars though as the glass lids can be re-used and all that might need to be replaced is the rubber ring. And the rings can be re-used as well, just not indefinitely. But all in all it's a more economical option than the leifheit two part lids. I've just gotten another ten of those big glass jars for 13.11 on ebay and if I had a car I would have been able to get far more for far less but again, c'est la vie. Maybe one day I'll have someone I would be able to convince to drive somewhere to pick up 200 jars at a time (this mostly seems to happen when someone's granny dies and they are clearing out her cellar and I like the idea that I would be continuing to use jars for putting things up in rather than them being dumped).

And finally, here's dinner for this evening. Got this idea from someone at the garden on Saturday, had a large courgette, some wild garlic cream cheese that needed to be used up and remembered to stop at the supermarket on the way home to buy some puff pastry. They even had fresh so I didn't have to buy frozen and then wait for it to thaw. And I was fine with using the nice garlicy cheese I had instead of trying to find goat's cream cheese, which is what my friend from the garden had used. First I grated the courgette and mixed it with the cream cheese then spread it on the pastry.

Then I rolled it up, brushed with milk and pricked it with a fork (did that last bit two minutes after putting it into the oven when I actually read the packaging so that's how I discovered that the light in my oven actually isn't bad for taking photos with).

And here's the finished thing. I have to say, it's quite delicious and with some fried potatoes is making me a lovely dinner. Which makes up for the very disappointing olives I had as an appestiser. I should know better than to go into the expensive mediterranean food shop for anything fresh as I've been disappointed there a few times now. I'm just so excited to have finally acquired the taste for olives. But this dinner is definitely making up for it. Once I've settled down I will read my book club book for a while and then make the tiramisu I've promised to bring to book club tomorrow (we're holding it in someone's house for a change). I had great plans to make the tiramisu as soon as I got home but I'd forgotten again that you have to have cold coffee. If I had thought about it I could have filled my water bottle with espresso from the machine in work this afternoon but as it is I've just made some very strong coffee and it's cooling on the windowsill now. I'll get to it all in good time.

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