Monthly Archives: September 2012

Zesty Zucchini Relish

I have a ton of zucchini coming to me from my parent’s garden. It is insane how much zucchini can come off of one plant! I have about had it with eating it at this point. I’ve grilled it, sauteed it, stir-fried it, steamed it. But the one thing I didn’t do was pickle it! I had SO much left over I decided to make some zucchini relish. I’ve never made pickles before & this was my first summer doing my own canning, every other time I’ve canned it’s been with my mom at her house. My cousin apparently was doing the same thing in Wisconsin, this was her first summer canning too. We’ve been going back & forth on Facebook about this & that, posting pictures, trading tips. She forwarded me this recipe for Zesty Zucchini Relish. I had found something similar in the Ball Blue Book but I liked her’s better. The only problem is, I HATE green peppers. So I did some tinkering & substituted the green pepper with a mix of yellow summer squash & cucumbers.

Zesty Zucchini Relish Ingredients

At first, as you can see in the picture above, I was considering adding some celery, but once I shredded my yellow squash & cucumbers, I had more than enough veggies. All the ingredients came from either mine or my parents garden. It turned out freaking delicious. My son liked it so much, the first day after I canned it he called me as soon as he got home from school & asked me how to cook hot dogs so he could have something to eat the relish with!

Brined Zesty Zucchini Relish

So here’s the recipe I used, with my own modifications added! Please note, this is technically a sweet relish. I don’t like sweet relish & I refuse to eat it. However, this doesn’t taste like normal sweet relish. It isn’t really sweet, it’s more like a spicy bread & butter taste. I just thought I’d throw that out there so no one gets misled.

Rox’s Zesty Zucchini Relish

Brine Soak Ingredients
8 cups shredded zucchini
3 cups shredded white onions
2 cups shredded cucumber
1 cup shredded yellow summer squash
3 green chili peppers, roasted
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup canning salt

Vinegar Solution
3 cups vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon chopped lemon basil
Fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Place the Brine soak ingredients in a glass or stainless steel container. Add canning salt & cover with cold water. Let stand for 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.
  2. Rinse well and drain. Squeeze out excess water. Resulting mixture should cont4 cups of well packed veggies.
  3. In a large heavy bottom pot prepare vinegar solution by adding all it`s ingredients bring to a boil then add the drained vegetables and simmer for 10 minute Add food coloring if desired.
  4. Fill jars, leaving 1/4-inch head-space. Process pints for 10 minute in boiling-water canner.

FYI – Always adjust the processing times for your altitude. Here in Denver, the mile high city at 5,280 feet above sea level, I have to add 10 minutes to everything I process. I forgot to do that on my peaches & one batch of peach butter & it was a nightmare to fix.

Funneling Relish into Jars

Canned Zesty Zucchini Relish

Canned Zesty Zucchini Relish

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Garden Antipasto Recipe

Another oil based canning recipe, this one for eggplant!

Eggplant, eggplant, eggplant. Never have we received so much eggplant in the CSA: growing eggplants must be fond of torrential rain storms interspersed with bright, sunny days. The peppers have been no slouch either: pale green Cubanelles, tiny, dark purple bells, fat red and yellow sweet peppers, they’ve all been making their way into my meals of late, but there are so many that they need to find their way into my freezer and pantry as well.

Enter canned antipasto: a vinegar & oil pickle, this preserve makes use of this summer’s bounty of eggplant & peppers, adds a bit of aromatic flavor with garlic & herbs, and once mellowed on the shelf for a few weeks, will be a welcome addition to a cheese plate, charcuterie platter or traditional Italian meal. I haven’t yet opened a jar, so I can’t comment on taste or texture of the finished product…

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Oil Preserved Zucchini Planks Recipe

Trying to find a way to can zucchini! This is a good thought. Love marinated stuff in EVOO.

Auburn Meadow Farm

An everlasting post-traumatic stress symptom of my early jobs in bustling restaurants is this recurring dream:

I am the only server on duty in a restaurant with many rooms on many levels. The hostess seats a party and I take their drink order. Then she seats another party and I take their drink order, then another, and another and another….

I’m rushing to greet each table as they are seated, up and down and all over this gi-normous, ever-expanding restaurant and I can only collect the drink orders, never fill them and get back to the tables to get the food orders…

Exhausting.

What’s my dream got to do with anything? Zucchini, that’s what.

The zucchini keeps coming, and coming and coming! Those fertile plants just keep popping out beautiful, shiny, perfectly formed fruit and I just can’t do them justice. I go out, greet them, take their drink…

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Chokecherry Jelly

My Chokecherry Jelly

Even though I picked the chokecherries in late July, I just got around to making the jelly this past weekend. The nice thing about making jelly, as opposed to jam or preserves, is that you just need the juice & the juice is easier to store than fruit. Within a few days of picking the chokecherries, I make the juice with the intention of freezing it & making jelly later. In my other post Chokecherry Madness, I posted a link to food.com’s search of chokecherry recipes.

Chokecherry Harvest

I picked about 4 pounds of cherries all together. When I decided to seriously get into canning this summer, I bought a bunch of supplies so I could be prepared. One of the things I bought was a digital scale. It was relatively cheap, under $20, but it was a great investment. Most of the recipes I’ve found, especially in the Ball Blue Book (which I absolutely love & reference constantly) call for ingredients by weight. So having a scale has turned out to be a lot more important that I expected. Another thing I like about the digital scale I have is that you can tare it to include a container or plate. I’ll put the colander or bowl on the scale, tare it, then start loading it up. It’s very easy. I’ve learned canning includes insane amounts of calculations, number of jars needed, figuring time to correct altitude, pounds of food per jar, dividing pints to half pints or quarts to pints, etc. Anything that cuts out more math makes it easier for me & most importantly takes out the possibility of a mental math error. Anyways . .  back from my “make sure you buy a scale speech” I ended up with about 4 pounds of fruit. I split it in half to process in the juice in 2 batches. I don’t think it really matters exactly how much water you put in with the fruit, I read to make sure it’s “fully submerged.” I boiled the juice for a good hour. It had a really interesting smell. As it cooked I got some ideas to flavor it. I thought it smelled a little citrusy so I added some lemon thyme to the pot. I love lemon thyme, I love regular thyme, so I put some of that in there too. I pulled it off when the liquid was reduced to about half of what it was. The remaining liquid was a crazy bright pink, purple, red color. It was cloudy too, not clear like store bought juice. I strained everything through cheesecloth, letting it sit over the pot & drain for a good half hour. Once it stopped dripping, I kind of smashed it down to mash the fruit & to squeeze any remaining liquid out of the mush. I got 2 cups of juice for the first batch & 3 for the second, so all together a little over 5 cups. I split the liquid into these Ball plastic freezer containers (I LOVE these things, anything liquid I freeze I put in these containers, they are wonderful & stuff keeps so much better in them instead of glass jars or other plastic ones) & stuck them in the freezer. Another thing I like about those plastic containers is that they stack, the lids have a that the bottoms click into so they don’t slip off each other or fall over. I kept the juice frozen for a little over a month. I defrosted the juice in a stock pot. I bought a jar of Ball regular pectin. Since chokecherry jelly isn’t in the Ball Blue Book I didn’t know what proportions to use. The label of the pectin directed me to their website where they have a Pectin Calculator. It’s a great tool to use, you select the fruit, select jam or jelly, select the type of pectin you have & it gives you the amounts of juice/fruit, sugar & pectin to use depending on how many jars you need or how much fruit you have. It’s a great site, I will definitely reference it in the future! I had some pretty thick juice once it melted so I added a little extra water to it. The first batch I made was for 6 pint-sized jelly jars. I used 4 1/2 cups of juice. I had a little under 3 cups of juice left so I added enough water to make 4 more jars with 3 1/3 cups of the remaining juice. All together I ended up with 10 jars of processed chokecherry jelly with a little bit leftover that I stuck in a jar to eat right away. It tastes delicious!

Canned Chokecherry Jelly

I definitely like the added lemon thyme. I didn’t want to add too much flavor because I’ve never had chokecherry jelly before & wanted to know what it tasted like before adding spices. I really like it & I love the fact that there are so many chokecherry plants here in Denver I can pick as much as I want! Next summer I will be making more jelly but I’d like to try some new flavors as well. I’d like to try a more lemony version, maybe using lemon verbena, lemon basil, lemon thyme & regular thyme. I’d also like to try a version that would taste like my favorite roasted cranberry sauce (I make it every year at Thanksgiving). For that one I’d add lemon juice, use brown sugar instead of white, use rosemary, sage & thyme. I may or may not roast the fruit before, the cranberry sauce recipe calls for roasting the cranberries & creating a lumpy mess instead of smashing them or using a food mill. It also uses red wine to create the sauce & I wonder if I could add some wine or wine vinegar to the jelly. I’ll have to think about that one!

Chokecherry Jelly on Toast & Tea

Chokecherry Madness

I picked some chokecherries last summer. I found them while on a walk along the dry creek beds near McLellan reservoir. There was a guy there from Germany picking bucket fulls! I talked to him for a little while about chokecherries & what to do with them. I pulled out my little reusable bag I always carry with  me & filled it half way up with them. But I didn’t ever get around to doing anything with them & ended up tossing them. Ever since then I’ve been intrigued by them & all summer was thinking about picking some more. I had pulled up a few different recipes on the internet & was much more prepared for my harvest. Around mid-July I started looking around for some chokecherry bushes. My parents have a huge bush in their back yard & obviously there was always the option to go back to the reservoir but then I looked out my window & saw them! Two 15′ tall trees covered with chokecherries!!! I waited until they were ripe enough to have red berries but still have some unripe fruit as well. I read that if you include the unripe fruit it helps with the jelly because they contain more pectin. The same concept applies to ripe fruit also, so I picked them on the early side. The riper the fruit, the less pectin. I walked out my front door & started to pick some of the cherries but the tree is so stinking tall I realized I would need a ladder. I walked around the front yard because I had remembered seeing some green, unripe fruits on another bush near the street & sure enough, ANOTHER chokecherry bush! This one was much better, a manageable size to try to pick.

My Chokecherry Bush

I was very excited & picked all the fruit off the bush I could reach. By the time I got finished I had a good bowl full!

My Chokecherry Harvest

A Chokecherry in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush

I only ended up letting them sit in the fridge for a day. The good thing about chokecherry jelly is that it uses the juice so there’s not a lot of prep involved, no pitting or anything. I made the juice in 2 batches.

If you are interested in finding chokecherries in your area, I would encourage you to do so! It is so fun to find something growing wild & be able to harvest it for your own use. This link will take you to a fantastic article on how to identify chokecherries. It is written by the agriculture department at North Dakota State University. Basically, identifying chokecherries comes down to the configuration of the fruit. Take a look at the first picture I posted. See how the fruit all dangles off one long strand? That’s how you can be sure it’s a chokecherry bush. When in doubt, take a branch (make sure to include the fruit & the leaves) into your local nursery or wildlife center & see if someone there can give you a positive identification. Once you’ve found & identified wild chokecherries, you’ll get experience in identifying them & you can feel confident when finding more bushes.

I took forever to get around to typing up this post but I will follow up with a recipe for the jelly & pictures. I did a search for chokecherry jelly & I found a lot of different recipes but I liked this list the best.