rhubarb cordial

Yesterday I pulled the last of the rhubarb, the stalks looked pale and tired, the leaves brown. Luckily, I made a nice harvest a couple weeks ago and turned it into a bottle of Rhubarb Cordial. This is my second batch this year, using the first and last rhubarb harvests of the year. I only hope I can time things that well again.

Super easy, delicious, and beautiful. The color changes depending on your rhubarb. The first batch of the season had a darker, more reddish hue, this latest bottle is practically neon pink. Lovely sipped on its own, or added to a glass of bubble water.

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Rhubarb Cordial

1 pound rhubarb

3/4 cup granulated sugar

750ml bottle of vodka (no need for the good stuff, Smirnoff works great)

Trim the ends of the rhubarb, and cut into pieces that are about in inch in length. Place the rhubarb into a LARGE jar or bowl, add the sugar and the vodka, and cover.

The sugar will dissolve over the course of a week, stir it when you think of it. After ten days, give your cordial a taste and see what you think. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavor. I find between 12-14 days to be about right.

Strain out the rhubarb, pour the cordial into a bottle with a tight fitting lid, and store it in the fridge. It will stay fresh until rhubarb is in season again, but it is unlikely there will be any left by then.

P.S.

You could use the rhubarb pieces to make a sauce for ice cream, just cook the rhubarb down over medium heat until it is soft. Add a bt of water if the pan feels dry. A bit of sugar if the fruit is not sweet enough. Have some other fruit around that is getting soft? Add it to the pot. Easy Peasy.

salsa verde

There are two types of salsa verde in the world, the Italian variety that combines oil, parsley, and garlic, and the Mexican type that uses chilis and tomatillos. In our casa, it is all Mexican all the time.

Somehow, I did not put up salsa verde last year, did I have some left from the previous year? A couple months ago when I was hankering for enchiladas I had to purchase a pouch of the green stuff. And while Rick Bayless Frontera makes a very nice salsa verde, I do not like buying things I can make myself.

Following is the recipe I have used for years. It is perfect and needs no tinkering. The recipe comes from Put ‘Em Up by Sheri Brooks Vinton (a very useful canning book) and is a crowd pleaser.

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Salsa Verde

4 pounds tomatillos, husks removed

1 tablespoon lightly flavored oil

1 cup distilled white vinegar or bottled lime juice (I use vinegar)

1 pound yellow onions, chopped

1/2 pound chili peppers, stems and seeds removed (I use jalapenos)

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the broiler. Wash and dry the tomatillos. Lightly brush half of the tomatillos with olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet, stem side down. Broil until blackened in spots. Remove and cool to room temperature.

2. Puree the remaining raw tomatillos with the vinegar in a blender or food processor and remove to a large nonreactive saucepan. (I use a food processor)  Puree cooked tomatillos, onions, chilis and garlic. Add to pan.

4. Bring to a boil, simmer 10 minutes, to thicken and reduce.

5. Remove pan from heat and stir in cilantro and salt.

Fill your jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

The original recipes states that it makes 8 cups. I find it makes more than that, every time, so prep a couple extra jars.

blueberry conserve

Are you wondering about the title? What the heck is conserve? Conserve is an old-fashioned sort of preserve that combines jam with nuts and spices. I like it on pancakes, or on top of ice cream. Spreading some on a muffin would not be a bad thing. Local blueberries are coming to an end, so I grabbed a flat and got busy.

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Blueberry Conserve with Maple Syrup and Walnuts

4 cups blueberries

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup dried cherries

1 cup water

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon allspice

Place blueberries, water, maple syrup, and lemon juice in a non-reactive pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer five minutes, stirring from time to time.

Stir in the sugar and cherries, then return to a boil. Reduce heat so the mixture keeps a nice gentle boil and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often. You are not looking for a jelly set, just a soft set.

Remove from heat and add walnuts and allspice. Stir well.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Do not forget to label your jars.

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a little bit of currant jam

Walking through the produce section of the grocery store yesterday I came across currants. It is so unusual to see currants in the store, I scooped up a couple little containers as fast as I could. After lunch I turned those little beauties into jam. I love currant jam, one of my very favorites, and one that is not always on the shelf because currants are not always available here. It was a treat to be able to add the jam to my larder.

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Currant Jam

2 1/2 cups of currants, I used a combination of black and red, but any combination is fine, separate the fruit from the stems

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons cassis, this is optional, if you have some use it, if not, it is fine

In a stainless or enamel pan, bring currants and water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes to soften the fruit.

Add sugar, lemon juice, and cassis to the pan, bring to a boil, and continue boiling until set, about 10 minutes.

Fill jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Do not forget to label the jars, dark jams all look alike a few months later.

figs in brandy

We have two fig trees. This is their third year, so they are still small, but produce a good amount of fruit. The great thing about fig trees is that the fruit matures at different rates. This is perfect for picking a few to add to a salad for dinner, or to throw on the grill, but poses a problem for anyone wanting to can a big batch to use later.

I like having a half a dozen jars of preserved figs on the shelf to use through out the year, alongside a cheese plate, or on top of ice cream. The way I make this happen is one jar at a time.

 

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This morning I picked a jar’s worth of figs, and make a whole batch of syrup. I put up one jar, then poured the rest of the liquid into another jar to use as needed. It will probably be three days before I have another round of figs ready, and having the syrup prepared makes the canning even easier.

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When putting up one jar I do not get out the big pot. For smaller jars I use the oh-so-awesome Fourth Burner Pot, but that pot does not work as well for the wide Weck jars, for those jars I use my trusty sauce pan. You should never put glass jars directly on the bottom of a pan, it is not an old wives tale, and it is a mess when they break. Weck jars nestle perfectly into an English muffin mold to hold them and keep them safe, just above the bottom of the pan.

This recipe works for 8 cups of figs and will make four pints in one go, or one at a time.

Brandied Figs

1 2/3 cups brandy

1 1/3 cups sugar

3/4 cup water

8 cups figs

Cut the woody stem from the figs and quarter them.

In a small pot, combine brandy, sugar, and water, heating until the sugar is disolved.

Fill your jars with figs,  and pour hot liquid to cover, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.