Can It and Ferment It – Canning and Fermenting Class in Minnesota

Last month I taught a 2.5 hour cooking class about canning and fermenting to 10 local adults. It was a lot of information to squeeze into a short time frame, but we managed to do it.

I taught the class all about the canning process, terminology and the materials needed and then they got to get hands-on in the kitchen. Each student cleaned, prepped, packed and water bath canned their own pint of colorful carrot pickles. I brought a variety of spices for them to add to their jars including fresh garlic clove, black peppercorns, coriander, pickling spice mix, crushed red pepper flakes and dried dill seed. Each student seasoned their jars to their liking. Once everyone’s jars were water bath processed, they cleaned up and we started the second part of class.

For the next portion of class, I briefly talked about the process of fermentation and the benefits of fermenting food. I explained the different terminology and the various fermentation vessel option. Then, the students got to once again get hands-on by packing their own pints of cherry tomatoes with basil and garlic and made a salt-water brine to ferment them in. I also provided each student with a little WECK jar glass lid to use as a weight, as they are the perfect size for small-batch jar fermenting.


At the end of the class, I shared some canned and fermented goodies that I had made, so the students could taste a variety of things. You never know what to expect when you get a group of strangers together, but each person was a fantastic addition to the class. Everyone had a great time and I look forward to the sauerkraut-making and fire cider classes I’m developing for the winter session!

To get on an e-mail list to be notified of future canning and fermenting classes in the Twin Cities, shoot me an e-mail at:  minnesotafromscratch(at)gmail(dot)com with the subject “Future Classes”

Thanks,

Stephanie

 

7 Days Until Release of: WECK Small-Batch Preserving: Year-Round Recipes for Canning, Fermenting, Pickling and More

The countdown is on! My second book will officially be published in just one week from today. I am so excited to share it with everyone. I know many of you have questions about how to can with WECK jars and I hope that I have successfully answered all your questions with my step-by-step guide. In addition to canning with WECK jars, I have also included recipes on how to ferment, pickle and infuse with them. I even breakdown the variety of jars and explain which style is best for what method of preservation and include a quick reference guide to help you translate your standard canning jar recipes over to WECK jar sizing.

I started using WECK jars over a decade ago because I liked the fact that they have a glass lid. The only material touching my food is glass, no questionable toxic lining to worry about, as with other canning jars. A huge part of why I enjoy preserving food at home is because I have control of what ingredients I include in my preserves, so knowing that there are no toxic chemicals leaching into my preserve is incredibly important to me. Plus, with the lid being glass, I can reuse them over and over.

Last week I processed 20 pounds of tomatoes and turned them into homemade Bloody Mary Mix, one of my favorite recipes included in the new book. It’s hard to pick just one favorite because I included so many, such as fermented escabeche, homemade fruit shrub recipes, homemade alcohol infusions (you won’t be buying flavored vodka [or any infused liquor] ever again) and there are also 5 delicious guest recipes, contributed by amazing women, ranging from Canada to Florida.

If you haven’t reserved your copy yet, click here.

Also, my first book, Can It & Ferment It is still in a price war with other online retailers, and is available at the low price of just $11.55, it’s a great opportunity to stock up on a few copies for the holidays. You can order it here.

Be sure to use hashtags #CanItandFermentIt and #WECKSmallBatch when posting on social media so I can find your cookbook posts.

Sneak Peak Recipe: Pineapple-Strawberry Jam (from WECK Small-Batch Preserving Cookbook – 9/18 Release)

This recipe is one of over one hundred that I have included in my new cookbook, WECK Small-Batch Preserving. The book is designed specifically to teach you to preserve with WECK jars, but I have included alternate directions at the end of this post for those using standard mason jars.

A couple years ago, my grandma gave me a stack of recipes that were collected and written by my great great grandmother and her daughter, my great grandmother – both of which I got to know in my life. My great, great grandmother passed away when I was 10 years old and my great grandma passed in my early twenties. By the time I was born, neither of them really cooked anymore. I can’t recall one time either of them cooked, actually. But I’ve been told many stories about life before my time, and what great cooks both of them were. So I’m honored to have these precious recipes at my fingertips and I love to adapt them to my liking, which is what I have done here with this pineapple-strawberry jam recipe.

PINEAPPLE-STRAWBERRY JAM

from WECK Small-Batch Preserving, by Stephanie Thurow

Yield: 3 WECK jam jars (about 3-4 cups of jam)

Ingredients:

3 cups strawberries, quartered

1.5 cups fresh pineapple, grated

2.5 cups organic or non-GMO granulated sugar

Directions:

Clean and prepare strawberries by cutting off the stems and any flawed/bruised areas. Use a potato masher to mash the quartered berries into a chunky consistency.

Combine all ingredients in a large heavy-bottomed pot and mix well. Bring ingredients to a medium-high simmer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring often. Once mixture has thickened and most of the liquid has cooked away, the jam is ready to be canned.

Ladle the hot fruit mixture into warm prepared jars. Use a funnel to safely transfer the mixture, leaving ½ inch of head space. Wipe the rims of the jars with a dampened, clean, lint-free cloth or paper towel and again with a dry towel. Place a glass lid with rubber ring in place over the rim of the jar and carefully clip the two metal clamps on the jar directly across from one another.

Process in the water bath for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the jars from the water bath with canning tongs and place them on a towel-covered surface for 12 hours without touching. Remove metal clamps and test that the lid has securely sealed onto the jar. Refrigerate after breaking the seal.

That’s it!

If you are using 1/2 pint mason jars instead of WECK brand, follow the directions as I’ve written them but adjust the head space to 1/4″ instead of 1/2″.

This recipe is from WECK Small-Batch Preserving, now available for pre-order here and set for worldwide release on Sept. 4th, 2018. Can It & Ferment It is now on sale on Amazon, grab it at a discount while you can!

PRE-SALE: WECK Small-Batch Preserving: Year-Round Recipes for Canning, Fermenting, Pickling and More

MY SECOND BOOK IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-SALE

I teamed up with the canning experts at WECK to show readers how to preserve throughout the year with WECK jars. The J. WECK Company has made aesthetically beautiful all-glass home canning jars for over one hundred years. Never before offered, I have created a step-by-step guide to preserving with WECK jars and have developed over one hundred delicious, small-batch recipes to can, ferment, and infuse with them.

Recipes in this helpful guide include Bloody Mary mix, pineapple and strawberry jam, escabeche, kimchi, various sauerkraut recipes, a variety of kvass recipes, numerous infused spirit concoctions including pineapple and mango vodka, orange, clove, and cinnamon whiskey, and so much more!

Recipes are paired with colorful, stunning photos and written in an easy, approachable format. Perfect for new preservationists and delicious enough for even seasoned pros to appreciate, WECK Small-Batch Preserving is every preservation enthusiast’s go-to resource for year-round preservation.

Amazon offers the “Best Price Guarantee” which means that if you order now and the price gets lower during pre-sale, they will charge you the lowest price offered once it ships as long as you order before the release.

PRE-Order: WECK Small-Batch Preserving: here and while you’re ordering, pick up a copy of Can It & Ferment It while it’s still on sale: here

 

Cranberry-Apple Jam with Honey Recipe

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Cranberry-Apple Jam is one recipe I make every fall/winter. I love making jam, it’s so easy and it’s a great gift. It’s fun to preserve different fruits throughout the lovely seasons we have in Minnesota. One issue I have with jam is all of the added sugar and that’s why I have adjusted this recipe to only use half of the usual amount of sugar by substituting the rest with local honey.

Yield: 9 jam jars

Ingredients:

  • 8 Cups of peeled and diced apple (which is 8 regular sized apples, or 6 large apples).
  • 4 Cups of whole fresh cranberries
  • 3 Cups organic sugar
  • 2 Cups of honey (1 pint)
  • 2 Lemons, zest and juiced
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Tsp Ground Cloves

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Combine cranberries, diced apples, sugar and honey in a heavy bottomed pot, stir well and bring to a boil. I use any kind of apple because I like the chunkiness of the apples, therefore I am not concerned with using a soft apple. Dice the apples up in whatever size you prefer them. I typically chop them up in about 1/4-1/2″ chunks. Continue to stir while jam is boiling so it does not burn.

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Cook for about 12 minutes, until the apples are soft and the cranberries have begun to pop.

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Add spices, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir well and continue to simmer the mixture until the sauce begins to thicken (5-10 more mins). Feel free to take a little spoonful out to taste test and determine if you want to add more spices. Get creative! Other spices you might consider adding are ginger, nutmeg or allspice!

This recipe can be canned using the water-bath processing method or it can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 months.

The deep red color and cinnamon flavor makes this the perfect holiday jam!

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Enjoy!

All products used in this post were generously provided by Lakewinds Food Co-op.

2015 Canning/Fermenting Season Yield

This year has been my top producing year for canning and fermenting! I made two batches of strawberry rhubarb jam, three huge batches of garlic dill pickles, 35 jars of pickled jalapenos (possibly more), cinnamon and nutmeg spiced pear jam (from MN grown pears!), one batch of pickled beets and I even tried something new – Cowboy Candy! I’ll be canning some cranberry-apple jam this weekend as well. I also made spicy garlic pickled eggs!

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Spicy pickled eggs! These are the perfect snack to have around!

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Cinnamon and nutmeg spiced pear jam! This was A LOT of work since the pears are tiny and had to be peeled. I also had to cook it down for 3 hours!

Strawberry Rhubarb jam sealing in the waterbath

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, taking a dip in the hot tub to get all sealed up!

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Pickled beets, which I have not made since my very first year canning 8 years ago (HARD TO BELIEVE), pickled jalapeno slices and pickles!

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It’s so nice to have a little helper… so glad she likes to cook!

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Cowboy Candy which is basically jalapenos in a sweet syrup.

I fermented garlicky carrots and garlicky rattlesnake pole beans from the garden, which of both were amazing.  Every  3 weeks or so I make a large batch of kimchi – I’m totally obsessed and have been since childhood. I’m working on fermenting green tomatoes from the garden today.

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Fermented garlicky rattle snake bean poles and carrots. All of the purple color came off of the beans as well as my cosmic carrots during fermentation, leaving the brine pinkish. And then more pickles… I love a good relish platter, especially when it’s all homemade!

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We had to pick all of the green tomatoes and peppers due to the deep freeze we got the other day, so spicy fermented green tomatoes it is!

Tell me about your yield! What did you preserve this year and which method did you use? Which turned out to be your favorite?

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam Recipe – No Powdered or Liquid Pectin Added

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Since the rhubarb was growing like crazy in the garden, I decided it must be time to start canning. Strawberry-Rhubarb jam has been my favorite jam since I was a kid and oddly, I haven’t made it since the first year I started canning.

I didn’t have a go-to recipe to use and when searching the web, I found that pretty much all of the recipes I came across either had a TON of sugar added (like 8 or more cups, isn’t that nuts?!) or used liquid/powdered pectin. One even used strawberry jello instead of real strawberries <gag>. So, I experimented and the results were great.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of chopped rhubarb
  • 5 cups of quartered strawberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup of filtered water
  • 3 cups of organic sugar (or 2 cups of raw honey)

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Once you have all of your ingredients ready, toss the strawberries into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and use a potato masher to smash up the berries. Then toss in all of the remaining ingredients.

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Heat to a boil and cook over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes. You must stir often to avoid burning the sauce.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam recipe - No added liquid or powdered pectin - all organic

That’s it!

Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch head space, and seal. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don’t bother with processing and just refrigerate.

For more inspiration on how to use up your rhubarb, here is the rhubarb and apple jam recipe I created last spring!

How to Make Sauerkraut From Scratch: Step by Step Guide to Fermenting Cabbage

Homemade Sauerkraut - www.MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Here is a quick and easy guide to making your own sauerkraut. Why ferment foods? I briefly explain why here. For ingredients, all you will need is organic cabbage and sea salt.

Homemade Sauerkraut - www.MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

I use about 1.5 tablespoons of sea salt per every 3 pounds or so of cabbage.

Homemade Sauerkraut - www.MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Clean up your cabbage and shred it or grate it. Place the shredded cabbage in bowls and toss in some sea salt.

Homemade Sauerkraut - www.MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Then begin to layer your cabbage into your crock, alternating between layering the cabbage and sprinkling it with sea salt.  Firmly pack the cabbage into the crock using some elbow grease. You can add additional veggies to your cabbage at this point as well, such as carrots, jalapenos, onions or garlic.

Homemade Sauerkraut - www.MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

I was able to fit both of my cabbages in this gallon sized crock. The salt should pull water out from the cabbage which will create the brine that your cabbage needs to be submerged in.  The older your cabbage is, the less water that will be pulled from the shreds.

Homemade Sauerkraut - www.MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Cover your cabbage with a lid or weight to keep the cabbage under the brine level. I’ve used jars full of water, clean rocks and other creative items to weigh down my lids. Just make sure whatever you use is sanitized.

Homemade Sauerkraut - www.MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

If your brine does not rise above the cabbage, dissolve one tablespoon of sea salt in one cup of filtered water and add it to the crock.  Cover the crock with cheesecloth, a pillowcase or any other breathable wrap. Store in a cool, dry place and check on your sauerkraut on a daily basis to make sure no mold has grown or bugs have found there way in. You also want to make sure the brine has not evaporated.

Taste test every week or so until you have reached your desired taste.  I have had sauerkraut ready in two weeks and have left some fermenting as long as five weeks. Once it is complete, transfer the kraut into glass jars and keep it in the fridge!

How to make homemade sauerkraut - www.minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

Wondering about my beautiful crock? Most people ask me where they can find one for themselves. I bought mine from Jeremy Ogusky, a potter out in Boston. It is a handmade gallon size crock, which initially people think is too small, but I have found it to be just the right size. I refer to it as “the gem of my kitchen”. It’s not only functional, but aesthetically pleasing. See more of his crocks, recipes and portfolio here.

 

 

Organic Rhubarb and Apple Jam – No Powdered or Liquid Pectin Added

Organic Rhubarb-apple jam - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Strawberry-rhubarb jam is my absolute favorite, but since strawberries aren’t available here in Minnesota for another week or two, I decided to try something new. I gave rhubarb-apple jam a whirl and it is a big hit around here so I wanted to share the recipe with all of you.

Ingredients

  • 10 stalks of rhubarb, which was about 5 cups of chopped rhubarb
  • 3 organic apples, peeled and diced – which was about 3 cups diced
  • 1 cup of filtered water (we use reverse osmosis)
  • 2 cups of organic sugar

Organic Rhubarb apple jam - no pectin - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together all of the ingredients. Heat to a boil and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring often.

Organic Rhubarb apple jam - no pectin -MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

I like chunks of apple in my jam so I diced my apples in fairly large chunks which I decided I wanted a bit smaller once I started cooking. Once the fruit began to soften, I used the potato masher to smash things up just a little more. If your run into the same situation, the potato masher offers a great solution.

Organic Rhubarb apple jam - no pectin- MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Once your fruit is the consistency you want, grab your funnel and ladle the sauce into sterilized jars. If you are processing these, process for 10 minutes, otherwise refrigerate.

Organic Rhubarb-apple jam -- MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

After all said and done, I only had five small Weck jars of jam. Next time I’ll double this recipe for a larger batch. The flavor is beautiful with the sweetness of the apples and the sour of the rhubarb. My mom said it would be “great on pork” and my aunt said, “it tastes like rhubarb flavored apple sauce”. You could even add cinnamon or nutmeg for a great seasonal flavor for enjoyment in the fall or winter.

Take care, Stephanie

Garlicky Pickled Asparagus – Canning Recipe

Pickled asparagus --- MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

So last Tuesday I pickled 6 lbs of asparagus using a recipe I hadn’t tried before. It wasn’t actually a recipe, it was more of an experiment.  I began canning in 2008 and back then I used standard Mason jars to pickle with. But three years ago, I learned that the canning jar lids have BPA in the lining of the lids. Ever since, I have been hoarding Weck jars. They are more expensive, but I LOVE them.  If you follow my blog on a regular basis, you have likely already learned about my infatuation with Weck jars, but if not, you can read about it here. That said, the one problem I have run into is that I never know how many jars to clean or how many jars a recipe will yield because the jars that I use are all different sizes. (It is easier to eyeball with jams and harder with brines). The perk of this is that I am usually forced to quickly materialize a solution which has so far ended up with positive results and new favorite recipes.

I actually pickled 12 lbs of asparagus last week but the second “experimental recipe” didn’t turn out as well so I won’t be sharing that one. I was trying to hold out for two weeks before I tried the first batch I pickled, but with urging from my daughter, we decided to bust into a jar a week early and I’m sure glad we did. WOW! These are good. I’ve pickled asparagus in the past but this time the recipe was very different and very simple. I’d describe the flavor to be similar to a garlicky pickle; an asparagus pickle. They are perfect.

After tasting one spear, I decided I needed to try it out in a Bloody Mary. So I did.

Pickled Asparagus - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.comMmmmMmmm… yep, just as expected: Delicious

So here’s what you’ll need to recreate this awesomeness…

Ingredients:

  • 6 lbs of fresh picked asparagus
  • 1 Tablespoon of dried dill seed
  • 1.5 bulbs of garlic (15-20 cloves), cleaned and slivered
  • 1/2 cup of pickling salt (honestly, you could do less)
  • 4 cups of white, distilled vinegar
  • 4 cups of water – we use water from our reverse osmosis
  • 1 Tablespoon of red pepper flakes (optional – add more for more spice)
  • Jalapenos (optional)

You may need more or less brine depending on the jars you are using. I used 4 small asparagus jars and 2 large asparagus jars. If you are using standard Mason jars, then you will likely be fine with the amount of brine.

I bought my asparagus from the local farmer’s market.  It was picked on Friday and canned by Sunday. Can’t really ask for anything fresher unless I grew it myself. I prefer to use medium-sized stalks, for some reason the really large ones totally turn me off. But use whichever floats your boat, they are going to taste great either way!

Pickled Asparagus - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Clean the asparagus thoroughly.  Snap off the ends at their natural point of breakage. (If that doesn’t make sense to you then just cut off the bottom 2″ or so). After it is all cleaned,  blanch it. To blanch asparagus, heat a large pot of water and bring it to a boil. Put the asparagus in the boiling water for 60 seconds and remove.Pickled Asparagus - blanching 101 - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Then promptly place the asparagus in an ice bath to stop them from cooking.  Pickled Asparagus -how to blanch - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Then set them on paper towels to dry off some.

At this point, you’ll need to trim the asparagus to fit in your jars. The cut-off 1″ or 2″ can be used in a soup, or sautéed, or simply pickled with the rest of the group. I always pickle the extra cut-off part. Remember to leave 1/2″ of head space in the jar.

Peel, rinse and sliver the garlic.

Put together the brine. In a large pot, combine the vinegar, water, pickling salt, dill seeds and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil.

Pickled Asparagus - - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

While the brine is heating up, divvy up the garlic amongst your jars. Begin packing the jars with asparagus. You want to pack them as tightly as you can without damaging any of the spears. I use a stainless steel chopstick to aid me in this task. Add jalapenos if you are looking for some spice.

Once you have all your jars packed, grab your funnel and pour the hot brine in the jars, leaving 1/2″ head space. Wipe the rims of your jars with a clean cloth, put on the lids and process for 10 minutes.

Try your best to wait for these guys to pickle before devouring. The longer you wait, the better they’ll taste!

Enjoy!

What is your favorite pickled treat?

Take care, Stephanie

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