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March 24, 2009

RHUBARB PRESERVES


RHUBARB MADNESS
Forget about March madness I have been afflicted with Rhubarb Madness. I ordered 15 lbs. from my grocer last week and have done little else but put up rhubarb.The first batch went in the trash; (or to my friends with way sick sweet tooth’s) too much sugar. Most recipes call for an almost equal rhubarb to sugar ratio. Yuk, my teeth hurt even thinking about it, and what’s rhubarb without a bit of pucker? I reduced and reduced till I came up with a fruit/sugar ratio of about half of that. Use a candy thermometer with this recipe. Since there is not much pectin in rhubarb, you must reach the soft gel point. Once you have added the rhubarb, keep an eye on it. You barely want cook it or it will disintegrate and you will have a bit of a mush, which will taste fabulous but wont be quite as stunning
I used hothouse rhubarb which I think has more water in it and is not quite as tart as the wild variety.
The Rhubarb Rosemary is crazy good.
It was a huge hit with the grown ups. The rosemary enhances the wonderfully weird flavor of rhubarb. This jam is an excellent savory condiment, perfect on a cheese plate and delicious with spring lamb. Try it with duck or fois gras, or there's always toast. I know this sounds bizzaro but I mixed some with mustard and served it with my Easter Lamb, very, very yummy

RHUBARB PRESERVES
(master recipe)

INGREDIENTS

8 cups cut rhubarb (about 2 ½ -3 lbs)
4 cups sugar
1 lemon juiced

METHOD

1. Wash and trim rhubarb and cut into 1” pieces. Place in a non reactive bowl with sugar and lemon juice and macerate over night or until sugar is dissolved.
2. Strain the syrup into a preserving pan and bring to a boil. Skim. Continue boiling and skimming till you reach the gel point, 221 on a candy thermometer.
3. Add the rhubarb and return to a boil. Skim. Continue cooking for 3-5 minutes, stirring, careful to maintain the integrity of the fruit.
4. Place jam in hot sterilized jars, seal and label.

Makes 12 ½ pint jars

RHUBARB ROSEMARY PRESERVES

INGREDIENTS

1 2” piece of ginger sliced into coins
12 springs rosemary washed

METHOD

Follow directions for master recipe above.

2. Place 4 sprigs rosemary and sliced ginger in preserving pan with rhubarb syrup. You can put them in cheesecloth or an infuser for easy removal.

3. Remove rosemary and ginger when cooking is completed.

4. Place a 3” sprig of rosemary in each jar before adding hot preserves.

NOTE: For an even more savory flavor try 2 sprigs rosemary in a few of the jars.








March 15, 2009

CANNING IS COUTURE

CANNING IS COUTURE

Canning is many things; it’s slow, mysterious, a locavores wet dream and perfectly in tune with the new frugality. I promise, if you learn how to make jam people will fall in love with you thinking that you possess alchemistic powers.

Every piece of fruit longs to be immortalized in glass, so make friends with anyone who has a fruit tree, even the cranky lady up the street. If you can’t find a cranky lady or lack friends with fruit, check out these sites, http://www.fallenfruit.org/maps.html which is artists mapping public fruit trees (so cool!) and http://www.pickyourown.org/ which links you to local farms.

Your preserves are only as good as the fruit you use, which usually means organic. If you must buy fruit, your local farmers market is an incredible resource, although it can get pricey. Shop wisely, ask your farmers for second quality, which tastes just as good, but might not look perfect (fine for preserving). Develop a relationship with your growers, and they will take good care of you. I also have befriended my local greengrocer who sometimes orders cases for me at a reduced price. Bribe every one with jam.

One of the things I love about canning is that it is always different; no two batches are ever the same. You can use the same recipe every year and it will always surprise you. The time of harvest, amount of rain fall, ripeness of the fruit, all of these things affect the outcome, making each jar a little different, couture if you will.

So go get some fruit and join me in my canning adventures and watch the love come your way.