i’ve found that canning in february has it’s perks…eventually. or,
eventually i found that canning in february has it’s perks.
basically what i’m sayin’ is; at first thought canning carrots in feb was a brilliant idea. you know, good chance of them being local and all.
and then the only carrots i could find anywhere were cal-organic.
i mean, i’m in new england for cryin’ out loud! carrots are supposed to grow on trees here no?
…so i’m there with my 5 lb bag of well-traveled agribiz carrots thumbing though a myriad of canning books looking for something to get excited about when as luck would have it excitement came knocking at my door -
by way of a friendly neighbor carrying a paper bag swelling it seemed, to it’s seams with these:
“peggy’s been reading your canning blogs and when i came home from work today with these, she told me to bring some over to you…thought you could use some.”
(i must admit this event has bumped me up a notch in my own book(blog?) – i mean isn’t it legend that christine ferber’s neighbors come from miles around with offerings of the choicest of fruit that she may grace it with her preserving prowess? i imagine the wild and delicate alsace fruit lay quivering in their rustic french baskets praying to be handled by her royal jamness…)
ok, my neighbor lives just across the street, works at windy hill farm, and would probably give me the apples whether i canned or not, but still…
these are the things i think about.
of those carrots and apples i made this:
more on that later.
because there happens to be a 2nd series of events that prompted me to make yet another batch of something carroty this feb.
local gorgeous vermont-grown carrots!
what’s a can jammer to do?
buy them of course!
another thing that happens around this time of year: i start to get antsy about using up all of my freezer-preserved produce in anticipation of the coming season. rhubarb and strawberries’ days are numbered in the late winter months because they are some of the first things to spring forth in the new season.
these two happenings combined prompted me to combine these to happenings, and so i made this:
without further ado:
carrot apple butter with cardamom
adapted from the joy of jams, jellies & other sweet preserves
4 pounds carrots
about 4 cups water
3 & 1/2 pounds tart apples
4 cups sugar (i use raw)
teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cardamom seeds
pint and 1/2 pint mason jars
food millyield: approximately 5 pints (this recipe can easily be cut in half)1. peel and slice carrots thinly. put into preserving pot and barely cover with water. bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, until tender.
2. while carrots are simmering peel, core and slice apples thinly. when carrots are just tender add apples and continue to simmer until both are very soft.
3. while the carrots and apples are simmering, break open the cardamom pods with the end of a pestle or the like. take out the black seeds inside and discard the green casings. the seeds will be easy to grind with a mortar and pestle. they are quite sticky, so i stay away from an electric spice grinder when i am grinding them by themselves.
4. when the carrots and apples are soft put them through the medium screen of a food mill.
5. put milled carrots & apples, sugar and ground cardamom into the preserving pot, heat at first on medium-low until the sugar dissolves. once sugar has dissolved raise heat a bit, stirring more frequently as the butter thickens.
it is done when it becomes a shade darker, a bit glossy and a spreadable thickness. you should be able to drag your stirring spoon across the bottom of the pot and form a clean line, the butter hovering on either side for a second or two before it folds itself back over the bottom of the pan. mine took about 30 minutes.
while the butter is cooking, prepare your canning pot and jars.
6. when butter has reached sufficient thickness, take off heat and stir in vanilla extract.
7. fill pint and half pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace, wiggle the jar a bit and run a spatula around the insides to get rid of air bubbles.
8. hot water bath process for 10 minutes.
carrot rhubarb jam with rosemary
adapted from well preserved
4 cups shredded carrots (i used a food processor)
4 cups rhubarb, sliced across into 1/4 inch pieces
6 cups sugar (i use raw)
2 cara cara oranges, juice and zest
2 meyer lemons, juice and zest
2 heaping tablespoons of dried rosemary
pint and 1/2 pint mason jars, or smalleryeild: approximately 2 & 1/2 pints
1. use a peeler to take very thin slices of zest off of the oranges & lemons, leaving all of the white pith behind. use a knife to chop zest into very small dice. juice all the fruit after you’ve de-zested them.
2. because it’s winter i used dried rosemary. if you are making this in a clime where rosemary grows all year, or at the time of year when you can get fresh then by all means, use it! (i would use about 4 large sprigs and keep them whole). if you are using dried make sure it is from a good source, or better yet some you’ve dried yourself from your garden. because dried herbs that are sourced incorrectly or old might as well be dried bits of paper.
if using dried place in a tea ball, or a bit of tight weaved cheese cloth or butter muslin.
3. combine sugar, citrus juice & chopped zest, shredded carrots, and chopped rhubarb in a bowl and mix. bury the tea ball or bag of rosemary in the mixture. if using fresh sprigs mix them gently in, keeping them in tact so that you can fish them out later.
4. place covered bowl in fridge overnight to macerate.
the next day prepare your canning pot and jars. place 2 or 3 small plates in the freezer to test set later on.
1. pour mixture into preserving pot and bring to the boil. leave the rosemary in the boil for 2-3 minutes then remove. boil for approximately 25 minutes until sufficiently set. the shredded carrot and rhubarb should still remain somewhat intact.
gel point was reached at 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. if using the frozen plate method, place a teaspoon of the hot jam on the cold plate and place back in freezer for 1 minute. run your finger through the gel that falls around the carrot and rhubarb, if it forms a gentle wrinkle underneath your finger it has sufficiently set. if you are new to jam making you may need to test a few times, remember to take the pot off the heat while testing so as not to overcook.
2. fill hot jars, leaving 1/4 headspace, hot water bath process for 10 minutes.
tigress’ can jam february: carrots – double success!
carrot apple butter with cardamom – if you are a regular jam and jelly eater like me, butter can take a minute to get used to, but this works deliciously slathered on quick breads and stirred into a cup of yogurt. the cardamom definitely added a well-received hit of warmth.
learning: i was aiming for a less sweet butter, next time i would take the sugar down by at least 1/2 a cup, maybe a bit more. another option would be to go really tart on the apples, i’m thinking carrot crab apple butter. i would also try it with a whole vanilla bean next time in place of the vanilla extract. all and all from this intrepid jam-maker, i am intrigued by the butter making process and am excited to explore it more.
carrot rhubarb jam with rosemary - this is by far the star of my february can jam show! the texture is very ferberesque, with bits of fruit and vegetable floating jewel-like in an herbal jell. the carrot, rhubarb and rosemary taste is clear as a bell.
learning: i’m excited about the idea of making a very worthwhile jam in the dead of winter, and with frozen rhubarb that i inevitably have packed by the bushelfull because i swear, i have a field of rhubarb growing each spring. i dare say this jam doesn’t suffer in the least from root-cellared carrots, frozen rhubarb, and freshly dried rosemary. a perfect winter project, and a damn good addition to my repertoire!
jammin’ in feb!
i know it’s windy outside, it’s even longer-winded in here but i’ve got just one more thing to tell ya:
take note all you can jammers: february’s round-up post will be posted here next wednesday because even though i’ve been gettin’ my sweet tooth on, i see a lot of pickle-pushing out there – exciting!
and for everyone else; get your carrots in a bunch, ’cause if you’re excited about what i just said above just wait until next wednesday!