14 October 2011

Cape Gooseberry Jam

I first tasted a cape gooseberry while I was in Germany. It was served as the crowning jewel of a dessert and none of my group knew what it was. Our first thought was that it was a small tomato, but when I bit into it, I knew that wasn't the case. It was such a revelation of flavor. It was a heavenly bite of goodness. I had a new favorite fruit. Of course, it took several people that our server had to consult with to give it an English name: Cape Gooseberry. And when I got back to the US, I looked up this lovely fruit and my what names it is called: husk cherry, tomatillo (but not the type one makes Mexican salsa verde from), ground cherry, and a few others besides.

Well, fortunately for me, my CSA last year gave us so many that I couldn't eat all of them and decided to jam some. Oh, what wonder! Unfortunately, I didn't record my recipe, but I have found another with which I have jammed this year's crop; which this time are some I picked myself, though it was indeed from the farm I have this year's CSA.

Cape Gooseberry Jam
yields 6 cups

2 pounds fruit, husked and washed
2 pounds sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 box pectin

1. Pierce the fruit with a fork and cover with sugar and store in fridge overnight

2. In the morning, blend at least 3/4 of the fruit and sugar into a puree and add back into the pot

3. Add the pectin and lemon juice

4. Bring to a full rolling boil and hold for a minute, or until a thermometer shows at least 220°F (jell point) and/or a drop on a cold plate shows jelling

5. Jar as usual

08 October 2011

Pickled Peppers

When it comes to pickled things, I'm more than a bit picky. I don't like any sort of pickled cucumber, though this might be because I don't like cucumbers. I didn't like the pickled carrots I made so long ago. I do, however, like sauerkraut and pickled plums, and I have recently discovered a love of pickled peppers.

I first had some pickled peppers not that long ago. I know, what rock have I been living under all my life? (Unfortunately, that would be my mother who doesn't really care for most vegetables and then destroys them when attempting to do something that resembles cooking them for other people.) Anyway, I had these pickled peppers on a grilled cheese sandwich when I was in Traverse City, MI visiting my old friend Beth, and it was the most fantastic explosion of deliciousness in my mouth.

So, when the pepper harvest came in from my CSA this year and I was inundated with peppers of all natures, I thought that I would try to recreate this wonderful thing. And I did.

Pickled Peppers
1 cup water
1 cup distilled white vinegar
3% w/w (non-iodized) kosher salt (~1/2 ounce)

Enough peppers to fill the up to 2 pint jars, preferably a mix of (mostly) sweet and (2-3) spicy (but not habaneros as their flesh is too thin)

1. Prepare jars and begin boiling the water bath canner

2. Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds, and sear the skins of the peppers beneath a broiler or over a grill

3. Remove the peppers skins and chop as finely as you'd like the pickled peppers

4. Boil the water, vinegar and salt solution for five minutes

5. Pack the jars tightly and to within 3/4" of the rim

6. Pour the pickling liquid over the peppers and fill up to 1/2" of the rim

7. Remove air bubbles in the jar by running a chopstick around the side

8. Lid the jars and process in water bath for ten minutes (fifteen for quarts)

Note: Some people want to have a 1:2 water:vinegar concentration, but as long as the jars remain sealed the contents are safe to eat. If you do want to up the vinegar, but you don't want the extra sourness, you can add sugar (though I don't know how much per cup of liquid). Sugar, however, tones down spiciness as well as acidity, so you'll want to add more spicy peppers per jar to get the same kick.

These pickled peppers will need to sit preferably a month or more to properly soak in all the flavors--the sourness of the vinegar, the saltiness, and the spice from whatever hot peppers you added to the jar.