December 2, 2009

Food Preservation Egg-stravaganza

Recently I made *family member spoiler alert!* preserves as holiday gifts with some girlfriends. We made blueberry jam (one with added cinnamon and one without) and a hot pepper jam. If you've never had hot pepper jam, it's a delicious combination of sweet and spicy. It's best served warm over a block of cream cheese with crackers as a party appetizer.

We used cute little 4 oz. jars, which are the perfect size for gifts, and can easily be covered with fabric to add a little holiday flair (just screw band down over fabric). I've included the recipe, because the one included in the Sure Jell pectin has a typo! It does not list sugar as an ingredient, and while you can add less sugar if you use the No Sugar Needed pectin, you can't skip the sweet stuff all together or your jam will not set and taste terrible. Not so great for gifts (although, I'm sure some of you could find some deserving family members!).

Hot Pepper Relish
From Kraft Foods

2 medium red peppers, seeded, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 medium green peppers, seeded, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
10 large jalapeƱo peppers, seeded, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl, divided
1 box Sure Jell No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin

Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

Place red, green and jalapeno peppers, vinegar and water in large saucepot.

Mix 1/4 cup of the sugar (from the measured amount in bowl) and pectin. Add to pepper mixture in saucepot; mix well. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining 2 3/4 cups sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.

Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars rack in canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

My other current foray into food preservation is beet pickled eggs! I'm sure you've all seen the creepy jar at the bar and wondered, who actually eats those?? Well, not me, that's for sure. They're *supposed* to be kept in the refrigerator. So that's where mine are right now, pickling away. I'll devil them later and let you know how they turn out (I'm curious, since I don't actually like beets! I used to say I didn't like beets? That's crazy!).

Photo by Roland Bello

Beet Pickled Deviled Eggs
From Gourmet Magazine

3 cups water
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 small beet, peeled and sliced
1 small shallot, sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
12 hard-boiled large eggs, peeled
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted cooled
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Bring water, vinegar, beet, shallot, sugar, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan, then simmer, covered, until beet is tender, about 20 minutes. Cool completely, uncovered. Put beet mixture in a container with eggs and marinate, chilled, gently stirring once or twice, at least 2 hours.

Finely grind caraway seeds in grinder.

Remove eggs from beet mixture and pat dry (discard beet mixture). Cut in half lengthwise and remove yolks. Mash yolks with mayonnaise, mustard, parsley, and half of caraway. Season with salt and pepper, then divide among egg whites. Sprinkle with remaining caraway.