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Tag Archives: preserving


It was a cool day at the lake today, so we headed to The Berry Patch in Etna Green, Indiana for blueberry picking. This jam became the perfect highlight of this colorfully festive blueberry and ricotta crostini which can be made in less than 30 minutes from beginning to end. Add a strawberry or raspberry for an additional color and you have a perfect snacketizer for the 4th of July.

Ingredients: (this makes about 3/4 cups jam when cooked)

2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 T lemon juice

Heat all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently until thickened. You know its ready when is starts to stick to the spoon and your toddler is screaming that he wants some NOW!

For the crostini, simply broil some slices of french bread in the oven. Then get creative with decorating with ricotta cheese, blueberry jam, and your red berry of choice.






Cue the old school Zelda theme song, because I’m on a quest: make a canning salsa that is spicy enough for my husband to enjoy the heat all winter long. This recipe came from the Food Channel. The result is a salsa with a decent amount of spice (but my quest is not over yet). I know that I can just add some habaneros for some serious heat, and that would be great for a salsa to stick in the fridge and eat within the week. However, whenever I want to put tomatoes in the cabinet for a year, I am wary of playing with the ingredients. That’s because I know that it has to have the correct level of acidity, etc. in order to avoid spoiling the food. Does anyone out there know of a tested recipe for a spicy canning tomato salsa? I think there are a still a few weeks left of tomato season, and I would like to give it one more try.

That being said, this salsa is fairly easy and pretty delicious. Adjust the number of jalapeños, or take out some seeds if that’s your preference. This recipe could also use a bit more salt, but I would taste it first and decide what you want to do. These tomatoes came from a farm stand in Amagansett, and the jalapeños came from the rooftop garden.

One more note: My makeshift canner holds 4 pint jars at a time. I only processed 4 jars and put the other two directly in the fridge. Then when I noticed how the salsa wasn’t salty, I started to doubt that it would stay good in the cabinet. The next day, I noticed some air bubbles in a few of the jars, so I decided put three more in the fridge. I didn’t want to take any chances. I only have one jar left in the cabinet. I will open that one in a few months and let you know if it worked.

For more information about canning, you can check out my other experiments:

Peach Salsa (this one has details about how to can)


Jalapeño Jam

Pickled Green Beans

Strawberry Jam


  • 6 pounds of tomatoes
  • 10 jalapeños, chopped (seeds included)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 9 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 onions (preferably 1 white, 1 yellow, 1 red)
  • 6 pint jars (either small mouth or wide mouth is fine)
  • Lids and rings
  • Water bath with rack
  1. Sterilize jars and seals. (I did this by putting them in my dishwasher which gets super hot. Some dishwashers have a sterilize cycle, and that would work, too.)
  2. Start heating up your water for your water bath, if canning
  3. Put clean tomatoes in boiling water for 30-45 seconds, and then plunge them into ice water. The tomatoes will be easy to peel as a result.
  4. Peel tomatoes and cut out cores or bad spots. Chop the tomatoes to desired size (they will cook down so leave them slightly larger than you want them to be in the salsa).
  5. Mix tomatoes, garlic, lime juice, salt, and cumin and bring to a boil.
  6. Add onion, peppers, and cilantro. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 7-10 minutes.
  7. Remove 1 cup of liquid (to thicken the salsa).
  8. Put salsa in sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch of headroom. (Stop here and put lids on if you are not canning)
  9. I did not do this, but I will next time: Use a chopstick or knife to slide around the jar to get rid of air bubbles.
  10. Wipe the rim of the jar, place sterilized seal on jar, and tighten the ring.
  11. Place jars in water bath for 15 minutes (time depends on altitude – more time for higher altitudes).
  12. Remove jars and let stand for at least 24 hours. Remove rings (optional) and store. If the jar did not seal, place it in refrigerator and use within a week.

Guest blogger day! My mom sent me this beautiful and tasty-looking recipe. One thing that I like about this recipe is that it doesn’t include a ton dried spices, so you won’t find yourself running to 12 different stores trying to find 1 teaspoon of some random spice that you will never use agin.  She said that this recipe filled a quart sized mason jar perfectly.


  • 3/4 Cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1  3X1/2″ strip lemon peel (NO WHITE, just yellow)
  • 12 oz little tomatoes (any kind) (I mixed!)
  • 1/4 Cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (I used 4)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper


  1. Pour vinegar and water into saucepan. Add salt, sugar and lemon peel. bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Remove from heat. Let cool 20 minutes.
  2. Pierce each tomato 2 times with slender wooden skewer or toothpick. (I did 2 pierces, making 4 holes, and I cut the bigger ones in half)
  3. Toss tomatoes with dill, garlic, and crushed red pepper in large bowl.
  4. Add cooled vineger mixture.
  5. Let stand at room temp at least 2 and up to 8 hours.

These can stay in fridge about 2 weeks.

Here is Part 1 of my 2 preserving projects from this rainy day. This recipe is another great one from Sherri Brooks Vinton’s book: Put ’em Up!

I also made an addicting jalapeño jelly this afternoon, and I will post that one next. 


  • 2 pounds beets
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole cloves


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wrap the beets individually in foil and arrange on a single layer on baking sheets. Roast until tender when pierced with a  knife, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Use a wad of paper towels to a paring knife to take the skins off. Cut the beets in half and then into 1/4-inch slices.
  2. Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt, and then remove from the heat.
  3. Pack the beets into 3 clean, hot pint pars, arranging them snugly but with enough room for the brine to circulate. Divide the cumin seed and cloves among the jars. Pour the hot brine over the beets to cover by 1/2 inch. Leave 1/2 inch headspace between the top of the liquid and the lid.
  4. Cool, cover, and store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

If you want to can the beets, process for 30 minutes. They should be good for up to one year.



New York City is the big apple, so I went to town with some Empire apples from the Carroll Street Farmer’s Market this morning. I don’t own a food mill, and I dislike peeling apples because I feel like I am wasting so much food in the process (plus I was feeling lazy). So, I just made this applesauce with the peels. You can peel the apples for a more traditional take on applesauce, but you won’t get this gorgeous pink hue. It will also take a lot longer.  Since I was planning on canning the sauce, I wanted to save my time and energy for that step.

Applesauce is not just for kids or other people without teeth! I’m looking forward to putting this applesauce on latkes come December.

For more fun and seasonal preserving projects , take a look at my strawberry jam post from the spring, or my pickled green beans post from the summer. For detailed directions about canning, the Peach Salsa post is the one to check out.

Ingredients (if you want less applesauce, just cut the recipe in half–they might cook a bit more quickly)

  • 6 pounds of apples ( I used 18 Empire apples)
  • 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar (optional; to taste)
  1. Combine lemon juice and water in a very large pot.
  2. Core and chop apples into approximately 1-inch pieces, and toss into the pot with the lemon juice mixture as you go to prevent apples from discoloring.
  3. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender.
  4. Blend in batches in a food processor, or use an immersion blender.
  5. Return applesauce to the pot, and add sugar to taste. Heat briefly until sugar is dissolved.
  6. Refrigerate and serve within 5 days. Alternatively,  you can preserve it in jars for up to a year: I processed 8 half-pint jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

The peaches this year have been delicious, and my only complaint is that we cannot eat them all before they spoil. So, I opened up Sherri Brooks Vinton’s preserving book: Put ‘Em Up! and got to work. This week’s preserving projects were Peach Salsa and Peach Leather.

Peach Salsa

Note: If you are planning on canning the salsa, read the information at the bottom of the directions first, since you need to prepare your materials ahead of time. Canning can be a daunting project when working solo. I recommend canning in a small group to ease the stress and add to the fun. Canning is a great way to enjoy the bright flavors of summer in the dead of winter. If you plan on eating or sharing the salsa within a week, no need to can it. 


  • 3 pounds peaches
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 pound tomatoes, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro (which I went through the trouble of mincing and then forgot to add it before canning..oops!)


  1. Prepare an ice-water bath in a large bowl.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Working in batches of 2 at a time, blanch the fruit in the boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen the skins.
  3. Scoop the peaches out of the water and plunge them into the ice-water bath. Repeat with the remaining peaches. Drain.
  4. Combine the vinegar, brown sugar, cumin and salt in a large nonreactive pot. Using a small paring knife, peel, pit, and dice the peaches, adding them to the pot as you go to prevent browning. Add the tomatoes, bell pepper, jalapeno, and onion, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Add the cilantro (!) and remove from the heat.
  5. At this point, you can simply ladle the salsa into bowls or jars, and refrigerate for up to a week, covered. OR—You can CAN them so they can stay in the pantry for up to a year. Keep reading to find out how>>>

Canning the peach salsa:

You will need:

  • Canner (or large pot with layer of jar rings on the bottom, thread side down) Your container should be large enough that there is at least 2 inches of space above the height of the cans.
  • jars (I used 3 pint jars for this recipe, and there was some salsa leftover to eat right away. You can also use double the amount of half-pint jars, as they will require a shorter canner.) You will need extra jars to fill up the canner, so the cans do not tip while processing.
  • jar lifter
  • jar rings–you can reuse these; just make sure they are clean and free of rust
  • jar lids (may only be used once for canning)
  • canning funnel
  • bubble tool or chopstick
  • clean kitchen towels and several paper towels
  1. Right away, get the canner filled up with water–enough to cover the jars– and heat it up with the lid on. It will take a while to bring to a boil, and you want it to be ready while the salsa is still hot so you can do a hot fill.
  2. Run the jars in the dishwasher to ensure they will be clean and piping hot when the salsa is ready to go.
  3. Wash the lids and place them bottom-side down in a small heat-proof bowl. If you don’t have/don’t want to use a dishwasher, you can bring the jars to a boil in the canner once to get them nice and hot.
  4. Prepare the recipe as outlined above.
  5. Lay out a clean kitchen towel and have all our equipment nearby.
  6. Using the canning tongs, remove a jar from the canner, and carefully tip the hot water into the bowl with the jar lids so their sealing rings begin to soften. If your jars were in the dishwasher, just pout hot water over the lids–you can ladle some from the canner.
  7. Use the canning tongs to remove additional jars from the canner, emptying the water directly back into the canner and placing them, open side up, on a clean kitchen towel.
  8. Use the canning funnel to fill a jar with the hot salsa, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.
  9. Release trapped air with your bubble tool or chopstick.
  10. Wipe the rim clean with a paper towel, center lids on the jars and screw on the ring until it is finger-tip tight (not knuckle!)
  11. Repeat steps 7-10 with remaining jars.
  12. Use the canning tongs to lift the filled jars (be careful not to tip them) and lower them into the canner, being sure they are covered by 2 inches of water.
  13. Cover the pot and bring the water to a rolling boil. Lower the heat a bit, so the water isn’t rolling out of the pot by still maintains a lot of rolling action. Start timing 15 minutes after the full boil is reached.
  14. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and remove the lid from the canner.
  15. Let the jars cool in the canner for 5 minutes. This way they won’t spurt at you!
  16. After 5 minutes, use the canning tongs to lift the jars STRAIGHT out of the canner. Do not tip them!! Place them on a clean dish towel-covered counter.
  17. Let cool overnight. You will need to tighten the jars again. Store them in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

Here are some helpful resources on canning:

http://www.canningusa.com (detailed videos/tutorials)

http://sherribrooksvinton.com:  Sherri Brooks Vinton’s site


Peach Leather


  • 2 pounds peaches
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice (I used freshly squeezed lemon juice, but that might explain my uneven results)
  • 1/4 cup sugar


  1. Prepare an ice-water bath in a large bowl.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Working in batches of 2 at a time, blanch the fruit in the boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen the skins.
  3. Scoop the peaches out of the water and plunge them into the ice-water bath. Repeat with the remaining peaches. Drain. Using a small paring knife, peel, pit, and roughly chop the peaches.
  4. Bring the peaches and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium nonreactive saucepan (I used stainless steel). Simmer until they begin to break down, about 5 minutes. Remove the fruit from the heat, let cool slightly, and puree with a traditional blender or stick blender, or by running it through a food mill.
  5. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees F. Line a jelly roll pan or a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat and set aside.
  6. Return the puree to the pot and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until it thickens to the consistency of baby food. Add the lemon juice and sugar and stir to dissolve.
  7. Spread the puree on the baking sheet, tilting it to create an even layer about 1/8 inch thick. Dry in the oven until tacky to the touch, about 2 hours. *
  8. Cool to room temperature. Slide the parchment onto a cutting board and roll the leather into a tube. Slice the tube into 2-inch segments and store in a covered jar for up to 1 month.

*My puree took much longer than 2 hours before it turned tacky, and when it did turn tacky it did so unevenly. Next time, I will try to spread it in a thinner layer, and make sure it is as even as possible. Also, I will try to use bottled lemon juice as this may have caused the problem, too.  I’d love to hear how yours comes out!

The overflowing farmer's markets in NYC are a sure sign that its time to get pickling.

If all my cookbooks had a contest to see who was the most fun, Karen Solomon’s jam it, pickle it, cure it and other cooking projects would win hands-down. Some of her cooking endeavors are complicated and time-consuming.  This one is quick and easy, so easy a child can do it. In fact, I’ve made these pickles with children, and they think its a blast. Solomon recommends garnishing a Bloody Mary with these green beans (skip this step if you are making them with children). They also make a great topping to a salad.  You can substitute other vegetables as well: I’ve made pickled carrots, beets, cauliflower, and cucumbers. This recipe is a keeper.

You’ll need 3 clean pint jars with lids. Or if you only have a few green beans, cut the recipe in thirds and make one jar. I just stuck this batch in the fridge, so I did not need to obsess about readying my equipment and keeping a sterile laboratory-type environment. I’ll post more on canning another time. For now, here’s an amazingly easy recipe to try.


3 pounds green beans, stems intact, washed and dried

9 cloves garlic, crushed

3 cinnamon sticks

3 bay leaves

3 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds

3 tablespoons brown mustard seeds

6 tablespoons dill seeds

3 tablespoons black peppercorns

6 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/2 to 2 1/4 distilled white vinegar


Add one third of the green beans, garlic, spices and salt to each jar. Fill each halfway with vinegar (about 1/2 to 3/4 cups). Top off each jar with cool water. Seal each jar with a lid, and shake gently to dissolve the salt and distribute the spices. Refrigerate for at least 3 days.

The green beans will be ready to eat in 3 days, but will taste the best in 2 weeks. They should stay good in the fridge for about 1 month.

I was excited to find the farmer’s market overflowing with strawberries Saturday morning. I used my new Preserves Handbook (The River Cottage Preserves Handbook by Pam Corbin) to make this delicious and photogenic strawberry jam.

If you are going to can these, you’ll want to start sterilizing the jars before cooking the jam. That’s because you need to do a “hot fill,” meaning you need to fill the jars while the jam is still hot, and seal them immediately to keep it nice and clean inside. On the other hand, if you just want to put them in the fridge for a while and will eat them sooner, then there is no need to sterilize.

UPDATE: This jam turned out to be VERY sweet. You may want to adjust accordingly if you plan on just putting it directly into the fridge. Not sure how that will affect the canning process, since sugar helps to keep the jam fresh.

2 1/4 pounds strawberries, hulled, large ones halved or quartered

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 1/4 cups granulated sugar blended with 1 teaspoon pectin powder

2/3 cup lemon juice

Put 7 ounces of the strawberries into a preserving pan (I used a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot) with 1 cup of the plain granulated sugar. Crush to a pulp with a potato masher (I used a fork). Place the pan over gentle heat and, when the fruit mixture is warm, add the rest of the strawberries. Bring to a very gentle simmer, agitating the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to prevent the fruit from sticking. Simmer for 5 minutes to allow the strawberries to soften just a little.

Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups plain granulated sugar and the sugar/pectin mixture. Stir gently to prevent the sugar from sticking and burning on the bottom of the pan. When the sugar has dissolved, add the lemon juice. Increase the heat and, when the mixture reaches a full boil, boil rapidly for 8 to 9 minutes. Then test for the setting point. (I tested by using the dollop test: dipping a clean wooden spoon into the jam, holding it up over the pan, twirling it around a couple of times, and then letting the jam drop from the side of it. The jam should NOT run freely off the spoon. It should instead fall away in small dollops. Mine took closer to ten minutes to get to this point.)

Remove from the heat and, if the surface is scummy, stir gently until the scum has dispersed. Put into sterilized jars. Use within 1 year.