Friday, September 18, 2015

Pickled Asian Pears, Bread & Butter Pickles, Pickled Hot Peppers and some more Tomato Sauce

I was a little busy this last week becasue everything in the garden is exploding. All the peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes need to be picked. Also a woman came into the Tool Library brought me a bag of Asian Pears. I had to get busy and get some things preserved before they started to go bad. 

I started with the Asian Pears since it was a new recipe. I found the recipe on my favorite blog about canning Food In Jars. Marisa made these Pickled Asian Pears with Lemon from a book on she received called Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon. The recipe is simple, I had almost everything except the Mirin. I wanted to stay true to the recipe so I went to the store to get Mirin...damn that stuff can be expensive. It was $11 for a pint bottle. You can order it on line for cheaper but I didn't want to wait to get it in the mail. I also used fresh ginger instead of pickled ginger in the brine. I have never had asian pears so I was unsure if the pears were ripe, it seems they were a little on the crisp side. Since I was pickling the pears I was not too worried as I wanted something a little more crunchy. The receipe also does not use a water bath to preserve the fruit. You keep it in the refrigerator, it will keep for up to a month, which for is is not long enough. I don't know if I will eat 3 pints of pickled pears in a month. So I made another batch and gave them a water bath, we shall see which keeps longer. I also used the new vintage jars from Ball, I like the way to pears look in the blue & green jars, I don't think they look good in the purple jar. 

Next I had to get busy with the cucumbers. Because I had already made several batches of dill pickles a friend suggested Bread & Butter Pickles. I had some very large cucumbers and slicing the cumbers seemed the way to go. It again was an easy recipe from Food in Jars. Instead of using 2 red peppers, I used one red pepper and some of the home grown hot peppers from the garden. I have a lot of hot peppers. The only thing that throws me is you salt the cucumbers, peppers and onions for 4-12 hours to get a lot of the water out of the vegetables. The water is replaced with the brine. So I have to think ahead when making these pickles. I will wait for a week then open a jar to make sure the taste good, preliminarie taste test say they will be great, a little on the hot side but good. Of course I still had about 1/2 a grocery bag of hot I pickled another batch. I put the peppers in half pint and quarter pint jars because I don't think you need a lot of hot peppers. I'm not sure if I can go through a jar in a month.

Last but not least was the tomatoes before they went south. I mean if i'm going to grow the things I need to make sure that I use them all up. Last week I made some marinara sauce. I cooked the tomatoes for a couple of hours then sautéed up some garlic and onions in a large frying pan adding the cooked tomatoes and letting the sauce simmered for about 4 hours. It got rave reviews from the group of folks staying at the house, not to mention it kept the house warm on a rainy day. Because of the sauce I realized that I need to simmer my tomatoes a lot longer then the recipe stated. It said to simmer the tomatoes for about 1-1 1/2 hours. They really taste a lot better when you let them simmer for about 4 hours reducing the sauce by about a third. I would also like to say I now love my food mill. All I do  is cut up the tomatoes, put them in a large sauce pan, mash them with a potato masher as they heat up. Let them boil for about 5 minutes then run the batch through the food mill a cup or two at a time. It gets all the seeds and skins out very nicely and makes for a great looking sauce. I return the tomatoes to the sauce pan, add some salt & pepper, a little garlic and if I want hotter tomato sauce I roast some peppers and put them through the food mill. It makes for a great base for any tomato based dish. 

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