What We’re Reading This Week: Canning in the Modern Kitchen

Photography by copyright © 2018 by Mitch Mandel

“Some of my earliest memories are being in my grandma’s ‘canning kitchen’ three generations deep, tiny baby hands next to arthritic fingers, stuffing okra into jars and stirring big, steaming pots of vegetables,” says Jamie DeMent, the author of Canning in the Modern Kitchen (Rodale; $25).

The owner of Coon Rock Farm in Hillsborough, North Carolina, and Piedmont Restaurant in Durham, the native North Carolinian is a local food advocate who believes canning isn’t just about putting food in jars, but about sealing in the flavors of each passing season to enjoy later with friends and family. In her newest book, which includes beautiful photography by Mitch Mandel, the author includes more than 100 recipes for canning and cooking fruits, vegetables, and meats.

Still feeling apprehensive about canning? DeMent takes the fear out of the process, devoting many pages to safety information, equipment guidelines, and step-by-step instructions for water bath canning and pressure canning. And for anyone who lives 1,000-plus feet above seas level, she also includes time and pressure charts so that you can make the necessary adjustments when following her recipes. A natural teacher, DeMent walks newbie preservers through the basics of canning and offers up dozens of simple yet classic treats, like dill pickles and seasonal fruit jellies and jams. She also includes plenty of inventive ideas to enrich even an experienced canner’s winter pantry. Case in point: tuna in oil, buttery caramel sauce, even homemade tahini. Read on for three of DeMent’s delicious canning recipes.

Recipes reprinted from Canning in the Modern Kitchen. Copyright © 2018 by Jamie DeMent. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Mitch Mandel. Published by Rodale Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

Zucchini Pickles
For a nice change of pace, this straightforward bread-and-butter pickle recipe calls for zucchini not cucumbers. Serve them alongside dill pickles to compare the texture and taste.
Ingredients
[INGREDIENTS]
  • 4 pint canning jars
  • 10 small zucchinis ends discarded and cut into ¼-inch coins
  • 3 large sweet onions sliced thinly into rings
  • 1 cup kosher salt or more as needed
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 11 ⁄2 tablespoons pickling spice
Instructions
  1. Prepare your boiling-water-bath canning equipment, and have your jars sterilized and ready.
  2. Spread zucchini and onions on a sheet pan and sprinkle generously with salt. Let sit for 1 hour, then rinse off salt and drain well.
  3. Divide zucchini and onion evenly among 4 jars. Pack them well, but not so tightly that brine you’ll be adding can’t circulate.
  4. To make the brine, in a large stainless-steel pot over high heat, bring sugar, vinegar, and pickling spice to a rolling boil. Remove pot from heat and carefully ladle or pour brine to cover zucchini and onions completely, leaving 1⁄2 inch of headspace. Gently tap the jars to remove air bubbles. Wipe rim of each jar carefully with a clean towel to ensure a good seal, and carefully place lids and rims on jars.
  5. Follow your boiling-water-bath canning process and process for 10 minutes.

Pepper Jelly
In the South, you’ll find this delicious jelly served at nearly every family reunion, usually spread on top of cream cheese and served with crackers. If you like a spicier flavor, use all of the jalapeno seeds. The jelly’s also wonderful on grilled cheese sandwiches and open-faced turkey melts.
Ingredients
[INGREDIENTS]
  • 6 half-pint canning jars
  • 4 pounds tart apples including cores, cut into small pieces
  • 6 jalapeños halved lengthwise (keep all of the seeds for hot jelly; use half for milder flavor)
  • 1 red bell pepper cored and cut into thin strips
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 31 ⁄2 cups sugar
Instructions
  1. Prepare your boiling-water-bath canning equipment, and have your jars sterilized and hot.
  2. In a large pot over high heat, bring the apple, jalapeños, bell pepper, water, and vinegar to a boil. Immediately
  3. reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, for about 20 minutes, or until the apples and peppers are soft.
  4. Use a potato masher or ricer to mash mixture until it’s the consistency of baby applesauce. Place a mesh or cheesecloth-lined sieve set over a large bowl and carefully pour in mashed apple mixture; allow liquid to strain for at least 2 hours. Don’t force things: Let gravity pull the juices out for the best results.
  5. Measure the juice (you should have 4 cups) and pour it into a large heavy pot fitted with a candy thermometer. Add sugar and stir well. Heat over medium-high heat to bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and cook at a low boil, stirring regularly, for 10 to 15 minutes. Skim off and discard any foam. When jelly reaches 220°F on candy thermometer (make sure it’s not touching the pot), carefully ladle or pour the hot jelly into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1⁄4 inch of headspace. Gently tap the jars to remove air bubbles. Wipe rim of each jar carefully with a clean towel to ensure a good seal, and carefully place lids and rims on jars.
  6. Follow your boiling-water-bath canning process and process for 10 minutes.

Ginger Scallion Sauce
Delicious on many things, this Asian-inspired recipe can serve as a marinade, a dipping sauce, or as a dressing for cooked rice, noodles, or meat. If you plan to use the recipe immediately, skip the canning step.
Ingredients
  • 4-5 half-pint canning jars
  • 9-10 fresh scallions green and white parts, sliced paper thin (about 3 cups)
  • 1 ⁄2 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 ⁄2 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1 ⁄4 cup finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 ⁄4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 ⁄4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Prepare your boiling-water-bath canning equipment, and have your jars sterilized and ready.
  2. Add scallions to a large, heatproof metal bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm oils until they just start to pop; pour over scallions. Set mixture aside to marinate and cool, 45 to 60 minutes.
  3. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, bring the ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, and salt to a boil, stirring often to prevent sticking. Stir in scallion mixture and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and carefully ladle or pour hot sauce into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1⁄4 inch of headspace. Gently tap the jars to remove air bubbles. Wipe rim of each jar carefully with a clean towel to ensure a good seal, and carefully place the lids and rims on jars.
  4. Follow your boiling-water-bath canning process and process for 15 minutes.

 

What We’re Reading This Week: Canning in the Modern Kitchen