Canning Tomatoes

This is the last of the 6 canning workshops organised by Richmond Food Secure and Richmond Fruit Tree Project.  The workshops were a great success with full attendance.   Here are the earlier workshops I attended:

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There is nothing quite like the taste of sweet, ripe tomatoes.  Canning is a way to capture a taste of summer to brighten up a grey winter day.  Canning tomatoes seemed to be very popular and 3 tomatoes canning workshops were conducted.  It looks like a lot of people love to plant tomatoes.

The above are some of the tomatoes that Karen harvested from her community garden in downtown Vancouver and her balcony.  They include Green Zebra, Tigerella (orange with green), Italian Plum (small red) and Purple Ball (the big red one as it did not turn out to be purple).  Karen and Colleen started with 50 tomato plants from seed in early spring.  In May they planted the seedlings in the community garden in downtown.  Not all of the tomatoes have yield a lot of fruit but the Tomatillos, Sungolds (tiny orange tomatoes), Italian Plum, Black Plum and Green Zebra have been the most prolific.

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You may infused the tomatoes with herbs and spices but do not add too much as the addition may changed the acidity of the content and caused spoilage.

Ingredients

For each 500ml jar, you will need:

  • about 1 pound (400 to 500 gram) tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon of powdered citric acid or 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice.  Bottled lemon juice is recommended as it has a defined acidity, whereas fresh lemon juice will vary significantly in acidity, depending upon the individual lemon.
  • salt, if desired, up to 1/2 teaspoon
  • herbs and spices if desired

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Three-Ginger Pear Chutney

This is the second canning workshop organised by Richmond Food Secure. Originally, Karen wanted to do a peach chutney. But, since the Richmond Food Tree Sharing Project collected a lot of pears that week, Karen made a change of recipe to Pear Chutney instead. Karen is very versatile and she often has to decide on what to cook in the Gilmore Park Community Meal at the very last minute depending on what she gets from the food bank, Richmond Food Tree Sharing Project and other donors.

Chutney is a relish made by combining fruits and spices, originally accompanying Indian (south Asian) meals.  The Hindi word chatni means ‘to taste’.

Some chutneys use fresh ingredients and are served immediately, while others are cooked, then processed to preserve the fruits for later use.  Chutney can be sweet or sour, spicy or not; or combinations of these.  Like any relish, the texture can vary from smooth to chunky, depending on the creator.  Typical ingredients can include combinations of mango, apple, pears, peaches, plums, herbs, citrus fruits, tomato, raisins, coconut, vinegar(s), honey, sugar, garlic, ginger, cinnamon and chilies.  But generally, a chutney makes use of the ingredients which are typically at hand.

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For today’s recipe, we got to sample it.  Karen brought a jar of her Peach Chutney made last year for us to sample.  Chutney can be served beside cheeses and cold meats, or with hot meals.  Ginger/pear combinations are particularly delicious with pork or chicken.

The chutney pairs well with the tangy and creamy goat cheese.  This is a great appetizer for entertaining.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups peeled, cored and diced/sliced fresh pears (about 6-9 medium, or 1.1 kg), preferably half ripe and half not so ripe
  • 1 cup tart apple, peeled, cored and diced (about 1 large)
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1/2 cup chopped candied ginger
  • 1/2 cup seedless raisins (50-60gm)
  • 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup golden brown sugar (160-175gm)
  • 1 to 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, peeled (or 1 teaspoon ground dried ginger)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground dried ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

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This recipe makes 3 to 4, 250 ml jars.

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Orange Plum Jam

In the plum canning workshop, we also made an Orange Plum Jam.  The color of this jam will wary from golden to jewel purple, depending upon the colour of the plums.  In our case, it’s golden yellow as we are using the Golden Plums.

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This Orange Plum Jam is delicious as a spread on toast, or as a topping for angel food cake or cheesecake.  You can substitute the orange flavoured liqueur with almond flavour liqueur, or with flavoured syrups.  If you choose to omit the syrups, the final yield will be slightly less.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups plums, pitted and finely chopped (about 2-3 lbs or 1-1.25 kg)
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest, grated (about 1 large, or 2 small oranges)
  • 1 package powdered fruit pectin (1.75oz or 49-57g)
  • 5 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange flavoured liqueur (optional)

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Plums in Syrup

Richmond Food Secure organised 3 sessions of canning and preserving the bounty of summer harvest for the enjoying in the winter.  The workshops will be conducted in the South Arm Community Center.  Chef Karen Dar Woon will instruct participants on easy methods of canning, using excess fruit and veggies that are coming out of the garden.  Each workshop costs $5.  I got to know of these workshops through Arzeena, the outreach coordinator of Richmond Fruit Tree Sharing Project.

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The theme for the first workshop was Golden Plum.  It is also known as Yellowgage or Golden Drop.  The Golden Plum is a small plum, with diameter around 3 to 4 cm.  The skin is sourish while the flesh is sweet.

Karen shared with us the following home canning knowledge:

What is Canning:

Home canning, also known as putting up, is the process of preserving foods (in particular, fruits, vegetables, and meats) by packing them into glass jars and then heating the jars. Heating kills microorganisms and inactivates the enzymes which can cause deterioration.  The heat process also drives the air out of the jars, creating a hermetic (airtight) seal; this prevents reentry of contaminants.

Prior to the mid 20th Century, canning was one of the most common methods of preserving food for later use.  Freezers were not developed for consumer use until mid 1940s, when the Birdseye company began distributing frozen foods by rail.

A little science:

The microorganisms which cause spoilage include molds and yeasts, bacteria (salmonella, staph and botulism) and enzymes.  These microorganisms are already in or on the foods in nature, but can be killed.  Most molds and yeasts are destroyed at temperatures between 140-190F (60-88C).  Bacteria thrive at those same temperatures, but are unable to live in high acid environments. Fruit jams and pickles are considered high acid foods (pH of 4.6 or lower), and so are considered lower risk for home canning.

The use of a pressure canner, producing temperatures of up to 240F (115C), is used for processing low acid and acid nuetral foods such as meats and vegetables.

Heating jars in the water bath processor causes expansion of the food, and pressure within the jar.  Air escapes from under the lid throughout the processing time.  When the produce cools, a  vacuum forms and the lid conracts, creating a hermetic (airtight) seal and preventing re contamination.

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Equipment:

Boiling water bath: Any large, heavy pot can be used, as long as it is at least 3″ taller than your jars.  A rack keeps the glass away from the direct heat of the pot, and can be helpful for removing the jars later, but isn’t critical.

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A folded tea towel can be used instead.

Jar lifters: specially shaped tongs which fit around the top of the jar.

Pressure canner: specially equipped pot which features a pressure-regulating device and a locking lid.  Opten available at smaller hardware stores and some specialty cookware shops.  These differ from pressure cookers in both shap and manufacture (more precise regulator).  A pressure canner MUST be used for ‘plain’ vegetables, meat, poultry or fish.

Jars: Canning jars are designed to withstand the temperatures and pressures involved in home canning.  Jars and rings may be reused, but ALWAYS USE NEW SEALS.  The two-part sealer uses a soft compound in the lid which softens with heat and provides a cushion between the glass and the metal lid.

For more info, check out www.homecanning.ca (Bernardin website, and the The Art and Science of Home Food Preservation @ 2006 Jarden Corporation.

Ingredients

  • 3-5 pounds plums
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups water

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Dr. Oetker Jam Express

It’s strawberry season. Ben brought home a 4 lb pack one day after work as he found a good deal at the groceries store, $4.98 for 4 lbs. Ben usually does not do groceries shopping. It just happened that he was looking for some stationery in the Real Canadian Superstore and saw the good deal.

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With so much strawberries, I quickly check my pantry and found a pack of Dr. Oetker Jam Express Gelling Powder which I bought a couple of months ago. I wanted to make some blueberries jam but do not get down to do it. So, this is just great for making strawberry jam.

I like Dr. Oetker Jam Express Gelling Powder for it’s simplicity to use and no additional sugar is required. You can use it to make jam from various fruit like raspberry, blueberry, blackberry and other fruits or blends. If you use defrosted frozen fruit, include the juice which will enhance the flavour and recipe only requires 1 3/4 cup of chopped defrosted frozen fruit.

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Nothing beats some freshly home-made strawberry jam on a toast.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh chopped strawberries, about 400g/1 lb
  • 1 package of 200g Dr. Oetker Jam Express
  • Two 250ml washed, rinsed and dried jam jars with sealing lids

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Strawberry Freezer Jam

Karen showed us how to make this beautiful Strawberry Freezer Jam. Summer is the time where we get all the delicious, nutritious and antioxidant laden berries and what better than preserving them in freezer jam for enjoyment all year round.

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The Freezer Jam can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to 8 months.

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This is a no-cook freezer jam using light pectin crystals. The freezer jam pectin requires less than half the sugar used in freezer spreads made with regular pectins.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups (2L) strawberries (about 2 lbs), hulled
  • 1 box (49g) light pectin crystals
  • 3 1/4 cups (800ml) granulated sugar

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Do not use overripen strawberries for making freezer jam. This is due to the need for the acidity in the strawberries to react with the sugar and pectin to form the jam.

Click on the link below for the instructions.

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Dilled Beans Pickles

I was invited by Arzeena to attend another workshop at the Garrat Wellness Center again. This time, it’s Savouring Spring longer workshop. The workshop is conducted by Karen Dar Woon who cooks for the community meal at Gilmore Park Church. Karen demonstrated to us how to do home canning using the heat processing method and make a no-cook freezer jam.

The first demonstration is making Dilled Beans Pickles using the heat processing method. The green beans and carrots are steeped in a zesty dill brine. These pickles can be used in salad, relish trays or as garnishes. You can mix the brine with a bit of salad oil to make a flavorful vinaigrette dressing.

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These pickles can be kept for 1 year if you follow the proper home canning method. The heat processing canning method kills the enzymes in food which cause the food to rot or spoil. Since we are preserving the food in a high acidity environment in our case, harmful bacteria will not survive in it. To learn more about home caning, you may visit this page.

Ingredients

  • 2.2 lbs (1kg) green beans
  • 2.2 lbs carrots
  • 3 small red or green peppers
  • 3 cups (750ml) white vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) pickling or Kosher salt
  • 18 peppercorns
  • 3 teaspoons (15ml) dill seed or 6 sprigs fresh dill
  • 6 cloves garlic

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Click on the link below for the instructions.

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