I finally got around to trying some things that had long been on my want-to-do list – wine herb jelly and canning my fermented mini-gerkins. I read in Joy of Pickling about hot water bath canning your fermented pickles and realized in the name of fridge space, I needed to do that before my fridge was overrun with jars of cute, mini-watermelon-like cukes.
I’ve gotten a few questions about how I’ve put them up this year. Since fermenting is about as loosey goosey as I am, I don’t have a specific recipe. As I’ve picked my mini-cukes and had enough to do something with, I have packed them in a jar and covered them with brine. My ratio has been 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt to 1 cup water. For every cup of brine, I added a teaspoon of dill seed and a garlic clove or two. Make sure all your cukes are submerged and after about 4-5 days, you’re set. I have found we prefer ours if I drain them, rinse them and pack them in vinegar before stashing in the fridge. (For instructions on how to keep them submerged, check out Amanda’s tutorial.)
When I set about putting them up to make them shelf stable, I followed the technique of draining them and heating the brine in packing them. I added some vinegar to the brine, mostly because that’s how we like them. I processed the pint jars for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. I did three pints and while I noticed one jar shriveled up like the last batch I subjected to heat, two did not. We’ll see what they look like once I open them up, when we are done eating the jars we currently have in the fridge.
After successfully making several batches of jam this summer, including one with pectin, I was feeling pretty sure of myself in the jam & jelly department. In researching hot pepper jellies, I came across quite a bit about herb jellies and really had the urge to try my hand at some. I swapped for a jar of lemon, red onion & oregano jam that Hunter made from Put ’em Up! Fruit earlier this year and enjoyed it to no end. I had it in my mind that herb jelly made with wine would be this equally wonderfully savory thing.
“Put ’em Up Fruit” has a recipe for wine herb jelly, which is what started this idea off. It calls for making your own pectin out of apples, which for reasons that as I sit here typing, suddenly don’t seem as preposterous as they did when I convinced myself I could skip that step. I mean, have you met me? I try everything from absolute scratch once, just to say I did it. Many of the old timey herb jelly recipes use apples or apple juice in making them. They also call for quite a bit of sugar to help it set. Instead, I thought I could wing it, vaguely following some recipes I found online, including one from the New York Times. I also tried to cut the sugar. Not entirely jam fail, but the resulting jelly is sweeter than I anticipated and not all the red wine batch set properly. I had a brief conversation last Saturday morning at market with Daniel, the jam god, who may have almost talked me into making my own pectin so that next time I do this, I might achieve something closer to my desired results – a savory jam that is pairs nicely with bread, cheese & olives. (Although he did not promise making my own pectin would do this – he just gave me a pep talk on making my own pectin.)
I did a red wine as well as a white wine mix – last week’s cold meant I had a few bottles of wine open that I wasn’t up for finishing before they were undrinkable. For the red wine, a Spanish blend, I used rosemary, sage & parsley, throwing extra rosemary in the jars. The white was a Percorino from Italy that I didn’t entirely care for that I paired with thyme. Interestingly enough,I liked both wines better in the jelly form, even if they were subtle and paired with herbs. I can’t decide if I’m going to continue to experiment with this or just make myself a batch a the lemon, red onion & oregano jam which I know will suffice.
Currently, I’m experimenting with green tomato pickles. I made some last year and they were hands down, my favorite go-to pickle. This year, I’m liming them before pickling to see if I can get them a bit more firm. Also, Wynn sent me this Rum Raisin Apple Pie Jam recipe that I think we might need for Oysterfest breakfast. I just so happen to have a brand new bushel of apples sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor….