Saturday, 23 January 2010

Epic BBQ vs Summer Heat

I so wasn't in the mood for making something hot, or meaty. And I'm glad I didn't - there was so much meat already. So I made mojito iceblocks, in little plastic shot glasses. There was 58 of them, and they kept us cool and minty! And I made sure I followed a recipe, 'cause then I knew that the alcohol amount would be enough to ensure freezing.
I'm interested in some of the other recipes, if they're available - jerk marinade, for starters!

Monday, 18 January 2010

General Bottling

*queue Hey Hey It's Saturday cheesy memories*

Hello! General Bottling here!

Okay, enough of that.

Over at BT's we've been talking about bottling stuff, and I though I'd copy down my notes on bottling stuff, the basic methods you can apply to anything you want to bottle, like jams, sauces, pickles, stewed fruit etc. I still find it disconcerting that it's called canning on the US. Bottles, people. Bottles.

In general, to bottle something:

1) the liquid must be boiling hot. If you've let something cool down, bring it back up to a boil for a few minutes.

2) the jars and lids must also be hot, to avoid explodifications. Hot liquid + cool jar can sometimes = bang. You can be mildly cheaty and do this straight out of the dishwasher. Or if they're already clean, microwave them (except the lids, put them in a bowl of boiling water). I tend to stick jars and lids on a tray in the oven on about 100C until you say OUCH when you touch them.

3) put your hot bottles onto a teatowel on the kitchen bench to help avoid other explodifications. Hot bottle + hard or cool surface may = bang.

4) leave about 1 - 1.5 cm for expanding/contracting at the top. Where the bottle becomes the neck is often a good guide.

5) ideally, wait until the liquid is no longer steaming, then put lids on. Too hot can mean too much condensation. If it's too cool, you may not get a good seal.

6) once filled, you can do one of three things:

A: Seal lids about quarter turn too loose (ie, not completely tight) and boil in a saucepan of water, making sure the water doesn't come right up to the neck. The boiling expands the bottle, causing a tight seal. You still need to check this seal and make sure it's tight. It usually is.

B: Seal lids completely (as tightly as you can by hand) and turn upside down to cool. Turning upside down helps to create a vacuum against the lid as it cools, thus making the seal tight.

C: Be a slack tart and just seal tightly. I like to think this isn't completely slack, because if I turn jam upside down it would set like that and then be messy-looking when I turn it back upright. I do it for sloppy things though.

7) Rest the bottles on a teatowel until room temperature (see explodifications, bottles thereof).

8) In theory, pop-tops should pop down. If they haven't, and they pop down when you press them, it's worked. I usually have a few which go SNAP and it's very satisfying ;-) If they don't, it's still probably worked but you might like to store them in the fridge just in case. So far I haven't had any problems.

9) I've used some jars with plastic screw lids (like the Vegemite jars) for things that either aren't going to be kept for very long, or are going to be kept in the fridge. So far, so good.

Got any other tips to add?

Note: As exciting as it sounds, I haven't had any exploderating bottles experiences, nor do I want to. I'll leave that to Dr Nik to explore ;-)

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Sweet Tomato Chutney

8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
5 inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped
2x400g tins chopped tomatoes, or 800g peeled fresh
300 clear vinegar
350gm jaggery or brown sugar
2 tablespoons sultanas
2 teasp salt
3/4 teasp cayenne pepper
chili powder (optional)

Combine garlic, ginger and half the toms in a blender and blend till smooth.
Put the rest of the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, sultanas and salt in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Bring to the boil and and add the garlic and ginger mixture. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 90-120 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick enough to tall off a spoon in sheets. Make sure the mixture doesn't catch / burn.
Add the cayenne. For a hotter chutney, add the chili. Leave to cool, then pour into steralized jars. Store in a cool place, or in the fridge.
Makes 2 cups.

I find that the cayenne is enough to give this quite a nice warmness, without being evil. I always add a little more garlic, of course. And I was mad enough to take the skins off the cherry tomatoes before I made it, and I think it was worth it.

From The Food Of The World

Saturday, 2 January 2010


Today, I've turned 2.5 kilos of cherries into jam, using this recipe. I'm yet to see if it will set - I think it will. I cooked it for far longer than recommended, convinced it wouldn't set each time I was ready with jars...I'm a jam beginner. On the dream wish gift list now? A thermometer!

This cooking frenzy was brought on by a buying frenzy yesterday at the markets. We picked up a box of toms for 5 bucks, and the 5 kilos of cherries was 6. Sadly, I might have got most of the 5k out of the box if I'd done this yesterday. The compost is happy and dripping red.

There's about 800gms of cherries left. I might make muffins. Or jelly - I'm keen to try that out, now that I know about gelatin. And I'm not scared of hand-pitting the last of them. Not now.

Two kilos of toms became roasted tomato puree, using this recipe. I'll slip that into some freezer bags soon. It tastes good - better than the old eye-tie/aussie boil up. I might finish the rest of the box that way. Most of it will be a donation to Pasta Night.

Also got a fist full of basil from the markets for a buck. That's become pesto for Pasta Night, using pine nuts, brazil nuts and almonds that got a quick and dirty dry roast beforehand - so dirty, in fact, that I burnt a few. Pesto still tastes grand though!

What did you cook this Sunday?