Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cooking Class: Yes We Can Can!

Last week I ran a canning workshop at the gorgeous Jewett Farms Studio in Newburyport, MA. We had a great group of students join us for this class. We made: Blueberry-Lemon Jam, Plum Chutney, Quick Pickles and Personalized Dills.

First off, everyone was put to work chopping up plums for the chutney. I demonstrated a basic technique for cutting up onions and a quick way to cut clingstone stone fruit from its pit. After the chutney simmered down to a thick consistency (about 90 minutes), it was ladled into pint jars and processed in a boiling water bath.

Next, we started the blueberry jam. This jam has whole lemon slices in it and they provide a nice bitter/sour note to the jam. I used my enormous skillet (18"!) and was able to fit four pounds of berries into its wide embrace. The berries and lemons bubbled away and when the hot mixture reached set (220 degrees Fahrenheit) we pulled the jam from the heat and ladled it into 4 oz. jars. Jams don't have to be hot water processed, but for safety's sake and to ensure a seal, we processed our jam for 10 minutes.

While everything simmered away, the class turned its attention to our last two pickles. I demonstrated a quick julienne technique (a way to cut thin strips of vegetables) and put everyone to work julienning a mountain of carrots and two ginormous daikon radishes. These vegetables were salted and left to sit to exude some liquid.

Finally everyone dressed their pickles to their taste (with Japanese chilies and Korean thin pepper strings) they were dressed with a rice wine vinegar/sugar brine and left to pickle at room temp. These pickles need to be eaten within a week or so.

Finally the dills: The class cut up enough cucumbers to fill their jars - some went for spears, others for chips. Everyone seasoned their pickle jar to taste with garlic, dill, mustard seed and chilies. After topping with brine, the cukes went in for processing.

At the end of the day, everyone went home with 2 4oz. containers of jam, a pint of chutney, a pint of dills and a pint of quick Asian-style pickles. I'd say that's a pretty good haul for three hours of class time!

I was honored to have two of my fellow Food52istas join me in class. Thanks Midge and Sagegreen for visiting!

See the full set of photos from class starting here.

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