Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mandarins, Jams, and 'zines!

I'm starting to think my vague half hearted instructions on ingredients in my most recent canning projects aren't ok. I should be more specific and actually try to guide a little better than "add some sugar and then some more water if it tastes too sugary" I admit I've never typed out those words until now per se, but I should be a little clearer in my instructions.  So let's get to the project I did back in February!
Gingered mandarins
Now that I said I will be more specific...I wasn't with this. The only redeeming factor about that is people have different tastes when it comes to what they want out of their sugar syrup. I like mine to be a medium syrup, especially if I add another factor like I did with the ginger.
So I peeled ten pounds of mandarins.
There were about 3 lbs that wouldn't fit in the bowl.
Then I prepped the syrup. Now I normally use mexican cane sugar (for the life of me I can't think of the brand and I don't want to make a whole trip just to find out) that is fairly unrefined and I'm a little superstitious about ALWAYS using it, but this time I wanted to use up some turbinado sugar that's been sitting around looking forlorn. This was a pretty bad idea. Because it turned out looking like this:
Not pretty.
This syrup was probably 1 cup sugar to 3 cups water with a healthy knuckle of fresh ginger grated into the whole pot. I am interested in processing them one time using tangerine or orange juice, but that'll have to wait til next year.  I put up thirteen pints in total, the last four I plopped a cube of candied ginger on the bottom of the jar before packing in the mandarins.
I'm a little concerned what they'll look like in a few months...
Not much to them, they are one of the simplest things to can, and I love them cold over a blob of cottage cheese.

This is what happens when I try to write this post over a span of three days! No transitions!

Earlier this month I decided to participate in Minot's 4th annual 'zine marathon. Now I have tried to participate in this in the past, even pulling a couple pages together, but I inevitably failed to complete my 'zine. But this year I have a goal! I will make a quick intro to canning! I will hand write it (mostly due to the lack of a printer or a decent word processing program) and try to fit as much off the wall info I find interesting into it while still getting the basics down. I have pored over it for the last two weeks and have all my information ready to go, so I just have to write it all out nice and pretty with a few semi-pretty pictures to go with it. One of my cats is super helpful while I work.
Thanks Eva. Thanks.

Along with that, I wanted to include a couple easy to access recipes. By easy access I am referring to the fact that North Dakota (where this will be primarily circulated) is not known for it's variety in produce and I want someone reading the 'zine to be able to pop by the grocery store and easily find all the ingredients I list. Easy to find and still interesting I should add. So I tackled a recipe involving lemons, figs and lavender and while beautiful and yummy, it was not the kind of recipe to introduce to a newbie.
I used a recipe from the blog Laundry Etc.
The blog is a lovely one, from over in Britain.
Side note, Brits call canning "bottling." Funny how both are useless terms as we both use "jars" not "cans" or "bottles."
Anyway! The recipe involved soaking chopped dried figs and roasting lemons (I used Meyers)
Soaking figs
Roasting lemons

The recipe also calls for 1 oz. of lavender, but I find lavender to be pretty strong in jam recipes, so I cut that amount in half. It's flavorful and sticky, I was in a hurry so I didn't chop the peel as nicely as I would have liked, but that's small potatoes.
The second recipe worked out much better, but I'm going to hide that recipe until my 'zine's out. I will post it later though.

Arg! I will post again soon, once the 'zine is complete.

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