Category Archives: Preserves

Kim Chi

Homemade kim chiKim chi is an ace up the sleeve, delivering instant, intense flavour to bland ingredients like rice, flour, and eggs.  And unlike most condiments that pack that kind of punch – things like hot sauce or fish sauce – kim chi is quite wholesome.

Kim chi fascinates me because it is simultaneously very similar to and wildly different from a preparation that I am much more familiar with: sauerkraut.  Both are ostensibly fermented cabbage, but where sauerkraut is thinly sliced and acidic, with an almost floral, yeasty aroma, kim chi is chunky, salty, often burn-your-face-off spicy, with something of a fishy aroma.  Sometimes, amazingly, it is also effervescent.

Sauerkraut is made with European-type cabbages like savoy.  The relatively low … Continue reading.

Sauerkraut

This post was originally published on September 17, 2013.  I’m re-posting it todayfor those that attended my session at Eat Alberta 2017.

 

Shredding cabbage to make sauerkrautKraut is German for “herb”.  It was also a derogatory term for Germans during the Second World War.  Sauerkraut means “sour herb”, or possibly “German curmudgeon”.  Why this preparation would be called sour herb I have no idea.

Ukrainian, Russian and several other eastern European languages use the word kapusta to refer to fresh cabbage, cured cabbage, and various dishes made with one or both of those.

Sauerkraut is a miracle preparation.  Cabbage and salt.  That’s it.  Somehow liquid appears from thin air and submerges the cabbage.  Over a few weeks, though neither cabbage nor salt are acidic, … Continue reading.

Quick Pickles

Quick-pickled cucumbers, carrots, and beets.Quick-pickling is simply cooking vegetables in vinegar, in contrast to traditional pickling methods that require fermentation or canning.  Quick pickling is generally done to small pieces of vegetable, such as sliced onion or carrot, as opposed to large pieces like whole cucumbers.  The cut vegetables, raw or par-cooked, are exposed to a hot brine of vinegar, sugar, and salt, then left to infuse for a greater or lesser amount of time depending on the vegetable and how it has been cut.  Since the vegetables have not been fermented or extensively heat-treated, the pickles are not shelf-stable and need to be stored in the fridge. The specific process changes from vegetable to vegetable, but I always use the following recipe for … Continue reading.

Buffalo Jerky

This post was originally published on December 3, 2010.  Re-posted today for Eat Alberta.  I chose buffalo jerky for this year’s Eat Alberta tasting board because of the significant role that similar preparations played in the history of this province.  Please read The Story of the Buffalo for more information.

Strips of bison jerkyJerky is my nominee for best representation of southern Alberta by a single food preparation.  This is partly because of its historical connection to the buffalo hunt and ranching, but also because it takes advantage of the arid landscape.  In dry regions jerky can safely be made on hot days, when the temperature is around 30°C, simply by leaving the sliced meat to hang outside.[1]

What Meat to Use.Continue reading.

Sour Cabbage Heads

A homemade sour cabbage headThis happy fellow at left is a sour cabbage head, sauerkraut in whole-cabbage form.

You can make sour cabbage heads simply by burying little cabbages throughout your sauerkraut crock after you have liberally salted and mixed your shredded cabbage.  The mass ferments together, and at the appointed time you can prod through the conventional sauerkraut til you find the whole heads of cured cabbage.  It’s rather like an Easter egg hunt only with more lactobacillus.

It didn’t cross my mind to make sour cabbage heads this season until about a month after I had started my large crock of kraut.  Lisa had bought some pretty little savoy cabbages.  I stole one.  Then I dug a deep well into the centre … Continue reading.

Relish – The Post-Pickle Blitz

Chopped vegetables, for piccalilliThe following post is either going to blow your mind or convince you that I’m stupid.

I don’t eat a lot of relish, but every now and then it goes well with charcuterie, or maybe a steamed wiener on a sweet white bun.  For the past few years I’ve been trying to make relish and other condiments like piccalilli by chopping up a bunch of vegetables and canning them with a sweet and sour pickling liquid.  I haven’t been entirely happy with the results.  Maybe I chopped the cucumbers too coarsely, and the condiment didn’t have the semi-fluid, spreadable consistency I was looking for.  Or perhaps, since the chopped vegetables have to be completely submerged in the pickling liquid for … Continue reading.

Onion Jam

"Cheese and Crackers": Sylvan Star gouda, dried fruit and nut cracker, and onion jamThis is one of my favourite condiments of all time.

I make two different versions of this jam, one for red onions and one for white onions, the only difference being the colour of the final product.  The recipe below is for the red variety.  To make the brown marmalade, at left, use white onions, dark brown sugar, and cider vinegar instead of red onions, white sugar, and red wine vinegar.

 

Red Onion Jam
adapted from River Cottage Preserves Handbook

Ingredients

  • 120 g canola oil
  • 1300 g red onion (about 4 large onions)
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 120 g crabapple jelly, or some other red fruit jelly, such as currant
  • 200 mL red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher
Continue reading.

Homemade Cornmeal

Dried cobs of cornMy bid for Bartlett’s: “Culinary invention has two mothers: scarcity and excess.”

I think everybody understands how scarcity can encourage adventurous eating.  We often say that the first man to eat a lobster, or an oyster, was a brave one, indeed.  But it’s when you find yourself with an overwhelming surfeit of food that you can start doing really interesting things.  The first person to press grapes to make wine must have had a lot of grapes, more than he could have eaten before they started rotting.  And the first person to distill wine to make brandy must have had an awful lot of awful wine.

I wrote earlier in the fall of our bountiful corn harvest, and of … Continue reading.

Crabapple Jelly

A pot of Dolgo crabapples, ready to be made into jellyCrabapple is my favourite jelly, hands down.  The perfect balance of tart and sweet.  A distinct, local flavour sitting in the pantry all year.

The following recipe works well for the Dolgo crabapples we get from Lisa’s dad’s backyard.  I imagine there is huge variation in sweetness, acidity, and pectin content in crabapples across the region, so I can’t say for certain if this will work for you.  But it’s a good base recipe.

For the record, I don’t core the apples.  I don’t even stem them.  I remove leaves, if I find it convenient.  I mash with a fork and strain through a jelly-bag, so the seeds and stems don’t end up in the jelly.  Pressing cider with Kevin … Continue reading.

Jelly Primer

Close-up of a crystal-clear jellyI know: jellies aren’t hip.  When I say “fruit jelly” you immediately think of your great aunt, or possibly high tea at the Fairmont Empress.  Jellies are stuffy.

I love jellies for three reasons: one, they’re tasty and I eat them for breakfast; two, they’re extremely handy to have in the pantry, to stir into sauces or inject into doughnuts; three, they are beautiful, visually and conceptually.  Actually they’re a bit like headcheese, conceptually: the cook extracts a natural thickener from the main ingredient, then concentrates it to form a network that gives the food a unique, wobbly texture.

If that piqued your interest even remotely, please, read on.

 

The Chemistry of Jellies

Lets start at the beginning.  Unlike … Continue reading.