Category Archives: Preserves

Herbes Salées – Salted Herbs

Sprinkling kosher salt onto the chopped herbsThis is a very old-school Québécois way to preserve herbs, onions, carrots… really any manner of aromatic vegetable.  They are chopped finely, mixed with salt, left in the fridge for a week, then transferred to a jar.  That’s it.


Ingredients
.  It would be silly to offer a “recipe” as such for herbes salées.  You shouldn’t go to a grocery store and buy a set of ingredients; you should use whatever you have in abundance in your herb garden in the late season.  There are, however, some useful ratios to keep in mind.

1 part salt for every 3 parts aromatics, by weight.  In other words 33 g of salt for every 100 g of herb mix.

In terms … Continue reading.

Dill Pickles

Little cucumbers from Tipi CreekI’m getting closer to my ideal dill pickle.  The quest was especially feverish this fall because I had a bit of Montreal-style smoked meat in my fridge.

Year by year I’ve been making my pickling liquid more and more acidic.  I like a sour pickle.  This year, I used straight vinegar, without diluting with water.  This might sound crazy, but it works.  The pickles are a bit too sour immediately after jarring, but let them hang out in the cellar for a month, and they’re prefect.  For me, anyways.

I’ve also been engineering the crunch-factor.  We all want a very crisp pickle.  This year I doused the fresh cucumbers with 5% of their weight in kosher salt, and let them … Continue reading.

Spruce Syrup

Spruce tips: the tender, young needlesLast year I wrote briefly about evergreen syrup, flavoured with the flourescent, tender bundles of needles that appear on spruce trees in spring.  I first came across this preparation in Austria, where the restaurant I was working at used the syrup to flavour a sauce accompanying the roasted leg of a May deer, a fantastic, fantastic example of terroir-driven flavour pairing.  The syrup also has obvious applications in the pastry kitchen.

This week I made the syrup myself for the first time, and I want to relate a few of the details of its preparation.

I’m kicking myself for not getting an exact recipe from Looshaus.  I recall that they brought the syrup and evergreen tips to a … Continue reading.

Pickle Soup

Pickles!This is exactly the kind of delicious, hearty, ingenious, frugal dish I love. While finely chopped condiments like relish, piccalilli, and jam can be canned on their own, larger slices of vegetables like cucumbers, beets, and carrots require an acidic liquid in which to be preserved.  The liquid prevents the growth of aerobic pathogens by keeping air away from the vegetables and filling the space with acid, salt, and sugar.  Once the vegetables are gone, this delicious liquid can be used in a number of applications.

If this sounds at all gross to you, think about what is in dill pickle juice: water, garlic, black pepper, mustard seed, coriander, bay, cider vinegar, salt, and sugar.  The liquid has been cooked … Continue reading.

Button Soup Canning Bee

Taking a jar from the canning potUntil recently the only bees I knew of were spelling bees, quilting bees, and honey bees.  There was a time when there were many other types of bees.  Canning bees, for instance.

A “bee” is any gathering called to perform a particular task.  In the days of yore it was often implied that people were coming together to help one person or family accomplish a large task in a relatively short amount of time.  In rural Canada a community might gather to help a family thresh all their grain.  Another threshing bee might be held the following week at a different farm.

A family history book tells me that food and whisky were provided to those who helped.  That same … Continue reading.

Glacé Sour Cherries

A jar of glacé sour cherries“Glacé” is a confusing term because it can refer to ice cream, cake frosting, fruit candied in “hard crack” syrup, or simply fruit preserved in syrup. It’s that last definition that applies here. Most sources I consulted had a similar procedure for making glacé cherries:

Make a simple syrup of one part water and one part sugar.  Bring to a simmer, add pitted cherries, remove pot from heat, cover and let stand over night.  This is simply to infuse the syrup with cherry, and the cherries with syrup. The next day, remove the cherries and reduce the syrup until a candy thermometer reads 230°F.  This gives a good thick-but-runny consistency.   Reintroduce the cherries, simmer briefly, then store in a sanitized … Continue reading.

Dried Sour Cherries

Dried sour cherriesMost sour cherry varieties, like Evans, do dry okay, but it takes forever.  With my dehydrator running on the “Fruit/Vegetable” setting (135°F), it took 30 hours to reach raisin consistency.

The dried cherries are extremely sour, even more so than when fresh (which I should have anticipated…)

I had originally planned to eat these dried sour cherries in yogurt and granola, but they are way too tart to be consumed with tangy yogurt.  Suggested alternative uses: game terrines, “Raincoast Crisp” style cracker, and other applications where there is meat or starch to temper their acidity.  I also love tossing them into puddings, like wild rice and barley.

Rose Hip Jelly

A bowl of rosehipsWhen rose flowers wither and fall from the plant, they leave behind a little green ball called a rose hip.  In late summer those hips swell and turn red, and start to look like berries.

They are not berries, as you will discover if you open one up.  Rosehips are full of seeds and what looks like white hair.  If eaten raw those hairs will irritate your mouth and throat.  Don’t eat those hairs raw.  The fleshy part around the seeds and hair can be eaten raw.  It has an interesting flavour; depending on the plant and the time of year it can taste like fresh cut grass, or a tomato, or possibly a plum.

Though rose hips can be … Continue reading.

Rhubarb Onion Jam

The fond: the essential flavour of rhubarb onion jamI’ve had recipes for rhubarb relish passed to me from both my family and Lisa’s.  Though one is from Ontario and the other from Alberta, they are uncannily similar: one part chopped rhubarb and one part chopped onion, stewed together with cinnamon, clove, and other “pumpkin pie” spices.

This has been my default rhubarb sauce to accompany meat and hearty bread for the past couple years, but I have to admit it’s not a show-stopper.  I’ve been trying to elevate this recipe, and a friend of mine recently found the way.  His discovery of rhubarb onion jam was one of those rare times when something in the kitchen goes horribly wrong, but the food turns out better than if all … Continue reading.

Pemmican

When I first decided to make pemmican, I thought the process would be simple: make jerky, pound jerky, render fat, combine. In practice, there were a couple hiccups, but the results were surprising.

In the finest pemmican, the dried meat was pounded until it became a powder. I started grinding pieces of jerky with a mortar and pestle. It worked, but I realized it would take days to process a useful quantity of meat. I eventually found a rock and a solid piece of earth, wrapped the jerky in cloth and pounded it out. You could probably blitz the meat in a food processor and obtain similar results.

With my meat powder made, I ran into a problem:

Buffalo Fat

Continue reading.