Mad Science in the Kitchen

Yesterday I pickled four jars of peppers, banana with cayenne.
The day before yesterday I canned six jars of coleslaw, using the new growth of cabbage that came up on the roots that were left after the first growth of cabbage was harvested. I added purchased onions and carrots to the coleslaw.
The day before the day before yesterday I canned four jars of salsa Verde, adding onions that were purchased.
Almost every day before that, since July 16th, I’ve canned a small amount of something from the garden, sometimes three or four different small batches of something from the garden in a single day.
I could not have accomplished this with a standard water bath canner, which uses copious amounts of water, and eats up copious amounts of time heating all that that water.
I accomplish this easily with a steam canner, which sits on the range at the ready from mid-July until the end of October. It uses about 3 quarts of water.

I cannot consume most of the bottled lemon juice on the market, it contains preservatives, and I am allergic. Until recently companies from the US sold here in Canada organic lemon juice, and lime juice, which contained no preservatives. With the food industry and the world economy the way it is now, those organic products are no longer for sale here in Ontario, Canada. So, what to do!

Lemons were on sale this week, so four small bags were purchased, along with 18 limes. They were washed, soaked in a water/baking soda mixture of two cups of water to on teaspoon of baking soda, then rinsed and scrubbed. Because I was canning, Attila took on the task of zesting the lemons, then juicing them. We ended up with three jars of lemon juice, and one jar of lime juice, which were labelled and placed in the freezer. There was a big bowl of what was left of the rinds, it seemed a shame to through them out.

After a lengthy and largely unsuccessful search for uses for these empty lemon rinds, I stumbled across a recipe for Spoon Fruit. I was intrigued. But there were a lot of rinds, about 25, and the recipe used the rinds of four lemons. And the recipe was very fussy.

I began by following the recipe, making the small amount called for. It was delicious, but it wasn’t what I wanted. Sooo…. time to make up my own recipe, Maggie’s Lemon Spread.

Using the technique for removing the bitterness that was in the original recipe, I poked the halved lemon rinds with a fork, the covered them with water in a large stock pot and brought them to a boil. The flesh that remained in the rind after squeezing the juice was left intact, lots of great fibre and flavour there. The water was strained out, and the process was repeated three more times.

The lemon rinds after zesting and juicing. There were 24 lemons worth, or 48 halves, to be punctured with a fork and then brought to a boil in a large stock pot.

I then prepared a sugar syrup by dissolving 2 1/2 cups of sugar in 3 3/4 cups of water. The cooled rinds were processed in two batches in the food processor, with a cup of the syrup added each time to make the puree pourable. All of the syrup and the puree were mixed together in the stock pot, brought to a boil, removed from the heat, and left to cool. This left a light lemon spread, which was put into 500 ml containers, labelled, and placed in the freezer. This will be used for topping on desserts, fillings, and as a spread on toast or muffins etc.

Maggie’s Lemon Spread
This has a mild lemony flavour with a hint of bitterness, we love it! Lemon pith has a lot of nutrition in it, some of which is destroyed in cooking, but enough remains to make it good for us.

Because the whole process was a giant experiment, recipe development, with many blind alleys, and I-changed-my-mind-about-how-to-do-thats, there were pots and pans and bowls and plates and spoons and spatulas all dirty and piled up everywhere in the small kitchen. What a mess I made! It took about an hour to get it all cleaned up. Because we now have to squeeze all of our own lemon and lime juice, this recipe will be used again and again, but next time there won’t be so much chaos!

Dehydrating has been chugging along here too. Recently it provided us with celery, kale, and basil powders, all organic.

Salsa Verde canned on the 17th of September. Garden celery, the leaves were dehydrate and powdered, the stalks diced, blanched, frozen on pans, then vacuum sealed and stored in the freezer.

We haven’t been fermenting much, it is not viable for me as I am on a low-sodium diet. But I do have a small batch of jalapeno peppers fermenting, they should be ready to try next week. Attila loves them and I would like to make jalapeno hot sauce out of them as well.

While all of this is going on, our storage area in the basement is not functioning. The areas are cleared for the eventual work on the furnace and electrical, which is waiting on the forms from Ontario Hydro, which we have been waiting for since mid-July. I hope hydro gets it’s act together, the heating season is fast upon us!! We are stashing the full canning jars here and there all over the house, and once the heating system/electrical work is done, we will be doing an “Easter egg hunt” for our food so that we can organize the storage. The chaos in waiting for Ontario Hydro is increasingly stressful, and if they don’t come through before heating season we will be left in a dire situation re heating.

Morning coffee and a breakfast of oats/milk/flax seed/diced apple, were prepared and enjoyed. This morning I have labelled and washed the jars of peppers I pickled and canned yesterday, they are drying on a towel on the counter. When they are dry I will carry them to the basement one by one, then search for a nook or cranny to store them in. Enough flax seed was ground this morning to fill a 500 ml jar. I have baked a loaf of bread, for which I needed the ground flax seed, and which is cooling on the counter. The frozen lemon zest was vacuum sealed and stored in the freezer. Time for a short break, then I am moving on with the day to bake muffins for Attila’s lunches, and then prepare something nice for my lunch… I think another toasted tomato and Spanish onion would be lovely, both fresh from our garden!

Worldly

Weather

Updated on Tue, Sep 20, 12:25 PM
19 °C
FEELS LIKE 19
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Wind 9 NW km/h
Humidity 77 %
Visibility 22 km
Sunrise 6:52 AM
Wind gust 14 km/h
Pressure 101.3 kPa
Ceiling 500 m
Sunset 7:09 PM

Quote

People are, if anything, more touchy about being thought silly than they are about being thought unjust.
E. B. White
1899 – 1985

I find there is some truth to this observation in my life. I remember those who laughed at my expense, and I do not remember them kindly. Nor do I remember people kindly who laugh at the expense of others than myself, it is the chuckler’s inner weakness displaying itself to the world, and it is a sign of a lazy, or in some cases non-existent, intelligence.

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JOAN LANSBERRY

I hope you soon hear from the Hydro people! Is there anyway to contact them to hurry the process, or would that not help at all? Enjoy the fruits of your industry! (Sounds tasty!)

Teri

Hi, Maggie! I was going to suggest that organic lemon juice can be easily found on amazon.ca but now that you’ve put together an alternative you probably won’t be interested.

I’m afraid that for myself I disagree with E.B. White. I am much more touchy about being thought unjust than being thought of as (merely) silly.

So we’re back from our long awaited cruise vacation along Atlantic Canada. We put up with being buffeted by Hurricane Earl for a night. Not too bad. And had a wonderful time visiting some of my husband’s family on Cape Breton for a day.

Since everyone on the ship had to be vaccinated and the passengers all had to be tested no later than 72 hours before boarding the ship, we felt comfortable after being there a day or so. Still, it was surprising how many people had some kind of cough onboard. We made a big effort to stay away from them and when we went ashore to explore we always wore our masks in stores/shops.

We were on a Facebook group for the cruise and found out that after leaving the cruise 5 of the folks on the group did come down with covid. Four of them were in one family, and that group had been interested in bar hopping their way through the maritimes, so I think that explains a lot.

We’ve relaxed a little since getting home, trying out grocery shopping without a mask, but with fall coming along I think we’ll go back to our masks.

We’re hoping to get the new bivalent vaccines soon but I wouldn’t mind waiting a few weeks just to make super sure that they’re reacting as expected.

Teri

Apparently you can also get the shot from some pharmacies, though we would probably feel better getting it from the local health unit.