August 20, 2009

Jalapeño Jelly.

With all of my previous batches, I have avoided adding pectin to gel the preserves. While I like to think it is in an effort to keep my ingredients lists as short as possible, the honest truth is, recipes that call for citrus rind instead seem more natural. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with pectin. After all, it is most often extracted from dried citrus peels or apple pomace left over from juice production. Using what would otherwise be considered waste is never a bad thing. This has been my rule for choosing recipes. Until now.


I was drawn to this recipe because it calls for jalapeños - and only jalapeños. Seeds and all. The other "jalapeño" jelly recipes that I came across called for just as much, if not more, bell pepper. I went on adventure to the farmer's market on Airline the other day with my friend Erika, waiting for something to call out to me to be transformed into a tasty jelly. I wandered around mostly in awe of everything going on around me when, finally, I found the most beautiful jalapeños in whole world. Jalapeño jelly came to mind instantly. They are certainly too beautiful and scarred up to be cut down with bell pepper. There was no way I can pass this recipe up - it is going to be fiery.

Jalapeño Jelly:

12- 14 jalapeños.
6 cups sugar.
2 cups cider vinegar, divided.
2 pouches liquid pectin.

Chop up all of the jalapeños and place them in a blender with one cup vinegar and liquify. CAUTION: The oils in peppers can cause burns. Do not touch your eyes or other sensitive areas after handling. Combine the purée with the remaining vinegar and sugar in a dutch oven.


Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Boil for ten minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat.
Stir in two pouches of liquid pectin. Return to heat and bring to a hard boil for one minutes more. Remove from heat.
Ladle directly into hot, sterilized jars. Leave a quarter inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and be sure to wipe the rims clean. Lid directly and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Makes about 4 pints.


I was right - I did not try very much, just touching my tongue to the spoon, and my mouth was on fire - I thought for sure I was going to have heartburn instantly. It was so hot and good I had to try more. Later, I tried more with some cream cheese on a fresh jalapeño bagel from Hot Bagel Shop. Pure bliss.
I love making new favorite things.

August 14, 2009

baby loves mixtapes // volume 01


Download here.


01 youth tunes // Little Girls
02 On The Floor // Family Portrait
03 Green River // Real Estate
04 Blessa // Toro Y Moi
05 Walkabout (w/ Noah Lennox) // Atlas Sound
06 doki // friend
07 Rain On Radio // Woods
08 Bicycle Horrors Cosmic Dub // Memory Tapes
09 Sun Was High (So Was I) // Best Coast
10 Be My Girl // Smith Westerns
11 Good to Be // Magic Kids
12 More Stars Than There Are In Heaven // Yo La Tengo

Well, I pulled it off. I think. Just in time for the weekend - here is volume one of what I hope becomes a regular fixture of the blog. Baby loves mixtapes.
So, sit back, relax, listen and love... oh , and let me know what you think.

August 13, 2009

Pear-athon continues: Ginger-Pear Marmalade.

While the batches of pear preserves from last time were pretty fantastic, I was keen to expand upon the previous success by adding a new twist. This time I stumbled onto a bunch of red pears and a new, delicious sounding recipe.


Ginger-Pear Marmalade:

8-9 medium red pears.
2 1/3 cups sugar.
3 limes limes (zest and juice).
1 tablespoon grated ginger root.


Start by washing and peeling the pears, then quarter and core them. Set them aside. Next, zest three limes - I used a peeler and then sliced the peel into short thin strips. I like the color and texture these strips add to the jar. Now, juice the limes, discarding any seeds.


Combine pears, lime strips and juice, and sugar in a dutch oven. Grate the ginger in.


Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently Boil until it begins to thicken - about 15 minutes or until you reach 222°.


Ladle directly into your hot, sterilized jars (it jells fast). Leave a quarter inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and be sure to wipe your rims clean. Lid directly and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Makes about 2 1/2 pints.


I love ginger and the flavor it adds to the pears - I think this might be my new favorite batch.

August 12, 2009

Pear-athon: Pear Preserves.

A couple days ago I got an email from a friend expressing his interest in learning how to make preserves, and as an incentive he offered to share a large box of pears, which he had collected from his parent's house. I was happy for the opportunity to share my new found passion with a friend for the first time, so I invited him over.


He showed up with a beer box near full to the top with beautiful, fresh green pears. They were beautiful in all their irregularities. They were firm, smelled tart and earthy, and seemed perfect for preserving. Now I have to admit, I do not recall ever having had pear preserves before, but as pears are one of my favorite fruits, we could not possibly go wrong.

Pear Preserves:

6-8 medium pears.
2 1/2 cups water.
3 cups sugar.
1 lemon.


Start by washing and peeling the pears - be careful, they get pretty slippery. Now, quarter and core them. Place them in a large bowl and set aside. As thinly as possible slice a lemon into rounds and remove any seeds; set aside.


Next, pour all of the water and half of the sugar into a dutch oven. Stir to mix and bring to a boil over medium heat. After two minutes, add the pear chunks and return to a boil. Be sure to stir often, it can stick fast. After about 15-20 minutes, add the remaining sugar and the lemon slices. The pears should just be softening at this point. As the pears softened I slowly began to chop them using my handy bamboo stirring spatula.


Return the mixture to boil, this time over medium-high heat. Cook rapidly, stirring often, for another 25 minutes or so. The pears should be soft and fairly translucent and the liquid syrupy. Remove from heat.
If it does not start to gel, you can return the batch to the stove for a hard re-boil. It should only take a few minutes more. This is not ideal but you can thicken your preserves this way.
Ladle directly into hot, sterilized jars, leaving a quarter inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles that might have formed and wipe the rims clean. Lid directly and process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.


Over a two evening run we made about eight batches, filling about 24 eight ounces and 20 four ounce jars. It was quite the marathon.


We ended up with a substantial amount of variation. The first batch was the most like the preserves I had made previously - soft fruit chunks in a substantial gel. One batch we near completely neglected right at the end - the sugar caramelized into a deep brown gel with a very distinct flavor. The last batch, we went for a double and it never seemed to reduce correctly, ending more like a fruit-in-syrup than preserves. Overall the flavor was sweet and tart and I was reminded of sour apple flavored candies from when I was young, albeit more natural tasting.


These two nights were the busiest and most tiring trials in home preserving I have experienced so far, and I tell you what, I slept like a baby afterwards.

August 6, 2009

Peach Party Part 2: Jalapeño-peach preserves.


About a week ago, I was telling a couple friends about making preserves over drinks, when my friend Mandy told me about how her family always made jalapeño-peach jelly. It sounded really good, so I asked about their recipe, but she said that she did not have it. As I ended up buying about 10 pounds of peaches this past weekend, I set out to find a recipe of my own. As it turns out, I did not have to look very far - my mom had this one:

Jalapeño-peach preserves:

8-10 medium, ripe peaches - peeled and quartered.
1/2 a medium orange - quartered, seeded, and thinly sliced (rind included).
2-3 jalapeños (seeds and all).
4 cups sugar.
3/4 cup clover honey.
1/4 teaspoon all-natural almond extract.
1/2 teaspoon of butter (optional).

Wash and peel your peaches. Quarter them and discard the pits. Place them in a dutch oven, adding the sugar and honey. Cover and let stand for about 45 minutes (no heat).


In a food processor, combine the orange slices and jalapeños. Blend until finely chopped. Scrape into a medium saucepan and add an equal amount of water, about 2/3 of a cup. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat - simmer for about 10 minutes.


Bring the peaches to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar has completely dissolved. Turn heat up to medium-high, and boil. Stir often.


Add orange-jalapeño mixture, and return to boil for another 20-25 minutes or until you reach 222˚. At this point, the preserves were almost ready but they seemed overly foamy, so I added 1/2 teaspoon of butter, which helps cut it down some.


Remove from heat and stir in the almond extract. Ladle directly into your waiting hot, sterilized jars. Leave a quarter inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and and be sure to wipe the rims clean. Lid and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.


The resulting preserves were spicy, but not so spicy as to overpower the peach flavor. They retained a pleasant sweetness - I swear I could taste the honey. I sampled a bit on some stovetop toast sliced from a baguette I had on hand - as usual - but this time with a taste of cream cheese, which really made for a winning combination.