Since my garden is busting with yummy things at the moment I have finally done a little preserving.
Mel bought me a fab book for my “Big Birthday” some years back (A Year in A Bottle by Sally Wise) and its one of my many go-to books when i get into the preservative mood. Since the whole process is fairly time and space consuming, it’s not something you can really do whist multi-tasking so I was happy I finally found myself a day free (Himself being Dad’s Taxi) to get some yummy things made.
Today I made some Caramelised Onions (only one jar as the rest is reserved for dinner!), 2x Jars of Chargrilled Zucchini and 1 x jar of Preserved Lemons.
The lemons are actually a little gamble as I wouldn’t normally put them through the preserve machine at all. However – the last few times I have made them the skewers holding them in the jar broke and the tops have raised out of the juice and gone mouldy in storage so I figured i would give this way a go just to see what happens. In theory, it should work. The whole idea of the preserving machine (the hot water bath method) is that it kills the bacteria in the high acid foods you have bottled, taking the air out of the jars and forming the vacuum seal. Since all the preserved lemons I buy in the deli are vacuum sealed, I figured maybe this is how they do it?? Anyways – we shall see. The bottles are all cooling at the moment and the lid of the lemons is taking quite a long time to suck in so I’m only half hopeful at this point that vacuum sealing will occur!! If it does – awesome. Part one has been achieved and we just have to wait a few weeks/months for them to develop a bit so we can try them out. I have a favourite recipe using preserved lemons you may want to check out here.
Now please don’t go thinking you need a fancy schmancy preserve machine like I have to achieve the same result. I have a modern electric Fowlers Vaccola machine which is a sensation, however the hot water bath method is older than your grandma’s uncle fred and can be done using a big stock pot. The whole idea is that the filled jars are submerged in cold water and brought to a boil and left there for an hour. That’s pretty much it. Easy Peasey!! You also don’t need the old fashioned preserving jars either as any good (i.e non chipped) glass jar can be used. You just need to save them from the recycling bin and buy some new lids to use with them. Hey presto – preserving jars!! They are doubly as good as this ’cause when you need a quick pressie for Christmas for your Aunty Mabel or your child’s school teacher you don’t have to stress that they won’t give you your good jar back:)
I found a sensational business that taught me HEAPS about preserving and who sell loads of lids for your recycled jars. David and Val Pearson from Green Living Australia are tops and have the fastest delivery known to man. They are also very generous with their advice and tips and can teach you everything about food self-sufficiency you ever wanted to know. I have also been making my own yoghurt for a while thanks to them and the next project is cheese making. I’m thinking a HYB Triple Cream Brie? I seriously doubt Mel would say no to that!. Check out Green Living Australia’s Website where you can find exact directions on how to get started preserving (or yoghurt making, or cheese making). Tell them I said hi. (Who knows! Maybe I’ll get some free stuff? LOL).
How many of you have tried this before? Anyone? Did your Grandma or Aunty Mabel teach you? I just started out of interest and have found it’s really fun. I love being able to pull fresh strawberry preserve out of my pantry in June, or jars of caramelised onions whenever I want them. It really expands your cooking abilities too.
I thought I would finish with a quick recipe for Caramelised Onions and a few ways in which you can use your stored preserved bottles of yumminess. Bon Appetit!!
- 1 x small bag brown onions, peeled and sliced into half-moons
- Stick these in a pot/pan with a small teaspoon or so of butter, a little lug of Olive Oil and fry on med heat for about 5 – 10 mins.
- Next, add in approx 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 of balsamic vinegar (and NOT your good one for gods sake!). Turn the heat down to low and let it cook away for about an hour.
- Taste and see if you need more sugar, balsamic or a pinch of salt. I find with this recipe, everyone is different. Some like it sweeter, others not so. Just do what you like.
- Spoon into a container and keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
OR, you can try preserving some???
This onion mixture is great in the bottom of a quiche with goats cheese & thyme, or mixed with sour cream makes a scrumptious dip!!
P.S. As you can see (the lid has not sucked down) – the lemons didn’t work. Boo. Back to the drawing board.