Some of the coolest people I know are rather good at "putting up" food. For instance, my friend, Jim Clayton, Bluffton's grand-marshal of jam making, and his friend, Don Hurst, are skilled at making jams and marmalades in flavors that range from strawberry, peach, and mango, to cranberry-pear and just about any flavor in between. Other folks like to pickle watermelon rind, green beans, fresh chiles, and okra. My grandmother bottled her own tomato sauce, from vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh basil, and when she used it, the kitchen smelled like July in mid-January. Many folks continue the canning traditions of their families, but others, uninitiated in the art, or just too afraid of making themselves or others deathly ill with botulism, keep their distance. Liana Krissoff, a freelance recipe tester, editor, and writer, from rural Carlton, Georgia, hopes to change all that with her new cookbook, "Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry," brimming with 200 imaginative recipes and clever canning tips grandmother never wrote down. Kristoff's cookbook provides detailed instructions for the home canner, as well as the website addresses for experts in the field, such as The National Center for Home Food Preservation (www.uga.edu/nchfp/index.html). Home canner, or not, this cookbook is filled with recipes begging to be tried, like Mu Shu Pork with homemade plum sauce. Sound good to you? Me, too. Look for it next week.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recipe courtesy "Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for a the Modern Pantry," by Liana Krissoff; Stewart, Tabori & Chang, publishers
Easy pie dough (recipe follows)
1 quart Muscadine and Plum Pie filling (recipe follows)
3 tablespoons instant tapioca
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon coarse turbinado or Demerara sugar*
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of the pie dough into a rough circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer it to a 9-inch pie plate and trim the edges. In a large bowl, stir together the pie filling and tapioca, then dump it into the dough-lined pie plate. Dot with the butter. Roll out the second disk of dough and set it over the filling sealing the edges. Cut slits in the top crust. Brush with milk and sprinkle with the coarse sugar. Bake on the center rack of the oven until the crust is well browned, 45 minutes to 1 hour.* Let cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour, then slice and serve. Makes 1 (9-inch) pie.
*Kitchen Ade Note: (Turbinado and Demerara sugars are similar minimally processed unrefined sugars with large, coarse crystals. Turbinado sugar is off-white in color and Demerara, with its abundance of natural molasses, light brown. Be sure to set a cookie sheet under your pie when baking to catch juices that may overflow.
6 pounds Muscadine grapes, rinsed
1 pound red-fleshed plums, pitted and sliced 1/2-inch thick
3 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
2 cups sugar
Prepare for water-bath canning: Wash the jars and keep them hot in the canning pot, and put the flat lids in a heatproof bowl. (For detailed instructions on safe canning, visit the The National Center for Home Food Preservation website at: www.uga.edu/nchfp/index.html.) Squeeze the grapes and put the pulp in a large saucepan and the hulls in a wide 6- to 8-quart preserving pan. Bring the pulp to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the seeds start to separate from the pulp. Ladle into a sieve set over the preserving pan and use a rubber spatula to push as much pulp and juice through as possible; discard the seeds. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil, stirring occasionally, until the hulls are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the plums, lemon juice, and sugar. Bring to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Ladle boiling water from the canning pot into the bowl with lids. Using a jar lifter, remove the hot jars from the canning pot, carefully pouring the water from each one back into the pot, and place them upright on a folded towel. Drain the water off the jar lids. Ladle the hot fruit and juice into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace at the top. Use a chopstick to remove air bubbles around the inside of each jar. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lid and ring on each jar, adjusting the ring so it's just finger-tight. Return the jars to the water in the canning pot, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil, and boil for 25 minutes to process. Remove the jars to a folded towel and do not disturb for 12 hours. (After 1 hour, check that the lids have sealed by pressing down on the center of each. If it doesn't move, the jar has sealed. If it pops down and then up again, it has not sealed; refrigerate the jar immediately and use the contents.) Label the sealed jars and store.* Makes 3 (1-quart) jars. *Kitchen Ade Note: Stored in a cool, dry place, canned food will keep for at least 1 year with no loss of taste or quality.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon pure kosher salt
1 1/4 cups cold leaf lard, or 1 cup cold vegetable shortening and 1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter*
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vinegar
About 5 tablespoons ice water
In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter, two table knives held in one hand, or your fingertips, cut in the lard until the largest pieces are the size of peas. Make a well in the center; add the egg and vinegar and stir them together with a fork or spatula. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture and toss just to combine. Using sharp folding and cutting motions, with a wooden spoon or a spatula, stir just until the dough holds together. Turn out onto the counter and gather the dough into a very rough ball.
Use the palm of your hand to smear the dough away from you. Use a bench knife to scrape it back into a rough ball. Repeat twice. (This flattens the pieces of fat into shards, which will melt into flaky goodness when the crust bakes.) Divide the dough into 2 roughly equal-size pieces. Wrap them tightly in plastic, smoothing each into an even, flat disk shape. Chill in the freezer for about 20 minutes, or in the fridge for 30 minutes, until firm. The dough can be wrapped in a couple more layers of plastic and frozen for several months; defrost in the fridge for a couple hours before continuing. Makes enough for 1 double-crust 9-inch pie. *Kitchen Ade Note: Krissoff describes leaf lard as the "pure snowy-white fat that surrounds pigs' kidneys." Don't substitute any other kind of lard for leaf lard; use Crisco, mixed with unsalted butter, instead.
To make grape filling, reduce the sugar to 1 cup (or to taste), and boil the pulp, hulls, and remaining ingredients together just until the hulls are tender, about 10 minutes. Ladle into a hot quart jar, put the lid and ring on, and process in a boiling-water bath, as above, for 10 minutes; alternatively, put it in a freezer bag (or freezer-proof container) and freeze. When ready to use the filling, thaw it and stir in 3 tablespoons instant tapioca. Makes a bit more than 1 quart.
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