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Canning Sunshine

June 13, 2012

 

This shall be the Summer of Canning, says me.  And so it was written, and so it shall be.

 

I love this time of year.  With the Summer Solstice just over a week out, the daylight lingers until around almost 10pm here on the 45th Parallel.  Not being much of a morning person myself, I love the feeling of extra time that it brings.  What’s the hurry?  It may be 9pm, but the sun hasn’t even set! And if the mighty Sol isn’t in a hurry, well, I sure as hell ain’t either.

 

Of course, there’s another side to this swinging pendulum of temperate zone seasons.  We all know that in 6 months we’ll be huddled in fetal balls on our couches under 8 blankets, sipping hot cacao with the lights on at 5pm, because it’s DARK.  Well.  I’m going to be prepared this year.  I plan on canning the hell out of all this freakin’ sunshine we’ve got now, all summer long.  So when the pendulum inevitably swings and the darkness comes, I’ll just pop open a can of rhubarb barbecue sauce, strawberry jam, pickled asparagus, or peach butter and soak in the Vitamin D (well ok, maybe more like Vitamin C or E, but I’m pretty sure there’s summer in there somewhere).

Me, come December (sub “Apocalypse” for “ration points”).

 

Below is a recipe for Sunshine Rhubarb Concentrate, from the Ball Complete Guide to Home Preservation, a book my mom got me for Christmas.  It’s similar to a recipe from my friend Susan that I posted last year, but with a dash of sunshine for good measure.  I also threw in the recipe for what I fondly refer to as “RhubarBBQ Sauce,” because I know that after reading the previous paragraph you saw those words and your brain went “Um, wut.”

 

Remember that these things can be frozen or refrigerated for a bit if you aren’t ready to can.  But if you too would like to crack open one of these jars of liquid sunlight on December 21st, just to spite Old Man Winter (or toast the Apocalypse, whichevs), then the Ball preserving website is a good place to start.  Be brave!  No sense in letting all this fresh sunlight go to waste.

 

Happy eating, today and tomorrow,

~AMK

 

 

Sunshine Rhubarb Concentrate:

12 cups sliced (1 inch pieces) rhubarb
4 cups water
Grated zest and juice of one lemon and one orange
1.5 cups granulated sugar

 

In large stainless steel saucepan, combine rhubarb, lemon and orange zests, and water. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, cover, and boil gently until rhubarb is soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon and orange juices.

Transfer to dampened jelly bag or a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth (a fine strainer works fine as well, I found) set over a deep bowl. Let drip, undisturbed, for at least two hours.

In a clean pot, combine juice and sugar. Heat to 190F over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Do not boil. Remove from heat and skim off foam.

If you are prepared to can, follow proper canning procedure laid out on the Ball site.  Here are the specific deets for this recipe:

Predicted amount per batch: 4 pint jars

Headspace: ¼ inch

Processing time: 10 minutes in a rolling boil (for elevation under 1000ft, and for pint jars or smaller…quart jars and higher elevations need more time)
That’s it! It says you should get 4 pint jars out of it, but I tripled the recipe and only got half of what I expected. Maybe that was because it took longer to boil the triple batch and I lost more water, I’m not sure. But depending on how concentrated yours ends up, you’ll want to reconstitute with anywhere from a 1:1 ratio of soda water to juice (Ball’s recipe) to a 3:1 ratio (the recipe I posted above already) to make the rhubarb soda. Just do it to taste. Great with ice cream and booze added too.

 

RhubarBBQ Sauce (“Victorian Barbeque Sauce”):

*An important note if you plan to can:  Do NOT alter this recipe! Especially do not increase the amount of “low acid” ingredients (raisins, onions).  This will increase the pH of the sauce and make it potentially unsafe to can.  All Ball recipes have been scientifically tested for safety to can, so don’t mess with them.  See

 

8 cups chopped rhubarb

3.5 cups lightly packed brown sugar

1.5 cups chopped raisins

.5 cup chopped onions

.5 cup white vinegar

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp salt

 

In large stainless steel saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens to consistency of a thin commercial BBQ sauce, about 30 minutes.

Canning deets:

Predicted amount: 4 pint jars

Headspace: ½ inch

Processing time: 15 minutes in full rolling boil

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