Doing things my own way

Now that the sugar-fest that was our Daring Baker's Chocolate Caramel Tart is over, it's time for a bit of freshness. Enter Festa Al Fresco 2007, hosted by my Daring Baker sisters, Lis and Ivonne.

In Lis's own words...

The premise is very simple: prepare a dish using a fresh, seasonal ingredient, and then send it over. Oh and don’t forget to bring yourself as well.

You can prepare any dish you like. It can be an appetizer; a soup; a salad; a meat, fish or vegetarian dish; a dessert or even a beverage. The only rule is that it must feature a fresh, seasonal ingredient, preferably something that grows in your neck of the woods.

But I can't do things normal. Not like other people. I needed to do something fresh and local, but had to have my own twist on it.

And since I am a Daring Baker, one who pushes themselves past their comfort zone to try new things, instead of preparing a lovely dish for all to share, I had to try canning some lovely produce, so help save some of that summer yum for later!

I started with asking the Daring Baker's for advice, then ran out to the book store to purchase their recommended book on canning. Only here in Canada, we don't get the Ball Book of Home Preserves, we get the Bernardin version. Same cover, different name.

I red a few pages, then waited. And waited. I waited until Ontario peaches and pears showed up in my stores.

The result? Six jars each (I only did half batches of each to start) of peaches and pears, neither one of which looks quite right to me, but probably tastes fine. No, I haven't tried them yet. With all this fresh stuff around to eat, why would I want to eat the stuff from the jar!

Does anyone who knows anything about canning know if my peaches and pears were supposed to float like this? Maybe I should have packed more into the jars?

After that "success" I waited anxiously for tomatoes to show up, which only happened last week. Yes, the week I go away, the produce I want finally starts showing up everywhere!

So I buy a huge box of Roma tomatoes, and what do I make with them? No, not tomato sauce. Or salsa, though I plan to make that tomorrow. Or Tuesday.

No, I make ketchup.

Do you know anyone who owns a pot big enough to hold 24 pounds of tomatoes? I'm not sure I do. My biggest pot held 12 pounds, which was what I wanted since I planned again to make half a batch. I didn't really need 7 pint jars of ketchup. Half that would be fine.

I got two and a half.

And the ketchup is very, very liquidy. I don't know what, if anything I did wrong. That ketchup did not want to thicken. Maybe I should have found a pot that could hold 24 pounds of tomatoes. Or not used the Roma tomatoes.

It looks like ketchup though! And yes, it smelled like ketchup. Which means that I have had ketchup smell around me for far too long this weekend, and of course, don't want to touch anything involving ketchup!

So does anyone need any ketchup to dip their appetizer in? Anyone.....


Lis said...

Well I don't know much about canning, so I can't answer your questions.. but damn, I wish I lived in our house this winter! Excellent job going for it, Jenny!

'kay so I say you bring a can of each to the Festa so we can all taste. :D


Anh said...

Like Lis, I have no experience in canning so I have no idea on what went wrong... But hey, the tomato ketchup looks so good. It must be really tasty.

Peabody said...

Yeah, I am of no help in the canning world. Sorry but I bet they are great.

Anonymous said...

You've been a busy girl! But this is the best time of year for canning and preserving and you've done a lovely job. Those pears look good!

See you at the party!

Drusilla said...

Yes, the peaches and pears will float. It's perfectly normal. (And I would attach a photo of my canning from this summer if I had one, just to prove the point.) Fruit floats in liquid. Looks a bit odd until you get used to it, I suppose.

As for the ketchup, I make tomato sauce to can with my tomatoes, not ketchup, so I can't tell you for sure, but I imagine that it was the Roma tomatoes. They are very liquid-y so they probably had more water than the recipe needed. It also might just be like making jelly or preserves. Sometimes they gel. Sometimes they don't.

Jenny said...

Thank you so much Drusilla for all the helpful information! I know the salsa I made yesterday actually called for Roma tomatoes, so at least that won't be watery!
See the rest of you ladies at the party!

Deborah said...

I have never heard of anyone making homemade ketchup before!! What ambition - and great job, even if it didn't thicken up like you wanted it to.

Janet said...

ah ha... there would be a revolt in my house if I tried that... I'm not allowed to buy anything except Heinz!! What are you going to do with all that Ketchup?? BBQ Sauce? Sweet and Sour Stir Fry's? Meatloaf?

Also, I have no clue whether your peaches and pears were supposed to float...but kudos for being so ambitious!!

Elle said...

Your fruit and ketchep look so good I'm thinking of canning some tomatoes. Have not canned in a while, but plan to make some quince jelly soon, so tomatoes would be a good place to start, I guess. You may have put more syrup into the fruit than needed, but that syrup will be so yummy!
BTW, you've been tagged for the Schmooze Award. :)

Anonymous said...

I wish I knew about canning too. Hey - I love ketchup...I'm a real ketchup fiend and my hubby can attest to that.

Glenna said...

Bravo! Homemade ketchup is a great idea.

Unknown said...

You probably didn't cook the ketchup mixture long enough.The tomatoes that are recommended for ketchup are roma tomatoes. They have fewer seeds and juice of regular tomatoes. that is why the Italians use them for Tomato sauce. Homemade ketchup is so much work, but the end result....wonderful. We often buy the carb reduced brand of tomato ketchup and add a lot of ground cloves to the mixture. It is amazing how good this tastes.

Jenny said...

Thanks everyone!

Deborah, the recipe said to gently boil the ketchup for about an hour, by which time it should be about the consistency of commercial ketchup and have reduced by about half. My went for almost 2 hours, was well below half, and never did thicken up. I finally decided I would just use this for sauces and such and let the kids stick with the Heinz that is also our family standard.

Melissa said...

I came across your blog and wanted to make a comment if that is ok. I do quite a bit of canning and wanted to let you know that the fruit will float from two things. It is 'lighter' than the syrup they are in, and the fruit naturally has oxygen in it that will cause it to float. That is why in the in the canning books they will tell you to take a non metal spatula and push the fruit down as this will help the fruit 'release' the air. (I don't usually do this though). Also, if you salsa is runny you can ladle off of the 'juice' and bottle it as you would tomato juice. It is really good as a soup stock. It has all the flavors of the other vegetables that are just awesome in soup. I hope this helps! Good Luck!!