Monday, October 10, 2011

Kitchen Whirlwind

summer preserves 1
Summer Preserves by chotda on Flickr
We've just spent the better part of this week on our feet, preparing food for the coming year.  Dave shot a small buck for us (more on that separately), and the produce from the garden has just been continuing to roll in (I'll try to compile a preserves tally again this year).

We made a discovery this year of a product for canning that I'd read about, but hadn't really investigated.  Low methoxyl (LM) pectin allows you to significantly reduce (or eliminate) the amount of sugar used in a recipe, and you can use honey, or other sweeteners (like stevia, or agave nectar or whatever) in place of sugar, because the gelling process does not require sugar to occur, unlike standard pectins.

I found Pomona's Universal Pectin at Galloway's Speciality Foods in Burnaby, so I picked up a couple of packages to try.  I had a huge batch of various berries (Oregon grape, currants, gooseberries, wild blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, evergreen huckleberries) that I needed to get out of the freezer (we're going to be getting a pig from my Dad soon), and was really keen on making a tart jelly with these fruits.

Well, I made the equivalent of six batches, and it gelled beautifully and perfectly, using little honey as the sweetener, and I made two triple batches following the directions on the package.  I did the same thing with whole strawberries and made the equivalent of seven batches all in one go!  Finally, I made a herbal jelly which I added very little honey to, and it gelled beautifully again.

Benefits of the Pomona's Universal Pectin:
  • Low sugar or use sweetener of your choice.
  • Beautiful gelling (although this might vary... I'll keep experimenting!) even if you make a multiple batch (unlike normal pectin which I don't have any success with because I'm always mucking with the sugar levels and am in a rush so I want to double & triple recipes!).
  • Keeps indefinitely as long as properly stored (cool, dry location).
Drawbacks of the Pomona's Universal Pectin:
  • Can be difficult to source (but check out their "free package" offer, to get you to encourage your local store to carry it).
  • Expensive compared to regular pectin (but I'm looking into the option to purchase in bulk, as it keeps indefinitely).
Still not done yet... we've got a local source for some pears, and our Italian prune plums need dealing with, as do the tail end of our tomato harvest.  Sigh.  But it's so satisfying having all this good food available!

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