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What Grows Together, Goes Together

23 Jun

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Uncanny has some exciting news: For the first time in our history, we’ll be available for retail outside of the Sackville Farmer’s Market! We’re very excited to be working with Cocagne River Orchard a family run apple orchard located in beautiful Cocagne, New Brunswick. Owners Denis and Nicole are long-time supporters of buying local and living gently on the land and uncanny is delighted to be working together, highlighting the best of South-East New Brunswick. The orchard is available as a u-pick, so when you’re done picking apples from their beautiful property, please visit their boutique where you’ll find a wide range of uncanny products and other interesting finds.

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On the theme of growing and going together is a really special preserve that has been crafted from the abundance of local and readily available ingredients. A helpful way to look at flavour combinations is to tour your garden and look at what’s in season and chances are, those flavours will compliment each other. Right now the rhubarb season is winding down, the strawberries are turning red on the vine and the roses are in full bloom. All the makings of a lovely, summery preserve!

If you’ve never preserved with rose petals before, as I hadn’t, give it a try! Here are just a few benefits:

1. They make your kitchen smell like a fairy tale.

2. They are easy to harvest. Nip them in the bud stage and  give them a 2 minute bath in cool, soapy water and a thorough rinse to ensure no bug friends join the party. They open during the day and the petals are ready to fall out by the evening. Super easy harvesting.

3. The flavour is really subtle. I was worried the preserve would taste like a funeral home, but it added just the right amount of floral note. Don’t worry, this is not a jam you’ll be dabbing behind your ears!

My strawberries weren’t perfectly ripe but I wanted them included in the preserve so I opted for my homemade Strawberry Liqueur. All together, you have three beautifully pink ingredients.

I went with a French style with this preserve, letting the rhubarb macerate for a couple of days before boiling the syrup and adding the remaining ingredients back in. I think it’s a darling of a preserve.

Rhubarb Rose Petal Preserve

2 3/4 pounds of chopped rhubarb

2 3/4 cups sugar

juice of 2 lemons

1/2 cup rose petals or petals from 2 small roses. Please make sure they’re unsprayed.

**Optional: 2 tbsp Strawberry Liqueur **

1. Slice the rhubarb and toss sugar and juice of one lemon together and pour into 9×13 pan. Cover with parchment paper and refrigerate overnight.

2. The next morning, strain rhubarb mixture and pour juices into a large pan. Add the juice of your second lemon with the strained rhubarb juices. Bring to a boil and reduce by about half. Stir in rhubarb and fresh rose petals and stir over low-medium heat until the preserve is cooked to your liking. I like a bit of texture, so I reduced my liquid to the setting point and added the fruit in. It didn’t take long to finish and the jam is chunky. If you want a smoother, more stewed-like jam, don’t boil the rhubarb juice as much and give your rhubarb extra time to cook and break down.

3. Remove from heat and stir in your strawberry liqueur. Pour into sterilized jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Perfect for Tea Time.

Rhubarb Rose Petal Preserve on Punk   Domestics

Sunny Citrus

19 Jan

While it’s important for me to shop and buy local, I realized after last year’s 100 Mile Challenge that it’s a long time without citrus, especially over the winter. There’s something inherently cheery about citrus, that sweet pucker that puts a smile on your face and reminds you that somewhere in the world, some place is enjoying warm enough weather to grow these round cherubs of goodness (and that you don’t live in such a place!).

Armed with grapefruits, lemons and limes, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try out some new recipes and a new style of preserve I’ve never conquered.

Behold…

Vanilla Cupcake with Grapefruit Curd

Last winter, I kept seeing recipes for really beautiful curds and I vowed that the following winter, when we weren’t participating in the 100 Mile Challenge, I’d give them a try. I used this recipe, from Confections of a Foodie Bride and what I especially liked about her recipe for Grapefruit Curd was that it was a smaller batch of curd and that it used whole eggs. Right now, I don’t have time to use up 6 egg whites in another recipe, like angel food cake or meringue and I feared they’d get wasted. I also wasn’t sure how I’d feel about a curd and how quickly I’d use it up. According to the National Office of Home Food Preservation, curds can be canned, they be frozen up to a couple of months (just insure lots of headspace because they’ll expand) and they’ll also hang out in your refrigerator up to a week, so there are plenty of options. I opted for the easiest method since my time is very limited by chosing a smaller recipe.

The recipe results in a creamy, delicious and decadent curd. The one thing I noticed was the recipe didn’t state to use unsalted butter. My curd, while delicious, is a touch too salty and so the obvious butter tastes is more prominent than I’d like. Still, it’s a great recipe for beginners like me!

My next citrus project is this:

The Beginnings of Cointreau

I use a lot of Grand Marnier because I love the orange flavour and depth it adds to preserves. However, it’s pricey and if I can make it cheaper, I will. Again, since this is the first time with this liqueur, I quartered the original recipe found at Foodista. I took a very cheap, 375 mL bottle of brandy, a lime and two oranges. I’ve microplaned the citrus and will let it sit for a month, as per the instructions. Hopefully, I’ve made something delicious!

It All Starts Here

Thinking Outside the Jar: Strawberry Liqueur Update

8 Aug

After patiently waiting my almost four weeks for the vodka to extract all that fantastic strawberry flavour, today was the big reveal. I wish I could convey the full aroma of the liqueur and its perfect strawberry smell; it’s like opening “June”. The process was really simple and in a nutshell: Take some berries, throw some vodka over them, put them in a cool dark place and gently shake once a week until the four weeks are up. To complete the liqueur, I strained the berries in a large coffee filter nestled in a fine mesh strainer for crystal clear liquid and poured it into a hot and clean 1 L mason jar, where it will reside in a low traffic cupboard so it won’t lose its colour from sunlight exposure. Another idea is to get fancy and fill dark green, 250 mL wine bottles and cork it so it’s ready for gift giving. The dark green will help protect it from colour loss.  (Full instructions on how to begin found here.)

My batch yielded about 2.5 cups and although I had the best of intentions of using this as Christmas presents, one whiff and I realized I couldn’t bear to part with it. It really is that good.

It started like this:

Vodka Meets Berries

And turned into this:

Strawberry Liqueur

I tried serving the strained, boozy strawberries with a sweetened ricotta dish when I made for company and while they enjoyed the berry-turned-shooter, it was agreed that I should find another use for them. Given that I hate wasting food and they still had a lot of strawberry flavour, I decided to repurpose them into this:

Rhubarb Pineapple Strawberry Preserve

Rhubarb Pineapple Strawberry Preserve
* Actually, it’s closer to Kitchen Sink Preserve as I had some leftover crushed pineapple that needed to be used, but it doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Yields: Almost 5×250 mL

4 cups diced rhubarb (frozen works fine)

1 small can of crushed pineapple, with juice

1 cup strawberries, from the strawberry liqueur

2 1/2 – 3 cups sugar

2 tbsp strawberry liqueur

1. Combine pineapple, strawberries and rhubarb and bring to a boil over medium heat.

2. When the fruit has broken down to your liking (I prefer my rhubarb more on the stewed side), add your sugar and return to a boil, stirring until jam has thickened to your liking, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add strawberry liqueur. Pour into hot, clean jars and process at 10 minutes in your boiling water bath.

These are not pectin rich ingredients and I was aiming for a very soft set and something to spoon over my morning porridge or blend into yogurt. The strawberry flavour really shines through and balances nicely with the pineapple and rhubarb. A great, impromptu preserve that takes very little effort. Enjoy!

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