I do a lot of preserving onboard. A couple times a year I break out the big pots and the mason jars and water bath can a batch of Pawpaw Mustard Pickles, Mango Chutney, Kumquat Marmalade or Charred Tomato Salsa. If I am really lucky I can find “exotic fruits” and make something like Cardamom Scented Apple Sauce.
Charring Tomatoes on Stovetop
But I also do a lot of quick preserving that isn’t “properly canned.” These preserves are usually stored in the fridge and are made as a mean of extending the life of weekly provisions, or a way to deal with the seasonal glut of veggies at the market. One type of these preserves that have been on heavy rotation lately is Pickled Beans.
We had a heck of a sail back to Noumea the other day, stronger than expected winds, low cloud, and constant rain cut visibility down to half a mile and made for a pretty bumpy ride. When we hit the grocery store late that afternoon there was a cart full of must-go’s in the produce section. I found a bag of apples on super sale, about $1.50, which is a forth of their regular price. They were a little dinged up but not full of bruises, it was too good to pass up.
Apples are fruit I grew up with. A 50lb clear plastic bag, bought right from the grower on a crisp fall weekend, would stand in the corner of the cool pantry for months. During the first weeks of winter we’d still get crunchy apples in our lunch bags. As the season wore on, and the fruit started to perish, my Mother would turn them into apple pies for Sunday dinners.
But there aren’t that many apple trees in the tropics, and usually what I find at the market is either expensive and small, or expensive and old, or just plain ridiculously expensive. And with all the cool weather and pines trees in New Caledonia I was craving a good apple. It was obvious that these apples were not in good enough shape to just eat but a kilo of apples would make a nice batch of apple sauce. Continue reading
Last month I finally received a new supply of mason jars. The dozen that I carefully carried back from Australia last year quickly got filled in the last round of preserving I did. My enthusiasm for canning was bolstered by my success so another yachtie and I decided to combine our order and split the shipping costs to Fiji. We tagged along on a pallet shipment that was coming from the USA, figuring it would be more economical than shipping it by regular parcel post.
As it turned out it wasn’t. I am now the proud own of some of the most expensive mason jars on the planet.
I have no doubt that the jars will pay for themselves in the long (long) run. Pickles, chutneys and the like are often very expensive, so much so that we usually fore go buying them. I love a good pickle as much as the next guy, but am not willing to spend $10-15 for a very small bottle of mediocre ones.
Some of the most expensive jars in the world
A little while ago I made a batch of my Grampy’s Sweet Mustard Pickles. We ate them on everything; cheese and crackers, ham sandwiches, a spoon straight from the jar. Out of the 9 or so mismatched bottles the recipe yielded we were down to one. Continue reading
Well, pickling really.
Everyone once in a while I need some serious galley time; Steve calls it my therapy. Something about the methodical actions of slicing and dicing, of stirring and waiting somehow calms me, brings me back to centre. I have to admit, a small boat in the tropics is really not the smartest place to choose an activity that involves standing next to a stove for hours on end. But I can’t resist.
Over the years when fruit is in season and crazy cheap I’ll make a batch of jam or chutney, squirreling it away for a day when we are at a deserted anchorage and we haven’t seen a real store in weeks. Nothing boosts morale like a dollop of homemade Mango Chutney on leftover curry or spruces up breakfast like Passion fruit Pineapple Jam.
Having broken almost a whole tray of mason jars way back in Costa Rica one night (a sad lesson in the thermodynamic differences between solids and liquids let me tell you) I was running low on proper canning jars. So last visit to Aus I ordered a case, carefully packed them in my checked luggage and hoped they would survive the plane ride. Amazingly all 12 jars made it to the boat intact and they sat on the table taunting me until recently.
I started off by making a batch of Tomato Relish when tomatoes went down to $2/kg. Even if it failed miserably I would only be a couple bucks out of pocket- less than if I bought a jar of relish in the supermarket here. I headed straight for the book shelf and pulled two dog-eared and much loved volumes off the shelf for guidance.