It's funny, I remember at the beginning of the summer, I was convinced that I wouldn't be making any preserves. I had a strong feeling it just wasn't going to happen and I had a lot of excuses: lack of time, lack of motivation, lack of summer spirit. Then, Penguin Random House Limited sent me a copy of Amy Bronee's book called The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes (available on Amazon Canada and Amazon) to try out, and then suddenly, I had to start canning. I guess the universe wasn't going to let me go without preserving a little of the summer.
When I was testing Amy's book, instead of going for the traditional jams & jellies, I decided to make preserves that I'd never attempted before. I started with the vanilla bean stewed rhubarb (because I love rhubarb and wanted to know what "stewed rhubarb" was like), then I made the sweet thai chilli chutney (because that sounded AMAZING), and finally I got my mom to try out one last recipe, the rhubarb raisin chutney recipe (because it seemed neat to use rhubarb in a chutney).
Turns out stewed rhubarb is like a very lightly sweetened rhubarb compote. It's perfect on a bowl of hot breakfast cereal or eaten straight from the jar. Every time I dip my spoon into the jar, I wonder how I survived this long without stewed rhubarb in my life. I've already decided that I'm going to make it next summer because it's that good and it's all about the rhubarb without any strawberries to stand in the way of the rhubarb flavour.
The sweet thai chilli chutney is my "official" recipe for this FBC Canning Kitchen Blog Tour. I chose this recipe because I like the idea of that jarred sweet thai chilli sauce sold in most Asian grocery stores, but I'm tired of the gloopy consistency they usually have with that ultra shiny cornstarch-thickened look. Plus, I find the fluorescent colour of the commercial stuff a little scary. Amy's version is less cloyingly sweet (thankfully!), spicier, and much, much brighter-flavoured and fresher tasting from the fresh lemongrass, grated ginger, and lime zest. I appreciated that she lets us chop the veggies in the food processor because, to be quite honest, last time I made a pepper jam, I went a little nuts because it took me a full hour to chop the peppers. Ain't nobody got time for that! The sweet thai chilli chutney is excellent served with chicken thighs (which is how I've been eating it so far), and Amy recommends using it in stir fries with a little coconut milk, so that's what I'll be making next. I can't wait.
Just for fun, I got my mom to make the 3rd recipe I wanted to try: the rhubarb raisin chutney. She still had the tail end of the rhubarb crop to use up, so why not? I love chutneys with roast pork, so that's how I ate it (and again by the spoonful, diet be damned!). The chutney has a good level of cumin with lots of mustard seeds, and it's sweet with a little vinegar tang. I love it, and it's quite different from my mom's rhubarb relish recipe, so we were excited to try this recipe because it was similar, but also different from what we are used to.
I still want to try the pink lemonade jelly because I am a huge fan of pink lemonade, but in the meantime, I'm pretty happy I started with these three. All the recipes I tried worked out as written and were quite simple. Perhaps some of the recipes made a half-jar's worth extra, but honestly, I like having that extra half jar to enjoy right away, while I seal the rest of the jars to save for later. It's even better this way, if you ask me, because I can sample the preserves without feeling like I'm already dipping into my limited stash. As always, I wish that the cups of sugar, for example, were converted to grams, as opposed to millilitres, but that's a battle I'll have to take up with the people behind Canadian cookbook publishing norms, sigh. Be sure to check out Amy's book, which is not only full of wonderful recipes like these, but also tons of info, a canning checklist, equipment recommendations and more (available on Amazon Canada and Amazon). You can also follow Amy on her blog, Family Feedbag for even more great recipes.
There are 9 other yummy opportunities to win this book all week long, so don’t miss out! Visit the blog posts from these other bloggers for even more chances to win this week:
- Bridget (Bridget's Green Kitchen) is making Apple Butter
- Jenny (Brunette Baker) is making Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
- Megan (Food & Whine) is making strawberry Jam
- Anita (The Organic Experiment) is making zesty pizza sauce
- Jeanine (Faithfully Gluten Free) is making pink lemonade jelly
- Tiffany (Eating Niagara) is making blueberry lime jam
- Julie (Try Small Things) is making Thick Cut Orange Marmalade
- Kelly (Kelly Neil) is making Hot Dog Relish
- Michelle (Tiffin Box) is making Rhubarb Raisin Chutney
- Food Bloggers of Canada will be doing a recap at the end of the week as well
Penguin Random House Canada Limited offered me one copy of The Canning Kitchen, plus the opportunity to host a giveaway. As always, please know that I wouldn’t work with a sponsor nor recommend a product if it wasn’t worth it.