Fare Exchange: Using fruit and tomatillos for jams and salsas

Fare Exchange: Using fruit and tomatillos for jams and salsas

August 13th, 2014 by Jane Henegar in Life Entertainment


Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

• Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

• E-mail: chattfare@gmail.com

Jane Henegar

Jane Henegar

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Welcome to Fare Exchange, esteemed readers, cooks and senders. You are needed in this process, every one. The questions follow. Where to buy lemon curd as mentioned in the Lemon Mousse recipe on July 30? How to make homemade snickerdoodle cookies, the kind with cinnamon-y cracks in the top? And how to make varied kinds of gazpacho?

Debbie Benton asked about the lemon curd, so if you can give us a recipe or a place to purchase, either would be welcome. An anonymous reader asked for the snickerdoodles, and wants to use her August produce to make any kind of gazpacho; she opines that "I cannot imagine a more healthful food to serve."

Becky McGee offers today's first answer in a tempting salsa (keep reading for a pineapple- peach version). Although the tomatillos are cooked, not roasted, she suggested this variation: "I have also roasted tomatillos when making this dish and they are delicious that way, too. You may also serve them fresh without cooking or roasting tomatillos; the choice is yours."

Green Tomatillo Salsa Verde

10 husked and rinsed tomatillos

1 chopped onion

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 jalapeno peppers (seeded or unseeded, depending on how hot you want your salsa)

Salt and pepper to taste

Cover the tomatillos with water and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and place in food processor with other ingredients. Blend only until chunky.

This can be used as salsa to accompany fish, meats or by itself.

Those of you who are old hands at canning, or eager to become experts, will be grateful for Michele Johnson's recent four-day experiment. "The produce this year is just outstanding. I made peach jam, mixed berry jam, strawberry jam, cherry preserves, hot pepper jelly, canned tomatoes, pineapple and peach salsa, bread and butter pickles, dill pickle spears and homemade ketchup. Our larder is full, and this winter should be great."

Johnson sent an assortment of recipes. We will share three of this largesse now, saving one for later. Reading these recipes made me wish for the giant canning vessel my mother-in-law kept on her back porch and used often. It made me think of that back porch and its summery colors and tastes. And it made me want to get canning ... you, too, possibly? Note her frozen saucer trick ...

Simple Berry Jam, Strawberry or Mixed Berry

Hulled strawberries or a mixture of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries

2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice

2 cups sugar

You may make strawberry jam and mixed berry jam at one time.

Put strawberries or mixed berries in bowl with lemon juice and sugar. Let sit for several hours. Put berry mixture in saucepot. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring often. Check for desired consistency. If too thin, cook a little longer.

Prep canning jars according to canning directions. Put jam in jars, process for 10 minutes or more. No pectin needed.

Brandy Spiced Peach Jam

4 cups (about 3 pounds) ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped

3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice

1 ounce brandy

4 cups sugar, depending on the sweetness of the fresh peaches

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Place a saucer in the freezer to check jelling after cooking.

Combine peaches, lemon juice and brandy in large saucepot. Add sugar and spices; mix well. Place over medium-high heat and bring to boil, stirring often. Reduce heat a bit so jam is lively simmering. Stir often and be careful not to let it scorch. Cook for about 30 minutes or until mixture looks jammy. Mash peaches with a potato masher, or use an immersion blender to get to desired consistency.

When you deem the mixture ready, take off heat and skim off foam, if necessary. Place a small amount of jam on frozen saucer. Tilt the plate sideways and, if it holds in place without being too runny, then it's ready. The consistency will still be thin. Don't worry, it will thicken and set up into a gel as it cools. If the mixture is still too watery, continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes and recheck.

Ladle into hot sterilized jars and seal. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Let sit overnight and check the seals. If lid pops up and doesn't stay down, refrigerate that jar.

Yield: 5-6 half-pint jars.

Pineapple Peach Salsa

4 diced banana peppers

2 medium diced Vidalia onions

1 large diced yellow onion

5 cloves garlic, diced, or more

1 cup red and yellow bell pepper, peeled and chopped

10 cups peeled and diced tomatoes (roughly 5 to 6 pounds fresh whole tomatoes)

5 diced jalapenos, seeds and membranes left in (habanero peppers may be added if more heat is needed.)

1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and diced

4-5 fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and diced

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tube tomato paste

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons Tiger Seasoning (optional)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Prepare jars and boil water peppers, onions and garlic. Combine all ingredients except the cilantro in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil and simmer until desired consistency is reached, stirring frequently, about 40 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the fresh cilantro and stir through. Carefully ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Use a knife or chopstick to poke mixture down into the jar along the edges to release air bubbles. Wipe rims with a damp cloth and cover with lids and rings. Process in the boiling water bath for 15 minutes, begin timing from when the water returns to a full boil. Turn off heat and allow the jars to remain in the water for 5 minutes before carefully removing to a towel-lined tray. Allow the jars to sit undisturbed overnight. Check for seals and label.

Yield: 10-12 pint jars

A couple of you called about the chocolate icing for Linda Leake's chocolate pound cake. Here is the icing that is a family treasure.

Chocolate Icing

2 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup sweet milk

1 stick butter or margarine

1 tablespoon vanilla

Put all ingredients in a large saucepan. Boil fast for 2 minutes, stirring constantly; start timing when mixture comes to a boil.

Remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Place pan over cold water until cool. Beat until creamy.

Just a Dash ...

Edna P.'s summer philosophy is not much cooking but a good bit of mood-setting. "You can serve something very simple, and if you use cloth napkins, and put a slice of lemon or lime in the water, and serve by candlelight, everything will taste special. My only problem is that it is hard to find tapers to put in candlesticks. I went to four stores last week and there were none. A sales clerk told me that they never have them anymore. Wonder why?"

Please come back with questions and answers and we will pair them up.