Sunday, September 26, 2010

For Rachel

I heard Rachel is excited about canning. This is my favorite thing to put in jars. It comes from a beautiful book on preserving food called Well Preserved by Eugenia Bone.

Marinated Red Bell Peppers (fabulous on salad, pizza, pasta, sandwiches...)
This is a canning recipe for water bath canning.

4 lbs red bell peppers (8 to 10 medium), stems snipped off
1 c bottled lemon juice
2 c white wine vinegar with 5% acidity
1 c olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, sliced (but, frankly, I add a lot more!)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Roast the peppers. Bone suggests this: Place the oven rack about 7 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and char them under the broiler, turning them often with tongs so that they blister all over, about 20 minutes. Let the peppers stand until cool enough to handle. Remove the charred skin, cut the peppers in half, and remove the seed pods.

Here's how I do it: Put the peppers on the grill to char the skin. Turn so all sides get charred and blistered. Put them in a paper sack and roll the top closed. This seems to help them steam a bit and loosen the skin more. I remove the skins under running water -- it seems to help get the sticky parts off while I rub at it with my fingers.

After they're skinned, do this:

1. Combine lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, garlic and salt in a saucepan and heat just to boiling over medium heat.
2. Have ready 3 scalded pint jars and their bands. (To scald, simply dip the jars in boiling water. You don't need to sterilize the jars, as you will be processing them for over 10 minutes.)
3. Simmer new lids in a small pan of water to soften the rubberized flange.
4. Pack the peppers into the jars and pour the marinade over them. Using a butter knife, pop any air bubbles in the jars.
5. Distribute the garlic slices evenly between the jars.
6. Be sure to leave 1/2 to 3/4 inch of headspace in the jars, or your seal might fail -- peppers puff up some during the water bath process, and if there isn't enough space for the air to be pushed out of the jar by the heat, the pressure will push oil as well and the seals won't stick.
7. Wipe the rims, place on the lids, and screw the bands on fingertip tight.
8. Process the peppers in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. The boiling water must cover the tops of the lids the whole time, so keep an eye on things. If it doesn't, you need to stop timing until you add new water and get it re-boiling, then start timing again.
9. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let the jars sit for 5 minutes, then remove from water and let them sit 4 - 6 hours. Check the seals and store in a cool, dry place for up to a year.

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