2019 Production Report

Chocolate Sauce – Now that I’m making the sauce from Callebaut chocolate smuggled in from Belgium in 5 kilogram units, I make a batch every other week and still can’t keep it in stock because it’s so popular. People ask what to use it for, and I mention stirring it into hot or cold milk and pouring it over French Vanilla ice cream. I should also confess that in my case it should really be administered supralingually with an eyedropper, every ten minutes during my waking hours.

EBOM – Early Blood Orange Marmalade (1/7) The last of the unripe blood oranges picked for me from his grove by Erik Olsen. Yum.

Pickled Brussels Sprouts (1/13, 1/23, 1/28, 4/1, etc.) Found some excellent ones at Lou Iacopi’s stall at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market. He knows how good his produce is, and he prices it accordingly. The next week I found some tiny ones at the Alemany Farmers’ Market that weren’t as nice as Iacopi’s but were plenty good and two-thirds the price. In all the batches of pickles i add either half of a Thai chile or a whole Piper retrofractum, the Javan long black pepper that tastes like the round black pepper on all our tables. Later batches were mostly from the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market.

LLM – Lisbon Lemon Marmalade (2/4, 2/15, 2/22) I spotted some gorgeous ones at the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market and snapped up five pounds. Ended up cooking the marmalade too long, so it set up hard. This batch is for folks who like to slice their marmalade. It is ridiculously easy to overcook marmalades because they go from runny to hard in a few moments, and of course you can’t really see you’ve cooked it too long when it’s boiling away in the pot. That said, hard marmalade tastes every bit as good as soft, and i was particularly pleased with the pure clean lemon taste in this one. Nice change from the orange marmalades.

I bought the lemons for the second batch from Twin Girls at the Mission Market for only $2/lb. and this time made myself pay close watch so i could jar it before it had cooked too long to be spreadable. This time i erred in the opposite direction and ended up with a marmalade a bit on the runny side.

What i’m going to have to do with marmalades now since there is so little leeway between runny and stiff is to sit on my cooking stool in front of the pot after it gets near the end and watch it like a hawk until it hits the perfect moment. Alas, i ran it a bit too long on the third batch, so it’s back to too stiff. Good grief, is that ever a narrow window. I was somewhat reassured, though, when i complained bitterly about this to the legendary Liz Crane and she said she had the same problem…and proved it by offering me a sample of a delicious but somewhat runny marmalade of hers.

Pickled Snow Peas (2/16, 4/4) The Herrs at the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market will not be growing snow peas this year, and i don’t recall seeing them at other vendors. On the other hand, my main Mexican market, Casa Guadalupe, usually has them. So i went there, gave ’em a close look, and decided the quality was good. Thus this batch of a favorite pickle. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for ’em at my farmers’ markets, but i remind myself that some produce (others being the pineapple, durian, and mango) are simply not available at SF farmers’ markets, and i eat them anyhow. I found the ones for the second batch at the Alemany Farmers’ Market.

Pickled snow peas

Pickled Green Garlic (2/18) I felt downright smug when i realized that i could take advantage of the cruelly short green garlic season by pickling some of it. I’d never done this before, so i had to guess about how long to process it and settled on 4 minutes to tenderize them a bit without making them all mushy. One of the jars i used did not make a tight seal, which was just as well because that way i could test the contents. Took ’em down to my games group the next afternoon, and at the intermission plucked one out and chomped off a bite. Ummm, tried to, but it was way too fibrous. I include this failure as an indicator that i’m telling all here, and not all attempts are successful. I’m using these in cooking.

Pickled Beets (3/2, etc) These are a real crowd pleaser, and I made them several times with both red and golden beets. In the past I’d worked out a recipe that used less vinegar and much less sugar than the traditional recipe. Then I realized that I could just make them without any sugar at all and instruct the recipients to taste one and then add precisely the right amount of sugar to bring them to perfection. Ummm, better let ’em soak in the sugared liquid for a few days before you go adding more sugar.

K – Kiwi Jam (3/5, 3/16) Yes, the kiwis are in season now. Thus, this jam.

SSOM – Semi-sweet Orange Marmalade (3/10) Sybil’s daughter Karin picked the oranges off her tree in San Rafael and gave them to Sybil for me. They made a good marmalade because they’re not real sweet.

MC – Mango Chutney (3/18, 4/1, 5/27, 8/26, 10/17, etc. ) Ha! I finally found some mangoes from Mexico and snapped them up because i refuse to buy mangoes flown in from South America. I used about a quarter of a jar of Patak’s Hot Lime Relish plus two jalapeños, seeds and veins and all, so even though the end product is not blindingly hot, the capsaicin is right up front.

SB – Strawberry Jam (4/5, 7/19, 10/11, etc.) I picked up half a flat of Yerena’s first-of-the-season strawberries and schmoozed with him a bit since we hadn’t seen each other since last fall. Cooked this batch down well. Made another batch because folks were wanting more plain jam rather than my pepper-flavored varieties.

PLLM – Ponderosa Lisbon Lemon Marmalade (4/5) Karin gave me a couple of pounds of Ponderosa Lemons from her tree, and i bought three pounds of Lisbon Lemons from Twin Girls to get a full five pounds to make this batch of marmalade.

KJ – Kiwi Jalapeño Jam (4/7) I put one Jalapeño into this batch, and it was sufficient.

Pickled Sugar Snap Peas (4/10 and numerous dates afterwards because everybody loves these things). I tend to alternate adding a Thai chile or a Long Pepper (Piper retrofractum) to the garlic clove and mustard and dill seed.

SJ – Strawberry Jalapeño Jam (4/12) Two seeded and deveined chiles in this one, so their taste is right up front.

Kj – Kiwi Jalapeño Jam (4/20) The lowercase “j” indicates that I very scrupulously seeded and deveined the single Jalapeño in this batch and ended up with a jam in which the first taste is kiwifruit while the capsaicin doesn’t kick in until after a few beats. Lovely, if I say so myself. Note: People who eat a lot of chiles will barely be able to taste ’em here.

Sj – Strawberry Jalapeño Jam (4/26) Back down to one seeded and deveined Jalapeño, so the strawberry taste is up front.

CSSB – “Seascape” Strawberry Jam (5/9) Yerena’s Seascape variety strawberries were just gorgeous, so I grabbed six baskets for this jam. And yes, close readers, that “CSSB” should have been “SSSB”.

CSBJ – “Chandler” Strawberry Jalapeño Jam (5/10) Today the Yerenas had Chandler variety strawberries, my absolute favorite variety, and since it was time to do a batch of jam with chiles, I threw in one seeded and deveined Jalapeño and two teaspoons of red chile flakes, which cranked the capsaicin up so it’s right there up front. In retrospect, I should have made a plain jam of the Chandlers and thrown the chiles into a batch made with a lesser variety.

BC – Brooks Cherry Jam (5/12) Brooks are one of my favorite cherry varieties, so i gobbled a number of these during the pitting process. The jam turned out quite tasty, but I ran a bit long in the cooking, so you don’t have to worry about this one running off the edge of your toast.

CCPJ – Chelan Cherry Jam with Patak’s Hot Lime Relish and Jalapeños (5/20) Chelans are a good cherry variety, and to them I added a quarter of a jar of Patak’s and a Jalapeño. Yow. Not for children.

A – Apricot Jam (5/30, 6/10) Rodin Farms’ apricots. Cooked it down so well that the color darkened quite a lot, but the up side is that it set very firmly. Oh, and it tastes good. Second batch has a better texture, not so firm. Ummm, maybe not quite firm enough.

BLB – Blueberry Jam (6/3, 6/24) For the first batch, I threw two quarts of blueberries, a shredded apple for the pectin, two cups of sugar and the juice of three lemons into my slow cooker pot the first thing in the morning. Turned it to High and it still hadn’t boiled down enough by my bedtime. So I covered it and started it up again the next morning. At the end of the day I had five jars of very well set jam. For the second batch I got lucky and was given six pounds of berries, which cooked well down yielded nine jars.

BB – Blackberry Jelly (6/9, 7/17, 9/13) Yerena came through with the first of his season’s blackberries for this jelly. The seeds and pulp will be steeping in vinegar for the coming month in a large jar in the community refrigerator since I don’t have room in my own. I’ll strain the mass through a cloth for blackberry vinegar.

RC – Rainier Cherry Jam (6/9) Pitting the cherries for this batch got a complaint from my downstairs neighbor who was annoyed by the sound of my whacking down the plunger to pit each cherry as it fell into position. For the next batch of jam, I put the pitter on my chopping block with a pad beneath it on the kitchen counter rather than doing the process on the dining table which clearly transmitted too much noise through the floor. The good news is that the jam set well. The other bad news is that I’d thought that since the cherries were larger than the Brooks, the pitter would miss fewer pits, so I didn’t look closely enough for them as the mass was cooking and noticed the great abundance of pits only when I was jarring the jam and it was too late to remove them. Oh well, just proves I didn’t use a mix.

N – Nectarine Jam (6/13, 7/25, 8/8, 9/25) The nectarines are from Rodin Farms, and since they’re my favorite fruit, I buy lots of extra ones to eat. Jam’s good, too.

TB – Tayberry Jelly (6/14, 6/24, 7/3) Yerena came through with the first of the season’s tayberries. This jelly is the queen of the berry jellies and everybody loves it. Take a number.

BiC – Bing Cherry Jam (6/17) There is a woman (and can’t now remember the name of her farm) at the Alemany Farmers’ Market who undercuts everybody else’s prices for cherries, literally half or less the price at upscale markets. She’s not the most charming vendor, ahem, and she wants you to just take one of her prefilled bags rather than selecting every cherry yourself. However, she gives full weight and, more importantly, what’s in the bag perfectly reflects the very good cherries displayed in the bin.

AC – Astonishing Cherry Jam (6/25) OK, “Astonishing” is not the varietal name of these cherries but rather their taste. I asked the vendor for the name and then promptly forgot it. The jam is also astonishing because in an attempt to make sure it set well, I ended up with a very thick jam. Late note: Went back to the vendor to get more of those cherries, but he had some Bings that were at their peak and would not last until his next visit to market, so he was selling ’em at $5 for a 2 lb. bag. Since his are such high quality that he normally gets $6/lb. for ’em, I couldn’t resist three bags. But I also got the name of these extra-fine ones. It’s “Redlac”, the name of the Oregon man who developed the cultivar spelled backwards. Yep, Don Calder.

NJ – Nectarine Jalapeño Jam (6/26) I added two seeded and deveined Jalapeños to Rodin’s nectarines, and this produced a jam with a delicious Jalapeño flavor with very little piquancy. I’m amazed that there could be so much chile flavor without the jam being “hot”.

NCR – Nectarine y Chile Rojo Jam (7/6, 7/8) I couldn’t call it NRC for Nectarine and Red Chile because i’ve been making a lot of jams recently with cherries, and they all end in “C”. The bottom line is that I kept adding more red chile flakes until I got the capsaicin level high enough to taste up front. Barely. So it’s still not real “hot”.

SCR – Strawberry y Chile Rojo Jam (7/7). This time I used a couple of seeded Jalapeños plus a heaping teaspoon of red chile flakes. Same deal as above. You can taste the chile but it’s not “hot”.

CPK+ – Bing Cherry Jam with Patak’s Lime Relish and Red Chiles. (7/9) The plain CPK I made a while back was kinda wimpy, capsaicin-wise, so I made up for that in this one.

BV – Blackberry Vinegar (7/9) Made from the steeped seeds and pulp of the 6/9 Blackberry Jelly.

RLM – Rangpur Lime Marmalade (7/10) I usually get my Rangpur limes from Carol’s tree but the other day I was at the Heart of the City Farmer’s Market and out of the corner of my eye saw a sign reading “Rangpur Limes – $2/lb.” Since the only price i’ve ever seen them sold for is $9/lb., my jaw dropped and I jerked the Segway to a halt so I could see what was wrong with them. They ran a little larger than Carol’s and seemed a slightly lighter shade of orange, but they looked fine and felt firm and juicy, so I bought five pounds. That virtually emptied the box of ’em, so the vendor just dumped the rest of the box into my bag. When I was slicing them thin, I noticed another minor difference between these and Carol’s. These have the same excruciatingly sour taste, but unlike Carols, they have few seeds and most of those are so small that I decided they needn’t be painstakingly fished out.

TV – Tayberry Vinegar (7/14, etc.) Made from the steeped seeds and pulp from the Tayberry Jelly on 6/14 and later dates. It may seem like I’m doing a lot of vinegars, but the quantity of each batch is small because I want a strong berry flavor. Then I decant it into little bottles and still don’t get many. This gets quietly distributed to the A list.

WP – White Peach Jam (7/21) I don’t normally buy white peaches or nectarines (or corn) because I think too much flavor is sacrificed to get the extra sweetness, but yesterday morning I ran into Glen Tanimoto at the Alemany Farmers’ Market. Hadn’t seen him in ages because he’s no longer in the markets regularly, so I had to stop and say hello and buy something to show solidarity. Well, hell, all he had was two varieties of white peaches, so I bought the freestone one for ease of prepping and made this jam. Turned out pretty good, especially for a white peach.

Pickled Jade Beans (7/22, 9/14) I bought the beans from McGinnis at the Alemany Farmers’ Market. They run 3-5″ long and are sometimes passed off by unscrupulous vendors as haricots verts, which they are larger than. Still, they’re a small, tender green bean and take well to pickling. For the 9/14 batch I forgot to add the pepper/chile, not that this totally ruins them.

FGP – Flavor Grenade Pluot Jam (7/27) Pluots are crosses of plums and apricots, first done by Floyd Zaiger, who then went on to create dozens of pluot hybrids, often giving them fanciful names beginning with “Flavor”. This guy is one of my heroes. I cooked this one down until it set quite well.

RB – Raspberry Jelly (7/28) First of the season raspberry jelly.

SBRJ – Strawberry and Red Jalapeño Jam (8/10, 9/5) I chopped up two red Jalapeños into the strawberries, tasted about halfway through the cooking, and added another chile. Tasted again very near the end and chopped in a fourth one very fine. And the jam is still not all that “hot”. Alright, five Jalapeños next time. I’m gonna crank this stuff up until it brings a smile to Poli Yerena’s face.

CRC – Confiture de Reine Claudes (8/15, 8/24) Rodin came through with their Greengage Plums, and in honor of their French origin before Mr. Greengage brought them to England, I’m giving the jam its French name. There cannot be a plum jam finer than this.

FBW – Fig, Balsamic Vinegar, and Walnut Confit (8/23, 8/29) This thing went over so well last year that I made two batches. Boiled down the figs with the balsamic vinegar and sugar while roasting the walnuts. Added the walnuts just a few minutes before jarring.

Raspberry Vinegar (8/28) seeds and pulp from the Raspberry Jelly on 7/28)

CPAJ – Confiture de Prunes d’Agen and Jalapeño Jam (9/4) Prunes d’Agen, smaller and more ovate that most plums, are commonly called “sugar plums”. Well, unless the grower is of Italian or French heritage, in which case they’re called “Italian plums” or “French plums”. They are my favorite “eating” plum, but they also make good jam. In honor of their ancestry and the fact that I bought them from Rodin Farms, I’m using the French name. Oh, and to confuse things, I threw plenty of red Jalapeños into this first batch.

G – Grape Jam (9/8) I bought the grapes from a vendor at the Alemany Farmers’ Market and got the variety he recommended for a jam. (Name to be added if I remember to ask him for it again.) Turned out to be a pretty good jam for grape jam fans.

CPA – Confiture de Prunes d’Agen (9/13) The last of Rodin’s sugar plums. I also made a blackberry jelly today and only as I was jarring it remembered that I’d planned to put several red Jalapeños in this jelly. Stay tuned.

BBJ – Blackberry and Red Jalapeño Jam (9/15) I went ahead and threw in plenty of red chiles for this one. Piquante! but you can still taste the blackberries.

WNRJ – White Nectarine and Red Jalapeño Jam (9/27) Rodin’s white nectarine season extends a week longer than that of their yellow nectarines. I don’t eat white nectarines, but I’ll make jam of them. Actually, it’s pretty good.

PLM – Ponderosa Lemon Marmalade (10/20) My friend Karin has a tree in her garden and gave me seven pounds of these, which was enough to make a dozen jars since I trimed the peel off the thick ends. This is a very good marmalade, so I need to find someone else with a tree because I’ve never seen them in a market.

MP – Mealy Peach Jam (10/25) Yep, the season’s done and those still in the market are mealy, which gives them an unbearable mouth feel raw. However, you can still make good jam out of ’em and so I did.

GLM – Green Lemon Marmalade (10/29) I couldn’t resist these things. The peels are lime green but the lemons are ripe. Should have got more information on ’em but instead just bought five pounds and made this marmalade.

LLM – Lisbon Lemon Marmalade (11/4) The first of the season’s Lisbon lemons. These things make an excellent marmalade with a pure sour lemon taste shining through without the hint of bitterness found in most other marmalades.

HMC – Hot Mango Chutney (12/14) OK, I’ve been making batches of Mango Chutney all through the year and somehow have managed to pull back at the last minute and fail to get enough Jalapeños in. This time I did. Thus, the “hot”.

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