Here’s what I preserved in 2004. Well, at least this much got onto the kitchen calendar. I’m sure a few things didn’t, but hey, they’re probably already eaten up by now.
TB – Tayberry Jelly – 1, 5, 12, 19, 26, 29 June, and 3 July.
SAL – Strawberry Jam – 21 June, 4, 11, 23 July, 21 August, 5, 6, 11 September, and 2, 10 October.
NAL – Nectarine Jam – 5, 7, 12, 23, 28 July.
NCABPL – Nectarine, Cherry, Apple, Blueberry, Plum, Lemon Jam – 9 July (Yep, for some reason I had ended up with just a handful of all of these, so I threw ’em all in. The ultimate in mixed fruit jam.)
EAL – Elderberry Jam – 9 July (Yes, we’ve read all our lives about Elderberry Jam and Elderberry Wine. Well, Andy at Mariposa Farm brought some to market and I made jam. Good grief, our ancestors sure were desperate for jam. In the first place, just cleaning the damn little things is a hassle, as is stripping them off their fragile little stems, and it takes a zillion of them to fill a cup. And then when you finally get the jam made, it tastes good enough but nothing to write home about. So I used a test. The folks who got this stuff were those who lit up like Christmas trees when I said “Elderberry Jam.”)
Pickled Sugar Snaps – 12, 29 July, 7 August, and 9, 18 November.
Pickled Haricots Verts – 27 July (Pickling these little things is too much like building a ship in a bottle, so I did it only once this year. I need to save me some little bottles in preparation for next summer’s haricots verts season.)
Pickled Yellow Wax Beans – 27 July, 15 August.
SRAL – Strawberry, Rhubarb Jam – 31 July.
PAL – Pluot Jam – 2 August.
Pickled Jade Beans – 5 August, 12 December.
PC – Pluot Chutney 8, 9, 16, 23 August, 14 September.
NC – Nectarine Chutney 10, 23 August.
GTAGC – Green plum, Tomatillo, Apple, Golden raisin Chutney – 11, 21 August.
NATC – Nectarine, Apple, Tomatillo Chutney – 16 August.
PAPC – Pluot, Apple, Pepper Chutney – 17 August PAPC (This one turned out pretty hot.)
PGAC – Pluot, Grape, Apple Chutney – 18 August.
MPAGC – Mango plum, Apple, Golden raisin, Cherry Chutney – 19 August.
“Dapple Dandy” Pluot, Tomatillo Chutney – 20 August (I finally recorded the variety of the pluots. I really should do this with all the fruit.)
MPAGC – Mango plum, Apple, Golden raisin Chutney – 21 August (Yes, you close readers, the one on the 19th had cherries and this one didn’t but I somehow used the same code for both.)
CL – Cherry Lemon Jam – 7 September (For once, no apple).
NGAC – Nectarine, Golden raisin, Apple Chutney.
GGTGAC – Greengage, Tomatillo, Golden raisin, Apple Chutney – 9 September (I suspect that these are not true “Greengage” plums but rather a modern hybrid that approximates the classic plum’s color and taste whilst avoiding the classic capricious production.)
GGTGC – Greengage, Tomatillo, Golden raisin Chutney – 10 September (As above, but without the apple).
Pickled Jalisco beans – 10, 12, 18 September (These are a large string bean that comes from Jalisco. Poli Yerena brought some seed back on one of his visits, and he now grows a few for the farmer’s markets. They cook amazingly fast considering how big and tough they look. I love them pickled as well as boiled. I’ll scoop up a bagful and then pickle the more straight and presentable ones and cook the crooked ones.)
TPC – Tomatillo, Pluot Chutney – 16 September.
BBRC – Black plum, Black currant, Red onion Chutney – 7 October.
PAAL – Poha Jam – 3 October PAL and 10 October (The PAAL is not a misprint. It means that for the second batch I put the pulp of two apples in there and upped the sugar to try to stretch the pohas. This is clearly going to be a luxury jam.)
SAPL – Strawberry, Apple, Pear, Lemon Jam – 17 October.
BPCC – Pear, Black currant Chutney – 17 October.
Pickled Romano beans – 19 October.
Pickled Brussels sprouts – 19 October, and 3, 17 December.
PGGRC – Pineapple guava, Golden raisin Chutney – 12, 16 November.
KAL – Kiwi, Apple, Lemon Jam – 5 December.
Damn, was I a busy beaver or what? Well, see, I started handing this stuff out when I went to my appointments with doctors and such, but now I feel like I’m disappointing them if I’m not carrying jars.
What I really love, though, is laying one of my jars on someone who doesn’t expect it. Like yesterday I’m out with Sybil at the Ferry Building and we stop by this fish market there by Hog Island and this nice young man is touting his local halibut and I get a fillet and ask him to skin it for me. Well, the skin was particularly tenacious, and he had a little trouble with it while I prattled about how happy I was to have had the sense to ask him to do it. Then Sybil and I both got a jar of his freshly-shucked oysters, and there was some confusion over them, doubtless partly sparked by his frustration with the halibut, and so on the spur of the moment I whipped out this jar of kiwi jam and gave it to him for all his trouble.
People in shops are so unaccustomed to anybody ever doing anything nice for them that they’re just stunned when it happens.
Additional Notes: In addition to the primary fruit, the chutneys almost always include one cored apple (red, yellow, or green), some onion (red, yellow, or white), and some raisins (red flame, golden, Thompson, etc). All chutneys also contain sugar (brown or white or both), salt, vinegar (white wine, apple cider, white, or fruited balsamic or a combination thereof), fresh hot peppers (and chile powder or red pepper or white pepper or Patak’s hot lime relish), cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cumin, mace, turmeric, curry powder, bay leaves, fresh ginger, and fennel seeds or star anise. One of these days I hope to put some instructions into my Recipes.
This year I went through a phase in which I thought it was nifty to use whole spices because one of my favorite restaurants, a little Pakistani dump on Polk called Shalimar, uses them. Somehow, you feel like you’re getting more bang for your buck when you chomp down on a whole black cardamom lurking in your curried spinach. Having inedible chunks in there somehow makes the chutneys seem more “real” although I’m not sure it makes them taste any better.
About the lemons: Gloria gives me lemons (and also sometimes apples) from her trees, and I save them to use in my jams. While you’re down there praying, you might throw in a word for the good health of her trees….not to mention the continuation of her kind feelings for me.
About the sugar: As I learn more, I keep reducing the amount of sugar and cookings things down longer.
About peppers: I have been gradually using more and more fresh hot peppers in the chutneys. I plan to continue adding more until enough folks squeal. Also, I’m going to be throwing another pepper into the beans and sprouts next season. Feedback is golden. It gets acted upon.
Finally, about the chocolate syrups: I don’t mark these on the calendar or put dates on them because I give them away as fast as I can make them and typically they get consumed immediately. I do mark a code for the source cocoa: D – Droste, SB – Scharffen Berger, SC – Schokinag, and V – Valrhona are the ones that I used most this year.
I guess I’ll also confess the failure. No, not all those things that didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped, but rather the absolute, face-in-the-dirt failure. Anne Fukano, one of the wonderful folks at the UCSF Vascular Surgery department, gave me a half gallon of pomegranate juice, the painstaking product of her mother’s arthritic old fingers.
Yeah, I choked. I was so intent on very carefully boiling it down into a jam, no matter how little I was left with, that I stood there carefully and continually stirring it until, without letting it stick, I scorched it. I had used a thermometer in the past with jams, but for whatever reason, I neglected to use it this time. Now I’m trying to work up my nerve to face Anne.
About the taxonomy: I do not mark anything other than the date of production on the lids of jars of pickled vegetables because I figure folks who can’t distinguish Brussels sprouts from green beans through clear glass are beyond my help. I mark the lids of the jams and chutneys with codes tied to notes on the kitchen calendar. The contents are listed in order by volume, so the difference between the PTC and TPC above is that there were more tomatillos than pluots in the second one.
About the apple and lemon: I typically make jams, jellies, and chutneys in batches using two quarts of the base fruit. If the code contains “A,” I put the pulp of one apple into the batch in the expectation that nobody will be able to detect the taste but that its pectin will thicken the product. Not that there’s anything unhealthy about it, but I have not used commercial pectin in over a decade.
Some chutneys have the A in the code and some don’t even though I wasn’t consistent for some reason. The chutneys do not contain the juice of a lemon, which I indicate with an “L,” but the jams and jellies almost always do because this brightens the taste as well as lowering the Ph and helping them set up. This year I omitted the “A” and the “L” from the code for the tayberry jelly (TB). I hope next season to create codes with more precision and consistency.
I didn’t make any this year, but last year some folks got a jelly coded YB for Yerenaberry, which is my name for a mystery blackberry hybrid that somebody gave Yerena some canes of a while back. He took the berries to UC Davis, but they couldn’t identify them. Frankly, the tayberry jelly is better, but the wonderful thing about the Yerenaberry Jelly is that nobody but me makes it. Yerena doesn’t grow many of them and their season is short, but I’ll try to keep my eyes open for them in 2005.