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More Kitchen Woes

Well after my struggles with yogurt – not yet completely sorted out (more on that in a minute), yesterday I had another culinary failure.

This week I have been visiting y family in Niagara.  Of course this time of year that means fruit, and especially peaches.  Yum, yum!  Yesterday my mother and I made peach and pepper relish (here is the recipe), which requires a lot of chopping.  We doubled the recipe with the intention of giving some as gifts.  Peach and red pepper relish is delicious and always a big hit with friends and family.  Unfortunately I left the pots to simmer on too high a heat, and burned both batches.

Oh, I was so mad at myself!  It took us about two hours and plenty of peppers and peaches, to get that recipe together and bubbling nicely on the stove.  I learned the hard lesson that once you add sugar, your liquid can burn easily if the burner is too hot or if you don’t stir frequently enough.  The burned flavour permeated the relish, and while it is edible, it will be kept for family only.  I’m not sure if I’ll have the time or energy to make up any more this year.

On a positive note, I found a great source of very inexpensive canning jars and even a canning pot for only $4!  There is a charity store not far from here that had all of the above, so I was able to get twenty 1-quart jars with lids for $8.  The canning pot I bought is too small for those large jars, but my roommate has a huge canning pot for those.  The small one will be good for the smaller jars, as it requires less water to fill and thus less energy and time to heat.  I am still not thrilled with how much energy canning takes, and I won’t do that much more this year.  Just peaches (I found a farm that sells its seconds for $4 for an 11 quart basket!!!), pears and perhaps a few more preserves.  My roommate makes a fantastic pumpkin butter that I really want to try making this year.

I am hoping to find time to set up a new page on this blog, detailing all that I am putting up for winter so that I have a record of what I’ve done.  I feel like I’m being rather haphazard about it, which is fine when you have grocery stores and farming friends to back you up, but I’d like to be a little more systematic from here on in.

Oh, as for the yogurt, I started over again with a new starter (Pinehedge).  I made one batch with store bought, pasteurized organic milk and incubated it in my little yogurt machine.  It worked out perfectly.  Here, at my parents’ house, however, I tried making more (using my latest yogurt as starter) and incubating it in a hot water bath.  This ended up very runny and mild tasting.  I let it sit out overnight and it improved slightly by the next day, but still was a bit too much like buttermilk.  Interestingly, today (two days later) it is a lot more like yogurt.  The fermentation process clearly continues despite refrigeration.

I had this problem of runny-ness happen with the last batch I made using a hot water bath as well.  I am wondering if that method simply isn’t hot enough, or maybe the fluctuating temperature slows down the process.  I have never had a problem with my electric incubator.  Perhaps I’ll make some and put one jar in the electric holder, and one in a hot water bath, check the starting and ending temperatures on both, and see how they compare.  I probably should do a little more research into the science of yogurt making as well, to see if I can pinpoint the problem.


One Response

  1. Peach and pepper relish! I’ve never heard those flavors combined before but, oh, it sounds delicious! I might have to get to choppin’ this weekend and make some of my own!

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