It's Monday morning, and once again I'm doing a bit of stuff online while the canner heats up and my day in the kitchen begins. I'm still trying to can as much of the produce as possible. While I have popular favorites I try my best to keep on the table at the stand, for me, some of the most fun is trying new things. I'll be doing pepper rings and pickled beets this week, because they are so popular. But lately I've tried (and succeeded!) at some new stuff as well.
I love growing hot peppers, and I sell lots of canned products that use them. I have hot pepper jelly, hot and mild pepper rings, and of course, salsa. But a few weeks ago, I expanded my mustard line to include a hot pepper mustard! Although my other mustards are thick, whole-grain creations, this one is different. It's bright yellow, and kind of thin. I had to play around a bit with it to get it to thicken at all, and it's still on the thin side. It's been a big hit with my friends though, who love the flavor and said that the texture is just right for sinking into a bun when you're grilling out. And as the garden slows down even further and I have more time to experiment, I'm also hoping to begin playing around with a few more mustards. I'm still trying to replicate a champagne-dill mustard I love, but I just haven't gotten the results I want, at least not yet. And as fall moves along, I hope to have an Oktoberfest beer mustard, which I think will be fun.
Another new thing I've created recently was a plum preserve. Dan has worked for years for a man who has a small, private orchard and sometimes Dan comes home with a bucket of some kind of fruit or another. Last week, it was some apples and plums. Apples will keep, so I wasn't in as much of a hurry to use them. But what to do with the plums? I found a great recipe, so simple it called for only pitted, halved plums, sugar and water. No chopping the fruit, no adding pectin or lemon juice or anything. I've made lots of jams and jellies, but this was my first time making one without the pectin, so I had to figure out how to do a gel test to figure out when it was done. (A gel test involves putting some metal spoons in the freezer, then dipping them in the jam and observing how it runs off when tilted. It will run off in drips at first, then as it thickens it will look more like it's coming off in a sheet.) The fruit flavor was super intense, and I think it's a great new addition. Time consuming to make, as it needs to cook for a good long while, but in the end I think it was worth it. I may have to try and source some local plums to make more of it!
And this week, I hope to get to those apples. Last year I offered a jam called Apple Pie in a Jar. It was a great flavor, and I plan on doing it again this year. Also, Dan and I bought a cider press, so we're hoping to get to that and make our own cider, at least for ourselves. I'm also hoping to make enough cider that I will be able to set some aside, ferment it, and be able to offer real cider vinegar, which will probably not be done before the stand closes. But vinegar will keep until spring, and if nothing else, I'm excited to have it for my own cooking. I'm also hoping to partner with a local farm to be able to offer fresh apples to our customers in the near future.
Well, the canner is starting to bubble so it's time to get the jars sterilized and begin with the peppers and the beets. Then I also hope to get some sauerkraut started, get the Apple Pie in a Jar done, maybe make some more Bruschetta or Garden Relish, and who knows what else will be canned and for sale by the weekend!