Savory Spreads: Peppers and Plums

People have been making spreads with peppers and plums for a long time. Get jelly and chutney recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
People have been making pepper jellies for a long time. Some claim they’re Southern in origin, with roots in Texas and an official Pepper Jelly Festival in Alabama. They vary widely in color (from green to golden to red), spiciness (from sweet to jalapeno to habanero), and texture (from smooth jelly to marmalade-like spreads flecked with pepper pieces). But to ensure they store well on the shelf and in the fridge, all contain a lot of vinegar and sugar.

Although many recipes focus on the heat of chilies, I prefer a sweet bell pepper base with just a bit of heat mixed in. Many pepper jelly recipes also use commercial pectin and distilled vinegar, both of which are neutral in flavor. I prefer the depth added by fruit pectins and vinegars, so as with other savory spreads, I turn to tart apples to help the jelly set. Fresh lemon adds even more flavor and pectin.
Learn to make Sweet Pepper Jelly and Italian Plum–Apple Chutney

Savory Spreads: Toms and Zukes

High-pectin, high-acid fruits are natural partners for low-pectin, low-acid vegetables in savory spreads. Get canning recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.

The first savory spread I canned, from Liana Krissoff’s Canning for a New Generation, featured tomatoes and basil. It inspired me not only to evolve the recipe but also to make other spreads that feature vegetables. Krissoff’s book also showed me the advantages of incorporating fresh fruit into these spreads. Pectin occurs naturally in fruits, and some fruits, like apples and oranges, have lots of it. Most fruits also have enough natural acid that you don’t need to add vinegar to preserve them safely. This makes them natural partners for low-pectin, low-acid vegetables.

In this week’s recipes, the apples don’t have to look or even taste perfect: you’re mainly interested in their pectin. So save your sweetest apples for fresh eating and use tart, underripe ones with your tomato and zucchini. You also have lots of choices for tomatoes and basil, but for the prettiest jars, stick to one color of each per batch.

Learn to make Tomato–Apple–Basil Jam and Fall Marmalade

Summer Vegetables

Summer means filling bellies not just with the freshest produce possible but also with preserved vegetables the rest of the year. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
If your garden isn’t in full swing yet, it’s about to be. Even here in Montana, with our long winters and short growing season, spring produce is beginning to wind down: Lettuces and spinach will soon be bolting, the asparagus crop has tapered off, and the strawberry bed has been picked nearly clean. In their place, summer produce is ready to burst forth, launching itself into the annual race to grow faster than I can harvest and process.

If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’ve seen how I deal with spring’s vegetable bounty: #dailysalad. But with a large garden, summer vegetables need a different approach. The next few weeks are not just about filling bellies with the freshest produce possible but also about preserving those vegetables so that they can fill bellies the rest of the year. Here’s how I’ll be spending the next few weeks.
Read more about enjoying summer vegetables year-round

Slow Cooker Fruit Butters

The garden I play in came with an established orchard—primarily apple trees. With little effort on our part, we always seem to end the growing season with far more boxes of apples than we need. After we’ve eaten our fill, I always store a box or two of whole, unblemished apples for eating out of hand. Then I make as much applesauce as my canning shelves can hold. By November, I’m salvaging the fruit in the remaining boxes to create apple butter.

Fruit butters capture all of the flavor of your chosen fruit. Often seen as finicky, they’re traditionally prone to burning and need endless stirring during their lengthy cooking time. I avoided them for years but then discovered a slow cooker variation. I fell for the hands-off, burnproof technique that let me dump a bunch of fruit into my Crock-Pot, leave it to cook for hours, and return to find a perfect blend ready for the canning kettle.
Learn to make Any-Fruit Butter and Slow Cooker Apple Butter