I must admit, I had mixed feelings about this challenge. I have been happily preserving foods throughout the summer, first with a quartet of jams, and testing all my berry butters. While I am still very excited to share my experiences, I didn't want too many more, since I was experiencing burnout...
So I kind of cheated. I finished my berry butter experiment, and made some yummy oven roasted tomatoes to freeze for later tomato sauce. I hope this counts, but I had run out of canning jars, and really didn't want to buy any more.
The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Thank you John for such a "daring" challenge. I am happy that you got some people to try preserving foods for the very first time. And, I enjoyed reading the debates about what is vs. what is not considered safe in each country.
All that being said, I strongly encourage you to dip your foot into the water of Home Food Preservation. It's very fun. I do suggest you check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation, though, if you plan on starting to can.
There was a lot of discussion over what's safe, what's healthy, etc. And, I'm not really going to address that except to say - do what you feel comfortable with. Some people feel the precautions are over cautious, some feel the opposite. If you decide to do any home preserving, I strongly encourage you to know the facts, and make your own decisions and choices. You can check out this site for more information.
Phew...all that over with! Now, back to the fruit and berry butters. Originally, I wanted to make fruit and/or berry butters, but with a lower amount of sugar, if possible. While I realize this possibly makes them not shelf stable (and that's one of the reasons why I chose to freeze them), I wanted to create something my diabetic mom could possibly enjoy. Let me tell you the results of my experiments below. Keep in mind that I used about 4-5 cups of mashed fruits for each experiment, unless otherwise noted.
Apricot - Apricot butter is SOUR...it really is. It required the most sugar - I added over 1 1/2 cup sugar, along with about 1 t. lemon juice to make this work. While this is much less than most recipes required, I was a bit disappointed it took that much.
Blueberry - I ended up adding about 2/3 c. sugar and 2 t. lemon juice. As I mentioned previously, the blueberries had a ton of seeds, so if you make blueberry butter, I strongly recommend you strain at least 1/2 of your blueberries before you begin.
Pear - Pear butter was the sweetest of the ones I did. I used about 1/4 c. brown sugar and 2 t. lemon juice total.
Pumpkin - ok, I admit, I cheated with the pumpkin and started with canned pumpkin. I simply couldn't find sugar pumpkins anywhere. For pumpkin, it's mostly about the spices anyway. I added 1/2 c. brown sugar, 2 t. lemon, 1 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. nutmeg, 1/4 t. cardamom, and 1/4 t. salt. This is really good. It's like a pumpkin pie spread.
Raspberry - I strained about 1/2 the raspberries because I didn't want too many seeds. Still, raspberries required quite a bit of sugar - almost 1 cup. And, I added 2 t. lemon juice to this.
Plum - This really was an experiment, and I'm happy with it. It wasn't too sweet, or too sour. I used about 2/3 c. sugar.
Now, what am I going to do with all of these? Well, I'm going to use some of them for Christmas Cookies, and I'm planning on using some of them to flavor butter cream frosting, or somewhere I want the flavor of the fruit without a lot of moisture. The rest, we shall see.
I also wanted to include the roast tomatoes. Yes, I spelled it incorrectly on the package, but this is a *great* way to preserve food for the winter. If you can get some cheap tomatoes, this is one way to enjoy them for a while. I seeded most of mine, sprinkled them with olive oil, a little sugar, and a little salt, and roasted until they were about 1/2 the size as when I started. Then I let them cool, put them in a ziploc freezer bag, dated them, and tossed them in the freezer.
They will be a great addition to a tomato sauce in the dead of winter when just canned tomatoes won't do. I also can't wait to puree some of these to put on a sandwich or two!
Now I'm off to celebrate my birthday!