Happy Halloween! I may or may not be dressing up as a pickle tonight (check FB or Instagram for photos). Don’t worry I’m all dill pickle guys (sweet pickle? scoff…). I’m actually in Freeport, ME at a science meeting today sans gherkin costume… the chick with the ears and tale apparently didn’t get the memo. Even though I typically wait till the night before or the day of to pull together a planned out costume, Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I’ve never really been one for risque costumes but more huge and obnoxious or costumes that I can incorporate in with my bicycle… or both. The plan for this evening is to attend the Portsmouth Halloween Parade and then to scoot over to the Polish Club in Newmarket, NH for a night of blues and mandatory dancing. What are you all up to on this witchy day?
“No really, I’m just going to stop for a second…”. 45 minutes past and 5 pounds of fresh blueberries later… “Having a pick your own (PYO) blueberry farm on my commute home from work may be becoming a problem…”. Over the past month I’ve probably picked around 15 pounds of blueberries from Emery Farm in Durham, NH. $2.50 per pound of berries sure beats $5.99 store bought sub-par berries especially when you factor in the additional pound of “I just need to see if it’s ready” berries that you sampled along the way (I swear I only tried a couple…). Three (cough… six) trips to the farm has made me realize how calming picking berries can be. I have a tendency to get distracted pretty easily… look… shiny… so zoning out while hunting for the perfect berry is probably good for me from time to time. Although the blueberry season here in New Hampshire is unfortunately coming to an end, the wild raspberries and blackberries are just starting to pop off! Late last month I put up several jars of blueberry sage jam, and as I was running out of pumpkin butter from last fall, I decided to fill the void with this crockpot mint blueberry butter. This recipe is super easy to modify in that you could simply swap out or omit the mint for any other herb/spice. I opted for a low sugar option (4 cups of sugar vs. 7 cups) as I wasn’t trying to mask the amazing flavor of all my tediously (OCD a little?) picked berries. The consistency of the final product is thick, smooth, and nicely spreadable. My plan is to use it my overnight oats. Yum!
I’m actually off to Emery Farm in just a few minutes NO not for more blueberries, but for this month’s Seacoast Food Swap!
Has anyone else noticed the somewhat recent surge in salted caramel goods: ice cream, candies, Chapstick flavors, your fluffy dog’s shampoo? Or have I just been living under a culinary rock for the past few years? Nonetheless I am more than excited about the new (or not so new) salted caramel fad. I came across this sizable bounty of Asian and Bosc pears at our farmers market last Saturday, and figured I’d buy a bunch as I assume the season for winter pears is coming to an end. Knowing that I wanted to employee my newish crockpot again, I decided on pear butter. This salted caramel pear butter recipe was inspired by a few different recipes, particularly Knit & Knosh. Aside from a couple ingredient substitutions, my main modification was processing this butter in water-bath canner to extend its shelf life. The nice thing about pear butter, unlike pumpkin butter, is that it is completely safe to can, which is a big plus for me as I only consume at most a tablespoon a day.
In other news, as of a few days ago, original recipes from this blog are now featured on Punk Domestics. Check out the red “view my gallery” icon in the left side bar. Punk Domestics is not only am amazing website for finding preserved food recipes, but also a good place to learn about preservation techniques and methods.
Once upon a 2013 Christmas morning, resided a small, yet glowing, and almost sparkly pumpkin addressed to none other than “Putting Up with Erin”…. In addition to my gifted pumpkin, I also received a programmable crockpot specifically put on the list for the purpose of making pumpkin, apple, and pear butters. Combine, program on low, go to bed or forget about it for 8 hours and voila you have a butter plus an amazing smelling kitchen.. why not?! I remember the first time I was convinced to take a break from peanut butter (gasp) and instead try pumpkin butter on my toasted english muffin breakfast.
Unlike most items on this blog, pumpkin butters cannot be processed via home canning methods. What? Why? I too was a bit surprised as I failed to notice the USDA warning before I started preparing this butter. When low-acid pumpkin and squash flesh is cooked down into butter it becomes very dense meaning that the heat produced in a canner has a hard time penetrating the inner contents of the jar putting the goods at risk for bacterial growth. To safely keep/store pumpkin butters you can refrigerate in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks or freeze up to a year before use. Enjoy!
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