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(more) Citrus Shrubs

5 Mar

Another winter, another bounty of local California citrus to preserve. I’ve made some marmalade, but shrubs (juice/oils from fruit+vinegar+sugar, shelf-stable) are my preferred form. Makrut lime, yuzu-chipotle-anise, and bergamot shrubs, all made with mostly rice vinegar to leave the citrus as the focus:

It was also a good excuse to strain, filter, and rebottle other shrubs from the past year with sediment that had settled out.

Homebrew Tasting

6 Dec

The annual family blind homebrew tasting (the righthand six are mine):

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They ran the gamut of beers (kit, extract, and whole-grain, traditional and not (aged-on-fruit, wild plants in lieu of hops)), and ciders (apple, pear, wild fermented and brewed with controlled ale yeasts).

As usual, I had the strangest and lowest-rated brews (a punishingly bitter vaguely absinthe-like Mugwort ale) but also a few more pleasant ones (both takes on a Grisette were popular). My sister’s apple-pear cider made from a variety of roadside drops was my personal favorite.

Preserving Cherries

26 Jul

A few photos from an all-day preservation binge earlier this summer on a large quantity of Bing, Brooks, Rainier, and Tulare cherries:

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I’m deeply skeptical of all single-purpose kitchen utensils, but I will say the 6-cherry pitter was effective:

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Macerating some of them in sugar in preparation for shrubs.

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A few weeks later, the final bottled and labeled shrubs:

  • Rainier cherries with fennel
    • 5 cups pitted and chopped cherries macerated in 2 cups sugar with half a bulb of fennel for 24 hours, which drew juice out of the cherries, producing about 2 1/3 cups of juice, then strained and rinsed with 1 1/2 cups of champagne vinegar and 1/2 cup of cider vinegar and bottled (a roughly 2:1:1 chopped fruit to sugar to vinegar ratio)
  • A mix of Tulare (less flavorful) and Bing (delicious!) cherries, macerated on sugar and rinsed and bottled with cider vinegar, in three different batches:
    • Cherries with bay leaf and peppercorn (very subtle bay leaf, just tasted like cherries)
    • Cherries with vanilla beans and pink peppercorns
    • Cherries with fresh ginger

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Leftover sugared fruit from shrubs (with some juice extracted) still makes good cherry jam:

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Other cherry preservation we performed that day: cocktail cherries (both salt brined and unbrined, I don’t have the recipe handy), cherry mostarda, cherry-infused bourbon (bulleit 95 rye poured over a 1qt jar of bing cherries for about a month, then strained)…

Making Sauerkraut

31 May

Made sauerkraut. One head of cabbage and some salt, massaged to break down the cell walls, then fermented in a ceramic pot (with water seal) for two weeks, making a tangy, tart, still slightly crunchy sauerkraut. Success! Next time I may try fermenting it longer and shredding it more finely.

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Seville Orange Marmalade

20 Jan

Bitter things.

Traditionally, marmalade is made with Seville oranges— which occasionally show up in season in the Bay Area for a week or two.

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No added pectin– the pith copious number of seeds in a bitter orange produces enough (boiled in a muslin bag for ease of removal, in a pot with the whole rest of the orange sliced thin).

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As the sugar heats, it bubbles up and changes form several times. In absence of a thermometer, dropping bits of marmalade on a chilled plate in a freezer until it forms a skin gives a hint it’s at the right stage. A splash of scotch whiskey in honor of The Bard‘s birthday adds a little smoke.

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After canning, trying it out the next day. Tart and bitter and jelled– not bad!

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Exotic Citrus Shrubs (Kaffir Lime, Yuzu)

5 Oct

Coming across unusual, briefly-in-season, quick-spoiling fruit at Monterey Market yet again inspires cold-infused shrubs to extend the experience.

Fresh kaffir limes, unlike any other citrus in fragrance:

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Oleo saccharum yields the most intense flavors (shown here, Yuzu, an east asian citrus):

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It’s a pain to juice a yuzu:

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And a week later I  strained and bottled them (I didn’t have time for real labels):

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Strawberry Balsamic Cider Peppercorn Shrub

17 Aug

Shrubs (drinking vinegars) are one of my favorite ways to preserve fruit — it goes a long way, it’s shelf stable even at room temperature, and it works as an addition to sparkling water, in salad dressing, or in a cocktail. Between holiday gifts and internal consumption (especially since I bought a Sodastream), the citrus shrubs from April and December were mostly gone. Fortunately, a trip to Swanton Berry Farm (pick-your-own) resulted in a box of small, flavorful, moderately-overripe-and-turning-to-paste-under-their-own-weight strawberries.

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Macerated in sugar, strained, and mixed with a few Tbsp of peppercorns and a 50/50 mix of aged balsamic and Bragg cider vinegar, then left to sit for a few weeks before straining again and bottling:

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Tart and refreshing with even a tablespoon in a glass of sparkling water:

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