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Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry


Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry
Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving
by Cathy Barrow

W. W. Norton & Company, 2014

Preserving the foods of summer to enjoy in winter saves a household money, especially during the cold months when the fresh pickings are slim and local produce almost impossible to find. There's also the advantage of knowing where your food came from and how it was prepared; and there's the satisfaction of doing it yourself, taking control of your food supply.
Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry

This book explains four types of preserving: water-bath canning, pressure canning, curing meats and making cheese. A separate chapter is devoted to each type of preservation and the instructions are organized seasonally, from spring to winter, and from the easiest to the most difficult. Dozens of canning, smoking, curing and cheesemaking recipes are complemented by "bonus recipes" that make use of what's been preserved.

A primer on food preservation at home, this thick volume covers pickling, jam making, charcuterie, brining, chutney-making and juicing with the objective of packing the home pantry with a lasting surplus.




Plums for Asian-Style plum sauce.Photo by Cathy Barrow

Asian-Style Plum Sauce

"Late-season plums, arriving at the end of summer, are dusky and deep, dark violet, with golden, sweet flesh. When cooked, they turn a deeper purple with reddish under-tones, like garnets. This is a very versatile sauce. Bright and fruity, acidic, and eye-opening  with the surprise of heat from the chile, it’s wonderful with Spiced Pork Chops, mixed with hot mustard for dipping spring rolls or dumplings, or stirred together with fermented black beans and brushed on grilled tofu. Just one jar has the potential to bring many new flavors to the table."

1½ cups (12 oz., 340 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
¾ cup (5 oz., 138 g) granulated sugar
¾ cup (6 oz., 180 ml) cider  vinegar
1 cup (4 oz., 110 g) finely minced onion

1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped 3 garlic cloves, minced
1½ tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
3 pounds (1350 g) late-season or Damson plums, pitted and chopped into ½-inch dice


1. Combine the two sugars, vinegar, onion, chile, garlic, and gin-ger in your preserving pot and bring to a boil that will not stir down.
2. Add the plums and bring back to a boil. Mash the mixture with a potato masher, or use an immersion blender, pureeing for as long as you wish, depending on whether you want a smooth or chunky sauce. I like mine a little chunky.
3. Lower the heat and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half, thick, and syrupy, about 30 minutes. Stir well in the last 10 minutes to avoid scorching.
4. Ladle into the warm jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Clean the rims of the jars well with a damp paper towel. Place the lids and rings on the jars and finger-tighten the rings.
5. Process in a boiling-water bath for 20 minutes.The sauce is shelf stable for 1 year.



Bonus Recipe: Jam Tarts

This combination of shortbread and jam is both a perfect ending to a dinner party and a lovely treat for teatime. I’ve made them tiny, in financier molds, medium sized in classic small tart molds, and in a 9-inch tart pan. The shortbread crust is pantry-friendly, it’s ready in an instant, and it marries perfectly with whatever leftover jam is lurking in your refrigerator. The crust can be made by hand or with a mixer; I use a mixer. This is a very sandy dough. Don't despair. Press it into the molds and bake.

See recipe in The Farm Kitchen



Jam Tarts



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