No way. Whey.

You may have noticed that there’s a lot of mention here, in these parts, about whey.

No, it’s not the protein powder. It’s the stuff of Little Miss Muffet.

You remember her — she sat on her tuffet (questionable action), eating her curds and whey.

Now, I’ll stop here, and admit that the first time I made mozzarella cheese (no eye-rolling — it’s remarkably easy, I’ll tell you all about it sometime), and realized that I was actually stirring a pot of of two ingredients that completely flummoxed me during my formative Mother Goose years, I was delighted. But that delight quickly fell way to further confusion, because the whole point of cheese-making is that you remove the curds from the whey — you don’t eat a bowl of them together.

Now that I’m thinking about this again, I’ll probably lose sleep tonight.

Anywhey.

See? There’s no end to this.

So what is this mysterious liquid of Miss Muffet and her curious arachnid? Whey is the liquid that separates from milk solids when making yogurt or cheese or other cultured dairy products. When making cheese, this separation occurs in dramatic fashion when acid is added to the milk. With yogurt, it requires a little more time, and often requires straining (though sometimes yogurt separates on its own in the container — that liquid in your yogurt cup? yep — it’s whey). It’s full of enzymes, beneficial bacteria, and lactic acid — and is good for digestion and nutrient absorption.

Whey is used in all sorts of lacto-fermentation. Many folks put it in their cultured vegetables — I use mine in bread-making, overnight-soaking of grains and legumes, fermentation of fruits and homemade mayonnaise, and lately in making beet kvass (a fermented beet beverage, my new favorite). I always have whey in my refrigerator — which is pretty easy to do, since it lasts in a jar for about 6 weeks.

One of the greatest things about whey-making day is the byproduct of this method: yogurt cheese. It’s the consistency of cream cheese, though more tart — and with a little honey, vanilla, and cinnamon added, it makes a fantastic probiotic dip for fruits and crackers. I have at least two children who gobble this stuff up — and the third gets mocked by the whole family when she doesn’t. It’s fun times.

Oh, and greek yogurt? It’s nothing more than strained yogurt — just like what we do here in this process (you’d just stop after the first straining step, when the yogurt is very thick but still creamy).

So get off your tuffet and give this a try. Helpful hints: my favorite cheesecloth is this brand — and I’ve been using and washing the same cut-off 18″ square now for about 6 months, so it’s worth the tiny extra investment. Also, if you’re not into sweet dips, then by all means just use some chopped garlic, fresh herbs, and sea salt for a lovely savory dip. I’m sure Miss Muffet and her voyeuristic spider would approve.

 

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:7]

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:8]

 

 

Ferment Friday, no. 2: Dill Half-Sours

Ok, I promise. The next post I do will not be fermented in any way, shape, or form.

Cross my heart and hope to die.

But you guys. I made these pickles last week, and they rocked my world. The thing that’s significant about that? I’ve never been a big pickle-eater — and maybe my rocky history with pickles has to do with the fact that I only ever had vinegar pickles from a jar that began its life on a grocery store shelf, rather than from a deli on the lower east side of New York City. Because that’s apparently what these taste like.

It’s no secret that I love dill — I’ve put it in just about everything short of ice cream (wheels currently turning subconsciously). So I use it in its two strongest forms — dried seed and fresh seed head — in these pickles. They’re called half-sours because of the lower-strength brine compared to a full-sour pickle. I want sour, but not the kind of sour that makes your entire face pucker up.

{Just after packing into the jar}

 

And the rest of the stuff added to my jar? It’s mostly to ensure a crunchy pickle — and all at the suggestions found under pickle-making in that ultimate tome of home-fermenting, Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation. The tea leaves add tannins, which help the pickle hold its crunch (the same effect can be achieved by using oak or grape leaves) — but they don’t flavor the brine at all. A few carrot slices are also there to support crunch, and the garlic is purely for flavor.

{Pickles are done}

 

Many pickle recipes have you cut off the blossom ends of the pickles, as residue left behind can thwart fermentation. But Katz recommends simply scraping off any residue, and that’s what I did with success — I just prefer the look of a whole pickle. The soaking step at the beginning is also said to encourage crunch (can you tell I have a crunch fetish?) — I admittedly haven’t compared soaking to non-soaking, but feel free to omit that step if you’re feeling rebellious (and let me know how it goes).

A crunchy, dilly, sour pickle. I can predict a supply that will not keep up with my demand.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:3]

Linked up to the Seasonal Recipe Roundup: Cucumbers at GNOWFGLINS.

Crunchy Dill Half-Sours on Punk Domestics

Old-fashioned Blueberry-Basil Preserves

I love using descriptors like “old-fashioned.” They are completely undefinable (from the time of yore?), and conjure images of everything on the shelves at your local Cracker Barrel.

(In case you’re wondering, other adjectives falling into this category include old-timey, prairie-style, country — oftentimes spelled with a “k” — and grandma’s.)

But I’m coming up empty on finding another name for these preserves. Honey-sweetened, commercial-pectin-free, and lacto-fermented. Seems like the way our great-great-grandmothers likely had to make jam, yes? On the prairie or in the country, no doubt.

My motivations for making them this way should come as no surprise: I’m still not eating sugar, which leaves most jam recipes out of reach — and I’m totally into fermenting things these days. Give me a jar of just about anything, and I’ll stir a little whey into it, let it sit on the counter for a day, and let those good lactic acid bugs multiply (granted, the honey in this recipe probably halts that growth a bit, but they do still grow, according to what I’ve read in Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation — ahem, many thanks to Suzanne for the weekend book loaner! It’s now on my to-acquire list!).

Oh how I heart this jam. The high salt content helps with fermentation but also lends a delightful surprise flavor component to what we’ve come to expect from jam (read: candy-sweet). Simmering the berries with honey helps bring out their natural pectin — so once chilled, the jam really does jelly up (though some liquid does remain). I’ve recently been allowed one slice of Ezekial bread each day on my diet, and don’t think every one of those precious slices hasn’t included this jam, since the day it was ready.

Old-fashioned, somewhat near a prairie. I think I’ve found my kountry urban calling.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:2]

Blueberry-Basil Preserves (lacto-fermented) on Punk Domestics

Ferment Friday, no. 1: beets

These days my life seems to revolve around finding various items at the farmer’s market, sticking them in a brine, and watching to see what happens.

You know, when it’s not revolving around sleeping, or finding highly-educational and physically-beneficial activities for my summered children to do all day, or feeding painfully-nourishing foods to those worn-out children, or eating bon-bons.

Because what could be more fun than fermenting random things? And sharing those things on Fridays?

So a mini-series it will be. Ferment Fridays. Not likely to happen every Friday, but you know, when it happens.

What’s with fermentation, anyway? Well, it was the original method of pickling — vegetables were dry-salted or brined, and therefore preserved for longer storage (through winter, in some cases). Meanwhile, as often happens, that preservation made vitamins and minerals more readily available, and increased the levels of lactic acid bacteria (bugs that are good for your gut). While the process doesn’t leave the veggies with the same intense punch of a vinegar (or “fresh”) pickle, they are still sour, sometimes quite pungent.

It took me a while to transition from a taste for fresh pickles to fermented pickles. But I’m there now, and loving it.

Today’s feature: fermented beets.

This is my second attempt at fermenting beets (not to be confused with pickling beets) — the first involved shredding the roots, making a relish. But these slices are crunchier, with the ultra-clean flavors of orange and ginger (see recipe note). I love these on salads, with eggs, or eating straight from the jar.

Only slightly more labor-intensive than other pickles because you shock them in boiling water first. But totally worth that extra five minutes.

Because, really. What’s five minutes in a world where ferments are happening?

 

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Fermented Beets with Ginger & Orange on Punk Domestics

Honey simple syrup

Last week at the lake, where cocktail hour acceptably starts around noon, I watched with sadness as my husband and friends popped open local craft beers to drink with lunch. Or when the margarita pitcher passed me by during that pre-dinner guacamole hour, the salted rims of glasses sparkling jewel-like, causing a Pavlovian mouth-watering.

Uncorking that bottle of rosé to eat with my guac just wasn’t doing it for me.

When you are grain-and-sugar-free, you can’t drink beer. Or mixed drinks. The only alcohol that’s acceptable on the GAPS diet is dry wine, and that in limited amounts (*see note below).

In a move of desperation, I decided to make myself a wine cocktail. I had brought along some sparkling water, and cranberry concentrate, and realized I needed a sweetener. Sugar is out, and I’ve made the mistake before of pouring honey into a cold drink (it sticks like candy to the stirring spoon, refusing to dissolve in icy waters). So in a moment of desperate brilliance, I whipped up a simple syrup using honey instead of sugar. It worked beautifully — after refrigeration the syrup was cold and pourable, ready to add to my cocktail of choice.

If only my concoction hadn’t tasted like a back-woods version of Bartles & James.

But even though my cocktail was undrinkable (the rosé and guac started to taste a lot better together), I drove home with honey simple syrup in our cooler. And have since thought of more delightful uses for it (for the GAPS or sugar-free-inclined):

  • homemade “soda” (sparkling water, unsweetened cranberry or cherry concentrate, honey simple syrup)
  • iced coffee (cold decaf coffee, coconut or almond milk, honey simple syrup)
  • iced herbal tea (cold herbal tea, honey simple syrup)

And while cocktail hour won’t currently be improved (if the best things come to those who wait, I’ll be having the world’s most epic beer and margarita sometime later this year or early next), an afternoon pick-me-up of homemade cherry soda over ice is just the thing to get me through our own pre-dinner hour, at home, no guac, in a hot summer kitchen.

* newsflash: after the original posting, a concerned reader emailed to tell me that tequila, being grain-free, should be fine. A little research showed that it’s TRUE — small amounts of pure tequila are allowable on the GAPS diet! I see a margarita with tequila, fresh lime juice, and honey simple syrup in my future. Thanks, Belinda!

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Recipe: Honey Simple Syrup

Ingredients

  • equal parts honey and water, any amount

Instructions

  1. Combine honey and water in a saucepan. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring, until honey dissolves completely (no need to simmer).
  2. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Pour into a glass jar, and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for a really long time.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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This post was linked to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

T

 

Sweet & tart ginger-rhubarb jam (small batch)

chopped rhubarb in pot

Yesterday was a long day in my kitchen, but not one of those blissful, satisfying days where nightfall leaves you with a beautiful layer cake, or a cleaned-out pantry, or 30 sealed jars of something preserved. It was one of those days that happens, one where you’re really just getting caught-up, doing the un-sexy things that simply need to get done (hello, stock-making!), and scattered in there are a couple of botched experiments. By nightfall, after washing the 100th dish, it’s hard not to loathe the very sight of your kitchen.

Everybody has those days, right?

One of my failed experiments wasn’t a total bust — just a disappointment and therefore a lesson learned (optimism! it can be mustered!). I picked up a pound of rhubarb at the Broad Ripple Farmer’s Market last weekend, with hopes of making my first jam of the season — one that skips the sugar. You’d think that the whole no-sugar thing would be the challenge — but the recipe actually came together quite nicely.

It was the aesthetic realm in which I missed the boat. My rhubarb was mostly green, with just a couple inches of bright red at the very bottom of the stalk. I became concerned when I chopped it all up and noticed I had a pot-full of green. And then, when I cooked it, while the flavor was sweet-tart and punchy, the essence of coming summer, the color was a chilly autumn day.

rhubarb jam

I realized very quickly why rhubarb is often paired with strawberries: it’s not only for their sweetness, it’s for their color. When I think rhubarb, I expect pink. When I look at this jar of jam, my tastebuds expect something different, something maybe pear.

But, as is usually the case, we’ll eat it. And enjoy it. And make a note to try and buy the mostly-red rhubarb next time (or add a least a small amount of bright-red berries to punch up the color — this recipe utilizes this trick!).

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Recipe: Ginger-Rhubarb Jam (small batch, refined-sweetener-free)

: makes about 3/4 pint

Rhubarb is low in pectin, so while this jam with thicken up with cooking & cooling, it won’t set up  like a commercial jam. Feel free to add a little pectin to attain a thicker texture.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces (a heavy four cups, chopped)
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tsp grated or minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup mild honey (can sub sugar)
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Place the rhubarb in a medium non-reactive saucepan and add the salt. Over medium heat, cook, stirring occasionally, until juices begin to release (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add the ginger, cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is very soft and falling apart (10-15 minutes).
  3. Add the honey and cinnamon, and cook uncovered, mashing up big chunks with a fork. Cook an additional 5-10 minutes, or until thickened to desired consistency (it will thicken a bit once cooled).
  4. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Let cool completely before transferring to a clean jar and storing covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks (freeze for up to a year).

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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Apricot chutney

chutney-serving

I had forgotten about chutney.

I’m not sure how it happened. But it just popped back into my head one day, like I walked down into the basement, moved a few boxes around, and saw it laying on the floor, forlorn & discarded, and remembered, CHUTNEY!

(Metaphorically, of course. While there are lots of food items in my basement, there is, to my recollection, not a random jar of chutney lying at the foot of my never-used golf clubs.)

chutney-ingredients

I love this spicy-sweet condiment. It was once my go-to topping for a pork roast, and a frequent side to curries. It’s one of those condiments that provides a huge return on investment — ingredients are easy to keep stocked, can be modified to your liking, and keeps for many days refrigerated.

As a bonus, people are always impressed with chutney — it’s just not something that gets made at home very often. And what are we doing when we invite people for dinner if not simply trying our darndest to impress them?

chutney-inpot

I tend to cook dried fruit chutneys, because that’s the easiest fruit to keep lying around. But by all means, if you have an abundance of fresh fruit, this is a great way to use it (you’ll need to change up the ratios a bit, a quick google search should help with that). I’ve been lacto-fermenting my jar by reducing the vinegar and adding a little whey after it’s cooked — this just adds a probiotic benefit. Read the note with the recipe to see this optional step.

I’ve served this as a vegetarian meal with my red lentil and squash curry — the fresh ginger works well with Indian spices. But this week we’ll have it with a pork roast (I’d forgotten about those, too — makes me wonder if a traumatic incident sometime in 2005 had me repressing my love for this meal?) — it’s just that versatile.

And not to be forgotten again.

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Recipe: Apricot Chutney

Makes 2 1/2 – 3 cups

To lacto-ferment the chutney, reduce apple cider vinegar to 3 Tbsp, and add an additional 2 Tbsp water. After chutney is cooked and cooled, stir in 2 Tbsp whey. Let sit covered at room temperature for 12 hours before refrigerating.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots (unsulphured if possible)
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • (1) 1″ piece fresh ginger, cut into strips
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 apple, peeled and finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients except apple in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a very low simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped apple, re-cover, and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, or until apple is tender.
  3. Serve at room temperature (remove ginger strips before serving). Keep leftovers in a capped jar in the refrigerator for up to a week (or longer for lacto-fermented option).

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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Make your own: sauerkraut

kraut-jarred

Fermenting vegetables can feel like a mysterious, risky thing.

Or, it did to me, anyway. And the first time I did it? I hated the results.

It was back in the infamous days of starting my half-baked adventures with the Nourishing Traditions cookbook. I made ginger carrots, since that’s what Sally says is the fermented vegetable most palatable to the newbie.

She was wrong. I let that quart of lacto-fermented carrots sit in my refrigerator for almost a year, hoping I’d wake up one day and like them. I finally dumped the quart when we moved.

Eating fermented veggies was always a struggle for me — I just didn’t have a taste for them. But when I started the GAPS diet, I was required to eat them with every meal — the probiotic value of those ferments is a huge help in digestion and balancing gut flora. I whipped up my first batch of sauerkraut just before starting the intro diet, and had my first taste during the second week.

kraut-quarteredcabbage

I loved it. Something had changed.

I’m not sure if it was that I was starving to death that first week (blinding hunger will certainly change how things taste), or if it was the fact that I cultured my kraut with just salt, not whey — but I’ve continued to love it, and even crave other fermented veggies as well — dilly carrot sticks and beet relish are among my daily binges.

kraut-slicedcabbage

So what’s the difference between veggies fermented with salt and those using whey (the liquid that separates from yogurt, or leftover from making cheese — I get mine from straining homemade yogurt)? I checked with the experts, the guys over at Fermenti Artisan, to get an answer.

In short, using whey provides for a much quicker ferment. It’s also more consistent, and offers a larger yield (you usually don’t have to scrape off browned pieces from the top because the cabbage ferments more quickly, less susceptible to oxidation). For those guys, selling ferments to the public in large quantities, these things are all important. But for me, since I prefer the flavor of a salt-only ferment, I choose to lose a little cabbage and skip the whey (in case you’re wondering, all of the bacteria in a salt-only ferment comes from the cabbage itself — which is why buying organic cabbage is important).

kraut-bowl

As a bonus, this kraut can be started at home by just about anyone, even if you don’t have whey on-hand. All you really need is organic cabbage, salt, a wooden spoon, and a canning jar or two. A teaspoon or two of your favorite herb seed (caraway, dill, fennel, etc.) will add flavor.

And, of course, an ounce or two of patience. Your kraut won’t be ready for a week, and the ideal time to consume it is after several weeks. So starting a jar means you’ll be enjoying it in about a month (I start a new jar when I get halfway down my current stash).

kraut-pound

If you’re interested in learning more, and are local to Indy, there will be a class on Thursday, April 19, at 6pm at City Market. The class will be taught by the guys at Fermenti Artisan with additional info from Kate Payne, author of The Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking, who’s coming to town for another visit. If you’d like to learn more and are not local, may I suggest a new book written by my online friend Wardeh Harmon of GNOWFGLINSThe Complete Idiot’s Guide to Fermenting Foods. It’s hot off the presses!

Or, if a simple brined kraut will do ya, grab a head of cabbage and get those juices flowing — let me know how it goes!

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Recipe: Simple Sauerkraut

Ingredients

  • 1 medium (about 2 pounds) head organic* cabbage
  • 2 tsp sea salt, plus more for brine
  • 1/2 tsp caraway, dill, or fennel seeds
  • sliced onions and/or chopped peeled apple (optional)
  • 1 quart-sized canning jar, plus an additional pint jar if necessary

Instructions

  1. Rinse cabbage and remove any browned outer leaves. Using a large chef’s knife, cut the head into 4 quarters, cutting pole-to-pole (this is a great affordable chef’s knife)
  2. Remove the core by cutting at a diagonal along the stem (see photos above). With each core laying on its side, cut thin strips of cabbage.
  3. Place cabbage in a large bowl, and toss with 2 tsp sea salt. Let sit at room temperature (uncovered ok) for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Using a thick wooden spoon or meat tenderizer (a kraut pounder is on my gift list!), pound the cabbage for about 5 minutes to help release juices.
  5. Layer cabbage with optional onions & apples and seeds in a quart-sized glass canning jar. Really pack the vegetables in the jar.
  6. If more liquid is needed, make additional brine water: dissolve 1 tsp salt in 2 cups room-temperature filtered water. Pour this into the jars until the cabbage is covered.
  7. Place lids on the jars, but loosely. Place on a shelf or counter of your kitchen, and let sit for 7 days (it helps me to mark the date on the lid with a dry-erase marker).
  8. Remove any darkened vegetables from the top layer, and transfer lidded jar to the refrigerator. Kraut will continue to mellow for 3 or 4 weeks, but it’s safe to consume immediately. Will keep for several months in the refrigerator.

* Organic cabbage is important, as conventionally-raised cabbage could be bereft of bacteria needed to encourage fermentation.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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Homemade pumpkin puree

butternut-pureed

A forgettable number of years ago, I tried to make a pumpkin pie by roasting my own pumpkin, and was not pleased with the result.

From that point on, I touted my “only-canned-pumpkin” policy, meaning that while in most conceivable kitchen scenarios, homemade is better than canned, this was a case where that was simply not true. With the rise of industrialized food and Libby’s, I was firmly convinced that Thanksgiving dessert tables all over the country were better suited in these processed times (drawing a hard & fast line at the invention of Cool Whip).

But then last year? Let’s just say I can’t teach a sleeping dog new tricks. Or let an old dog lie. Whatever, I just couldn’t let it go.

So I roasted a “pumpkin.” Translation: I roasted a butternut squash, and used it to make a pumpkin pie. And it was delightful, the best pumpkin pie I’d ever made.

butternut-roast

Before you gasp in the horror of my farce, the intentional misleading of pie-adoring innocents, just hear me out.

The problem with roasting pumpkins is that many varieties have too much water, so you end up with a runny mess when it comes pie time. Wanna know the secret to those cans of thick, condensed pumpkin purée?

They use butternut squash.

That’s right. I can’t even remember who told me this. But the dirty truth is that most canned pumpkin purée is made up of other varieties of winter squash. Technically the FDA allows everyone to label it “pumpkin” because they are of similar plant varieties. And who can blame them? Butternut, along with other winter squashes, are dryer than pumpkins. When it comes to roasting puree for use in pies, breads, and the lot, dryer equals thicker.

butternut-scrape

butternut-processor

Since now is the time when I can get organic butternut squash at my farmer’s market for around 85¢/pound, I decided to get ahead of the game and start roasting some for the upcoming pumpkin-love season. Checking a can in the pantry, I found they hold 425g by weight, which ends up being about 1 3/4 cups by volume — easy to measure and freeze in ready-to-use canned-size portions.

butternut-measure

So if, like me, you have been long-wed to the can, pick up a butternut squash and give this method a try in your next pumpkin recipe. As far as whether or not you are morally bound to reveal the source of the best pumpkin pie you will ever make, well, I leave that up to you.

I’m certainly not telling anyone.

This recipe was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

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Recipe: Homemade pumpkin puree

Ingredients

  • butternut squash (one 2-pound squash will give you about the equivalent of a 15-oz can of pumpkin)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º, and line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the tough stem off the squash, then cut in half lengthwise. Scrape seeds from inside and discard.
  3. Place squash halves cut-side down on sheets.
  4. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until very soft.
  5. Let squash cool completely. Scrape flesh from the skins, and puree in a food processor until smooth.
  6. Measure out in 1 3/4 cup portions, and freeze until ready to use (use as exact replacement for one 15-oz can of pumpkin puree).

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2011.

 

 

 

Freezing stock in jars

After our vacation in Michigan, book-ended with all the prep that goes into packing for a family of five, and all the laundry/bedtime-adjusting/post-vacay-depression-fighting/reality-facing on return, it had been a couple weeks since I’d made it to the Goodwill Outlet.

What, I’ve not convinced you just how high this is on my priority list? My sister tweeted last weekend that I’m “a yard sale [or trip to Goodwill] shy of an A&E reality show” (hey, if it paid, I’d consider).

Friday afternoon, I saw an opportunity. My husband was taking our older two kids to an event, and as I pondered my options for the evening, it hit me that they bring out new bins at The Outlet at 5pm. I texted my friend Sarah, picked her up 20 minutes later, and was on my way to avoiding a weekend of withdrawal symptoms.

The first thing I picked up to put into my cart was a big box of Poise Undergarments.

Not, of course, filled with its original contents, but rather with 24 quart-sized Ball jars. Glassware costs only 49¢/pound, so the box probably ran about $4.

At home, Tim rolled his eyes and shook his head as I Goo-gone’d, washed, and sanitized the jars. No, I had no specific plans for them, but I knew I needed them. They went right back into the Poise box, and into the basement.*

Only to come out two days later, as I started my first pot of chicken stock, prepping for soup season.

In years past, I’ve frozen my stock in ziplock bags, stacking them flat in the freezer to maximize space. But on many occasions I thawed a bag only to find that, in getting knocked around in the freezer, it had split. Translating into a loss of valuable stock and a royal mess, discovered only after the bag had thawed into a pool that dripped undiscovered, quietly and steadily, to the floor.

But with a deep-freezer in the basement, I can spare a little room for freezing stock in jars. My friend Stefanii cans her stock in a pressure-canner, and I’m hoping to get to that someday. But until then, the freezer will do, with a little care.

A few things are important when freezing liquids in glass jars:

  1. The liquid should be cold. For my stock, I chill it down quickly after cooking by stirring it over an ice bath. Then I ladle the cooled stock into jars and refrigerate them overnight before freezing.
  2. You must leave head room at the top of the liquid — a couple inches, or to be safe don’t fill above the 800ml line (for a quart jar). Liquid expands a lot when frozen, so you need to leave room for that expansion, or the jar can explode under the pressure (a safe-guard is to leave the lids off until the liquid is completely frozen — good to do if you have a level freezing surface).
  3. Don’t freeze liquids in jars larger than a quart. Something about the liquid expansion and the size of the jars makes half-gallon and gallon-sized jars much more likely to break.
  4. (EDITED 9/24) Just read in an Urban Garden magazine that using straight-sided (i.e., wide-mouth) jars is safer than using jars w/ shoulders, as the curved glass is weaker.

Of course, before you freeze stock, you must make it.

Have I mentioned I am a Proselytizer of Homemade Stock? Oh, right. I have. Well, in case some of you weren’t listening, I’ll be covering it again soon.

Assuming I have the time, between trips to The Outlet.

 

* Note: The fact that I am once again showing you photos of my basement can be construed as nothing short of a cry for help. Recently, Emily descended the steps with me into the abyss, and after taking in “The Room” where junk is piled so high it is questionable whether enough oxygen exists for a human to survive, she could only muster the understatement, “You could use some storage shelves.”

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I linked this post up to Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.