Sunday, September 28, 2014

Weird Things you can Can

Not to be confused with the Cancan which was a dance in days gone by involving long skirts, petticoats, French women and likely, alcohol in large quantities

Another aspect of days gone by  was that rarely was anything wasted  Everything but the "oink" was used in a pig, as my Mom would say, and foodstuffs that others would throw out today, found a use somehow. Things such as corn cobs Sure you can feed them to the cows (I seem to be lacking any at the crash pad that aren't residing in the freezer next to the buns)  Dried corn cob makes bedding for the chicken houses, when ground (the closest thing I have here to a small wooden house is in the garage and is my reloading bench).  They are also useful, when crackly dry, as kindling in starting a fire (and the remaining ashes are rich in nitrogen which is good for your garden).
But today, none of those are practical (my landlord here would probably frown on the whole fire thing seeing as I don't have a fireplace. And the corn I had was good eating corn.  The corn kernels I can find plenty of use for this winter from the freezer, but what about the leftover cobs?

So how about  making jelly out of it?  Yes.  Corn Cob Jelly.

I'd not had it in forever but a friend shared his recipes recently and it brought back some memories. When I saw some beautiful corn at the market yesterday while scouting out the fall product with Tam, I just had to share
Corn Cob Jelly - don't turn up your nose at it.  It has a clean, sweet taste remarkably similar to wildflower honey. It's good on pancakes, waffles, biscuits, English muffins.  It's also awesome on a cheese board, on fritters, fried green tomatoes and also on steaks and pork chops and can be made for literally pennies.  It's also a tasty spread for homemade bread.
It's easier than you think. (this is the original recipe from my family, I used Sweet corn)

12 ears of fresh,good quality non GMO field corn
1 and half quarts of spring water
1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 package of powdered pectin
A dab ( less than 1 teaspoon) of UNSALTED butter
3 and 1/2 cups sugar
add in's as noted below (if desired)
Blanch the corn for 5 minutes, cool slightly, then cut the kernels from the cob and put in the freezer for another day.  Add the corn cobs to the water in a large pot. Bring to a boil at a brisk but not hard boil, uncovered, for about 30-45 minutes keeping an eye on it.  The liquid will reduce. That is the plan and your goal is to have 3 and a half cups of corn liquid when it's done with this step.

Turn off the heat and remove the cobs (give them to the squirrels or compost). Strain liquid through cheesecloth if you desire (it's also good unstrained, it's just not as smooth in appearance). Again, you want about 3 1/2 cups liquid, reserved. Return liquid to pot (that you have rinsed out) and stir in the lemon juice and pectin as well as the butter so it doesn't foam. Bring it  back to a boil.
Add sugar and any additional flavorings. One batch  was plain.  One had some habanero added, which was good on onion rings.
The last batch had a bit of finely diced pineapple and fresh ginger with (pineapple juice replacing the lemon juice).  All were very yummy.

Once the sugar and anything else is added in, continue to boil for one minute, stirring constantly. with a wooden spoon. This will be slightly more liquidy than some jelly but is done when it sheets off your wooden stirring spoon or congeals as soon as it hits an ice cold plate. If it doesn't appear  to be set at one minute, reduce heat to medium and continue to stir another minute or two

Immediately remove from heat and ladle the hot jelly into clean canning jars. (you can use a drop or two of yellow food coloring if you wish it to be more colorful, adding before sugar and pectin).

Fill the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace . Make sure you wipe the rims carefully.  Any sticky residue can interfere with the seal. Adjust the lid and seal.  If you want shelf stable jelly for long term storage, process in a hot water bath for 5 minutes for quarter-pints, 7-10 minutes for half-pints, 15-20 minutes for pints.  This recipe makes about 4 half pints.
Remove with tongs and let cool.  While cooling you should hear each jar "pop" as the lid gets sucked down by the vacuum created by the contents cooling and contracting. If it doesn't, or you're not in the room to hear it, there are other ways to see if it's sealed.  When completely cool (12+ hours) remove the screw band only and do one or all of the following

(1) Press the middle of the lid with a finger or thumb. If the lid springs up when you release your finger, the lid is unsealed.

(2) Tap the lid with the bottom of a teaspoon. A properly sealed jar should make a clear, ringing, high-pitched sound.  If it makes a dull sound, the lid is not sealed.

(3) Hold the jar at eye level and look across the lid. The lid should be concave (curved down slightly in the center). If center of the lid is either flat or bulging, it may not be sealed

If you have a jar that's unsealed, put that one in the fridge and use within two weeks. Water processed and "popped"  jars have a shelf life of 1-2 years. Fresh jelly will keep in the freezer a year.
Sorry, Low Carb Diet.  Today you're toast.