So, I took a peruse through the Ball Blue Book last night in search of interesting recipes. I was told in no uncertain terms that I couldn’t make Zucchini Relish, but that the Dried Apricot and Date Chutney would be an acceptable offering. I’m contemplating mincemeats (vegan, of course) as well, as we enjoyed them so much last year, and am wondering about adding pectin to them, as the ones we did last year (green tomato, mostly, and of course apple/raisin) didn’t gel on their own. Not that it matters when you simply slap in the cornstarch and throw into a pie shell, but there’s the niggling feeling that they should be … well, not so liquid in the jars.
The biggest takeaway from the Blue Book is paranoia, of course: they’re all about “you will die an ugly, horrible, botulism-paralized fungus/bacteria/spore death if you do not follow this… blah blah blah.” I know that you must cook for the right amount of time, and at the right level of acid, etc. That’s the paranoia that led me to pressure-can my high-acid jellies, and end up with lovely syrups instead of jams!
So. I was wanting to invest in some means of testing the pH, to ease my paranoia, but I find that’s a bad option too: that food can change pH once it’s canned. So. I guess I’m going to have a fridge-full of the things I canned last weekend (onions), as I skimped on the vinegar. Even though I added sugar – going for a sort of hot/sweet relish – the Ball Book has gotten me once again. Enough so that when I read posts like this one, I find myself wondering if it’s high enough in acid, has been tested by some food scientist, etc. It’s a shameful thing to worry so when all manner of peasants from all over the world have been preserving things forever by chucking them in salt water and letting them bubble and rot (saur-kraut? kimchee?).