Canning Tomatoes, Simplified

I have little patience with scalding and peeling tomatoes before canning. So I have developed this system in which the trimmed and salted tomatoes are brought to a boil before placing in the Mason jars. This allows for even, confident and thorough heating of the fruit.

If the near-boiling fruit is then immediately placed in Mason jars and transferred to a canner with boiling water, the amount of time necessary for canning can be reduced to 15 minutes as opposed to the hour that many protocols specify.

Note that one must use tomatoes with normal acidity for this streamlined process. Low acid tomatoes will require longer processing.

The minimal heating time and the retention of the skin preserves more of the richness of the tomato flavor.

The one additional requirement is that you must blend the canned stewed tomatoes before using so that you do not get skins in your sauce which some might find offensive.

Equipment

  • Sharp pairing knife
  • dish tubs to recieve trimmed tomatoes and trimmings
  • Balance to weight cut tomatoes
  • non-aluminum pot in which to weigh trimmed tomatoes
  • Stainless steel pot, at least 2.5 gallons with thick aluminum pad on the
  • bottom to disperse the heat (reduce the risk of burning)
  • 2 cup measure to dip stewed tomatoes
  • gloves
  • canning funnel
  • glass baking dish
  • seven clean flawless narrow mouthed Mason jars
  • seven Pristine domes and rims for the jars
  • Canner with canner rack and lid
  • Good heat source (I often do this on a propane stove outdoors since
  • Dish towel

Ingredients

At least 16 pounds of fresh fully ripe tomatoes. I only can Roma tomatoes because they have excellent flesh and flavor, and are more resistant to rot in the garden.

Tomatoes often come on during the most intense heat of the summer…

Directions

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How to Wax Cheese

Here are the steps used to wax a wheel of cheese.

Yogurt Making, Illustrated

INTRODUCTION

Yogurt is a fermented milk product which was apparently brought to Turkey by the mongols millenia ago. It is produced by adding a “starter” of active yogurt containing a mixed culture of Lactobacillus bulgaricus (or occasionally L. acidophilus) and Streptococcus thermophilus. These produce lactic acid during fermentation of lactose. The lactic acid lowers the pH, makes it tart, causes the milk protein to thicken and acts as a preservative since pathogenic bacteria cannot grow in acid conditions. The partial digestion of the milk when these bacteria ferment milk makes yogurt easily digestible. In addition, these bacteria will help settle GI upset including that which follows oral antibiotic therapy by replenishing non-pathogenic flora of the gastrointestinal tract.

Several factors are crucial for successful yogurt making:

  • Good sterile technique (i.e., proper sterilization and cooling of the milk, proper cleansing and heat treatment of glassware, and keeping out unwanted bacteria). Note that Pasteurized milk still retains some bacteria which can give an off flavor, or prevent the starter from proper acidification. Scalding and cooling the milk ensures good results.
  • Proper incubation temperature. Lactobacilli and Streptococcus thermophilus are thermophilic bacteria, meaning they prefer elevated temperatures for growth. At such temperatures (50 C, in this case) pathogenic or putrifactive bacteria are inhibited. However, even these thermophilic bacteria are killed if exposed to temperatures over 55 C (130 F), and do not grow well below 37 C (98 F). We will incubate at 50 C, a temperature on the high side of its preferred growth temperature (122 F), a temperature which inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria. (Note that many recipes call for cooler temperatures than this. We find the results less dependable when incubation temperatures are lower.)
  • Protection of the starter from contamination. Do not open the starter (either Dannon Plain yogurt, or 8 oz starter from the previous yogurt batch) until you are ready to make the next batch.

Yogurt is preserved by its acidity which inhibits the growth of putrefactive or pathogenic bacteria. With lids intact, this yogurt will keep at least a month or two in the refrigerator. After that time, especially if your refrigerator is on the “warm” side, a layer of non-pathogenic white mold may form on the top. Merely lift off the mold with a fork, discard, and use the yogurt for cooking.

Baked goods will rise well when yogurt is used, again due to its acidity. Use yogurt as part or all of the liquid in cakes, waffles, pancakes and muffins, and cut down on the amount of baking powder. The thickness of yogurt helps to hold up the baking batter.

Yogurt is an excellent dish by itself, but is valuable in its many other uses.

The following recipe makes four quarts of yogurt. If you would like to make 2 quarts, here is the recipe . The following instructions may seem overly detailed, but I believe that the detail increases your chance of successful yogurt.

Yogurt Recipe: 4 Quarts

Ingredients:

1 gallon fresh milk (either store bought, or your own home grown milk)

(whole milk makes richer flavored yogurt, skim milk makes it non-fat)

starter: 1 cup Dannon Plain yogurt, very fresh

I prefer Dannon Plain, made purely with milk and culture. (Get the freshest: check the expiration date.)

Dannon Plain WORKS for me.

Others brands may work. The sad story is that “organic” yogurt may have sat on the shelf too long…

Equipment:

Double boiler (or heavy pot) with lid, capacity 1+ gallon

Four quart jars with lids, sterilized in boiling water

One 8 oz jar with lid, sterilized in boiling water.

Candy thermometer, reading range = -10 to 110 C (0 to 225 F)

A gas oven with a pilot may work if monitored closely.

1 medium sized “cooler”

15_warm_bath_PB221290

 

Cooler Type:

Such as a “Playmate” or styrofoam with close fitting lid

 

 

Procedure:

Pot for sterilizing jars1. Sterilize jars and lids which will be used to make the yogurt.  Place in a 5 gallon pot (here we are using a canner) with an inch of water in the bottom.

 

thmb_02_boil_jars_PB211262 22. Cover and bring to boil. Boil for ten minutes; then, turn off heat. Do not remove lid.

 

 

thmb_03_pot_pad_PB211266 33. Use a pot with a thick bottom to scald the milk.  Note the thick pad on the bottom of this pot.  Alternatively, a double boiler may be used. It is not necessary to boil the milk. This gives the milk a “cooked” flavor, and increases the probability that it will burn on the bottom or boil over.

thmb_05_one_gallon_milk_PB211269 44.  Add one gallon of milk to the pot.  You may use whole, 2% or skimmed milk. Here I am using my home grown goat’s milk.

 

 

thmb_06_heat_milk_PB211272 55. Heat the milk slowly over a medium fire (not so hot that it burns on the bottom).  I am using a medium hot fire here with my thick bottomed pot.

 

 

 

thmb_07_95_degree_milk_PB211276 66. Scald until the temperature of the milk is 85-90 C (185-195 F).  It is not necessary to boil, and do not let boil over…what a mess!  (Many claim success leaving out this step.  But… results may work, but intermittently…)

 

thmb_08_cool_milk_PB211278 77. Place the still covered pot in a pan of clean cold water to cool it down.

 

 

thmb_09_52_degree_milk_PB211279 88. Cool the milk to 50 to 55 C (122-130 F).  Remove the pot of scalded and cooled milk from the cooling bath.

 

 

thmb_10_1_cup_milk_yogurt_PB211281 99. Place one cup of the scalded and cooled milk in a two cup measure.

 

 

thmb_11_1_cup_yogurt_PB211283 1010. Add enough fresh, uncontaminated yogurt to bring the level up to two cups.

 

 

thmb_12_blend_yogurt_PB211282 1111. Stir to blend the yogurt starter into the scalded and cooled milk until homogeneous.

 

 

thmb_13_add_yogurtPB211285 1212. INOCULATE:
Add the yogurt-milk slurry slowly to the  50 C scalded and cooled milk with stirring. (No hotter–you will kill the bacteria in the starter.) Stir very well to thoroughly distribute the yogurt starter.

 

thmb_14_distribute_PB211288 1313. Once thoroughly mixed, distribute the inoculated milk to the sterilized jars, filling to the neck.  Cover immediately with sterile tops.  Tighten well.

 

 

thmb_15_warm_bath_PB221290 1414. INCUBATE:
Warm a gallon of fresh clean water to 55 C, pour into a clean cooler.  Place in a warm location.  (It should cool to 50 C or below once the cooler is warmed up.)  Carefully set the jars of inoculated milk in the water so the bottom of the lids are above the water.

thmb_16_52_degree_bath_PB221292 1515. Check to see that the water in the cooler is close to 50 C (122 F). Above 55 C (130 F) kills the bacterial inoculum.)

 

16_yogurt_product_P1021121sm 1616. Close the cooler, place in warm place and let sit undisturbed for three hours.  If the starter was active and the temperature correct, the yogurt will have gelled:
For more firm yogurt, try adding 4 Tbl powdered milk to the gallon of milk prior to heating (step 3). Frankly, I prefer delicate yogurt. Commercial yogurt in the States is often artifically gelled so that the yogurt can be shipped and still be solid when opened by the consumer at home. Fa schif…

Recently, I have switched to a two gallon stainless pot with a heavy pad of aluminum on the bottom. It considerably simplifies heating the milk. So long as you heat it to 85-90oC (185-195o F) without burning, that is what is required. Once the milk has been scalded and cooled, you can even add the starter directly to the pot, and make the yogurt in the pot. It is better aseptic technique.

YOGURT HAS MANY USES:

  1. My favorites include:
    In place of sour cream. Add dollops:
    -to baked potatoes
    -on rice dishes
    -on bowls of soup (especially lamb stew, chili or borscht)
    with hot chili (works as an oral fire extinguisher too!)
  2. In cucumber-yogurt soup, (khyar b’laban) a fabulous Middle Eastern summer dish, made with yogurt, garlic, sliced cucumbers, salt to taste and topped with crushed mint. It is served chilled.
  3. As a liquid (or portion of the liquid) in baking soda-raised breads, waffles and pancakes
  4. As labneh (sometimes also known as laban, although strictly speaking, laban is yogurt), a Middle Eastern soft cheese, (an easy yogurt cheese). It can be made by hanging lightly salted yogurt in a clean cloth, permitting the whey to drip into a bowl. It is delicious served with pulverized spearmint and olive oil as a dip with lightly toasted pita bread. For illustrated instructions: how to make labneh .
  5. As ayran (pronounced I-Ron), a wonderfully refreshing cold summer drink commonly consumed in Turkey where I drank it with gusto. In the words of Tekin Topuzdag, a cheese making friend in Turkey who sent me this recipe by email:
  6. “How to make is extremely simple: Mix yoghurt with (about quarter amount of yoghurt) water and pinch of salt. Mix them well in blender (good sign of mixing is: bubbles, lots of them). Serve with ice in hot summer days.”
  7. As a starter for cheese
  8. As a starter for yogurt (see above for how to do this)

Check any Middle Eastern cookbook for a variety of uses.

Making Tofu, Illustrated

Directions for Making Tofu from Soy Milk

Related

Making Soy Milk

Making Soy Milk, Illustrated

Illustrated Instructions

Related

Making Tofu, Illustrated

 

Haloumi Cheese

I was privileged to stay with the Samara family in Bil’im, a village in occupied West Bank of Palestine. It is a village surrounded by olive orchards, vineyards, family gardens, and grazing lands on which goats and sheep are grazed.  I was fortunate to be able to see Mr. Samara’s daughter-in-law prepare Haloumi, a Palestinian White Cheese almost always served with breakfast.

If you need a primer course on how to make cheese, see in information in the “Related” section below.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh active yogurt
  • 1/2 tablet rennet
  • 2 oz. Kosher salt

Supplies

  • 1.5 gallon stainless steel pot, thick bottom
  • Large white handkerchief, boiled
  • colander
  • 3 quart plastic tub with lid

Procedure

 

6)  Cover again, let the curds sit to firm up for 10 min.

Related

Beginning Cheese Making

Cheese Making, Illustrated

Images taken around the Samara family’s home.

Yogurt Making, Illustrated

Feta Cheese

Feta is traditionally made in Greece from ewe’s milk, but I have had success using my goat’s milk. I see no reason why cow’s milk would not work as well. It is a fresh, snow white cheese which is pickled in brine. It is fabulous with kalamata olives and pita bread, as well as in a Greek salad.

By the way, the most popular Turkish cheese called Beyaz Peynir uses essentially the same recipe. We loved it with our breakfasts when we have visited wonderful Turkey. (It may be better not to tell the Turks that it is just like feta, and vice versa… 😉
Thanks to “Lynn” from the Lactobacillus Board for helpful suggestions.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon fresh goat’s milk (You can use store-bought cow’s milk as well.)
  • 1 Tbl fresh yogurt (I have had most success with Dannon Plain.)
  • ½ tablet rennet, dissolve in 1/4 cup water (I have always used Junket Rennet tablets.)

Supplies

  • 2 gallon pot with lid (stainless steel with heavy bottom is best, enamel works, but you must stir it!)
  • 1 long bladed knife
  • 2 clean sterile handkerchiefs
  • Strainer
  • Cheese mold: Cut the ends out of a smooth-sided 4 x 5 inch tin can, save one of the cut ends.
  • Table salt

Procedure

  1.  Warm  1 gallon of fresh milk  in a 1.5 gallon stainless steel pot to 30°C, (86°F)

Related

Troubleshooting a Clean Break, Cheese Making

Greece, Istanbul to Rome: Macedonia Trip

Images of Western Turkey

Rennet, Home Made, Illustrated

Here are the results of an experiment at producing home made rennet.

Rennin is an enzyme which, in an acid environment, digests the water soluble milk protein casein into insoluble products. When these precipitate out of solution, the milk coagulates. The test is the famous “clean break” of cheese making.

Here, the abomasum of a suckling kid was cleaned, salted and dried. A small piece (0.75 gm) of it was suspended in warm water (30 C), and added to 1 gallon of inoculated milk. While a clean break was not achieved in three hours, by the evening (about 7 hours) the milk had formed a very firm coagulant.

This is my first attempt at using home made rennet.  I am sure that the process and conditions can be improved.  Let me know if you have suggestions.

See the bottom of the page for suggestions from Mr. Wolfgang Pachschwöll, of “Hundsbichler company Austria – producer of natural rennet.”

Here are some points of expert advice on making rennet from Wolfgang Pachschwöll of “Hundsbichler company Austria – producer of natural rennet”, sent in response to my initial posting of this page. (Thank you very much Wolfgang!)

1) Do not thoroughly clean out the inside of the abomasum. The “slime” inside contains rennin. Therefore, also no washing nor squeezing.

2) Lightly salt the abomasum, store undried with 30% salt in a closed container to activate the enzyme over three months. (Pepsin, another stomach enzyme, is also secreted in the inactive form (pemsinogen), and activated by acid or enzymatic action.)

3) The traditional way to then dry the abomasum is to inflate it like a balloon and dry by hanging in a cool dark place.

4) Dissolving and activation of rennin occurs best in acid conditions at a cool temperature.

 

Making Cream Cheese

Here is the recipe I use for making cream cheese.

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk (500 mL)

2 cups heavy cream (500 mL

2 Tbl fresh cultured buttermilk (30 mL)

1/4 tablet Junket rennet tablet

Sterile white plain handkerchief (boil to sterilize, hang to dry thoroughly)

Protocol (Procedure)

1) Combine milk and cream in a stainless pot. Gently warm to 70 F (21 C), stir regularly.

2) Mix buttermilk thoroughly into the warmed milk-cream mixture. Cover.

3) Let sit 15 minutes. Meanwhile, dissolve 1/4 tablet of Junket rennet in 1/4th cup cool water (30 mL).

4) Thoroughly stir solution of rennet into inoculated milk/cream, cover again.

5) Allow to sit overnight at warm room temperature (70-75 F).

6) The mixture should have gelled by the next morning. Sprinkle 1/2 – 1 tsp salt on the surface and stir briefly and gently with a whisk to produce pieces about the size of a pea.

7) Line a large strainer with the sterile handkerchief. Gently pour the semi-liquid product into the cloth. Let drain for 30 minutes.

8) Pick up the corners of the cloth, wrap corners in a looped thick rubber band, hang over a bowl to drain. You may hang in a refrigerator if your house is hot.

9) Turn solidifying mass in the cloth to hasten drainage. Store in a refrigerator. Use within a week or so.

Neufchatel (an Unripened Cheese) Recipe

This soft unripened rennet cheese is originally from the town of Neufchâtel in the region of Normandy, but is made extensively throughout France.  It is reported in the Encyclopedia Britannica to be the same as Bondon, Malakoff, Petit Carre, and Petit Suisse, depending on the shape into which it is molded (square, rectangular, cylindrical and the special heart-shape variety called Coeur de Bray.)   It is easy to make, and may be used like cream cheese.

A version common in the United States is so-called Farmer’s Cheese.

Being easy to make, it is the most common style of goat cheese to be found in the American marketplace.  For that reason, many people only think of it when they hear “goat cheese.”  It should be used fresh, as it may develop an off flavor after storage of several weeks. Similar to cream cheese, and a less tart version of labneh, a yogurt cheese of the Middle East, its mild flavor makes it ideal for use where the flavor of other ingredients are to be emphasized.  Indeed, many home cheese makers like to add herbs or seasonings to their neufchâtel to personalize their own cheese.  I still prefer the pure unadulterated version which can be seasoned just prior to serving.

Recipe for 1.5 pounds of Neufchatel

Equipment

  • 5 quart stainless steel pot with lid  (sterilized by boiling water in it for 5 minutes prior to use)
  • thermometer reading in the 50-100°F range
  • sterile clean handkerchief
  • large strainer or colander

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon fresh whole milk (store-bought may be used)
    (Use skimmed milk for low fat but less flavorful cheese)
  • 1/4 cup cultured buttermilk
    (or 2 ice cubes of frozen buttermilk)
  • 1/4 tablet Rennet

Directions

Neufchatel Ingredients1. Assemble ingredients: fresh milk, buttermilk (in this case, frozen cubes of buttermilk, but fresh cultured buttermilk works perfectly). The pot has been sterilized by covering and boiling a small amount of water for five minutes.

 

I am using my fresh goat’s milk, but store-bought whole, partially skimmed or skimmed will work. The less cream, the less rich and full bodied flavor you get.

02_add_buttermilk_warm_Pc122478sm2. Add buttermilk to milk in a pre-sterilized 5 quart stainless steel pot. Here I add two “ice cubes” of frozen buttermilk, but 1/4th cup fresh cultured buttermilk works very well. If using ice cubed starter, stir until completely melted.

 

Warm with stirring to a final temperature of 65°F.

03_dissolve_rennet_Pc122480sm3. Meanwhile, dissolve 1/4 tablet rennet in 1/4 cup cool water. (If you use liquid rennet, use four drops/gallon. Be sure it is not outdated.)

 

 

04_dissolved_rennet_Pc122481sm4. The rennet is now dissolved. Note that it will be slightly turbid, but there are no remaining pieces on the bottom of the glass.

 

 

05_add_rennet_Pc122483sm5. Add the dissolved rennet into the 65°F inoculated milk with stirring.

 

 

06_mix_thoroughly_Pc122484sm6. Stir well to blend thoroughly.

 

 

 

07_incubation_Pc122485sm7. Cover and let sit undisturbed overnight at room temperature (65-70°F,
20°C).

 

 

08_ladel_curd_Pc132487sm8.  The next AM, a soft curd should have formed.  (If not, let sit until it does form.  In the illustration, the curd was NOT adequately formed, and I let it sit for another 12 hours…  Here is a page on troubleshooting failure to get a clean break )

 

When curd is adequately formed, cut it into ½ inch cubes.  [Here is a picture of curds being cut .]  Some recipes call for stirring the soft curd instead of cutting.  I suspect this would make the separation of curds and whey more difficult.  Ladle cut curds into a clean sterile handkerchief suspended in large strainer or stainless steel colander.  Pour the remaining whey through the cloth.  If the cloth becomes clogged, lift the cloth back and forth or scrape the forming cheese away from the cloth.

09_drain_curd_Pc142491sm9. Hang the curd in a cool place to allow the whey to drip out: pick up the four corners of the cloth, wrap a heavy rubberband around, and loop one end through the other end. Insert a chopstick through the open end, and suspend the cheese bag over a receiving vessel to catch the whey. Here, I have hung the cloth in our “milk” refrigerator. Let hang over night.

10_unwrapped_curd_Pc142494sm10. The next day, open the cloth to reveal the cheese.

 

 

 

11_Pc142495sm11. This is what the cheese looks like turned over.

 

 

 

12_salt_curd_Pc142497sm12. Sprinkle on 1- 2 teaspoons of salt, according to taste. Inadequately salted cheese will be more bland, and will not keep as well. Work to mix the salt in thoroughly. Store covered in the refrigerator until use. Recycled cottage cheese containers work well for this.

 

13_press_into_mold_Pc142498sm13. If you like, you may pack the cheese into a mold of your choice (a squat tin can with the ends removed, in this case).

 

 

14_unmolded_cheese_Pc142499sm14. Here the cheese has been removed from the tin can mold, showing its  “molded look.”

 

 

15_finished_neufchatel_Pc142503sm15. Here is the unmolded cheese displayed on a decorative plate.