Saturday, September 5, 2009
There must be something in the air. The perfect, high 70's to low 80's day time air, and pleasantly cool night that has dipped into the 40's, air. The not having to please anyone but myself this week air.
Perfect weather for cleaning out the poor, sad, tired tomato vines in the garden, tidying up the beds, and sleeping blissfully with the windows open, on clean sheets (only slightly marred by the 4:30 am and 5:30 am whistle happy train one night, and the aching muscles that my trainer thought he was whipping into compliance on Tuesday, that caused me to blow off the gym for the rest of the week.)
It started innocently enough. Make a few pickles, save a few summer tomatoes for the dark winter days. And the next thing you know, I am a canning fool.
As I am thumbing through the classic canning bible, The Ball Blue Book of Preserving, I spied a recipe for Fig Pickles. I am still dreaming of last weekend's Fig Gelato with Chinese Five Spice and watching Ms. Figgy attempt to ripen her couple of dozen figlets, but I know I must make Fig Pickles.
Graf Growers had pint baskets for $3.99, and lucky for me they had just picked up a new flat, and let me pick mine out of the those in the cooler.
The recipe gave options for peeling the figs, or not. And I definitely chose not. The only thing more frustrating then trying to peel 30 plus figs, well, I can't even imagine. So I poured boiling water on them and let them sit until cool, then poured off the water and continued.
The figs are simmered with some sugar and water for about a half an hour, then more sugar, vinegar, and a spice bag with whole allspice, cloves, and cinnamon sticks join the party. Recipe said simmer until transparent, which, umm, don't think so with the peel still on, so I let them go for awhile until they looked tender. Next step, cover and put in cool place for 12-24 hours. So I parked them in an open cooler with the last of the ice from shocking corn for the freezer. (Note: even with ice or ice packs, don't put a hot pan in a closed cooler and expect faster chilling. I tried this before with something and hours later, it was still hot....)
When you get around to it the next day, sterilize the jars, heat the lids, and reheat the figs and finish processing. I used the 'fancy' new Ball jars.
So there you have it, another summer day captured in a jar.