Canning is similar to bread making. Both can be intimidating to novice and experienced cooks alike. The recipes for both seem arduous.
Canning requires not only cooking the fruits and vegetables, but processing and making sure the jars have sealed. Bread making means making the dough, waiting for it to rise and baking the bread, Assuredly, both canning and baking bread have steps that must be strictly followed. No steps can be skipped.
Often, cooks think they simply do not have the time for canning or making bread. Yes, both processes are time consuming, but are definitely worth the effort.
For years, I was intimidated by both. I was afraid to "put up" preserves or vegetables because I could see me ruining the whole batch or having jars that wouldn't seal or would even explode. For bread-making, I didn't have the patience.
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Do not follow my lead. Canning is not terrifying, and neither is baking bread. Both are easy as long as you follow the steps. There's no fudging when it comes to either, like there is in main or side dish recipes. Cooks can vary the flavors, but the processes must be followed.
While I certainly no expert at canning, I do enjoy making fresh fig preserves. I appreciate those who do a lot of canning. They make it look easy and say that it is.
Now, bread baking is fun to me. I no longer worry about whether the bread or rolls or whatever will rise. It is actually peaceful and stress-relieving, especially punching and kneading the dough.
Cooks, conquer those fears of canning and bread making, and give either or both a try.
Terrie Martin Walker is an expert at canning and has done quite a bit this summer. She asked for readers' help in finding a good pear relish recipe. I shared one last week but have a couple of more for her to try this week. Lynette Faul, who also does canning, found a recipe
for Walker in "Mrs. Wages Home Canning Guide."
"I was going through my canning books and I found this recipe for pear relish," Faul said.
Pears or any type of harder fruit make for a good fruit relish.
Wash 4 quarts of pears and peel and core them. Remove the stems and seeds from 3 large green and 3 large red sweet peppers. Peel 3 large onions and 1/2 bunch celery. Wash all these ingredients, drain and put through a food chopper. Add 3 cups of sugar, 5 cups of vinegar, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of allspice. Mix the batch thoroughly and let it stand in a cool place overnight.
In large saucepan, heat mixture to a boil and pack immediately while hot into 9 clean, hot pint jars. Close with two-part lids (rims and lids) and process for 25 minutes in boiling water bath. Cool, label and store.
-- From "Mrs. Wages Home Canning Guide"
Cecilly Gibbs of Gulfport, Miss., makes a pear relish that has been handed down in her family. Her recipe was published in Pass Road Baptist Church's "The Fruit of the Spirit" cookbook.
GIBBS' PEAR RELISH
24 to 30 pears, cored
6 green peppers or (3 red and 3 green)
5 medium onions
2 pounds white sugar
2 tablespoons whole pickling spice
1 tablespoon of turmeric
3- 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
Chop or grind pears, peppers and onions. Mix well with other ingredients. Boil for 30 minutes in a large stock pot. Seal in hot canning jars. Makes 6 pints.
-- Submitted by Cecilly Gibbs
"We have two recipes that might be what your reader is looking for. If you are able to use them in your column, please give the credit to 'A Bradenton Reader,' The avocado recipe is adapted from one found several years ago on a can of Lindsay ripe olives. The potato salad recipe is from an August 1979 issue of Bon Appetit. It is a great dish for a picnic or potluck," a Bradenton reader said.
1/4 cup salad oil (we use olive oil)
1/4 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay or pinot grigio -- anything that's not sweet)
2 tablespoons vinegar (regular, rice, white wine vinegar or white balsamic will work)
1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley
1/3 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 medium avocado, seeded, peeled and sliced
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup pitted ripe olives, drained
2 thin slices of sweet onion, separated into rings
3 cherry tomatoes, quartered
Mix all marinade ingredients together and mix well. In a shallow dish, combine the avocado, mushrooms, olives, onion rings and tomatoes. Pour marinade over. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours. Occasionally spoon the marinade over the vegetables. Just before serving, drain the veggies and arrange on Bibb lettuce leaves. Optional garnish: shrimp, grilled chicken or grilled fish.
The vegetable mixture will keep in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days. If you use regular balsamic vinegar, it will color the veggies brown.
-- Submitted by a Bradenton reader
POTATO, HAM AND SWISS CHEESE SALAD
1- 1/2 pounds new potatoes, cooked and cubed
3/4 pound ham, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
2- 1/2 cups good quality Swiss cheese, cubed
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1- 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil or light salad oil
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
Thoroughly mix all of the dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing over warm potato cubes and let it cool as you chop the ham and Swiss cheese. Mix the potatoes, ham and cheese in a large bowl. Toss gently. Refrigerate for at least 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Serve as a traditional main dish salad or serve with lettuce as a side salad.
Optional garnish: 1/2 cup toasted walnut halves.
-- Submitted by a Bradenton reader
Andrea Yeager, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and takes contributions or requests at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.