Last Sunday I had the opportunity to join Cathy, Mrs. Wheelbarrow, in one of her cooking classes. I had been looking forward to meeting her and attending one of her water bath canning classes. Cathy’s blog is an inspiration, and every recipe of hers that I’ve tried has been amazing and delicious.
Just this year I started to become more interested in preserving fresh fruits and vegetables, and in water bath canning. Growing up, my grandmother used to make mango chutney in great quantities: mangoes, raisins, spices, vinegar, and sugar would simmer on the stove top permeating the kitchen with the tropical aroma of ripe mangoes. I would stand on a plastic step stool and constantly stir the mixture with a long wooden spoon, making sure it didn’t stick to the bottom of the huge pot. She also made currant jam, with currants that she grew in her garden, until locusts entirely destroyed the plant. Now that she is older, she doesn’t do much canning and I thought I would continue the tradition.
Although I knew the basics of water bath canning, I really wanted to learn more about it. If I’m going to be making preserves and sharing these with my family and friends, I most definitely do not want to get anyone sick.
Cathy put together three recipes for us to make: peach pie filling, peach & lemon verbena preserves, and spicy Asian plum sauce. So first things first, we dipped the peaches in boiling water, cooled them in an iced water bath, and then peeled and cut them into wedges. There were 40 pounds of peaches to dip, cool, peel, and cut! Luckily, we were a team of 7 and this went by very quickly.
Isn’t this copper jam pan just gorgeous?
Before we knew it, we were ladling delicious pie filling into our hot quart sized jars. We learned to tighten the rings with just the tips of our fingers so that air can escape from the jars while in the water bath.
While we made the peach pie filling, additional peaches rested in acidulated water waiting to become peach & lemon verbena preserves.
I had never seen so many jars, lids, and rings in one spot!
While the peach pie filling was processing in the water bath, we took a short break to enjoy some peach crisp.
They were chopped and combined with onion, garlic, jalapeño, cider vinegar, spices, and sugar.
We ladled the spicy Asian plum sauce into tiny 4 ounce jelly jars.
My favorite part: tasting! Spring rolls with the red plum sauce we just made. This sauce is complex, spicy, savory, and sweet.
Then we moved on to the peach preserves. Here’s Cathy stirring the peach & lemon verbena preserves.
Peach & lemon verbena preserves cooking.
The peach & lemon verbena preserves before processing in the water bath. These taste so fresh, like a ripe juicy peach with just a hint of the lemon verbena. We learned how to decorate the jars with lemon verbena leaves.
And here is the plum sauce. The peach filling is in the background.
Also, have I mentioned I fell in love during the class? Meet Louie, Cathy’s adorable little dog! He is so fast, which made it impossible to photograph him. I finally caught him practicing his down dog. Isn’t he precious?
He is so well-mannered, friendly, and has such kind, gentle eyes. I would have brought him home with me, but I don’t think Cathy or her husband would have liked that.
I had such a fabulous time, and learned so much. Cathy is passionate and inventive and really inspires you to try things out of your comfort zone. If you’d like to make the spectacular spicy plum sauce visit Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s blog where she shares the recipe. And definitely do not miss out on the opportunity to take one of her classes. You will leave with new friends, tips, tricks, and treats!
Thanks for a wonderful class Cathy!
What a nice post, Cecilia! And LOUIE! He’s such a star, isn’t he? And you all should know that Cecilia did some awe inspiring knife work to finely mince ginger, onion and garlic. I was totally bowled over with her skillz.
so much fun!!! everything looks really delicious, especially the plums.
Cathy–Thank you! I am so in love with Louie, he is absolutely adorable!
Olga–Thanks! It was all delicious!
I make Cathy’s plum sauce every summer – wonderful. And her sweet pickle relish is a cinch to make with ingredients available year round. It is a staple in my kitchen. Great post – I’d love to meet Louie! And Cathy 😉
Oh, a class with Cathy sounds like such fun! Thanks for a great post, Cecilia. I can’t wait to get back to canning.
Liz–the plum sauce really is fantastic! I haven’t tried making pickles yet.
What an informative post..some of those tips on canning are really helpful!
I just tried my hand and some preserves and some pickles a couple weeks ago! It is fun, gratifying and made super cute gifts! I’m really going to try the plum sauce, it looks AMAZING!
OMG i love the down doggie!!!!!