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March 2009

Pressure-Canned Collards!

Canned collards [640x480]

I am not impressed, at least not by the results. So few jars for so much time! And angst!

But the process was interesting. It took 2.5 hours from start to finish, probably due in part to inexperience and fear. We cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned surfaces, jars, and utensils, washed the collards three times, then got to steaming then canning them, using our brand new All-American Pressure Canner and the the Ball Blue Book of Preserving (aka The Bible). The real time-sucker was watching over the canner to make sure the weight jiggled "one to four times per minute" to assure accurate pressure - FOR 70 MINUTES. Next time, I'll make sure I have some knitting close by so I'll have something to do with my hands besides wring them...

It was a mistake to use pint jars. We couldn't find quarts anyplace over the weekend; Faced with a windfall of donated greens and wanting to make good use of them, we plunged ahead with the pints. If we had used the larger size, we would have had twice the output, which would have been heartening.

I have frozen extra greens in the past, but our smallish freezer is perpetually full of something or other, and using re-useable glass jars instead of freezer bags seemed like a plus... Does the canning process use more energy than a separate freezer does? I have no idea! But I would think quantity makes a difference, and we sure have that. In any case, I'm not giving up on the idea of "putting by" our excess produce this way. Next time, I'll see if quart jars (wherever you are) and a little more experience helps fine-tune the process!


Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi
image from fussyfoodie.co.uk

Also known as "vegetable Sputnik," kohlrabi is available at the farmers market now. High in potassium, fiber, and vitamins A and C, it's a good thing to learn to like. And it's pretty easy, too. Peeled and cubed it's almost indistinguishable from the sweet innards of broccoli stalks.  Some folks mash them like potatoes - or with potatoes. But I like to add them to soup (of course!). 

We used them in our cafe chili yesterday. It's still so cold, and our guests really appreciated its spicy goodness.  We named it "Southern Sweet Potato Chili" again although the rutabagas, turnips, and kohlrabi outnumbered the sweet potatoes two to one. Rutabaga Chili just doesn't sound as inviting. Plus the cubed, white root vegetables get lost in the soup and look, to the untrained (and unsuspecting) eye, like a potato.

Root vegetables like these grow so well this time of year, and good cooks have been adding them to soups and stews since time immemorial, nourishing their family and friends with the food grown right out the back door. The fresh leaves of kohlrabi can be chopped and added along with the bulb (actually a swollen stem) to add even more nutrition.