Food preservation

I had the good fortune of learning years ago (Boy Scouts, cooking merit badge) that the common weed purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is edible. Outside the United States, (more…)

Suddenly, I have more tomatoes than I know what do to with. I knew this would happen, as I planted about 15 seedlings, but I haven’t had time to prepare. I’ve been wanting to buy or build a food dehydrator for some time, but simply haven’t had the time to do so yet. Someone recently suggested using the back of my car, since it gets lots of sun and gets hot on a sunny day. So, I washed an old window screen, elevated it on bricks over some newspapers and started laying out sliced tomatoes to dry. We’ll see how well it works. I think this is a great way to get sun-dried tomatoes for later use, if all goes according to plan. And it has lots of room for more tomatoes as they ripen!

In an earlier post, I provided a recipe I was experimenting with to make homemade black raspberry liqueur. As mentioned in that post, the berry flavor was overpowered by the rum used in the liqueur. I’ve now tried two additional batches using vodka instead of rum. I’ve also reduced the sugar in the sugar syrup. The berry flavor now comes out more strongly, since the vodka doesn’t overpower it like the rum did and cutting the sugar reduces the overpowering sweetness of the first batch. Both batches used the same recipe, although I didn’t test the batches as thoroughly as suggested in the recipe. So, the first vodka batch came out very nice, but the reduced sugar left the second batch a little hot. The experiments will have to continue, I’m afraid. 😉 Here’s the revised recipe.


As mentioned in an earlier post, my berry harvest was phenomenal this year and I’ve started experimenting with preserving methods. One tasty little liquor2_lexperiment, suggested by a coworker, Rebecca, was to make liqueur. I’m not a big drinker, nor do I know much about alcoholic beverages, including  liqueurs. But, I’m fortunate that her husband is a rum meister, recognized as one of the new “mixologists” for his work as a professional bar tender/tropical drink creator/tropical drink bar creator. (For more, see writeups in the SF Chronicle and NY Times, as well as this site for his new SF bar, Smugglers’ Cove, opening this fall.) So, when I received an email with Martin’s instructions for making liqueur, the scientist in me decided it was time to experiment.

Here are his instructions: (more…)

chutney_m1I recently tried a new base material for lactofermentation, apples. This was the first time I have tried fermenting fruit. Although I was warned by a friend that I wouldn’t get good results because the apples weren’t crisp fall apples, I already had the apples and decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did. This chutney has now mellowed into a delightful and well-balanced blend of flavors: salty, sweet and sour. It’s received good reviews from friends.


After last year’s dismal attempt at sauerkraut, I didn’t have my hopes up. But, I’ve been “harvesting” some of it every few days, to have a sample of how it tastes over time. Tonight I “harvested” my third and final batch. It’s yummy! I’m very pleased. The first test “harvest” was somewhat limp and salty cabbage. Tonight’s batch was mildly tangy, only slightly salty and still had a nicely textured chewiness to it. I think it’s perfect.

When I’ve finished eating and sharing this batch (about three gallons) I’ll make another batch and start experimenting with other recipes that have more than just cabbage on the ingredient list.

Last year I tried making sauerkraut a couple of times. Both times were less than stellar efforts. My first batch (plain sauerkraut) was not particularly flavorful and had a soft texture. My second batch (cabbage, carrots, turnips and brussel sprouts) was simply too overwhelming with flavors. The turnips and brussel sprouts are both strong-flavored vegetables and didn’t go well together. I’ve been wanting to try to make it again and a Russian friend, who learned to make sauerkraut from her mother, offered to share her ‘kraut wisdom with me. So, yesterday, we started a couple of batches–a plain cabbage batch for me and a cabbage and carrot batch for her. Now, I now have a crock of sauerkraut gurgling away in my kitchen. (more…)