I’m fascinated by the old fashioned art of canning. I dream of opening my pantry and seeing jars of summer fruits and vegetables neatly lined up, waiting to be opened in the middle of winter. It’s not something I learned hanging on my mother’s apron strings. I’m quite sure she never canned anything. When I first mentioned to her that I was going to be doing this, she said “I hope you don’t kill anyone!”.
Lucky for me that my friend V. knows a thing or two about canning and this is the third time that I’ve gotten together with her for a little tutorial. I understand the concept and the whole process, but for some reason I feel better if there’s someone else there holding my hand. As soon as I opened the August issue of La Cucina Italiana and saw the article named “The Conservationists”, I knew I had to call V. and set a date to get in the kitchen together.
We made three things: mostarda di pomodori (tomato mostarda), chutney di pesche e prugne (peach and prune chutney) and pomodori pelati al basilico (preserved tomatoes with basil). A few days earlier I had made verdure miste (preserved mixed vegetables), which didn’t need to be canned-just kept in the fridge for up to a few weeks. I’m looking forward to trying all of them and will let you know my favorite.
Mostarda di Pomodori
2-1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
3 cups sugar
1-3/4 cup plus 5 tablespoons water
1 cup red wine vinegar
3 bay leaves
4 whole cloves
5 tablespoons dry mustard powder
In a large bowl stir together the tomatoes and salt. Let the tomatoes stand, covered and chilled, stirring occasionally for 6 hours. Drain tomatoes and discard liquid.
In a large saucepan combine the tomatoes, sugar, 1-3/4 cups water, vinegar, bay leaves and cloves and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature and then chill, covered for 12 hours.
In a small saucepan, whisk together mustard and remaining 5 tablespoons water. Whisking constantly, cook over medium-high heat until smooth and thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Reserving tomato liquid, use a slotted spoon and transfer tomatoes into hot, sterilized canning jars (refer to instructions for canning which you can find on the internet or in many basic cookbooks). Transfer tomato liquid to a medium saucepan, cover and bring just to a boil. Immediately whisk mustard mixture into liquid and then ladle liquid over tomatoes, leaving 1/2″ space at the top. Discard remaining liquid. Wipe rims of filled jars with a clean, damp towel, then top with lids and screw on “finger tight” (not cranked tight). Put sealed jars on rack in canner and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, cover and boil for 40 minutes. With tongs, transfer jars to a towel-lined surface to cool. Serve alongside roasted meats. Makes: 2 pints.