09 August 2014

Well Preserved

My favorite rotation this summer was the Sandwiches one. The focus of the rotation is both to make sandwiches (some for student lunch, and some to sell in the Pastry Case) and to learn preserving techniques by canning jams and pickles and making fermented foods. As has been the norm for this quarter, most of our work was self-directed, though it was often driven by whatever fruits and vegetables had come to us from the farms after the Monday farm visits. I made some bread during the rotation (pain ordinaire, our standard white yeast bread, and Portugese sweet bread) but most of the time I made jams and pickles. I've done a lot of canning in my home kitchen, but it was fun learning to use the wonderful steam kettles at school, and to make some unusual preserves.

Steam Kettles

These are the steam kettles. The two kettles are attached to a base heating unit, with a dedicated water faucet for filling them. On preserving days, we fill the kettles with hot water in the morning, bring it to a boil, then turn down to simmer. At the end of the day, the water gets tipped into the drawers and the kettles are washed out and wiped down. The photo shows one of the kettles tipped over; the drawer below leads to a drain. The photo below shows the basket that's inside each kettle. It has handles to lift it out, but it's heavy (especially when loaded with quart jars) so most of the time we transfer jars to and from the kettle using a jar lifter.

Steam Kettle Basket

My partner had not canned before and was very enthusiastic about it, so we made a lot of small (5-6 pint) batches of jam, including peach jam (in which we infused crushed peach kernels to add a mild bitter almond flavor), plum/apricot with rose water, and raspberry chocolate.

Peach Jam

We also pickled four quarts of okra:

Pickled Okra

And made a big batch of peppery, savory pizza sauce, which will be used next quarter to sauce foccacia for sale in the Pastry Case:

Pizza Sauce

The jam making even continued over to my next rotation (Celebration Cakes). We decided to make an almond/cherry cake and then discovered there was no cherry jam, so chef handed me a 5 lb bag of frozen pitted tart cherries, and I made jam on the fly for the cake (5 lb cherries, chopped in the food processor, 5 cups sugar, boiled down to jam consistency, then 2 tsp of almond extract stirred in). Delicious.


  1. I love canning and am envious of your equipment!

    1. The steam kettles are on the top of my list for favorite bakeshop equipment, for sure! The Sheeter is a close second.