Category: Seasonal

Small Batch Concord Grape Jam

Quick review: jam is made with the whole fruit, jelly is made from the juice of the fruit. This is my favorite ever Concord jam recipe–it’s like grocery store grape jelly on whole food steroids–less sugar, and the full flavor of ALL of the grape.

Small Batch Concord Grape Jam

Transform luscious Concord grapes into a whole-fruit jam. Adapted from the Serious Eats recipe found here: https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/09/concord-grape-jam-recipe-grape-jelly.html

Ingredients

  • 8 Cups Concord grapes (about 2 lbs)
  • 5 Cups granulated sugar (white)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 Teaspoon neutral oil (sunflower, canola)
  • 12 4 oz jelly jars for canning (if canning)

Instructions

  • Prepare canning equipment if planning to preserve: Wash jars + lids/bands.
  • Prep the grapes: wash grapes and remove from stems. Pinch each grape between your fingers, catching the pulp in one bowl and placing the skins in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse grape skins in food processor until they are well chopped (think about how big you want the pieces of grape skins in your jam). Place chopped grape skins in a medium pot with a 1/4 cup of water; bring to a simmer and cook for ten minutes.
  • In another small saucepan, bring the grape pulp to a boil, then simmer for ten minutes. The grapes will lose their shape and look somewhat like applesauce. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl–you want as much pulp as possible, but not the seeds.
  • Pour the pulp into the pot with the skins; add sugar, lemon juice, and oil. Bring to a boil, then simmer, stirring often, for 45 minutes. This is where the magic happens. Turn off heat and let stand 5 minutes.
  • While the jam is jamming, place jelly jars in a large pot and fill with enough water to cover jars. Bring water to a boil, then turn off to keep jars warm. Place bands + lids in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil, then turn off to keep warm.
  • If not preserving, pour jam into jars for storing in refrigerator. I still recommend pre-heating jars to sterilize them before adding the jam. Let jam cool at room temp for an hour or two before refrigerating.
  • If preserving: remove jars from hot water, ladle jam into jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Wipe rims, then place lid + secure bands by giving them one good twist (not too tight! just ‘fingertip tight’). Place jars on a rack in a canning pot and fill pot with water to cover completely with at least 1 inch of water atop the jars. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat slightly to maintain rolling boil for ten minutes. Turn off heat, remove pot lid, and rest jars in hot water for 5 minutes. Remove jars to cooling rack (I use a couple layers of towels on a cookie sheet), and allow to rest for 12 hours. Label, and store for up to a year.

The carbon, slavery, and deforestation on your toast (and a better way)

Meet: Pesto Toast

I’m so old I remember when avocados were fairly exotic. Pronouncing ‘guacamole’ was a struggle for even the more cultured white person. Nowadays, I see Costco carts loaded with multiple bulk packs of the creamy fruit, destined for smoothies, tacos, and, of course, toast. It’s a very first food for countless babies and the day’s first meal for career hustlers around the country. 

Bottom line: avocado production has a high carbon footprint because of the inputs needed and the land (forests) diverted to make room to grow for the huge demand. The water needed to grow the crop is also substantial and often in areas that don’t have water to spare–California, Mexico, and Chile. (Learn more, here.) Avocados are a seasonal item, so costs involved in providing a steady year-round avocado supply are higher than ensuring constant availability of seasonal items that store well, like potatoes, onions, and garlic.

Then there are the labor issues (not unique to avocado farming, of course), cartel demands, and even the exploited work of the bees.

Avocados aren’t the devil, and there are Fair-Trade options that are certainly a better choice, but here’s an alternative that utilizes whatever you have on hand and provides a way to use all the kale and greens available at the farmers’ markets (and often available year-round thanks to local greenhouses). Get your greens and eat your toast, too. This is a free-form recipe so run with it, experiment and revise based on what you have and what you find you like.

Spread pesto on toast and top with sliced radish, tomatoes, fresh herbs, cucumber, zucchini, edible flowers, sesame seeds, flaky sea salt, and cracked pepper. When the fresh selection is more limited, top with sun-dried tomatoes, pickled radish/vegetables, kimchi, roasted sweet potato, and sliced tofu/tempeh. And if you have a greens glut? Make the pesto ahead and keep it frozen for the winter months!

Favorite pesto base combinations:

  • Roasted sunflower seeds, arugula, grapeseed oil
  • Almonds, kale, extra garlic
  • Sunflower seeds, Basil/kale, olive oil
  • Pumpkin seeds, cilantro/flat-leaf parsley, sunflower oil, red chili flakes
  • Pea shoots or microgreens also make a terrific base for green pesto!



Herby Pesto For Toast

Spread this green pesto on your next piece of toast! Add a little plant milk and it’s a quick pasta sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup nuts or seeds, or mix
  • 1-4 cloves garlic or scapes/green garlic
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 5 ounces greens, herbs, or a mix about 2 cups
  • 1/4 cup oil, olive or grapeseed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • salt + pepper

Instructions

  • In food processor, pulse nuts/seeds until they are well-ground, but not so much that they turn into butter.
    Add garlic and nutritional yeast and continue to pulse until mixture looks like uniform crumbs.
    Add greens/herbs and pulse until greens are totally chopped and mixture again looks uniform and evenly blended.
    Turn machine on and pour in olive oil, then water. Scrape down the bowl, add salt and pepper, and pulse a few more times.
    Store in refrigerator. Basil pesto will turn brown when exposed to air–pour a layer of oil over pesto then cover with wrap or a lid.

Notes

  • I’ve only made this using a food processor but a strong blender would probably work too.
  • I use sunflower seeds or almonds, salted/roasted are fine, just watch how much salt is added at the end
  • Kale, arugula, Swiss Chard, and pea shoots all make great green pesto
  • Basil is great on its own or mixed with greens; a blend of cilantro + flat-leaf parsley plus some dried red chili flakes is delicious
  • Mix herbs + greens together based on what you have!
 


The NEW New Potatoes

Do your farmer a favor. Eat the radishes!

Ahhhh radishes, those DayGlo roots from the dirt. There is such a satisfying tug as each one is lifted from the soil. Radishes are the vegetable grower’s secret weapon as they are a relatively un-fussy crop and ready in as few as 18 days from planting seeds (new potatoes take around 65). In the past, my average annual radish consumption was probably around 3.7 total–a couple roasted, a few slices on a salad, maybe a couple pickled radish slices alongside Indian food. Mostly, I grew them for a few loyal fans and because they are fun (and adorable). Hold tight though, because the radish revolution is here and now.

To change your radish-despising mind, it’s time to rethink radishes. They are now new potatoes’ cousin. Give them a scrub, trim the ends, and boil until tender. I give them the full treatment with a hefty does of my homemade vegan butter, Maldon sea salt, and fresh cut herbs from the garden. Oh, and they are low carb, if you are into that.

Another secret: radishes are the easiest to grow. Grab a pot or even a plastic storage container, some dirt, and a packet of radish seeds (Easter Egg/Valentine’s are multi-colored, French Breakfast are super fast) (not an affiliate link). Keep them watered and you’ll see sprouts within a couple days.


New New Potatoes

Radishes get the full new potato treatment in a low-carb, farmer-friendly, seasonal side dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch radishes
  • sea salt
  • oil or vegan butter
  • fresh herbs

Instructions

  • Pull greens off radishes. Scrub radishes with a cloth to remove dirt. Trim off ends if you like. If some radishes are especially large, trim to uniform size for even cooking time.
    Place radishes in a pot and fill two-thirds of the way with cold water. Set on high heat until simmer is reached. Turn down heat and simmer radishes, checking after about five minutes. They may take up to ten minutes, or more, depending on size and age. Test with a fork–radishes should be fork tender.
    Drain and place radishes in bowl along with sea salt, oil/vegan butter, and garnish with freshly chopped herbs!