Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! Summer produce is now at its peak, so it’s an excellent time to visit your local Farmers Market and bring the best of fresh, seasonal and local produce to your Shabbat table. As an added benefit, you’ll also be supporting local farmers and businesses.
August crops include sweet corn, crunchy cucumbers, tomatoes of all sizes, coloured peppers, assorted ripe berries, juicy nectarines, freestone peaches, marvellous melons…the list is constantly changing. This is also a great month for starting your canning and preserves, since fruit and vegetables are at their peak.
(Not-so-teeny-weeny zucchini are also plentiful: https://thecjn.ca/food/the-shabbat-table-not-so-teeny-weeny-zucchini).
Emily Paster to the rescue! Emily is the author of The Joys of Jewish Preserving: Modern Recipes with Traditional Roots, For Jams, Pickles, Fruit Butters, and More—for Holidays and Every Day (Harvard Common Press). She is the co-founder of the Chicago Food Swap and the creator of the blog West of the Loop https://www.westoftheloop.com. She is also the author of Food Swap: Specialty Recipes for Bartering, Sharing, and Giving. A native of Washington, DC, Emily lives with her family in Chicago where she teaches popular preserving and canning classes.
The Joys of Jewish Preserving is the perfect combination of Emily Paster’s two culinary loves: Jewish cuisine and home food preservation. Emily researched the history of preserved foods in Jewish cooking and was inspired by both Sephardic and Ashkenazi home food preservation traditions. Each of Paster’s recipes are an original creation with contemporary techniques and ingredients, but still rooted in centuries-old Jewish tradition.
Emily writes: “I began preserving in 2007, inspired by the bounty of my local farmers’ market and a desire to eat more locally and seasonally. I started by making jam and pickles, and I soon expanded into preserving relishes, chutneys, fruit butters, and more.”
She continues: “Naturally, I soon began combining my home food preservation hobby with my love for traditional Jewish foods. I put up jar after jar of kosher dill pickles and pickled green tomatoes every summer, hoping to make enough to last until next year.”
The Joys of Jewish Preserving contains 75 innovative recipes, from apricot jam and lemon curd to kosher dills and pickled beets, as well as a variety of preserves, both sweet and savory—all updated for today’s modern kitchen. You’ll also find enticing recipes for Challah (below), Chocolate Babka with Jam, and Great-Grandma Bessie’s Cheese Blintzes.
So if you’re wondering what to do with all those juicy peaches you bought home from the market, choose from Peaches in Honey Syrup, Sweet and Sour Peach Ketchup (below), or Summer to Fall Peach Fig Jam. Plus Emily’s Slow Cooker Peach Lekvar (below) tastes ‘jam-good’ on Challah! Enjoy…
SWEET AND SOUR PEACH KETCHUP
Makes five or six 8-ounce (235 ml) jars
The idea that ketchup is made with tomatoes is a fairly recent innovation. Ketchup, which is no more than a slow-simmered sauce made with fruit, vinegar, and spices, had a storied history in Asia and Europe long before the people of these continents encountered tomatoes, which are, after all, a New World crop.
The combination of sweet and sour flavours, such as ketchup’s combination of fruit and vinegar, is a hallmark of Ashkenazi cuisine. Gil Marks notes in The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food that preparing dishes ahead of time to serve on Shabbat, in keeping with the prohibition against keeping a fire on the holiday, led Jewish cooks to rely on vinegar as a preservative. Sweet flavours were then added to cut the sharpness of the vinegar.
For centuries, Jewish cooks made ketchups of all kinds with the fruits and vegetables available to them. Here I have updated the tradition to create a peach ketchup. The sweet, tangy flavor of this ketchup is outstanding on turkey burgers and chicken sandwiches. My family also enjoys it on sweet potato fries.
5 pounds (2.3 kg) yellow peaches, peeled and diced
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups (475 ml) apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups (340 g) brown sugar
1 tablespoon (18 g) pickling salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Prepare a boiling water bath and heat six 8-ounce (235 ml) jars.
Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down and simmer until the peaches are soft, about 10 minutes. Puree the mixture using an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor.
Return the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat again, and simmer until the ketchup is thick, spreadable, and will mound up on a spoon, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Ladle the ketchup into the clean, warm jars, leaving 1/2 inch (1 cm) of headspace at the top. Bubble the jars and wipe the rims with a damp cloth. Place the lids on the jars and screw on the rings just until you feel resistance. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Allow to cool in the water for 5 minutes before removing. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
SLOW COOKER PEACH LEKVAR (PEACH BUTTER)
Makes six 8-ounce (235) jars
According to The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food by the late Gil Marks, fruit butter was traditionally made by boiling fruit outdoors over an open fire for hours, with people taking turns stirring the kettle. The fruit butter could then be stored in crocks to last through winter. In Europe, the most common fruit butter was made with plums, but apricots, apples, and peaches were also preserved in the same way.
Think of the slow cooker as the modern-day equivalent of that outdoor kettle. Peach butter still takes hours to cook down to the desired consistency, but at least with a slow cooker, almost all of that time is passive. You will be delighted with how easy this project is, and the results are heavenly.
6 pounds (2.7 kg) peaches, peeled and pitted
3 cups (600 g) sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Puree the peaches in a food processor by pulsing several times, but stop when they are still chunky and not liquified. Add the puree and sugar to the bowl of the slow cooker.
Set the slow cooker to high and prop the lid open with the handle of a wooden spoon to allow for evaporation.
Cook the peach butter until it is dark, thick, and spreadable, checking it frequently. Occasionally, scrape down the sides and stir the mixture with the wooden spoon. The cooking process should take 6 to 8 hours, depending on the size of your slow cooker and the moisture level of the fruit.
When your fruit butter is close to done, prepare a boiling water bath and heat six 8-ounce (235 ml) jars. When you have achieved the texture you want, add the lemon juice and stir to combine.
Ladle peach butter into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch (1 cm) of headspace at the top. Bubble the jars and wipe the rims with a damp cloth. Place the lids on the jars and screw on the rings just until you feel resistance. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Allow to cool in the water for 5 minutes before removing. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. (Because fruit butters contain less sugar than jams, they have a shorter shelf life.)
Note: If you do not have a slow cooker, make this recipe in a deep, wide saucepan or Dutch oven. It will take much less time, but will require more involvement on your part. To make peach butter in a regular pot, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until thick and concentrated. This could take up to two hours.
EMILY PASTER’S CHALLAH
Makes 1 loaf
Challah is a rich, eggy bread that Jewish families serve on Shabbat and holidays. For Ashkenazi Jews in eastern Europe and Russia, everyday bread was black bread, made with coarse rye flour, but even the poorest families used pricey white flour to make their challah for Shabbat. The traditional shape for challah is an oval, braided loaf, but on Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to make a round challah to symbolize the never-ending cycle of years and seasons.
This slightly sweet, golden challah is a worthy vessel for any of the jam recipes in this book. Because of the presence of eggs and oil, challah will last for several days without going stale. Any leftover bread can be used to make outstanding French toast or bread pudding.
4 cups (548 g) bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons (9 g) instant yeast
1 cup (235 ml) water, approximately 110ºF (43ºC)
3 eggs, at room temperature, divided
1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
3 tablespoons (39 g) sugar
2 tablespoons (40 g) honey
1 teaspoon salt
Poppy or sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, yeast, and water. Stir to combine. Add 2 eggs, the oil, sugar, honey, and salt. Mix until a smooth dough forms, about 5 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and knead by hand for 5 minutes, adding more flour to prevent sticking. The dough should be smooth and elastic. It may be slightly tacky to the touch.
Place the dough in a bowl that has been oiled. Cover with a clean cloth and allow it to rise in a warm place for 2 hours or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough and divide it into 3 equal parts. (I use my kitchen scale to ensure my pieces are of equal size.)
Roll each piece into a thin strand about 2 feet (60 cm) long. Pinch the 3 strands together at the top and then braid until you reach the end of each strand. Take the ends, pinch them closed, and tuck them under the loaf.
Carefully transfer the braided loaf to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Cover the loaf with a clean cloth and allow to proof for 30 minutes to 1 hour until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC, or gas mark 4).
Beat the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of water in a small bowl. Brush the egg wash on the challah, making sure to get in the crevices of the braids. If desired, sprinkle sesame or poppy seeds over the top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack before cutting.