Cleaning the Pantry — 8/20/11 — SFP

My college age son did an experiment this year.  He made a gallon of mead — honey wine.  He printed out the instructions and elicited my help.  Of course, we were only making this for medicinal purposes . . .

We/he made only one error: transferring it from a flexible gallon container to a glass container before it was ready.  So at 3am one morning I heard a POP and then a tinkling sound as all the glass chards lofted into the air and then came crashing down . . . on my canning jars . . .

I couldn’t look at the mess for a week.  Okay, two weeks.  But now, I’m going through, cleaning off jars that are good, and looking at what I have.  The bulk of my canning was done last summer/fall, and I realize I still have quite a bit left.

Once you hit the one year mark, it’s time to take stock.  I have pickles that are one year old that won a ribbon in the fair.  Of course, I can still keep those.  I also have strawberry jam that looks somewhat brownish rather than the bright red I remembered.  No one, even me, will eat those.

When cleaning out your pantry, check your jars:

1. To see if they still have a seal — if not, toss and use the jars for a batch of something new

2. For mold or discoloration — this means that something is in there, either mold organisms, or active enzymes at work so toss and recycle

3. For do-overs. Things that you know you aren’t going to get to in the next year in the form they’re in — it’s better to rebatch than to waste if the contents and flavor are good, so if you have 3000 jars of jam, and just aren’t eating them, think about glazes for grilled meats (thin with water and brush on while grilling , can be stored in fridge for about a month), fruit syrups for pancakes (thin with water, strain if necessary), enhancing barbeque sauces, transforming them into cordials (thin, add sugar if necessary, add to sparkling water) . . .

4. Evaluate your choices and make a plan to use what you have — I made so much salsa, marinara and apple sauce that we still have plenty, and even though we like them as they are, I’m going to try to find ways to work the surplus into menus so that they get used while they still taste good.  Salsa, guacamole and chips are going on the menu, as well as Salsa Gazpacho, and an easy Salsa Chili.  Applesauce can be used in all kinds of baked goods to provide lower fat moisture and flavor.  Marinara is great on pizza, with breadsticks, in chili as well, even simmered into a batch of taco meat — just adjust the flavorings to the food.

Happy Cleaning!

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