The Trouble with Growing Paste Tomatoes: Determinate vs. Indeterminate Varieties

I love growing my own tomatoes. I don’t grow them for slicing, sandwiches or salads. I grow my tomatoes so that in autumn I can make and can my own pizza sauce. The trouble is, a lot of paste tomatoes are indeterminate instead of determinate.

What does that mean?

July is when all the hard work in your garden finally starts to pay off. Here's what I'm harvesting from my July garden.

Indeterminate vs. Determinate Tomatoes

In tomato sauce production, that is, the big commercial fields that grow the tomatoes for our ketchup, jars of marinara, and tomato paste, they grow determinate tomatoes. This means that the tomato produces all of its fruit at once. All of the fruit ripens at the same time, and all of the fruit can be harvested at once. This makes sense, right? If you’re going to harvest the fruit out of a field with a tomato harvesting machine, then you’ve got to do it all at once. A few weeks ago some folks on my team at work took some bloggers out to California to see this in person. Check out this post from DadLogic showing how tomatoes are harvested and turned into tomato paste. It’s fascinating.

What what about those indeterminate tomatoes that I’m growing in my yard? Indeterminate tomatoes are plants that produce their fruit gradually over the entire season. This makes perfect sense for home gardeners, because most home gardeners would be baffled by a sudden single harvest of pounds of tomatoes with no tomatoes after that. You’d want to harvest a few for your salad, then the next day harvest a few more, and so forth. It’s perfect for having tomatoes all season long.

In June, the garden really starts rocking. See what warm weather veggies are taking off and which cool weather vegetable need to be taken out.

Here’s the trouble…

I’m not growing tomatoes for sandwiches and salads. I’m growing tomatoes for canning, which means, I need to have a lot of tomatoes all at once. Even with 8 lbs of tomatoes last year, I only wound up with 4 jars of sauce. A tomato here and there just won’t cut it.

So why wouldn’t I just buy determinate tomatoes like the farmers do? Deer. Caterpillars. Raccoons. The wildlife in my neighborhood is attracted to my garden like it’s some kind of all summer buffet. The idea of having one crop all at once sounds great to me, but it also feels a lot like putting all my eggs in one basket if that makes sense. If the fawns wean right around the time the green tomatoes start appearing, the entire crop is lost, and it’s lost forever.

What works best for me is having indeterminate tomatoes so if the critters decide to come for a snack, there are still plenty of blossoms on the vines to produce lots more fruit to make up for what I lost.

countertop tomatoes

But what about that canning thing?

With the indeterminate tomatoes, I run into the problem of having a tomato here and a tomato there. So how do I get enough to make my pizza sauce? I need 10 lbs at the very least to make this whole thing worthwhile.

This was a struggle I ran into last year. The tomatoes were going bad before I could get enough to can. What could I do?

Then, mid-season last year, it hit me. I knew the solution to my problem.

I froze them.

 

I started washing them and freezing them in big gallon bags. I managed to save 8 lbs last year, and got my pizza sauce. It wasn’t enough to give any away (I guard my sauce jealously), but it was enough, if we used it carefully, to last my family through winter, spring, and summer.

This year, I started freezing tomatoes as soon as they ripened. I’ve got around 15 lbs of paste tomatoes packed into my freezer today, with a bunch more ripening on the counter, and more on the vines. (Full disclosure: My local grocery had a sale on roma tomatoes, so I went ahead and bought a few lbs and froze them, so some of those came from the store.)

Frozen Tomatoes

Won’t freezing ruin my tomatoes though?

In my experience, freezing sauce tomatoes actually helps. A frozen tomato will thaw out mushy and falling out of its peel. This is gross if you’re wanting a tomato for a sandwich, but for sauce? It’s kind of perfect! Saves me the time of having to fool with peeling them!

That first year, peeling and seeding tomatoes was a total nightmare. You have to boil them, dunk them in ice water and then get the skin off. It took forever, and I scalded all my fingers, which would’ve been great if I was living a life of crime because, Hey! No fingerprints! But since I’m not living a life of crime and I like my fingerprints and I also like my fingers to not hurt, it wasn’t so great at all. Also, I ended up losing a lot of the tomato that stuck to the peel and wasting what could otherwise have gone into my pot.

When you freeze a tomato, the peel slips right off after it thaws, so you don’t have to fool with boiling water, burned fingertips, and wasted fruit.

And here’s a bonus tip: My grandma, who’s been canning her whole life, tells me that you really don’t have to get all the peel. You can just toss the tomatoes in the blender peel and all. She tells me that when she makes salsa, the peel seems to help thicken the salsa and improve the texture!

So, if you’re growing tomatoes for sauce, and you’re having trouble getting enough to can, consider freezing them! It’s worked great for me, and I hope it works well for you, too.

Freezing Tomatoes pin

Creamy, Spicy Coconut Curry Sweet Corn

I love sweet corn. I love it grilled. I love it boiled. I even love it… curried? This recipe is rich and creamy with a smoky-sweet spiciness that really gets your tongue tingling, and the added vinegar and cilantro keep it light and bright.

This recipe is rich and creamy with a smoky-sweet spiciness that really gets your tongue tingling, and the added vinegar and cilantro keep it light and bright. Cook it with bacon for a delicious side dish, or leave the bacon out for a delicious vegan main dish.

My Sister-in-Law introduced me to this recipe when she came to stay with us when Cricket was born, and I could not get enough of this surprising combination of flavors. I am thrilled that she has graciously allowed me to share this recipe with you!

Aside from the creamy, spicy flavors in this dish, the thing I really love about it is how flexible this dish is.

You can make it spicy by adding a bunch of chipotle sauce or you can keep it mild by leaving the chipotle out altogether and using a small amount of smoked paprika instead.

You can serve this as a bacon-filled side dish. Or, if your vegetarian/vegan friend is coming over for dinner, this makes an excellent main course if you simply leave out the bacon and substitute coconut or other oil for the bacon fat. It seems my poor vegetarian friends are always given a side salad, and a dish like this will show them that they are not just an afterthought.

If you are serving vegans/vegetarians, and you season your cast iron skillets with bacon fat like I do, you should cook this recipe in a different skillet. Invariably, some of the animal fat will make its way into the food, so using a regular skillet would be the best way to ensure this dish is truly vegan.

When I made this for my parents, I served it with grilled chicken skewers marinated in a simple Indian yogurt marinade (think ginger, garlic, garam masala, and so forth) and a cooling avocado and tomato salad.

IMG_1632

A couple of quick notes to help make sure this comes out as wonderful for you as it does for me:

  • Use canned coconut milk–the kind you get from the Asian food section–not boxed coconut milk like you would drink.
  • I use button mushrooms, but if you want to get fancy, you can use oyster or other exotic mushrooms. These are more delicate so you would need to add these after you add the corn and coconut milk.
  • If you don’t have cider vinegar, you can use lemon juice or even a splash of sherry, but you do need a bit of something acidic to keep the dish from tasting too heavy. This is what keeps people coming back for seconds and thirds!
  • If you don’t have fresh sweet corn available, feel free to use frozen.

 

Coconut Curry Sweet Corn

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 15 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A creamy, spicy take on sweet corn

Credit: my sister-in-law

This dish can easily become a delicious vegan meal by leaving out the bacon and sauteing the onions in coconut or other oil.

Ingredients

  • 3 slices bacon, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 large onion, julienned
  • 8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 ears of corn, cut from the cob (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1-3 Tbsp chipotle sauce
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/3 bunch chopped Cilantro

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook the bacon until it is crispy. Set bacon aside to drain and pour off all but 1 Tbsp of the grease.
  2. Caramelize the onions in the bacon grease (or coconut oil if you left out the bacon). When the onions are well caramelized, add the mushrooms and cook until just soft.
  3. Add the corn to the skillet and continue cooking until the corn is warmed through.
  4. Add the cooked bacon, coconut milk, chipotle sauce, vinegar, and salt to taste, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until thickened slightly. If it becomes too thick, you can thin with a splash of chicken or vegetable stock.
  5. Remove from heat and add cilantro. Serve warm.

Love this post? Don’t want to miss a thing? Click here to get Two Little Grasshoppers right in your inbox!

Caribbean Black Cake: A Christmas Cake Like No Other

It’s July, which has me thinking of Christmas, which has me thinking it’s time to start my fruitcake. And not just any fruitcake. Laurie Colwin’s Black Cake. Now technically, this isn’t her cake. It’s a traditional Black Cake is a Caribbean/African-style fruitcake served at Christmas time, but I first learned about this cake in Laurie Colwin’s book Home Cooking.

Bake a traditional caribbean Black Cake, a gorgeous desert for the Christmas table. A recipe in 3 parts: Pt 1 Marinating the Fruit

 

 

Last year, I made two of these cakes, and brought them along to the various holiday gatherings. My mother even took one of the cakes to a New Year’s Eve party, and one of her friends from Africa got a little misty-eyed. She told my mom it was just like her mother used to make back in Africa. I was glad to know this cake is the real deal!

black cake fruit cake

I admit, I derived a certain wicked glee out of bestowing fruitcake upon my friends. We all know the jokes about fruitcake, and Black Cake is a serious fruitcake, one that sticks with you. It must be served in small pieces because of its density, and its one that you must start in the spring or summer if it’s to be ready by Christmas. But it is worth it. It is so delicious.

black cake crumb

July is here, so it is time to begin this year’s Black Cakes. We begin by marinating the fruit. The fruit should marinate in alcohol for 3-6 months. Yes, months.

The classic fruitcake ingredients (mixed peel and glazed red cherries) are hard to find in the store this time of year, so it’s easiest to just order online. Last year, I ordered from Nuts.com, and was impressed by the quality and prompt service. I highly recommend this family owned company. They also sell all kinds of dried fruit, granola, and other snacks. (Note: This post is not sponsored or endorsed by them in any way. I just really like their products.)

Bake a traditional caribbean Black Cake, a gorgeous desert for the Christmas table. A recipe in 3 parts: Pt 1 Marinating the Fruit

You will need a bottle of dark rum, a bottle of Passover wine, and multiple pounds of fruit. I’ve listed my choices below: 1 lb each of prunes, raisins, black currants, mixed peel, and glazed red cherries. But you can really take this recipe and put your own spin on things. All raisins? Why not? Want to try it with dried apricots? Go for it! I’m a kitchen renegade, a believer in marching to the beat of your own whisk.

Start by mincing all of the fruit. This is the most labor intensive part of making the cake. If you have a food processor, use it! I discovered that the food processor works great for the cherries, mixed peel, and currants. It struggled with the raisins, but when I threw some rum in, it blended up well.

Bake a traditional caribbean Black Cake, a gorgeous desert for the Christmas table. A recipe in 3 parts: Pt 1 Marinating the Fruit

My particular food processor just couldn’t handle the prunes, so I had to chop those by hand. Lucky thing prunes are big, so there weren’t that many to chop.

Bake a traditional caribbean Black Cake, a gorgeous desert for the Christmas table. A recipe in 3 parts: Pt 1 Marinating the Fruit

Throw everything into the biggest bowl you have, and pour in the rum. I don’t know much about rum, but this one said it’s from Jamaica, so this is what I used. It was indeed dark!

Bake a traditional caribbean Black Cake, a gorgeous desert for the Christmas table. A recipe in 3 parts: Pt 1 Marinating the Fruit

Pour in the wine.

Bake a traditional caribbean Black Cake, a gorgeous desert for the Christmas table. A recipe in 3 parts: Pt 1 Marinating the Fruit

Then mix it all up. Seriously, Is there any way to make chopped dried fruit soaking in alcohol pretty? I don’t know. But take my word for it, despite the looks it smelled divine. Divinely boozey.

Bake a traditional caribbean Black Cake, a gorgeous desert for the Christmas table. A recipe in 3 parts: Pt 1 Marinating the Fruit

Dump all of this into a huge jar (gallon size is what I use), and put it in the back of your pantry. By the time the holiday season arrives, the fruit will be ready to bake into the cake.

Bake a traditional caribbean Black Cake, a gorgeous desert for the Christmas table. A recipe in 3 parts: Pt 1 Marinating the Fruit

Black Cake Part 1: Marinating the Fruit

  • Servings: Two 10 inch cakes
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

A Carribbean/African-style fruitcake perfect for Christmas parties and gift-giving

Ingredients

  • 1 pound raisins
  • 1 pound pitted prunes
  • 1 pound dried currants
  • 1 pound mixed peel
  • 1 pound glazed red cherries
  • 1 bottle passover wine (or similar)
  • 1 bottle rum (the darkest you can find)

Directions

  1. Chop all fruit extra fine and mix together in a large bowl.
  2. Add the wine and rum and stir until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Transfer fruit and alcohol mixture into a large, lidded container. A 1 gallon jar works well for this.
  4. Close the lid securely and allow to marinate for 3-6 months.

 

Amazon links are affiliate links. Purchasing items using these links helps support this blog.

Love this post? Don’t want to miss a thing? Click here to get Two Little Grasshoppers right in your inbox!

Wheat Bread Success!

I have finally had success in baking a loaf of wheat bread.  I think I had to get out my frustration in that earlier post in order to clear the way for baking success.

I thought and thought on what to do and where to go for a recipe.  Then it occurred to me that maybe the answers were in my trusty ABin5 book.

I found a recipe that I had thus far avoided right up front in the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day book:  The Soft Wheat Sandwich Bread recipe.  I’d never tried it because it’s an enriched loaf.  But I decided to give it a shot.

Now this does have some unbleached all purpose flour in it.  It’s not 100% wheat.  It also has 5 eggs and 2/3 cup butter.  Not to mention 1/2 cup of honey.  It’s very enriched.  But all of this softens the bread making it more like the bread my family is used to eating from the grocery store.

I subbed 3 tablespoons of whey and 1 cup of leftover water from boiling potatoes in place of some of the water.  I just swapped equal amounts and crossed my fingers that it would be okay.  I am hoping that the addition of the whey to the dough, which is naturally stored for some time, would allow me to class this as a soaked bread recipe.

Baking was a total success.  I used the coated USA Pan loaf pan to bake it in and lightly greased it with butter just to make sure the loaf wouldn’t stick.  I’m not used to baking in a loaf pan so I was worried.  But it slid out just fine.

This loaf was a total success.  It was tasty, soft, not too heavy, and I felt good about feeding it to my family.  Apparently, my family felt good about eating it, too, because they just gobbled it right up and I’m already baking a second loaf this afternoon!

I’m so relieved to finally have some success with a loaf of wheat bread.  I wish it wasn’t such an enriched recipe.  I want to explore some options for a simpler, but still tasty, loaf.  5 eggs, 2/3 cup butter, and 1/2 cup honey isn’t exactly cheap, so I hope that I can find a way to tone that down.

But the loaf itself was rich and delicious.  Sweet, wheaty, and buttery tasting.  Almost like a whole wheat brioche loaf.  I’m glad enough of the success because it gives me a confidence boost and lends me the courage to keep trying for that perfect loaf of wheat bread.

Total score again on the ABin5 books.  They are just fantastic.

If you don’t have them yet, there are three out right now:

These books are awesome and worth every single penny.

 

 

Amazon links are affiliate links. Purchasing books or items via these links helps to support this blog.

Brick by Brick by Brick: Bread Baking Fail

No, I’m not building anything. Although, it seems like I could.

I’m trying to learn to bake whole wheat breads.  I’ve tried what seems like countless recipes.  And it’s not that I just stink at making bread.  Oh, no.  I’m pretty confident in saying that my white breads are pretty phenomenal.

I just really want to learn to make a good wheat bread.

I’m feeling very frustrated.  I’m a big believer in the idea that cooking and food should not be elitist, but that it should be something that people come together to share and build community.  But I can’t shake the feeling that I am just not doing it right.  I just don’t have the right equipment or flour or whatever it is to make decent wheat bread.

I’ve tried a few different kinds of flour.  Stone ground from several companies, whole wheat flour, white wheat flour.  I’ve tried adding vital wheat gluten.  I’ve tried countless recipes.  I just can’t get it to come out.

This morning, my latest failure was wheat buttermilk biscuits (pictured above).  They were inedible to all of us except little Cricket who dipped hers in ketchup and gnawed away after gleefully telling us they hurt her teeth.

What can I do?  Do any of you have any suggestions?  Is there a no fail wheat that you’ve had success with?

Trying My Hand at Chicken Broth

I’m trying to eat better.  I’ve had quite a few stomach issues following the hyperemesis.  Things ranging from psychological to physiological.

So earlier this week, I decided, once and for all, to finally make a proper pot of chicken broth.

My past attempts to make good broth have been… not so great.  In the past, I’ve used the crock pot to cook down the leftover carcass, and the broth has come out tasting weird and without that great gelatin that you’re supposed to have with a good bone broth.  The gel is important.  It contains the collagen and nutrients that make a broth so, so good for you.

So this week, I tried again.

The process…

Instead of a whole chicken, I used the frozen carcass of a previously cooked chicken that I had been saving.  For added collagen, I threw in a package of wings that I had purchased for this purpose.  Also still frozen.  I also included the giblets I had saved in the freezer from several other roasted birds.

For veggies, I didn’t have a whole gallon of veggie scraps, so I made do.  I had a bunch of beet tops that I had frozen for smoothies back before my blender broke, so I added those.  I threw in a few chopped up carrots without their tops.  The jury seems to be out on whether or not the tops are safe to eat, so I skipped them until I have more time to research.

For flavor, I threw in two bay leaves, and a few grinds of pepper. Finally, I had some cilantro that was headed the wrong way with no plans to use it up, so I tossed it in, too.

I did not add salt, and I found later that it does not need additional salt.  The flavor is just fine.

My broth, bubbling away. So colorful and pretty in the pot!
My broth, bubbling away. So colorful and pretty in the pot!

I simmered everything in my cast iron dutch oven for 6 hours.  I didn’t have any scum to scrape off, so I just cooked it and stirred.

Once the soup was made…

When the 6 hours were over, I strained it and placed it back into the pot.  Then I placed the pot in the sink in a bath of ice water to chill the soup quickly so I could refrigerate it safely without worrying about food poisoning.  Once cool, I decanted (love that word) it into jars.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I got gelatin!  You can’t tell from the pictures, but when you poke it, it wobbles beautifully!

My cooled and jarred chicken broth, full of healthy gelatin!
My cooled and jarred chicken broth, full of healthy gelatin!

Then, I began my freezing process.  I used a large silicone muffin mold to freeze the soup into 1/2 cup batches for easy measuring.  The silicone is flexible enough that I can just pop the cubes out after freezing to store in a baggie in the freezer.  Then I can take out what I need for the recipe or for a snack or light meal, and I’m done!  It’s already pre-measured and ready to go.

Frozen in a silicone muffin mold for easy removal.
Frozen in a silicone muffin mold for easy removal.

 

Since making it this broth, I’ve eaten it plain, sipped from a coffee cup, and I’ve made simple miso soup with a little chopped konbu and a spoonful of miso.  This soup has definitely cured my feelings of defeat surrounding healthy broth.

Do you make your own broth or stock?  Do you have any tips to share?

Why I Ferment (and why you should too)

Last year, I got started with fermenting. I started small. It began with home brewing kombucha, a fermented tea, and expanded to sauer kraut in an amazing crock my grandma gave me for my birthday.

I had heard an an interview on NPR with Sandor Katz who had just published and new book called The Art of Fermentation the year before, and was intrigued. I did a bit of poking around, remembered that the friend who taught me to brew kombucha had mentioned a book called Wild Fermentation. After I looked it up, and realized it was by that same guy who had caught my attention so strikingly on the radio, I decided to pick up a copy.

You should do the same! Even if you don’t ferment!

Wild Fermentation is so much more than a cookbook. In it, Sandor Katz offers his expertise in getting you started. It’s less a cookbook and more of a helping hand. He gives quite specific recipes, but encourages the reader like a friend would, to go out and find your own ferments.

What really connected me to his style of fermentation, though, was the spiritual aspect of it. Yes, fermented foods are full of probiotics. Yes, they have lots of readily absorbed vitamins and nutrients. Yes, fermenting is a practical way to preserve a garden harvest. But for me, thanks to Mr. Katz’s gentle guidance, it’s also about connecting with other living things.

When you allow foods to ferment wildly, that is, to pick up the natural flora and fauna in your own space, what you are doing is forming a partnership. You’re not going to the local brewers’ supply and buying a strain of yeast. You are offering a comfortable home and hoping that new friends take up residence. You can’t make them grow. You can’t put them in the jar yourself. You have to close your eyes, reach out your hand, and wait for the microorganisms to reach back.

The last chapters of the book especially moved me. In those chapters, he talks about life, death, and social change, and he draws a comparison between wild fires and fermentation. Like Katz, I’ve seen the detestation of fires, although not a close as he has. I will never forget watching the fires burn down out of the mountains and down to the sea when we lived in California. The change in the landscape is dramatic and undeniable, painful, and destructive, despite the new life that rapidly rises from the ashes.

But, as Katz says, there is undeniable change in fermentation also. Flavors become stronger, foods become more nourishing, spoilage slows or ceases. It makes me think of Nonviolent Communication and how we can peacefully create change through partnerships without tearing everything down to ashes.

Is Fresh Bread Every Day Possible?

When I saw lessthanperfectmama’s post called The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Bread Baking, I knew it was time for a bread post. A year ago, if you had asked me, I would have told you quite emphatically that I do not bake.  Not bread, not cakes, not cookies. No baking.

Then I got interested in learning some basic homesteading skills. I downloaded a book called The Weekend Homesteader to my kindle, and the first project that grabbed my attention was bread making. I tried it a few times, and it totally worked! Good bread! But I couldn’t get the crust quite right.

Then I found a recipe for a no knead bread on Pinterest that looked like it would give me the desired results by baking in a Dutch oven.

And it did! I had a loaf with a crispy, leathery, strong crust. It was amazing! And the family raved. But it required planning ahead and an overnight rise, and planning ahead isn’t something I am super wonderful at.

I can’t remember how I stumbled across the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes technique. I think I must have heard rumblings over on Pinterest. I got a copy of their book (a real copy, not an ebook), and gave it a shot. The ease and success blew me away.  Suddenly, I was making loaf after delicious, crusty loaf.  Then pizzas.  Then cinnamon rolls.

The idea behind the ABin5 technique is that you make a very large batch of dough, enough for four or so loaves, and store the dough in the fridge until you need it.  So you’ve just always got dough laying around to whip into something.

The books suggest that you bake the bread on a hot pizza stone, but after doing this for a year, I really do find that I prefer to bake it in a dutch oven.  When I turn on the oven to preheat, I just pop in the dutch oven to preheat as well.  I preheat for a full 30 minutes to make sure the dutch oven is hot.  I shape my dough onto a piece of parchment paper, and then just drop the whole thing, paper and all, into the dutch oven after the 40 minute rest period.  Halfway through the baking time, I take the lid off the dutch oven to let the crust brown.  The results are consistent and perfect every single time!

It’s hard to complain about having fresh bread all the time.  It warms the house during the cold winter, makes everything smell good, and it’s good food for my family.  I’m still learning to master the whole grain recipes.  I’ve not had good luck with those.  The loaves come out dense.  But my grandma bought me a scale for Christmas, so I am hoping that weighing the ingredients will provide a more exact measure and improve the texture of the finished loaf.  I will certainly keep you posted.

All in all, I really recommend the ABin5 books.  I have every single one, and I love them.  The naan recipe in the flatbreads book not only makes amazing naan, but also fantastic pizza crust!  The English Granary Bread in the original book is a family favorite, and the Limpa bread is amazing!

Apple Cider Winter Fondue

What is better than having fondue on a cold winter evening.  It’s sort thematic or something isn’t it?  Snow, skiing, the Alps, and so forth.  Yodeling.

Okay, there are no Alps here in the Midwest, and I didn’t plan far enough ahead to rent a pair of cross country skis for neighborhood transportation during the Great Snow of 2014, but it was plenty cold, and when I saw the cheeses already shredded for me in Trader Joe’s, I grabbed them!  I may have even yodeled quietly with excitement when I saw that bag of cheese there at the store.

So we made it home, and then the snow came and we were stuck.  That’s when I realized that I didn’t have any of the other ingredients for fondue.

Bread is an easy fix.  I can bake that myself.  But I usually make a traditional emmenthaler or gruyere fondue which calls for white wine (sometimes I make it with beer for a creamier end result), garlic, the cheeses, and an optional splash of kirsch.

I was out of wine.  Out of beer.  Out of garlic.

Oh boy.  We were in trouble.  I’d already set the expectation with the kids and the husband that it was going to be a fondue night.  I’d already baked the bread.  Their mouths were practically watering.

So I did what any good chef does when faced with an impossible recipe and a bunch of savage, hungry faces.

I improvised.

An you know what?  It was pretty tasty!

So my Post Polar Vortex gift to you is my Seat of the Pants, Desperation Fondue.  It is a sweeter fondue that a traditional emmenthaler fondue, and would be wonderful as an appetizer with some of those long crackers that have the herbs and cheese right on top. Something salty and herb-y to counter and compliment the sweet creaminess of the cheeses.

If you don’t have black garlic, don’t let it stop you!  Just substitute regular garlic.

Apple Cider and Black Garlic Fondue

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 15 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A sweet winter fondue.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz shredded emmenthaler
  • 8 oz shredded gruyere
  • 1 cup unfiltered apple cider
  • 2 cloves black garlic, chopped (substitute regular garlic if no black garlic is available)
  • 1 T finely minced or grated red onion
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar if you don’t have ACV on hand
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a sauce pan, combine the apple cider, garlic, and onion and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer.
  2. Begin adding cheeses one handful at a time, stirring after each addition until the cheeses are melted.  At this stage, you will need to watch the heat carefully and adjust it if the cheeses begin to boil or if they are not melting quickly enough.
  3. Add the vinegar and a few grinds of black pepper and sea salt.
  4. Transfer to your fondue pot and enjoy with bread, apples, rolled prosciutto, and garlic and herb crackers.