Louisiana Eats!
5:00 am
Sat March 2, 2013

Where the Water Beats Against the Land

This is one of several photographs that Alexander Allison shot of the flooded conditions along the Mississippi River at the turn of the 20th century. Tulane University professor Oliver Houck used this picture on the cover of his recently released book, Down on the Batture
Credit Alexander Allison

On this week's Louisiana Eats! we'll go Down on the Batture with Professor Oliver Houck. He'll explain the ecology of this small sliver of land, the bounty of foodstuffs found there, and the opportunities it provides for fringe living.

We'll also hear about the partnership forged between Tulane University's School of Medicine and Johnson & Wales University, a prominent culinary institute in the United States.

Oliver Houck's Dewberry & Loquat Preserves (in his own words)

Preparing the berries is easy. Do no wash, you will wash good juice away. Trust that the cooking will take care of little bugs and whatever mist of poison ivy has gotten onto them, because they almost always are found together.

Preparing the loquat is tedious, because you have to pit the fruit. I've got it down to minimal motions, but a batch of 6 quarts might take an hour and a half. From there on, as above. Do not wash. High temps will work.

Ingredients:

3 quarts prepared berries/loquat, jammed down, no space

2 lemons (or 3 small)

2 cups sugar (way under the recommended amount, which is so extravagant it hurts the teeth) (Add more to second batch if not to taste, but I doubt you will)

1 1/2 cups pectin (again, under the recommended)

Directions:

Mix fruit and lemon juice in a bowl

Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 cups pectin, and stir together

Bring compote to a rolling boil, stirring as needed (I use a large pot over two burners for more even boiling)

Add 1 1/2 cups sugar and bring back to boil, stirring constantly, for a full minute

Remove from flame

Meanwhile, you have cleaned and heated your jars, either pints or quarts, in the dishwasher and heated the lids with very hot water, in a dish. Ladle the compote into the jars leaving 3/4" to 1" clearance, wipe the rims thoroughly so no residue left, wipe the lid rims to remove water, place lids on jar rims and screw down rings to finger tight (too loose and it boils out during the canning; too tight and the jar could break.)

The canning process is standard (as well): a large pot of water with a wire frame inside to keep the jars separate; bring to a rolling boil; use longs to place the filled jars on the rack, carefully, no tip, no slip; return pot to light boil for 20 minutes; remove the jars with tongs to a countertop, towel to buffer, and wait expectantly for the pop of the lid that means it has sealed. I used to get about 1 miss per batch of 7 jars. Now it is 1 miss per 20 or so, but even these you can put into the refrigerator and eat first, keeping for a long time.

Place the sealed jars on a visible shelf and just enjoy the beautiful light playing through them, a stained glass collection. And eat until next Spring. I find that in the order of 30 pints holds up a full year with ease. With some gifts on the side.

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