A Necessity For CSA’ers & Canners: Kuhn Rikon 4th Burner Pot
I rarely plug products. That I’m willing to do so now is a testament to the rare utility of the Kuhn Rikon “4th Burner” Pot. It was first brought to my attention last year when Serious Eats published its gift guide. What seemed at first glance to be a funny-looking aluminum pot turned out to be a powerhouse in the kitchen. Yes, it’s conveniently shaped — a tall cylindrical pot doesn’t crowd your stove. And the steamer basket insert is perfect for steaming and boiling tall vegetables like corn and asparagus. And all the parts are dishwasher-safe! This pot is especially useful if you only want to make a 1/2 pound of dry pasta — the water boils quickly, and the strainer lid obviates the need for a separate colander.
Before you write off this post as a low-grade infomercial, pay attention: What sends the Kuhn Rikon over the top is its utility as a small-scale canner. The steamer basket has little feet on the bottom that raise it up off the bottom of the pot, so your jars won’t scorch. And it has a heat-resistant silicone handle, so it operates as a handy jar lifter — no awkward jar tongs! Why are small-scale canners necessary for CSA’ers? Although most people imagine canning to be an all-weekend endeavor involving several bushels of produce, if you have a CSA (or are an avid marketeer), your fall produce bounty falls somewhere in between a manageable amount for immediate eating and concerted purchases of boxes of produce for canning. During harvest time, CSAs slip extra produce in the boxes, or finish off certain crops that cannot withstand the colder temperatures. Markets are offering deals on baskets of vegetables. Many people (as I did recently) will find themselves with 10 bell peppers in their CSAs — too much to eat at once, and not enough for an all-day canning project. It’s probably not worth using your huge kettle canner for what is probably a maximum yield of 1-2 jars of pickles. This is when the Kuhn Rikon is your friend. Today, I put up 1.5 pints of pickled sweet peppers. Tomorrow, it will be a jar of giardiniera with a scattering of random hot peppers, carrots, bell pepper and cauliflower. I expect a mini-glut of green tomatoes, so 1 or 2 pints of picalilli are in my future as well. You can make this task a one-pot deal. Sterilize the jars in the pot, dump the water, put together a brine in the same pot, and by the time your jars are filled with produce, the warm brine is ready to top off the jars. Fill the pot again with water, and by the time it comes to a boil, you’ll have finished preparing your one or two jars for the canner. Not having to wait all day for a huge pot to boil is exactly what makes the task of small-scale pickling bearable.