Frugal Green Living: Preserving the Harvest

Preserving the Harvest: Making Strawberry Jam

I finally did it. I got up the courage to actually do the cooking and processing necessary to make strawberry jam. Of course, once I had bought the basket of strawberries at the farmers' market, there was no backing out because it's just too many strawberries for two people to eat. Before I did my advance posts on preserving techniques, the equipment and the procedure, I found the whole exercise a bit daunting. The possibility of poisoning my family with botulism has always been the big deal breaker for me in preserving. I remember my mother making chili sauce once when I was a kid and she was so worried about the safety of the preserves, she threw the whole batch out without letting anyone taste it. But once I read through the steps carefully I realized that it really isn't hard to do at all. I decided that I would undertake this little experiment at the cottage where there was nothing to distract me. ::More at Planet Green

Preserving the Harvest: Caramelized Red Onion Relish

After my initial worries about preserving food, I have decided that I quite like doing it. My cupboard is starting to fill up with those jars and I'm feeling quite the little homemaker. Since I made my strawberry jam, I have made saskatoon berry jam from the saskatoons I got at the farmers' market and yesterday I made a foray into relish making. As usual, I was looking for something easy to make and I found it in this caramelized red onion relish. It looked like something I could whip up on a rainy afternoon without too much trouble and it was really delicious. The recipe only makes 2 cups and it says it's so good that you won't keep the jars long enough to need the processing, just stick it in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. I doubled the recipe, so I did process it, but I see the author's point, it could be quite addictive. ::More at Planet Green

Preserving the Harvest: Green Bean Pickles

It's not like I had such an abundance of produce from my garden that I was forced to put up pickles. But I've decided that I really like this preserving business, and I like lining up those little jars and seeing the fruits of my labour. I'm getting quite a cupboard full. I wanted to try my hand at pickles and given the fact that the only really successful crop in my garden was the green beans, that's what I had to work with. ::More at Planet Green

Preserving the Harvest: Green and Red Pepper Relish

Now that I'm becoming so adept at canning and preserving, I'm starting to build up a little pantry of food stuffs. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to look at all those jars lined up, ready to eat. It makes me think about my great-grandmothers and how they must have felt making sure there were plenty of provisions for their families over the winter. Of course, I'm doing small batch preserving, so the Strawberry Jam is gone, the Red Onion Relish is almost a memory as are the pickled green beans and it's still summer. Maybe there was more to keeping the preserves in the basement than food safety. It's so easy to reach into the cupboard in the sunny kitchen and open another jar of jam. But you really have to want that jam to brave the dark, creepy cold room where nobody but Granny enters unafraid, thereby ensuring that the stock of provisions lasts through the winter. ::More at Planet Green

Preserving the Harvest: Pears

Last week my kitchen counter looked like a booth at the farmers' market. As usual, I'd bought more fruit and vegetables than we could possibly eat. I had a basket of peaches, a basket of pears, a basket of tomatoes, a basket of heirloom tomatoes, a basket of green beans, a small basket of blackberries, a basket of purple grapes and a basket of potatoes. In the refrigerator, my vegetable crisper contained hedgehog mushrooms, blue chanterelle mushrooms, peacock kale, beets, carrots, patty pan squash, red peppers, lettuce and arugula. This is the conundrum I face when by buying local and in season. Everything is piling up on me at harvest time, but when you aren't going to get fresh blackberries for another year, how can you possibly resist? ::More at Planet Green

Tags: Cooking | Farmers Markets | Local Food | Planet Green

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