Monday, August 13, 2012

Preserving the harvest

Weekend harvest in preparation for making preserves

Harvesting is still going on in earnest and I have been busy making sauces and jams to capture all of the  bright flavors of summer for the bleak days of winter.  Preserving produce from your garden, farmer's market or grocery store isn't too difficult, it just takes just a few tools, a little time and willing to be creative in the kitchen.  There are recipe for pickles and jams you make in small batches and store in the refrigerator or freezer for preserving and don't require any special tools or equipment.

I made bread and butter pickles using a simple recipe from my very well used, stained copy of Cooking from Quilt Country by Marsha Adams.  I couldn't bear to throw away the leftover pickling liquid so I used it to make a jar of pickled beets.

I also made spaghetti sauce with some of this weekend's harvest from the garden along with the addition of tomatoes that I have been saving until the peppers finally got ripe.

Tomatoes, peppers,onions, eggplant and lots of fresh herbs preparing to roast on the grill.

After about an hour roasting

After roasting, it's not quite as pretty, but all the juices have concentrated and caramelized and it smells divine.  I didn't really use much of a recipe for this, except to use the vegetables that were ripe (tomatoes, sweet peppers, jalapeno, onion and eggplant) and roasted them with a bit of olive oil, fresh garlic and herbs (rosemary, oregano and basil).  I seasoned the entire lot with a little sea salt, balsamic vinegar and raw sugar to taste.  After roasting, I removed the stems from the herbs and everything went into the blender until smooth then into canning jars for processing in a water bath.

While I was in the kitchen, I also made a very simple raspberry preserve adapting a recipe from Put 'em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton.  I just adding some rhubarb that I had been saving in the freezer from this spring.

Raspberry jam cooling on the sideboard after a hot water canning bath

After a couple of weekends' work, I've filled one cupboard with pickles, relish, jam and spaghetti sauce preserved from the garden.  We still have plenty of fresh produce to come so I'm looking forward to filling up more of our pantry so I can create cozy meals this winter from the food in jars stocked in the pantry.

The pantry after a few weekends work in the kitchen

If you haven't tried your hand at making preserves before, I hope you will give it a try.  Also check out the Food in Jars website for some inspiration and recipes.

Thanks for reading!

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