With the abundance of beautiful ripe fruits and vegetables seems to come the overwhelming need (or, sometimes, guilty conscience) to preserve said produce and save it from over-ripening and being destined for the garbage bin... Couple that general urge (or guilt) with two super-preservers (yep... I mean you, Heather and Amanda) and this wannafoodie got her butt kicked thoroughly into preserving gear.
My first foray into preserving was last summer with my good friend Heather. She and her husband turned their thumbs green and yielded a corner garden full of lovely things. In particular, there was a great abundance of green beans. And Heather and I, being Heather and I, thought immediately of amazing spicy pickled beans to adorn our caesars. The whole escapade was fraught with squeals of uncertainty, splashes of vinegar and several large jars of (pickling) beans.
This year, I was regaled with tales of Heather's preserving (including some incredible tasting apple butter) and Amanda's days of preserving her and her boyfriend's produce. I was inspired. And, thus, I got to work.
Pictured (from left to right): Hibiscus Syrup, Carrot Jam, Bread and Butter Pickles, Corn Relish, Spiced Golden Plum Jam, Peach and Onion Chutney, Spicy Pickled Beans, Dill Pickles, Spicy Dill Pickes, Silk Road Dill Pickles, Pickled Carrots.
I bought myself a silicone oven mitt (that I used in place of proper jar tongs) and a new Preserving cookbook (Preserving by Pat Crocker, which I think is absolutely fantastic). Otherwise, I used a silicone trivet at the bottom of a regular stock pot to function as my proper canning pot. Nothing extravagant!
Pickles... Just vinegar, salt, pickling spice, dill and garlic. Oh yeah... and cukes!
Golden plums destined for simmering with garam masala... amazing over creamy brie cheese!
Sweet peaches, lemon and orange zest... cooked down with onions and spices for a beautiful chutney.
Closer photos of Hibiscus Syrup, Spiced Golden Plum Jam, Bread and Butter Pickles, and Corn Relish.
Pickles, pickles, pickles!
And the whole yield again!
What I have learned...
- Preserving isn't nearly as hard as I thought it might be...
- I really don't need to own a canning pot.
- Silicone accessories seem to work as well as proper tongs and racks might.
- I can turn $80-$100 of produce and supplies into $300+ worth of preserves.
- The steam from the sterilizing and canning process did a fantastic number in cleaning my stove top and overhead fan.
- That if a "jam" doesn't set, I can always call it a "glaze."
- If a "jelly" doesn't jell, I can always call it a "syrup."
- There is a feeling of complete pride in setting out all of your jars for your "glory shot."
- There are always friends and family eager to share in the fruits of your labour.