Putting Away the Harvest
T’is the season for cloudy skies, crisp air that bites the tips of your fingers first thing in the morning, leaves that look tie-dyed with warmer colors, a final bounty of fresh fruit from this year’s harvest and a few long days in the kitchen putting it all away.
Last weekend it was blueberry jam, the weekend before that, jalapeno pickles, garlic oil and lavender infused spirits. Each week now, as I look through my Full Circle order, I am considering what can be canned, preserved, frozen or dried; turned into something I will treasure in the middle of winter when the fresh food and flavors are minimal.
Preserving foods at home is a tradition most grandmothers are well versed in, but younger generations have all but abandoned it for easier, faster, store bought alternatives. Unfortunately, with the loss of this tradition comes an increased consumption of food preservatives, artificial flavors, added sugar and over-processed and nutrient devoid foods.
While food preservation is an age old technique, with it come health, economic and taste benefits that even the youngest of generations can appreciate. The higher nutrient content and better flavor of the food going in, coupled with the ability to control exactly how “processed” your food becomes, gives homemade and naturally preserved foods an easy one up on mass produced versions.
While cans of pasta sauce and jars of jam may seem cheap as you buy them one by one, making your own will save you money in the long run too. Having good, homemade foods on hand can help encourage you and your family to get creative and use what you have on-hand instead of running off to the store when planning your meals.
So, this weekend I am preparing for a frenzy of blackberry jam, apple butter, salsa piquante and curried green tomato sauce, and want to encourage you to try your hand at preserving some of the great goods we have at our fingertips right now. Check your Full Circle farm-to-table order and green grocery for some easy inspiration. Cabbage for sauerkraut? Tomatillos for salsa verde? Arugula for pesto?
Here are a few of the recipes I will be undertaking. Both are modifications of originals I found in Anne Gardon’s Preserving for all seasons. If you have a family favorite or special recipe I would love to hear it!
5 1/2 lbs tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 large onions
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
3 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 tbsp pickling salt
1 tsp paprika
2 limes, juice and grated peel
3 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
Combine all ingredients, except lime and coriander, in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir occasionally. Cook for 20 minutes until mixture starts to thicken. Add lime and corriander, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and seal, or let cool and pack in airtight containers and freeze.
Curried Green Tomato Sauce
2 lbs green tomatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1.4 cup butter
4 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
Saute onions in butter until soft. Sprinkle with curry powder and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Lade into hot, sterilized jars and process in boiling water for 30 minutes, or cool to room temperature and pack in airtight containers and freeze. Great on quinoa or wild rice.
*Good Food Tip: Ask your local farmers if they have “seconds” (bruised or odd-shaped fruits and veggies) that they will sell for a cheaper price. Seconds make great ingredients for canning and preserving. Buying in bulk can save you money as well. Often farmers will sell bulk quantities of apples, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers for a great deal – especially as the season comes to an end.