Whether we want to admit it or not, summertime is winding down. My sister has been back teaching for 3 weeks, Miss Butterfly started first grade (!) this past week, the sunlight looks different each day & indeed the days are getting shorter. Before too much longer, my summer Saturday ritual of going to the Farmer’s Market will be coming to an end for another year. As winter returns, I may not have the market to look forward to each week but I have been busy preserving a bit of summertime to enjoy in the coming months.
From almost the first trip to the farmer’s market in May, I have been “putting up” some produce. The first preservation was rhubarb – I have at least 8-10 cups of sliced rhubarb in my freezer. As I mentioned earlier this summer, most of my Michigan blueberries have been frozen for future use. (Although one pint was used to make a lovely blueberry infused vodka.) One of the farmer’s at the market features large bunches of basil for a couple of weeks – so the basil has been turned into pesto & awaits in the freezer to provide a bit of summer green throughout the coming months.
Until this summer, freezing was the only summer preservation that I had done on my own. When I came across a recipe for Apricot Jam with Riesling a few weeks ago I thought that would be a good way to try my hand at canning. Instead of apricots, I picked up my favorite golden plums at the market. I picked up some cute jars and made jam one Sunday afternoon. Surprisingly, I didn’t have any Riesling at home so I went with a Gewurztraminer instead. After standing over the hot stove & stirring the bubbling pot, I ended up with about 5 cups of jam – 3 cups of Golden Plum Gewürztraminer Jam were canned. I ended up putting the cans through a hot water bath – the pop…pop…pop…pop…pop…pop of the jars sealing once they were out of the water bath was a sweet sound indeed.
With 6 jars empty and some golden plums left over I decided to make another batch of jam. This one I think bottled the summer sunshine, I call it Sweet Sunshine Jam – it is the Golden Plum Gewürztraminer with peaches, nectarines and a splash of vanilla extract in it.
As I had success with my first foray into canning I starting searching online for other possibilities. I stumbled across the Canning Across America site and discovered that this was their kick-off weekend of spreading the word about canning and preserving. With nothing on my calendar for the weekend, I decided that I would have my own “Canvolution” in the kitchen. The weather forecast was for an unseasonably cool Saturday – perfect for “slaving” over a hot stove. On their site were 2 recipes that I decided to give a try: Sugar Plums in Syrup & Mixed Summer Pickles.
I remember Artisan Mom canning plums when we were younger – while the plums were delicious, my favorite part was the lemonade that she would always sweeten with the plum juice once a jar was opened. In keeping with my tradition of using recipes as a starting point, for my plums I added a bit of vanilla to the syrup & also had a cinnamon stick in the pot as the syrup came together. Since I had more syrup than jars of plums, I have put the leftover syrup in the fridge to use for sweetening iced coffee/frappes in the coming weeks.
For the summer pickles, I used green beans, carrots (orange, white & purple) & cauliflower. Each jar has a clove of garlic in it. Most of the jars have a combination of mixed peppercorns, mustard seeds and celery seeds. In one jar of cauliflower, I used curry powder and red chili flakes – attempting to recreate the pickled veggies from a local kabob place.
Since I was already venturing to w-mart to get the pint canning jars, I decided to pick up another flat of jam jars. Next in the jars this weekend was Spiced Tomato Jam. Last summer I made Mark Bittman’s Tomato Jam and thoroughly enjoyed it on steak, on sandwiches and on veggies. For canning, I merged elements of that recipe with another recipe that I stumbled upon and used an assortment of beautiful tomatoes. 6 small jars of tomato jam are ready for cooler months. The rest of the jam is in the fridge to be used this week.
This morning I pulled the remaining blueberries from the fridge and filled 3 jars with Blueberry Jam using this recipe. There are still 3 jars from the flat that are empty but I think they will remain that way for the time being.
For now, the canning is done. I now need to rearrange the pantry shelves for storing these bits of summer for use in the cooler months ahead. I still have a flat of pint jars – instead of dealing with the returning the jars I think I will hold onto them for later this fall – I normally put up applesauce in the freezer, this year I think it will be in jars!