What unique foods do you “put up” at the end of the growing season? Which garden jewels merit jar space on your pantry shelves? Read on to learn about some of our favorites.
I love flowers, especially the edible ones! And they make their way into my preserving recipes. Lavender pairs delightfully with many fruits so I put up many jars of Peach Lavender and Cherry Lavender jam. Vibrantly colored jellies are also made from edible flowers. BouquetBanquet has recipes for Peppery Nasturtium Jelly, Dandelion Jelly (tastes like honey!), and Lavender Jelly which is excellent as a meat glaze. Use either of the last two recipes as a base from which to whip up some sweet flower jellies such as Hibiscus and Red Clover, Rose Petal, or Rose of Sharon with Honeysuckle. Try these on pound cake, ice cream, or in crepes with ricotta cheese.
Pickles, chutneys, and salsas are important to us as we enjoy charcuterie and cheese boards. Over the years we’ve narrowed cucumber pickles down to Amish Garlic Sweet Dill (which covers just about all the traditional flavors in one pickle) and Pepper Pickles made with jalapeno peppers. We also make a generous amount of bright red Cinnamon Pickles with fermented cucumbers and lots of cinnamon oil. My fermenting crocks permanently smell of cinnamon from making so many of these. Dilly Beans are a favorite in the middle of winter. We use a broad wax bean called Gold of Bacau which stays firm yet tender through the canning process. Dilled cucumber relish is a must for burgers. Hot Salsa and sweeter Peach/Tomato/Pear Salsa bring summer back to life after the tomato season is over. Cherry Chutney sparkles with pork entrees and on the cheese board.
Tomatoes crown the canning season (as well as the dehydrating we do). We preserve them into:
- Tomato Basil Soup
- Diced Tomatoes
- Spaghetti Sauce
- Various salsas
- Spicy Tomato Jam
Sweet Onion Jam isn’t made with tomatoes but it pairs quite deliciously with cheese. Our dehydrated tomatoes and tomato powder fill glass jars just waiting for moisture to reinvigorate them as paste, sauce, or in stews for a burst of sweet tomato flavor during winter.
Lots of fruits get canned in our house as we have a couple of sour cherry bushes, while Japanese Wineberries and wild blackberries grow along our woods edge. A neighboring farmer is the peach and apple expert – many bushels of his produce ends up in our pantry. Our own concord grapes and pears round out our local fruit. In addition to jams and jellies, they end up in jars as juice, fruit butter or sauce, pie filling, shortcake topping, and sliced fruit. Lots of them end up dehydrated or frozen as well.
With the help of a pressure canner, homemade stews and soups line the shelves ready for spur of the moment meals. Being able to make and can our own bone broth from the animals we raise greatly increases the depth of flavor in these preserved foods as well as what we make from scratch during the year. While we primarily freeze green beans, we always can a case of late purple bush beans because it tenderizes them. An overabundance of winter squash cans up nicely when there are too many to winter store before we’d use them.
These are the jeweled jars that line our shelves: orange, red, green, yellow, purple, beige, pink, and brown. Some, like the peaches, pears, and apples, taste similar from year to year because we use the same varieties and the same recipes. Others, anything made with tomatoes, are a bit like making craft wine. The varieties ripening at any point in time can vary dramatically, changing the flavor and color of each batch of preserved food. And every year there’s something new to try. What will you put up this year?