Monday, June 20, 2011

more adventures in preservation

Mark and I have taken to canning and preservation like fish to water. I'm excited to continue to can each week as the harvest starts to appear in our CSA box and in the store/farmer's market. For various reasons including quality and the welfare of workers who pick our out of season tomatoes in this country, we are going to try to can as many fresh tomatoes as we can handle this year so as to try to not have to buy a fresh tomato in the store during the winter (and to give up eating fresh tomatoes on salads and sandwiches during that time as well). We also hope to can plenty of other veggies, sauces, salsas, and fruits as the season progresses.

Canning for us is a first step in trying to eat more locally, as well as a part of our continued efforts to give up chemically processed foods and eat organically. It also is special to me because I have a lot of memories of canning from growing up. I feel like in some small way I'm honoring my grandma's memory by canning like she would. (Come apple season I will be making some applesauce, mark my words.)

Anyway, we got more strawberries in our CSA this past week, so we made a half batch of strawberry lemon marmalade. (Recipe from the Ball Blue Book. Our copy is already sticky. Is that a good sign?)

Now that we're starting to have piles of jars in our dining room, we had to make a shelving area in our basement for the jars to be stored in a cool, dark place. Each time we can something, I'll take a photo of how the shelf is filling up to show our progress. Coming up later this week, cherry jam, dill pickles, and bread and butter pickles. (OK, the pickles aren't really sweet, and will be the first savory type thing I'll feature here, but as canning will be the name of the game in the summer, I'm going to include them.)

In the store so far, 9 half-pints of strawberry jam and 4 half-pints of strawberry lemon marmalade.

Monday, June 13, 2011

strawberry jam forever

Our CSA had flats of strawberries available this week, so we took advantage of them and filled our fridge with quarts of farm fresh berries. You just can't buy berries in the store that taste like berries straight from the farm. Tiny little buds filled with sweetness and ripened on the vine. Drool.

We had so many that we decided to try our hand at canning strawberry jam through the method we learned at a canning and preserving class we took at CCAC. (If only I would have paid attention as a child when my mom and grandma would can in the summers!) So we used the recipe in the Ball Blue Book for regular strawberry jam and got to it!

(Dutch oven of jam cooking down, stock pot of sterile jars, canning pot full of boiling water makes for a very full stovetop.)

So then what do you do when you have one leftover quart of ripe strawberries? You make shortcake.

There is a test in my family when someone is first given the family shortcake, to see if they are a Freeman or not. Mark is not a Freeman. Here is his non-Freeman shortcake. Notice the element that makes it "not Freeman."

I, on the other hand, am a Freeman. A strawberry shortcake purist who thinks the gift of the shortcake and fresh berry topping needs to be enjoyed unadulterated. Behold, the best summer dinner in the world.