This is the fruit of my Summer labour (of love). Over 125 jars put-up for the off-season. Although, there really isn’t an off season for preserving. I plan on making winter meyer lemon preserves, seville orange marmalade and winter squash pickles. I am addicted to the Ping! That wonderful noise that confirms your bounty will be air tight and sealed until eaten. The ping is victory! I wait in the kitchen expectantly for the ping. When I don’t get a chance to hear it, I tap the lids gently the next day to hear the telltale tinny hollow noise that confirms the seal. I had only one jar this Summer that didn’t seal properly, a jar of tomatillo salsa that is being eaten quickly from the safety of my refrigerator. My adventures is farmers market sourcing and preserving this Summer have been beyond rewarding. Why buy ketchup or relish when I could make it myself?
I went on a day-trip to the St. Jacobs Farmers Market. The rain was treacherous, but I was willing to tough it out in order to buy beautiful turban squash, ontario garlic, leeks, grassfed beef, farm fresh eggs, unpasteurized apple cider, blueberry honey and my first brussel sprouts of the season. Compared to the markets in the city, the vendors at this market had a lot of bulk bushels of just about everything available. The canner in me was ecstatic. I saw a roma tomatoes and had to have them. I bought just about 70 lbs of roma tomatoes to can. The great tomato canning of 2010 was about to begin. The lengthy process of blanching, peeling, hot water packing and 45 minute water bath made me hope and pray to hear the Ping! at the end. They pinged and I rejoiced.
I have been busy. I just started my new job. I soon hope to fall into a more normal routine that includes going to work AND making delicious dinners, preserving, walking my dog and blogging. For now, I need a few weeks to get used to the daily grind.
At work, I have been busy making agnolotti dal plin*:
At home, I have been busy pickling asparagus….
And pickling garlic scapes…
And, I won’t lie and admit I succumbed to buying another 7 litre bushel of sweet cherries from the market. I’m thinking they might need a good pickling. Pickled cherries are supposed to be delicious. We’ll see!
When you think of ketchup, you think of tomatoes.
You also think of Heinz, the #1 ketchup producer in the world.
The average American* eats THREE bottles a year. Like, woah. Three bottles. We go through one a year, maximum.
Controversy arose in my kitchen when I made a non-tomato based ketchup. No tomatoes? That isn’t ketchup! Well I am setting things straight right here and now. Ketchup does not need to include tomatoes! In fact, (and I gathered my facts from the venerable source of wikipedia), tomato ketchup gained popularity a full century after traditionally made ketchups, which refer only to a sauce with a vinegar base. Huzzah.
I had a whack of rhubarb and wanted to preserve it somehow, but didn’t want to make more jam. I came across a blog that had a year-long canning challenge, Tigress in a Jam. As jealous as I am that I am not a part of it, I am participating by making some of their delicious recipes, like the Cavalier Ginger & Rhubarb Ketchup from the blog, Laundry Etc. I had never made a ketchup before but had tasted a rhubarb ketchup at the buddha dog corn-dog stand at the farmers market on Saturday and was smitten. I had to have it in my very own pantry. So, now I do.
In three weeks, I am the proud owner of my very own homemade controversial non-tomato rhubarb ketchup. Victory!
*not sure about Canadians
I could not resist the 7 litre bushel of cherries at the farmers market. Who could? After gorging on cherries and suffering subsequent tummy aches, I decided to preserve some of them to enjoy later.
Guess what? Pitting cherries, even with my handy-dandy cherry pitter, is no…bowl of cherries. (…groan?) I am covered in cherry splash-back, my hands are purple, my cookbooks and camera are splattered.
I experimented with saving them in syrup so that I could use them as topping for yogurt, ice cream or for baking tarts later in the year. They worked out well, and are oh so beautiful.
I made cherry jam, using no-sugar needed pectin, so I didn’t have super sweet jam like the strawberry I made earlier this week.
And, I made a Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake, using a Martha recipe. I didn’t have the right pan, Martha wanted me to use a tube pan but all I had was a bundt pan, which means my streusel topping will actually be a streusel bottoming. oops. ah well.
… and…Flipped over. No one can tell, right?
Cherry Filled Coffee Cake & the Queen’s Sugar
In the cake recipe, I needed vanilla extract. I only had some crappy artificial extract left from years ago, so I used that. My lovely friend Jacqui (co-founder of the Cross Country Baking Club), gave me a jar of homemade vanilla extract a few Christmases ago. I finally used it all up and decided it was high-time I made my own. I used rum as the alcohol because I had some from a recent trip to Cuba and think it will impart a nice flavour. The 4 split vanilla beans and 1 cup of rum will take about eight weeks to become the vanilla extract we all know and love. I’ll keep you updated on its exciting and slow progress.
Day One – Vanilla Extract
The Brickworks Saturday farmers market is quickly becoming my favourite place in the city of Toronto. I have eaten the best belgian waffle of my life from the waffle bar, drank delicious coffee from the merchants of green coffee, bought beautiful tomato plants from the Evergreen garden centre and snacked on the most rich and delicious chili chocolate from Chocosol. The Brickworks is our new Saturday morning routine.
Early summer produce is now getting to market and I am fulfilling my life-long goal (yes, big dreams, big dreams) to preserve my own food. When I was a kid, my dad always preserved pickles, tomato sauce and salsa, and I have vague memories of the process but hadn’t made anything other than freezer jam since that time. I visited family in Prince Edward Island and was inspired by my great-aunt’s cold cellar and the amazing jarred tomato soup she served for lunch made of tomatoes when they were at their ripest and most delicious. What a pleasure it was to taste a summer tomato soup when it was still cold outside.
The Dunes in Prince Edward Island
I started with strawberries. I bought a flat of the ripest strawberries from the market and made 9 jars of jam. Alongside this, I made a strawberry rhubarb jam that is far more strawberry than rhubarb. The jam itself is extremely sweet, far too much sugar in the recipe, but live and learn, live and learn. Preserving, or “putting up” is a forgotten skill. Many of our grandparents preserved out of necessity, so that they had food in the leaner times of the year, we don’t need to do this anymore. We can visit the grocery store and have strawberries, albeit, watery, gross and impotent ones, all year round. Preserving the flavours of fresh food while it is at its best and reducing my dependence on the grocery store is important to me.
And I love new obsessions. This is one of them.