Spring is definitely in the air this week! This photo is from one of my favorite days in California two years ago. It reminds me of sweet sunshine. And a blogger’s thoughts turn away from knitting and to bike riding and canning…
I’ve moved to just outside of Manhattan, away from the beautiful hills and lakes of Morris County. I do have a 2+ mile paved multi use path behind my area, and I can see myself biking up and down next to the Hackensack River.
I am also reflecting on last season’s canning efforts. Here’s the tally:
Peach chutney (nearly all gone – given away as the chutney was really too sweet for me)
Bruschetta (small jars gone, several larger jars left)
Tomato Sauce (2 kinds) (several jars left)
Peach salsa (several large jars left – my husband loved this, but the texture was a little off for me)
Garlic and dill pickles (gone – my sister and father ate these. Comments were that the taste was fantastic, but that they were not perfectly crisp)
Blueberry Almond Mango sauce (a couple jars left – mostly used as gifts)
Raspberry Nectarine jam (nearly all gone)
Raspberry with Chambord jam (I made 4 or 6 jars, and they didn’t seal properly. Still have no idea why. I froze them instead, intending to use them as filling in a Christmas cake. Christmas found me in Ohio last year, so the jam went to use on toast throughout January and February)
Peach with Lavendar honey jam
Blueberry honey jam
Cherry vanilla jam
Carmel Pear Jam
Halved peaches in lite honey syrup
Halved peaches in lite honey syrup with vanilla
I still have plenty of canned peaches left, but I’ve been a miser about opening the jars. I wound up with something like 40 lbs of peaches last year and wracked my brain to come up with different ways to use them. I wish I had just canned them halved instead. It really is summer in a jar to have these throughout the year. I can’t tell you how much better they taste than commercially canned peaches.
I also have about 2 cases of jam left of the 8 or so that I made. I still have frozen New Jersey blueberries that were intended for jam jars. I froze them early in the season and then everything else took over. After Lent (perhaps for Easter), I think I’ll make some kind of blueberry cake or pie to use them up. Or maybe make my own blueberry syrup? I love blueberry syrup for pancakes and waffles (whole wheat, of course) and have been so disappointed to see corn syrup as a top ingredient in so many brands.
Plans for this year – I really want to pressure-can, mostly as a way of figuring out how to can vegetarian soups. We make so many soups and wind up freezing them, which is fine, but then takes up space in the freezer until we eat them, and then are also a little more difficult to reheat. I also found a mushroom gravy recipe that I LOVE (from Vegan with a Vengeance) and I’d love to be able to can it somewhere along the process to simplify production time when I actually want it.
I should simplify my jam plans a bit. The pear was my least favorite, probably because of the labor involved in peeling and coring over a hundred tiny pears! I’d like to streamline a bit of the varieties – like maybe make one kind of raspberry, one kind of peach, etc. I do plan to strain my raspberries this year. The seeds annoyed me just a little too much when I was eating it. The cherry vanilla was a surprise hit. I couldn’t find any recipes using sweet cherries, so I made it up on my own, and the taste and texture were fantastic. I actually used a food processor to chop the cherries. I’d love to try a triple berry jam. And then of course it depends on the fruit I find. The tomatoes from my inlaws’ farm made far superior sauce than the stuff I bought at the local produce market. The peaches were from North Carolina via Amish country Ohio, so if I don’t find myself there in late July again, I’m not sure where I’d get them from. I need to find some local sources.
Last year, I skipped making pesto because I still had plenty frozen from the previous year. I am learning that my diet has really changed a lot over the past few years. I no longer eat copious amounts of pasta (requiring pesto and endless tomato sauce). My number one use for the pesto I made is added to roasted asparagus. I have a small, sunny back deck now, and plan to try to grow some of my own basil.
Overall, things are good. I feel like I am well-integrating my craftiness with my lifestyle. Every day I wear at least one handmade piece of clothing/accessory, though this is easier in winter with my collection of fabulous scarves. And nearly every day, I eat something I canned or froze during more abundant months. It really is making a difference in the quality of my life.