Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Preserving Summer

As August begins to wind down here in Southern Ontario, the corn is high in the fields, the back to school ads are on TV, and the Canadian National Exhibition opened its doors in Toronto this weekend, but beyond this the best way to tell that the summer is coming to a close is to look for the Mason jars. I know personally my kitchen has been full of them for at least two weeks now.

Somehow the notion that in the midst of winter I can pull out pickled vegetables, jam preserves, or roasted red peppers without strange additives makes the impending cold Canadian weather seem a bit more bearable.  While pickling and canning isn't exactly knitting, I think that it really reflects the same sensibilities for me.  It is a link to my heritage, to the generations before me who did these sorts of activities out of necessity rather than the sheer joy of it.  I grew up making home made tomatoe sauce every August in the traditional Italian way.  My family does it less and less these days with busy schedules and myriad children running about, but I do help Mr. Frogged's family every year and in both instances the feeling of belonging, and of collaborating together on something that provides for everyone is a feeling that you only get with home-made things, be that knitting, spinning, cooking, or canning.  So in preservng the flavours of summer, I am also preserving tradition and preserving memories, for it will be these moments that I will continue to speak of when I am old. 

This year in particular I purchased some 12 L of peaches (really, I cannot explain how they measure these solid items by the litre, it baffles me enirely), 4 L of pickling cucumbers, 12 L of beetroots, and a bagful of red bell peppers. 

That first night I knuckled down to making my peach and ginger jam.  Following a simple ratio of 1lb of fruit, 1 cup sugar, and 1 tbsp lemon juice I make my jam with no added thickening agents.  Bearing in mind that this was merely my third foray into jam-making it went very well, except, of course for the fact that I ran out of jam jars which is how I explain the two large mason jars FULL of jam in my basement.  Nevermind, it still works just fine.  I like the peach-ginger combo because it's versatile and can be used sweet or savoury. 

Next we made pickles from the wee little cucumbers.  I used a cold pack method in which the cucumbers are packed into the jars tightly and then the hot salt and vinegar brine is poured over them before they are closed, causing the jars to seal as they cool. 

About a bowlful of pickles didn't fit into the jars, so I decided to put them covered in a bowl in the fridge.  Let's just say that they turned out to be so delicious that I bought two more baskets of them so they would last the whole year.  Since the larger cucumbers were cheaper, we now have sliced cucumbers pickling also - perfect for burgers. 

The larger pickles get a bath....

Slice 'em, Dice 'em, Fill 'em, Dill 'em...
Packed in like...pickles...

Ding!  They're done!

We also pickled beets which I think are the most tedious things to pickle since they require peeling, and slicing, and then boiling in brine....but SOOO worth it.  Yum!  The best part is that they are immediately ready to eat.  In fact, I ate some just tonight. 

Ready, set, PICKLE BEETS!

And lastly, we roasted, peeled and froze red bell peppers.  I love pulling them out in the middle of winter and having a taste of summer. 

As you can plainly see, my knitting time has been taken up a bit but I am faithfully working on a crochet blanket, and my Frilly Filly Scarf and I will post soon with all the knitting and crocheting updates. 

 So in the meantime, happy summer and happy crafting!

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you Mrs Frogged, you have inspired me to make fresh summer fruit jam! I might venture away from my sewing 50's vintage style dresses to make time to cook and can.