Capturing garden vegetables at their best for year-round enjoyment.
Pickling is one of the oldest and most inexpensive methods of preserving foods. Families would gather over mounds of vegetables and huge steaming pots, producing savory and delicious pickles and chutneys. Home pickling is now enjoying a resurgence, as the cost of food and the desire to know where and how foods are prepared increases.
These wonderfully inventive recipes feature modern methods and equipment in accordance with the latest food-safety standards. The book also includes classic and unusual international ingredients. Newcomers to the art will find step-by-step techniques and details of specific equipment needs.
Enjoy wonderful foods year round with recipes such as:
The author specifies manageable sizes for average households, and there are serving suggestions and quick recipes for dishes that use the preserves for top flavors.
Jennifer MacKenzie is a professional home economist with 15 years' experience in recipe development and testing. She is also a canning competition judge.
In the days before enormous supermarkets, where you can now get almost any ingredient any day of the year, preserving the harvest (during the harvest) was the only way to assure you would have fruits and vegetables to nourish your family through those long months between crops. Agricultural technology, transportation and refrigeration have changed our lifestyles dramatically. The need to preserve our own food has been eliminated, yet there is still great satisfaction in taking freshly harvested produce and turning it into delicious pickles, chutneys, salsas, relishes, salsas ... the list goes on.
I was lucky to grow up with a mom who taught me the joys of canning preserves. Each summer we would trek to farm stands to load up on cucumbers and take over the kitchen with the production of Aunt Thelma's Bread-and-Butter Pickles -- a must to accompany grilled cheese sandwiches -- carefully slicing, salting and pickling those fresh cucumbers. Later in the summer there were baskets of peppers and tomatoes to create The Family Chili Sauce in preparation for the Christmas Eve tourtiÃ¨re (in our family, you can't have one without the other!). Some years there were pickled beets; one year we got a gorgeous bushel of the most flavorful peaches from a farm on a trip to Niagara, and we made pickled peaches to share with everyone! Once salsa came into fashion, we embarked on many creations to use up those bushels of tomatoes, chile peppers and other zesty ingredients. And to this day, I can't eat a store-bought chutney or tomato sauce without wishing it was one I'd made myself.
I like to buy as much local food as possible, but where I live, in south-central Ontario, that means a bounty between June and October and slim pickings for fresh produce the rest of the year. By buying the produce in season and turning it into savory preserves, not only do I support local agriculture, but I have an array of delicious foods to use all year long and to give to family and friends. Preserving is certainly a wonderful way to support local farmers or use up the produce you've grown in your own garden and, in turn, reduce your carbon footprint by reducing "food miles." And if you've made it yourself, you know exactly what you're eating. As well, in-season food is considerably more economical than foods imported throughout the year, and homemade preserves are much less expensive than commercially prepared ones.
That said, I do take advantage of exotic foods to incorporate international flavors into my repertoire. They may not be local, but you can take advantage of seasonality in other countries when mangos are bountiful and on sale by the case, or fragrant pineapples call to you at the grocery store, or you want to create more exotic savory preserves.
Yes, it can seem like a lot of work, and sometimes, about two-thirds of the way through a bushel of tomatoes, I wonder what I've gotten myself into, but there is nothing more satisfying than popping open a lovely jar of homemade pickles or chutney or chili sauce, knowing that each ingredient was prepared by hand and the freshness of the harvest is captured beneath that lid -- it's absolutely worth it.
I hope these recipes will inspire you to embrace the joys of home canning, and I'm sure your friends and family will happily embrace the fruits (and vegetables) of your labors.
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