My Preserving Adventures

by Meg Cotner on July 25, 2011

This season I’ve been preserving often, and that makes me very happy. The processes are fun, and I love the idea of having food on the shelves/in the fridge that I can enjoy when the food in its natural state would be past its prime. I plan to continue preserving food throughout the summer – my next big project will be canning tomatoes in August or September.

Earlier this year, I was taken by this DIY handbook published by the NY Times. I ended up making Vin d’Orange and Maple Vinegar. I’ve been enjoying the Vin d’Orange all summer, and it really just screams “warm weather” to me. I drink it mixed with sparkling water and it’s very refreshing.

vin d'orange brewing

Vin d'Orange brewing

I also made the maple vinegar, which is pretty good. It’s made of raw cider vinegar, maple syrup, and rum. It still has a bit of an alcohol kick to it, which is a bit odd. Still, it’s fantastic as part of a vinaigrette on salad. That’s my favorite way to use it.

As far as this DIY handbook, I still have plans to make the tomato chili jam and the kimchi. I’ve used up most of my preserved lemons, so I’ll need to make some of those again soon.

Apart from that, I’ve made apricot jam from the apricots off the backyard tree. I used a very basic jam recipe, and added some organic orange zest to it. I love that addition. I think in a lot of jams and preserves, the addition of orange is a wonderful flavor contribution.

apricot jam

Apricot jam

As I wrote before, strawberry lemon preserves were made at my home, as part of an event put together by my CSA. I was fortunate to be the recipient of a jar of these preserves by AJ.

The spicy cherry preserves I made are simply amazing. I love the combination of sweet-tart-spicy, and these cherries really deliver on this. I liked the half pint I made so much that I bought more sour cherries at the greenmarket and made another pints’s worth of sour cherry preserves! The cherries with some syrup mixed with sparkling water make for a nice, barely sweet soda.

I also used some of the sour cherries for a liqueur, which is coming along quite well.

I’ve started experimenting with simple syrups and made a very tasty mint simple syrup with the mint on my back deck.

With the last of the first yellow plums of the season, I made plum shrub syrup, which turned out beautifully. I like it in sparkling water, though it could be added to a wheat beer with pleasant results, especially if you like sour beers (I do).

If it’s not evident in this post, I’ll just say it – I love vinegar. So, I’ve made some vinegar pickles out of snap peas. They are very good, but I think next time I’ll make them spicier.

snap pea pickles

Snap pea pickles

I even did some short term preservation with the peaches and nectarines that were really ripe – sorbet! I sweetened it with sucanat and used a bit of the maturing sour cherry liqueur, and it turned out just so well. Sucanat – an unrefined sweetener – turns things a bit dark, but I’ll sacrifice a little bit of aesthetic beauty for something sweet that doesn’t mess so intensely with my blood sugar.

Lacto-fermented dilly beans are on the schedule for this week, which I’m really looking forward to making.

So, that’s a run down of my preserving activities!  What have you been preserving this season?

This post is participating in Fight Back Friday, hosted by Food Renegade.

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