Monday, 19 August 2013

Preserving the Harvest

Remember how exciting it was to prepare the soil and plant seeds and seedling just a few weeks ago? Look what has happened since! Your garden is full of vegetables waiting to be harvested. And so many at the same time. It’s OK. The library has a fantastic collection of preserving and harvesting books to get you started.

I grew up in Toronto, and had absolutely no experience in preserving food and will never forget the first time my husband and I made our first jam in our rural Vancouver Island home. A well- meaning friend arrived with a basket overflowing with plums. They were delicious, but the intent was to make jam. We sterilized equipment, found the perfect recipe, measured the ingredients carefully and created the most wonderful tasting jam. We were hooked. One thing led to another and before we realized it we were preserving vegetables from our garden, fruit from our orchard, homegrown meat and fish, honey from our bees. Our children learned to appreciate homegrown food at all times of the year. Making apple rings and applesauce together was always a happy day. Learning the proper techniques for freezing fruits and vegetables has been successful. I have been making the same recipe of dill pickles for 30 years now, and a family supper isn’t complete without them. I dehydrate most herbs, some tomatoes and some fruit. My children still prefer canned peaches though. My personal favorite is making fresh tomato sauce and pesto. Both of these flavors make me very thankful during our long winter months. 

From my experience it is good to start with small batches of a recipe.  The book Food in jars :
preserving in small batches year-round and The complete preserving book are wonderful for beginners. It is better to start with a small batch that is enjoyed rather than one your family refuses to eat. Read many preserving books, and choose a recipe with ingredients you can find locally. Local farmers have wonderful products and will help you get the fresh ingredients you need. 

Perhaps root cellaring appeals to you. Try reading the book The complete root cellar book : building plans, uses and 100 recipes. Preserving the abundance can be very rewarding. With so many tried and true recipes, it is possible to begin with a successful preserving product.  And if you would like some great information on planting food for harvest, get inspired with the book Backyard harvest.  Have fun preserving the colours, textures, tastes and smells that celebrate this time of year.

Wendy Kearnes – Outreach Services Manager

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