Back in June I attended a workshop put on by Young Urban Farmers CSA and facilitated by chef, food activist, and writer Joshna Maharaj. I'd like to share the recipes we used to save summer flavours for the long winter months ahead. The benefits go beyond merely enjoying great tasting food when nothing is growing outside; by doing your own canning, you avoid purchasing products at the supermarket, which means...
- you decide exactly what goes into the preserve, and more importantly what doesn't
- you can use local ingredients from the farmers' market, your backyard garden, your CSA share, or another source of food grown close to home
- you take back control of your food - let's be honest, canning is a skill everyone should know!
Let's start at the very beginning of the growing season with asparagus.
Makes 2 x 500ml jars
30 asparagus spears
1/3 cup coarse salt
2 quarts cold water
1 2/3 cups white vinegar
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 1/2 teaspoons dill seed
1 white onion, sliced into rings
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
2 sprigs fresh dill
1. Trim the cut end of the asparagus spears and cut them into 3" lengths. Place them in a large bowl with 1/3 cup salt and cover with water. Let stand for 2 hours. Drain and rinse under cool water and pat dry.
2. Sterilize two pint-sized wide mouth jars in simmering water for 5 minutes. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, sugar, 1 tsp of salt, mustard seeds, dill seeds, and onion rings. Bring to a boil, and boil for one minute.
3. Pack the asparagus spears, tips up, in the hot jars, leaving 1/2" of space below the neck. Tuck one dill sprig into each jar and sprinkle in 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes. Pour hot pickling liquid into the jars, filling to within 1/4" of the neck. Wipe rims with a clean damp cloth, and seal with lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
4. Cool to room temperature. Check seals when cool by pressing the centre of the lid. They should not move. Label and date; store in a cool dark place. If any jars have not sealed properly, refrigerate and eat within two weeks.
Moving ahead a few weeks past asparagus season, strawberries begin to emerge in the fields.
Strawberry Freezer Jam
Makes 5 x 500ml jars
10 cups strawberries, hulled, washed, and chopped into quarters
2 cups granulated sugar
2 packages (45g each) freezer jam pectin
1. Sterilize 5 x 500ml preserving jars and lids and set aside. Place strawberries in a bowl and mash well, until berries are pulpy and liquidy.
2. Add sugar and pectin and stir well for 2-3 minutes to dissolve in strawberry mixture. Taste and adjust sweetness if necessary. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or so to make sure that pectin and sugar are completely dissolved and incorporated.
3. Fill bottles to just below the neck with jam, cover, and freeze for up to 8 months. Once jam has been thawed, you can store it in the fridge for up to 2 months.
Chinese napa cabbage, grown commercially on a limited scale in southern Ontario, is available continuously through the season. Why not make kimchi with it?
Classic Napa Kimchi
Makes 4 x 1-litre jars
1 cup + 1 tbsp coarse sea salt or kosher salt
2 litres of water
2 heads Napa cabbage, cut into 2” wedges
1 bulb garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 x 2” piece of ginger root, peeled
1/4 cup fish sauce or Korean salted shrimp
1 small daikon, peeled and grated
1 bunch of green onions, cut into 1” lengths
1/2 cup Korean chili powder
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1. Dissolve 1 cup salt in 2 litres of water. Soak cabbage in the salt water for 3 to 4 hours.
2. Combine garlic, ginger, and fish sauce or shrimp in food processor until finely minced.
3. In large bowl, combine radish, green onions, garlic mixture, chili powder, 1 tbsp salt and optional sugar. Toss gently but thoroughly. (If mixing with your hands, be sure to wear rubber gloves to avoid chili burn.)
4. Remove cabbage from water and rinse thoroughly. Drain cabbage in colander, squeezing as much water from the leaves as possible. Stuff radish mixture between cabbage leaves, working from the outside in, starting with the largest leaves to the smallest. Do not overstuff, but make sure radish mixture adequately fills leaves. When entire cabbage is stuffed, take one of the larger leaves and wrap tightly around the rest of the cabbage. Divide cabbage among 4 x 1-litre jars, pressing down firmly to remove any air bubbles.
5. Let sit for 2 to 3 weeks in a cool place before serving. Remove kimchi from jar and slice into 1" pieces. Refrigerate after opening.
Carrots and pears honour us with their presence in late summer. Bet you didn't think they went together!
Makes 4 x 250ml jars
1 1/2 cups carrots, grated using a food processor
2 cups pears, peeled and chopped finely
1 3/4 cups canned pineapple with juice
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves in a cheesecloth sack
1 package pectin
6 1/2 cups of sugar
1. Boil everything but the sugar and pectin for 20 minutes. Add pectin off heat and return to a boil.
2. Add sugar, stir, and bring to a hard boil for 60 seconds.
3. Can in 4 x 250ml jars, process for 10 minutes.
Look at what we made in less than three hours!
What's being preserved in your kitchen this year?