Zone Three Harvest 2011: Winter Preserves

The chronic war-zone appeal of my kitchen has worn all too thin around here.

I tried to get one of each in the shot, but did not succeed. Trying to transition to being at home in September and harvesting my first urban garden in years (not travelling) brought on a whole new CANdition!

I harvested so many sour Evan’s Cherries earlier in the Summer and was so pleased! “I will make pies and sauces and…” I was dreaming of little cherry sugar plums dancing in my head that I would reconstitute to true Summer vitality in the dead of our cold Northern winters when I did serve my dear husband my first Evan’s Cherry Pie. It was so beautiful and so delicious. And he liked it. A lot. He said. But it sat and sat and sat. And I ended up throwing half of it away. I never throw a pie away around here. “What was the problem?” He wasn’t sure. But, one thing I was sure of after that incident that whatever I was going to “put up” for the Winter had to be something he would actually like. And eat. And enjoy.

Or, that I would. So, here is my list, from left to right, above:

  • beautiful loose French Style Apricot Preserves: translucent lusciousness to serve at my cooking classes on steamy hot buttermilk biscuits
  • Crab Apple Sauce completely unsweetened (only apples): crab apples provided by Corey and Katherine, (two good friends I met at a Slow Food event last year) to use in baking to take the place of fat
  • Top Jar: Ajvar: my Red Pepper Caviar (I made 13 jars like this) to savour slowly with cheese and crackers while not talking at all; this is too good to be a social food
  • Black Bing Cherries in Cognac: to recall the memories of the incredible hard, black, giant flavourful cherries Teresa brought in from BC at the Italian Centre this year
  • Top Jar: glistening Apricot Syrup to use when needed a glaze for fruit tarts or layered in Winter cakes
  • Bottom Jar: Evan’s pucker perfect Sour Cherry Syrup made by macerating beautiful fresh glistening ruby cherries until they were wisened and wrinkled and had exuded their essence completely into the yummy sugar to share over ice cream or triffles
  • Big Bottom Jar: Peppy Salasa (yummy!) to get Vanja to eat all of his vegetables as this is crunchy deliciousness and we use salsa in a lot of dishes, or simply on eggs
  • Top 1/2 cup Jar: Homemade Tomato Sauce for pizza (I always have homemade tomato sauce in my freezer; this time I canned it)
  • Apricots with Thyme in a light syrup: swirling and surreal for making frangipan tarts with puffed pastry and French Tarts and decorating meat dishes
  • Bottom Jar: Sour Cherry Conserve with Walnuts (great right out of the jar as a snack!) for accompanying cheese and crackers at a cocktail party or for wolfing down with cheese as a snack
  • Top Jar: Homemade Tomato Ketchup (really delicious stuff!) which is much more nutritious and tasty than Heinz (but, a heck of a lot more labour intensive, too)
  • Bottom Jar: Red Beet Pickles because I love them
  • Top Jar: Golden Sweet and Sour Beets because I love them with fish
  • Pickled Baby Carrots: so tiny and crunchy because they are so delicious
  • Nadia’s gift of preserved roma tomatoes: aren’t they absolutely gorgeous! (and now I know how to make them)
  • On top of the tomatoes: Rhubarb Jam because I made a sticky concoction that was delicious so I canned it, too!

Not in the photo, my Evan’s Sour Cherry Liquor (for toxic enjoyment late at night) you will find below on the shelf as well as my yellow beet pickles, and other syrups and jams. We really don’t eat jams, so I made only one or two of whatever I did make.

Honestly, I kind of lost count. Let’s put it this way: What was I thinking?

And there are more in the pantry and in boxes and I haven’t done anything with our apples on the apple tree, the Slow Food Canning Day is coming up this Sunday for pickles, nor have I done my High Bush Cranberry Jelly. And, I have heaps of green tomatoes sitting here screaming: “Make me into Karlyn’s Green Tomato Chow! “

My fingers are in my ears and I am chanting: “Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na…” and I still hear them – and see them – and feel that CANpulsion that created this CANdition. Oh, What to do?

I will try to write about each of these CANfounding experiences to keep focused for awhile, so you, too, CAN enjoy the “YES, I CAN!” feeling! And, so far, Vanja likes everything – but, I am shrinking at what he will say 36 salsa jars from now….


  1. says

    That’s a serious undertaking. My strategy is to root cellar veg and start pickling in January or February + fruit goes in the freezer for jamming/syrup when things slow down in the winter. That, and I have many quarts of dried wild mushrooms, linden flowers, etc. So neat how many ways there are to skin the proverbial cat!

    • Valerie says

      Both of my freezers are full. To the top. I did freeze all of my berries: the cherries, raspberries, currants and Saskatoons. And, well, then there is the meat – and my two big bags of baking nuts and seeds and fruit and stuff. And the stand up freezer is full of my stocks and meat and veg sauces and too many other things I make and freeze as well. So, my next idea is to work on fermenting foods as a means of preservation. Vanja’s family makes their own sour cabbage: the Koreans do tons of fermenting. I am sure there is so much more to learn – but, as you know, a root cellar was out of the question as my lovely partner just put his foot down and said. “No!”, but I didn’t let that stop the inCANity. Oh, no! I found a way to forge ahead and did all this!

  2. Judy says

    Your food is talking to you now? hmmmmm :)OH my gosh, you are amazing. This all looks beautiful! Are your pots and pans having conversations too? hehe I think you need to rest! oxox

  3. says

    Valerie, you are absolutely amazing! You inspired me so much this morning. :-) I can’t wait to get to my own little home in Australia so I can start planting and harvesting and canning too. :-) Love those glistening jars of deliciousness. :-)

  4. says

    Dear Val – I am so glad to be back. Your canning is sight to behold and would put anyones except Betty Crocker or Fannie Farmers pantry to shame :)

    BTW, your mom’s meatloaf is just too awesome for words!

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  5. says

    How did I miss this? This is so cool!
    When I was a little girl, we used to live in Connecticut. We had a huge basement and my dad built tons and tons of shelving in there, but our shelves were not lined with such beautiful home made goodies from the garden (rather it was the excess: my mom used to love shopping with coupons). Your hubbs is too lucky for words!
    *kisses* HH

  6. Teri says

    I am new to preserving/canning
    — would love some receipes:) Especailly ketchup or if you have like a tomato jam receipe– thank you

    • Valerie says

      Hi, Teri,
      I will be doing tomato jam next year as I burnt my batch this year (did it ever smell delicious!)! If you go to my search window and type in homemade ketchup, my recipe and posts for both red and green ketchups will come up. Both are really yummy. I prefer the red.

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