I am heartbroken to hear of all the poor Apple crops that suffered this year due to the droughts that ravaged Ontario. This means that so many of our beautiful, Ontario grown Apples won't be making it into my September Season of Fall Preserves! But the ones that remain surely will and hopefully, they're be extra delicious to make up for their lost brethren.
Although summer is long gone, almost in a flash, sitting all over my living room floor are tiny jars of brightly coloured jams and jellies, hiding away inside of them memories of the summer and tastes that bring you right back there...
The first step in preserving is a trip to your local farmers market. It might be easier to go to the grocery store and buy all your ingredients that way but trust me - your end product will be lacking in the fresh, authentic tastes that local goods, grown by Ontario farmers really have.
Suss out what's in season and buy it up on bulk. Canning is a long process and you might as well do a whole bunch of batches instead of one small one since it will pretty much take up the same amount of time. Don't plan out what recipes you want to make until you get to the Market. Sometimes the corn just won't be what you'd expected or the raspberries will be gone by the time you get there. Let the catch of the day be what inspires you and once you're home, lay out your treasures on the table to see what delicious treats you can whip up.
My latest canning endeavour produced savory and sweet treats! Blueberry raspberry jam, cherry amaretto preserves, apricot peach jam, traditional strawberry jam, habanero peach salsa, hot pepper jellies, tomato sauces, dilly beans and the classic batch of spicy dill pickles!
My favourite trick that goes along with my favourite recipe is my homemade cherry pitter for my Cherry Amaretto Preserves. Pitting cherries is the most difficult part of recipe and if you don't have a professional cherry pitter it's usually quite the chore. But I made my own right here at home! Take a regular fork and using a pair of pliers - bend down the two prongs on either end . Then, bend just the tip the middle prongs to a 90 degree angle so they act like little hooks to dig the cherry pit out without wasting precious cherry goodness.
Hook the tip of the fork into the top or bottom of the cherry and pressing your thumb against the cherry, slide the pit out with the cherry pitter. Easy as pie!
Once all your cherries have been pitted, break them up a bit with your hands. Next add them to a large pot with lemon juice. Cook gently on medium heat until the cherries start to simmer - STIR CONSTANTLY! You don't want these babies to burn!
While the cherry are cooking, you can sterilize your jars. (See Below)
Once the cherries have cooked (about 30 mins on medium heat), add in the sugar and once that's dissolved pour in your Amaretto! Cook for another 15 mins on Med-High until the jam doesn't run on a frozen plate (classic jam readiness check!)
Poor your mixture into the sterilized jars and place them in the water bath to preserve for consumption during the rest of the year!
*I realize these instructions are pretty vague - check out foodinjars.com for comprehensive instruction, recipes and inspirations!
More process pictures of my weekend of canning!
Hauling fresh strawberries is one of the most wonderful smelling jobs in the world. I will admit a popped a few of this little devils into my mouth before they even made it to the pot...
All in all, I could have made more but time hasn't been on my side and this was all I could muster for the summer. But some of my jobs are finishing up and Fall is looking like prime preserving time! Apple butters here we come!
*All Photos were taken by the magnificent Dan Lytwyn