Workshop: Preserving your Garden for Year-round Eating

I know I have been posting about a lot of events lately- there’s just too many great things going on not to!  (and be sure to check out the other events they are hosting at the bottom of the page)

I stumbled upon this upcoming workshop, put on by the CampusRoots Community Garden Association (CRCGA) on October 26:

The CampusRoots Community Garden Association (CRCGA) is pleased to invite you to the second workshop in our series.

In this workshop, Barb Whitelaw of Saucy Ladies Inc. will demonstrate how to make Red Pepper Jelly while she covers the basics of preserving and canning. After the demonstration, Barb will answer any remaining questions you have about preserving your produce for year-round eating enjoyment.

Barb Whitelaw has owned and operated “Saucy Ladies Inc. since the year 2000. Barb started working out of her home producing 5 products and only sold at markets, Christmas shows, and craft sales. Today, she operates out of a certified kitchen and produces up to 17 different canned items as well as cabbage rolls and several flavours of perogies. She uses all fresh vegetables with no added preservatives. Each of her recipes all have their own unique flavor.

Date: Wednesday, October 26
Time: 7:00pm
Location: Details to be provided upon confirmation of registration.
Cost: Free to CRCGA members; $3 for non-members

TO REGISTER: RSVP to Leona Jacobs, CRCGA Director & Workshop Coordinator (email = jacolm@uleth.ca; please include the Subject Line: CRCGA workshop RSVP) by Tuesday, 2011 October 25.

For more information see: http://campusroots.ca

Mark your calendars for other upcoming CRCGA workshops:
November 23: Vermicomposting – Putting Worms to Work!
December: No workshop! Happy Holidays to you!
January 25: Permaculture 101

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Apple Time

Slowly but surely, it is turning into apple season here in Southern Alberta.  That is… if your tree(s) grew any apples this year.   Many trees, including my own, did not blossom this year (well, wait there were three blossoms and three apples- which the birds got first dibs on).  Was it the cool spring, the lack of blossoms, the lack of bees?  A bit scary, if you ask me, at how easily our food supply can be interrupted or put on hold due to these conditions.  I also know that there were very little to no saskatoons this year too.  I asked around and even in the Fort MacLeod area, which is usually abundant and there were none.

apple-less tree

But bee genocide (seriously) and global warming aside, some people were lucky enough to get apples this year (keep reading if you were not one of these people for an idea on how you can get some of your own for free.) And since everything seems to be late, now is the time for apple abundance.  Now that we are almost done with tomatoes (this past weekend, I canned about 20 jars of them), it’s time for apples!

I got a box from an older couple who’s apple tree faithfully produced this year- but they told me to use ’em up fast, because they start rotting from the inside out!  So, I peeled and cored them and made a nice thick applesauce.  I added a bit of honey but no sugar- and consequently, it’s still too sour to eat on it’s own, and I’m too stubborn to add more sugar.  So, I opened up the index of ye ‘ol Joy of Cooking and of course, there is a recipe for applesauce cake.  Here is the recipe.  It’s a lovely autumn-tasting cake- very dense, moist and spicy- but I would add less sugar next time. And it’s great with some ice cream!  Afterwards, I packaged up the rest of the applesauce and threw it in the freezer for future winter versions of this cake.

My next batch of apples is coming soon from the Okanagan via a food co-op i belong to, and I’m also thinking of scavenging some crab apples from trees around town. I see the Hutterites do it all the time. There is certainly not a shortage of crab apples from what I’ve seen, and I’m sure people would appreciate them going to use instead of falling and rotting.  You may even be able to get your hands on some non-crab apples (check kijiji for ads or put one of your own up.)   Let’s get the fruit rescue movement going in Lethbridge, too!

So once I have the second batch of apples in possession, I think I’ll make apple juice. Liesl and Myles from this localish blog, Nest (cute eh?) have a post on Mother Earth News this week on How to make Home Made Apple Juice.  And… my favorite part- they encourage you to include the peels and seeds- which eventually get strained out but are full of nutrition and flavor.  And they even explain how to can it- cause really, one can only drink so much apple juice at a time!  I was also thinking it would be good hot as the weather cools off.

What are you busy harvesting and preserving?  Feeling burnt out yet?!  And how ’bout this nice weather we’ve been having; our whole garden is still alive and kicking with some cold frames in place for future cool days & nights.  More on that soon.

Yes I Can

Finally… the bombardment of tomatoes begins.

The grape tomatoes (Ildi) have been insane this year- we can barely keep up.   Almost every day I go out there with my apron with the front pocket, and every time, I come back with a belly full of tomatoes.  Luckily, they are so sweet, its just like grabbing a handful of candy.  I have to say, I think we’ll grow a few less of these next year- not that I don’t like them, its just, they are best fresh and I like to save some of the tomato-ey goodness by canning.  My husband was in charge of labeling the little seedlings this past spring, and I can’t say he’ll be taking on that job again next year!  We basically lost track of what was what!

Ildi and Chocolate Cherry

The chocolate cherry tomatoes are beautiful too, but I gotta say, I find the skins a little tough.  I canned a small batch of them and removed the skins.  They look really pretty in the jars.

Anyways, last week, enough of the larger, red tomatoes were ripe that it was time for some canning.  As you may know, the first week of September was HOT in Lethbridge (lovely!) and it was too hot to turn the oven inside the house.  What I usually like to do is halve the tomatoes, sprinkle them with herbs, garlic, s&p, olive oil and balsamic, and roast them in the oven, puree them, and can them.  On this particular day, I had full reign of the house; my hubby was gone and I thought, “BBQ!”  So I prepared the tomatoes (roma and duchess) as above and roasted them on the barbecue!  It was actually a lot of fun and waaay faster than the oven.  Each batch of tomatoes on the grill only took about 5 minutes.  I have a cast iron grill on my bbq- its quite thick so things don’t fall through- I am not sure how this would work with the stainless steel type.

Then I canned everything and ended up with two different types of sauce; one more of a puree as I didn’t strain out the extra juice, and one a true sauce with the juice strained out and thickened longer on the stove.  Not bad!  They definitely have some bbq essence!

I also stumbled upon this excellent post on how to preserve 100 + lbs of tomatoes with almost no work.  I LOVE #2 tomato sauce for busy people.  A no frills approach- seeds, skins, keep all that tomatoey goodness!  (except if you have the really tough skins like those chocolate cherry tomatoes!)

Round 2 of tomato sauce is coming soon- as soon as the roma’s turn red (man.. everything is so late this year!)

Preserving A Community

Chances are, you might have already seen this video.  But if you haven’t, you must watch it!  It tells the tale of Classie Parker, an urban gardener who teaches people how to can and preserve in New York city.  It reminded  me of  how lucky we are here in Lethbridge to have so much SPACE.  So use it!  Plant a garden!  And then preserve it!

I’ve been busy the past couple nights with some dill pickles and zucchini & green tomato relish.  Are you preserving your harvest?  If so, what have you been making?

The Canning Queen of the Desert from Etsy on Vimeo.

Food in Jars

I’ve been spending some time lately preserving some of the spring harvest by canning.  A while back, I stumbled upon the blog Food in Jars, and its been such a great resource.  I love Marisa’s small batch recipes that don’t require a huge investment of time or produce.  Often they give you 2 or 3 jars of jam or pickles, which is just perfect for me (there’s only so much you can eat and give away- besides, there’s too many recipes I want to try to invest so much in one go!)

Here’s what I’ve made recently:

Pickled wild asparagus
My hubby went and did one last harvest in the coulees, and then he had to leave town for about a week.  So I thought I’d surprise him by not eating it all myself and preserving it instead!  I used the Small batch refrigerator pickles recipe and blanched the asparagus first.  These are so much better than any store bought.  I had to add a little extra vinegar and this gave me 2 large jars.

Pickled Spring Onions
Having finished off a jar of the aforementioned pickled wild asparagus, I didn’t want to throw that yummy, garlicky, dilly brine away.  And the zucchini patch is slowly taking over some of my onions in the garden, so I pulled a bunch and cut the white parts into 4 or 5 inch lengths.  I packed a jar full and re-boiled the brine and added a bit of extra vinegar.  Voila!  I haven’t tried them yet but I think they’d be good chopped up in a salad, or on a cheese plate with some crackers, or maybe chopped up on a veggie burger.

Rosemary Rhubarb Jam
This one got me excited.  I’ve have a slight obsession with rosemary ever since I visited Sooke, BC where it grows in bushes and the air is filled with its scent.  I’ve had a potted rosemary plant for a few years now and its never really produced much, but I still love it (and even hung some Christmas decorations on it last year).  Its living outside for the summer, which I think is doing it well:

I like weird combinations of flavors too, and since I had plenty of each of these on hand, I had to give it a go.  I’m quite proud of the result- I like how the rosemary taste is not too over powering, but still there.  The flavor and color of this jam can only be described as earthy- it reminds me of walks in the west coast forests- makes me feel like I am in a pine forest foraging for berries!  The amount of sugar is a little more than I would like to put in a jam, but then again, rhubarb is pretty tart.  This recipe produced quite  a bit of jam, 4 jars and a bit, enough to share for sure!

Small Batch StrawberryVanilla Jam
Lots of sugar again in this one, but the lemon was a really nice surprise, and I think I will be adding it to my jams again in the future.

 

Have you preserved or canned anything this spring?  What are you favorite recipes?