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?

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Signs of the Season: Rhubarb Muffins

In addition to asparagus and chives, rhubarb is a springtime favorite around these parts.  A super hardy plant, it can be found growing in a wide range of places from abandoned lots to the most pampered gardens.  Its been a constant in many prairie gardens for years; as it can tolerate some of Southern Alberta’s toughest conditions.

It is one of the first perennial plants to pop up in the garden and perhaps one of the most beautiful.  I love watching it grow and change every day in the spring- what starts out as a few curled up yellow leaves poking out of the ground soon springs open into a mass of leafy abundance.  The tart, celery-like stalks can be used for muffins, pies, crisps, jams, chutneys and can even be simply stewed and put on your morning oatmeal or your midnight ice cream.

My grandma has always made the best rhubarb muffins- and as soon as there was enough of the reddish-pink goodness to harvest, I braved the rain and picked some rhubarb to whip up a batch.  I didn’t have any walnuts in the cupboard so I omitted them- feel free to do the same if you are allergic or don’t have any either!

Eat ’em up fast- muffins are at their best the same day you bake ’em!  And I promise you, they won’t last long 🙂

Rhubarb Muffins

preheat oven to 350

Combine in one bowl:

  • 2 c flour (I used half white and half whole wheat)
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 walnuts or pecans, chopped

In a second bowl combine:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c oil
  • 3/4 c orange juice
  • a few pinches of orange zest
  • 1 1/4 c chopped rhubarb

Mix the 2 bowls together until batter is moist.  Portion out in muffin cups and bake for 25-30 min.
This made me 8 large muffins; but I filled the tins pretty full.

** Two notes about the leaves:

  • They are apparently quite toxic, so don’t eat them!
  • I use them as mulch in my garden- simply cut a slit half-way into the leaf and place around your tomato plants.  Keeps moisture in and weeds out!  They eventually dry out and form a nice ‘seal’ around your plant.