After a very busy summer, I am finally getting in some time for canning, jarring and preserving some of my favorite fresh foods. This means I have to give up big chunks of my weekend days in order to put away fresh food at its best, but come December it will all be worth it.
I always start with shelled peas. I generally just add large amounts of freshly shelled peas to Ziploc bags and stick them in the freezer. Fresh (even frozen fresh) peas are so much better than the soggy version you can find pre-steamed and frozen in bags in the grocery store. They are such an amazing treat to add to your winter pastas, salads and soups.
I also like to put away corn, in the same manner. While you can precook these items before they go into the freezer, I don’t. I don’t especially know if there are pros or cons to doing it either way but have never noticed a particular reason to do it that way, and they work just fine using them in this method so why bother with the extra step.
Pickles are huge in our life. I love them alone, but can almost not eat a sandwich without them. I probably spend the most of the time I dedicate to canning on making pickles, as I do at least 20 pounds of cucumbers a year (and some years of insanity 50).
But I also love picked carrots, beets and beans. Those are all amazing in salads and as accompaniments to cheese plates, etc. I have friends and family who literally beg me for jars. I have even had jars (literally) stolen from my house. It’s kind of funny, but there is a reason they are so good. They are a ton of work to make. These projects really are an all-day production.
This past Saturday I started the projects by going to the farmers market at exactly 8 a.m., spending $300 and prepping and cooking until 5 p.m. That was even with the help of a good friend who donated her time in exchange for a few jars. At the end of that time I had 25 new jars to add to this year’s collection. Obviously, that is never enough for a hoarder like me, who also gives them as gifts, so there will be a least a couple more long days before the season is over and its impossible to get fresh, local produce.
I decided to try something a little new this year and have put away some extra items. I have tasted some local chef’s brandied cherries and decided to do some cherries and peaches. The cherries are a natural selection. They go great in Manhattans and work well as a side to many desserts. But since peaches were at their peak, I came up with a peach recipe that I think will be delicious, too. (The peaches have to marinate in the sauce and jar for at least 10 days before I try them but I feel confident the recipe will be a big hit.)
I plan to serve these peaches while it is still hot outside with some homemade vanilla ice cream, and keep some for the fall when I need a taste of something summery. If you are going make these, do them soon while the peaches are still super sweet! And get to work! Time is a wasting.