Sunday, October 17, 2010

Putting By

Fall is here. The days are short and cool now and the growing season is definitely winding down in this zone 6 region of New Jersey. The farm down the street still has some fall vegetables in the ground including some lettuces and plenty of hardy fall greens such as collards and beets, but tender vegetables such as tomato plants won't survive a frost, which could occur any day now. My surprise late blooming cherry tomato plant has several clusters of tiny green tomatoes, and I'm starting to doubt they're going to make it to maturity. I'll try to encourage it to hang in there a few extra weeks by covering the plant with a sheet at night to keep it warm. Don't laugh! All the garden experts say to do this!

If you're unfamiliar with the term, 'putting by' refers to the process of preserving or saving an abundant supply of a crop for future use. For someone who didn't even tend a vegetable garden this season, I had quite a productive season of preserving summer's bounty. I visited three different 'U pick' farms throughout the season to pick strawberries, blueberries, and two different varieties of raspberries. I also ordered extra basil and red peppers through the co-op for preserving for the winter.

Here's a look at what I preserved this season:

Strawberry Jam 
{this photo is from my strawberry jam post back in June}

This is a photo of the strawberry jam I have left... 

Rum Soaked Preserved Cherries

Don't these jars of cherries look gorgeous? I came across this recipe for rum soaked preserved cherries and boozy cherry molasses (not pictured but oh so good!) from Rebecca of the Foodie with Family blog while on the Tasty Kitchen forum. I love the way these jars of cherries look and thought they'd be a fun, novel treat to use to make martinis or even serve over ice cream. They're really, really delicious and were incredibly easy to make.

Red Raspberry Jam

Golden Raspberry Jam 

Spicy Peach Preserves with Jalapenos
I made these spicy preserves to serve as a snack with cream cheese and crackers, but I also tried it blended with some dijon mustard as a glaze for pork roast and it was delicious. 

I spent weeks researching the food chemistry of preserves for this recipe that I created and fretted about the proper ratios of acid, sugar and pectin since all three of these play an important role in not just the flavor and consistency of the jam, but also in preserving the fruit against spoilage. Hopefully my recipe is safe for consumption. ;p

Cinnamon Applesauce
Homemade applesauce is SO EASY to make and tastes a gazillion times better than any kind you can buy at the store.

Basil Pesto 
I was never a huge fan of pesto until I tried my friend's pesto several years ago. I asked her what was in her pesto that made it taste so good and was surprised to learn that it wasn't what she added, but what she didn't add that made her pesto so good. The secret was not adding Parmesan or other cheese to the pesto. I learned that although I happen to really like Parmesan cheese... I just don't like it my pesto. I spent the rest of the summer experimenting with blending basil, garlic, olive oil, nuts and sometimes parsley, until I came up with my signature recipe. Now every summer I make sure I make several jars of pesto for the freezer to get me through the winter. A little bit goes a long way, so hopefully these three jars, plus one that made it to the freezer earlier in the summer, will be enough to last us until next season.

Roasted Red Peppers

Roasting red peppers is an easy way to preserve a bumper crop of red peppers for the winter. Delicious on a grilled turkey panini with some pesto.

Antipasto Stuffed Hot Cherry Peppers
These hot cherry peppers came from that box of red peppers I special ordered from my organic co-op back in September. I had asked for sweet red bell peppers, but discovered about two dozen hot peppers thrown in the mix, so decided on making a gourmet appetizer out of them. This recipe for stuffed hot peppers is made by wrapping cubes of provolone cheese with prosciutto, stuffing them into hollowed out hot cherry peppers and marinating in olive oil, vinegar with minced garlic and dried oregano. I used a combination of white balsamic and red wine vinegars for the marinade.

I also prepared about four half quart freezer bags of frozen blueberries and frozen sliced red peppers to use throughout the year. The blueberries I use in pancakes, muffins and other baked treats, in smoothies and sprinkled frozen right on my cereal or plain yogurt for breakfast. The red peppers I'll use in stir fries, fajitas and in stews. Once their frozen, you don't really want to eat them raw because the texture isn't so appealing as they defrost, but you could if you really wanted to, I guess.

It was my intention to make dozens of jars of jams to give as Christmas and Hanukkah gifts and still have enough for my own family to enjoy throughout the year as well. I made the mistake, however, of leaving the jars out on the kitchen counter or dining room table for a few weeks. Why was this a mistake? Because every time a friend came by and spied them, she not so delicately hinted that she wanted one right then and there and didn't want to wait for Christmas. Now my gift giving stash has been dramatically reduced and I may have to make a few more jars of something between now and December. I'm thinking of cranberry sauce, apple chutney or maybe even a citrus marmalade. Any ideas?

What foods do you preserve? 
{canning, freezing, or other preservation method...}  

Which would you rather receive at Christmas or Hanukkah:
cranberry sauce, apple chutney or orange marmalade


  1. Oh goodness Christine, those all look delicious! I don't can anything, but I love preserves. My favorite is and always has been orange marmalade. My grand aunt used to make a beautiful orange marmalade, but I never got the recipe before she passed away. :(

    BTW, that Gold Raspberry Jam? Looks good enough to eat from the picture. Yum! :D

  2. Hi Hils! I don't know why, but there's something about orange marmalade that's so special. Almost festive, right?

    The golden raspberry jam is very delicious. Unfortunately I only had enough gold raspberries for one jar!

  3. Myself, I don't actually preserve anything. I know....

    But growing up in the country we did everything! Because we lived so far out of our "town" we pickled, preserved, canned everything. Jams, Jellies, pickles, eggs, beans, cucumbers, tomato sauce. i got so used to having a full pantry of canned goodies. we chopped our firewood too! very little house on the prairie!!

    you are amazing. that golden jam looks so good!

  4. *drools*

    Because every time a friend came by...she not so delicately hinted that she wanted one right then and there and didn't want to wait for Christmas.

    And after looking (OK, drooling) over those photos I am not surprised!

    Hmmm. I was eating some of my tomato relish (that I made in January) yesterday (on a water cracker with cheese) and it was goood! And tonight I'll be using one of the chillies I froze earlier this year (from my bumper garden crop).

    I need to bookmark this post and come back when I have produce (and I have to think about what to plant this weekend!).

  5. Oooooo, what gorgeous preserves! They look so good, I bet they are delicious too. :)

  6. Michelle, well aren't you are country bumpkin? A term which I use in the most affectionate of ways. ^_^

    Pickled eggs? I've seen that in preserve cookbooks, but I don't know... eggs and vinegar? I'm not so sure I'd like that. I'd try just about anything once, though, so I shouldn't say until I've tried it.

    Chopping firewood is AMAZING exercise!!!

    How's Finn doing with the potty? ; )

    orannia, tomato relish! Yum! I'm sorry I didn't get around to trying your recipe for the tomato relish. I thought about it, but we kept eating the tomatoes fresh before I could get around to it. LOL

    If you want recipes for any of these items in my post when the season comes around for you, let me know.

    In the meantime, have fun preparing and planning your garden! Could it be nearly the time to plant spring peas already for you?

    Jace, thank you! Would you believe I haven't even tasted the red raspberry jam? But I recently got a raving comment on facebook from my friend's husband... something about eating it right out of the jar with his fingers, so I think that it must be good. ^_^

  7. You are so on the ball! I'm jealous!!
    I think the pesto looks amazing!! and the apple chutney sounds fab! Way to go!!

  8. I completely fail at any sort of cooking, so I'm stand in triple awe of you, my friend!

  9. Wow, Christine! I don't preserve anything, but it sure looks good and I wonder if I should start doing something LOL.

    Pesto, I think the trick is to add the parmesan cheese after on the pasta, not with the pesto ^_^;

    It's too bad you only had enough for one golden raspberry jam jar!

  10. When I was a kid I would help my mom with preserving. She did a lot of veggies, sauces and even made her own wine. LOL I should get the recipes from her and try some.

    I had to laugh at the Boozy Cherry Molasses. What a name but it does sound good. I might try that. :)

  11. Wow, Christine. Just wow. I wish I had your energy when it came to preserving things! We do peaches and applesauce every year and have always eaten through our store come spring. I've done strawberry and raspberry jam as well (love them!) and one year apricot jam.

    Last year I took jars of homemade hot fudge sauce to friends and family as holiday treats and that seemed to go over well.

  12. I am sorry to say I don't preserve anything, though I have a freezer full of blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. And my MIL gave me a jar of her homemade blackberry preserves today-Yummy!

    What exactly is apple chutney? I only ask because I love apples and if your recipe is as delicious as it sounds I may have to beg for it! *g*

    My Mom loved orange marmalade on oat cakes. I think she even made some at one time or another.

    Happy preserving!
    Hope you're having a nice evening!

  13. Wow Christine! You've really been planning for the winter weather. I don't have a garden or preserve anything so for Hanukkah I would love to receive a beautiful jar of orange marmalade! I could see myself spreading that over food and bread. Yum yum! The jars are beautiful Christine, really gifts in themselves! Have a great day!

  14. No need to apologise. I'm not a fresh tomato eater, which is why I have enough for relish...and pasta sauce :) And WRT the recipes - THANK YOU! Will do.

    I never have much luck with peas (with them my green fingers desert), but I might try again this year...

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  16. I work hard to become friends with people who preserve :-)

  17. Gina, when I read "You are so on the ball", I expected a pun on the word ball as in Ball brand canning supplies. LOL!

    azteclady, aww, thanks, but making jam is SO easy. Fruit, sugar, boil, done. See? Very easy.

    nath, Agreed! Parmesan cheese on the pasta after the pesto! :)

    Leslie, your mom made her own wine? That is so cool! Was it traditional grape wine or made with a different plant? You definitely need to get your mom's recipes. Even if you don't use them yourself, recipes are great to pass down the generations of a family.

    The Boozy Cherry Molasses is SO good. I could practically drink it!

    Angie, "Wow!" right back at you for preserving peaches and applesauce. I'm not surprised it's all gone by spring. I don't think my strawberry jam will last until Halloween at this point! LOL!

    Jars of hot fudge sauce sounds divine!!!

    Brandy, apple chutney is a chunky condiment that is sweet and spicy (cinnamon spicy) with dried fruit such as raisins, maybe ginger, and an acid such as vinegar (but not too much). You would serve it with roasted meats, cheese, crackers kind of like cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving.

    firepages, I think I will make the orange marmalade in a few months when oranges are in season. Thanks for the vote! LOL!

    orannia, you should try peas again this year. Do you like sugar snap peas? I think they're easier to grow than shelling peas.

    Phyl, oh yeah? Well, I work hard to become friends with people who quilt! ;-P

  18. With the apple crop so good right now I am thinking of making apple butter and jelly I think. I also want to try and make pumpkin butter (so good on sweet potato pancakes YUM) and maybe some jalapeno jelly which sounds really spicy but put it with cream cheese and crackers and you have won my heart!!!

    I think if I were to receive something I would love some apple chutney LOL can you tell what I love about fall ;)

  19. Sarai!! Omgosh! Please forgive me for letting this comment slide by without responding! Ack!

    Did you end up making any preserves? I LOVE apple and pumpkin butter. I saw Trader Joe's has cranberry butter... doesn't that sound good, too?

    I LOVE jalapeno jelly, too!!! A perfect snack and so awesome--and easy! for entertaining. My spicy jalapeno peach preserves are delicious served with cream cheese and crackers, too. SO good!


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