Your plum tree may not have produced as you’d hoped, but there certainly is an abundance of fruit and vegetables available this time of the year.
Our grandmothers knew the trick to having them around come winter and it’s no family secret. Food preservation is making a comeback – especially with rising prices at grocery stores and a return to focusing on wellness through good nutrition. Filling your pantry with a taste of summer is a sound investment for you and the planet.
While chutneys, sauces and pies are a delicious treat to eat, they take time to make from scratch. If you’re new to all this or short on time, flash freezing, dehydrating, blanching and pickling are the best methods to start with. These also allow for the most flexibility when it comes to use later on.
Frozen fruit can easily be made into a smoothie, crumble, syrup or jam. Dehydrated fruit is an easy snack, and some can be rehydrated to increase its versatility.
Having the hot air of a dehydrator blowing in your home during the heat of summer is, admittedly, counterintuitive. Some folks have fashioned industrial-sized ones out of leftover building materials, a lightbulb, a fan and a bit of mesh. Pick your own adventure and watch the magic of fruit leather and grapes turning into raisins unfold before your eyes.
Intimidated by delving into the world of canning? Fear not, you can, can! Like any time we are learning something new, it is helpful to have a mentor.
Asking family and friends to share a day in the kitchen canning is a fun way to start. Mason jars are coveted this time of year, so they may be able to direct you to secret sources – possibly even in their basement. Sanitizing jars and lids is key and there are a few simple tools that make handling the hot jars and lids much easier, including rubberized jar lifters and a magnetic lid lifter.
You will likely avoid pressure canning, which is a bit more involved and requires specialized equipment that can accidentally end up embedded in the ceiling, but that still leaves plenty of canning possibilities.
There’s no need to have a garden to get into preservation of this year’s harvest. Okanagan fruit stands have brought in peaches, nectarines and apricots as well as other heat-loving crops. Local farmers’ markets offer a wholesome time out, supporting the local economy and gathering fresh pickings. Stay tuned for the extra special Fall Fair Farmers’ Market happening September 24 and 25 from 12 to 5 pm.
Markets are also a great place to scoop up limited edition preserves from grannies and hipsters alike, if you don’t end up finding the time yourself. It’s a great place to find inspiration for unusual combinations of flavours, as well.
The temporary inconvenience of a messy kitchen is soon forgotten and replaced with the deep satisfaction of a colourful, nourishing and locally-sourced pantry.