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You Can Can by Teri Hiben

Here we are at the peak of summer.  For those of us who love to cook and eat there’s no better time of year.  We enjoy strolling through our local farmer’s markets and seeing the abundance of plump fruits and crisp, perfectly ripe vegetables, just picked by our farmers.  What a delight to open our CSA boxes and enjoy the fresh produce inside. 

I not only enjoy cooking and eating all of these now, but I like to preserve some of the perfect fruits and vegetables for later in the year.  Canning not only ensures we are eating fresh, local produce year round, but it’s quite rewarding to see my homemade jams and pickles and salsas lined up on my kitchen counter.   Canning slows me down a bit and allows me to create my own flavor combinations, all tucked into a jar.

photo 2 (3)A few years ago, canning blogger Marisa McClellan came out with a book entitled Food in Jars:  Preserving in Small Batches Year Round.  She recently published her second book, Preserving By the Pint:  Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces.  These are perfect for both novice canners and those experienced in preserving.  With these recipes everyone can dabble in preserving without ending up with 15 jars of one kind of  jam.  You can try several different things:  jams, pickles, chutneys, salsas and more, many of these taking less than one hour.  She provides clear instructions, pictures and simple, but interesting recipes to help all succeed.  Really, it’s easier than you might think! 

The best course of action is to start with foods you and your family love.  If you can’t get enough of the plump, juicy blueberries your farmer has to offer, pick up a few pints and make a small batch of blueberry jam.  Marisa’s recipe adds a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg.  You will have a few jars to enjoy and even one or two to share (a great hostess gift!).  I’ve enjoyed the beets one farmer has offered for a few weeks, so last week I grabbed a bunch of red beets and one of golden beets and tried pickling them for the first time.   With the golden beets, I  decided to pickle them with traditional pickling spices.  For the red, I followed Marisa’s recipe for Gingery Pickled Beets, adding a few slices of ginger.  Neither took very long and I have 3 jars of each to enjoy later in the year. 

It’s not too late in the season to try your hand at canning.  There are several months of abundant produce ahead and  Marcel’s has Marisa’s books and the equipment you might need to get started.   Also, Marisa McClellan will be at Marcel’s!  Yes, she’ll be right here at the store on Wed., Aug. 13 6:30-8:30pm to do a canning demo and sign your books.  You can register for this event here. And, our own Chef Kelly has an upcoming class on Sun., Sept. 21, noon-5 pm appropriately called Eat What You Can, Can What You Can’t.   By walking through the canning process with Marissa and Kelly, you will feel more confident that you can can.  So, join in the fun, enjoy local farm fresh flavors year round, and share flavorful creations with your friends and family.

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