Predictably, given my love of puns, this post isn’t about rocking out, but actually about … jam. Woo! It’s the time of year where I can or freeze something just about every day, so jam sessions are taking place more and more often.
The other day, I turned a quart of sweet cherries into eight little jars of cherry compote, following a recipe from the Food in Jars cookbook. David Lebovitz also has a recipe I would love to try, and he offers some excellent suggestions on how to enjoy it.
With two little helpers, it can sometimes be difficult to get things completed in one session. I pitted the sweet cherries in the morning, refrigerated them, and made the compote later in the evening. I totally licked the spoon, and I can tell you that it will be very tasty in the cold winter months! (Or, you know, next week …).
The next day, I turned out some lovely jars of black raspberry jam (my fave!), also using a recipe from Food in Jars / Preserving by the Pint. It’s a nice, simple jam, and I am always glad to have some in the pantry. I especially enjoy this jam spread on a thick slice of rosemary olive oil bread … it’s toast nirvana.
Over the past few weeks, lots of fruit has made its way to the freezer and into our pie-holes. The frozen fruit, including black raspberries, cherries, and currants, will be great for smoothies, and for near-future canning when I have the opportunity. I put it all away in glass jars to keep this effort zero-waste, and to package our food safely without the use of plastic. I hope to go cherry picking before the season runs out! I have visions of an Independence Day cherry pie …
Today I picked over four pounds of black raspberries! I froze many of them, saved some for fresh eating (only as many as would be needed for breakfast), and made a no-recipe fresh raspberry vinaigrette for our dinner salad. The berry season is short, so I am trying to get the most out of it. Berries are expensive, and of questionable flavor and quality at other times of the year, so I hope to store enough in various ways now that I can avoid the temptation for off-season berries later. As I was picking the delicate berries today, I kept hearing Ron Finley say, “Growing your own food is like printing your own money.” Truth.
In other news, the excessive number of cabbages I planted are ready for harvest. Yesterday I harvested a beautiful four-pound red cabbage. I only had a few minutes, so I quickly quartered, cored, and shredded the cabbage, layering it in my big bowl with salt, as per fermenting guru Sandor Katz. Then I massaged it, packed it into a one-gallon fermenting crock, dropped the weights in on it, and covered it with a towel. I’m happy to report that it’s fermenting nicely. Hopefully I’ll have some lovely pink kraut in just a short while. There’s nothing like the flavor of homemade sauerkraut!
Of course, there will be more kraut to come, since I have about twenty more heads of cabbage lurking in the garden. We will eat some fresh, and I also intend to make some traditional pickled cabbage. Then, I’ll fill that part of the garden with bush beans to help bring nitrogen back to the soil after the heavy feeding habit of the cabbage. I’ll plant more cabbage for fall harvest, which I will likely root-cellar.
The garden, the house, and the Little Thistles are keeping me hopping. Summertime means more laundry, more baths, more digging / harvesting / watering / weed-pulling, and so on. There is a push to preserve food as it is ready for harvest, and the window of opportunity is often very short. Our hard work now will result in nutritious food to help feed us throughout the year, but slacking off can trigger a garden apocalypse. Trust me, I’ve tried it! 🙂
What is your favorite summer fruit? Right now I am throwing my allegiance to black raspberries, but ask in a few weeks and I might say ‘peaches.’ There are so many delicious things to enjoy in the summer!