Archive for the ‘Production’ Category

I made some sweet pickled preserves this week – a mix of cherries from Nao’s tree and rhubarb from my garden. I got the recipe from the River Cottage Preserves Handbook, one of my favourite preserves books EVER. They tend towards small batch and interesting recipes. I only got two jars out of it, but that’s one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas, enough for me! Supposedly it’s best with poultry.

I have an abundance of mint so I’m also going to make a mint syrup, and probably a lavender syrup as well. I have a ton now, because I put  a note through a neighbour’s door asking them if they were going to harvest. If not, I’d do it and bring them some jam in return. They called right back and now I have a big basket of lovely lavender! I left a lot for the bees as they were very busy around the plants, and just in case the neighbour changed their mind.

Today through Friday is the blueberry festival out at UBC, with tons of events and the like, but most of all – affordable flats of local blueberries. I will buy a couple of flats to eat, freeze and preserve. I’m going to make a blueberry-lavender jam, as suggested by Nao, as well as some preserved blueberries with bay and possibly some blueberry syrup for the kids’ waffles. We don’t have much freezer space, so preserving is best for us.

I also hope to can some peaches this year, but need a good source for the fruit. Anyone here in Vancouver know where I should go? I have the August long weekend coming up that I could do a road trip if need be…


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Well, I may not have been the proud recipient of 500 cases of cherries, but I did get to learn about a wonderful group I’ve never heard about before. Have a good read, and lookg at the awesome programming at: http://www.discoveryorganics.ca/

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Cherry Bonanza!

I may have access to 500 cases of free cherries that have 2 days of shelf life left. Thinking of canning? Want to join me or take some cherries home for you to can? Email me or chat with me on facebook, I’d hate to see these cherries end up in the garbage…

Also, let me know if you have any favourite cherry recipes. I’m thinking of freezing some just whole and pitted, soaking some in vodka, cherry jam, cordial and pie filling. Other options?

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Photo documentation of my failures….


Compost Jelly, post-straining


Gooseberry Jam Stewing. Post harvest and top & tail failure.

Yes I know I can’t store the jam on the right, too much space. Not enough berries to make two small jars. Unfortunately we’ll just have to eat it right away. It’s so hard being a homesteader.

The marmalade, perfectly stewing, *right* before I “had” to go deal with naptime and it “had” to get burned.

Better luck with your first jams of the season, don’t make my mistakes!

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So, I have some jars of a delicious fig spread I’d like to share with you… Full disclosure: I made them last summer, in August. They are still safe to eat, but I’ll never be able to finish them before Christmas. So, I’d like to give away 5 jars to the first responders. Shipping is on me, so this isn’t just local, finally!

I like this “jam”, and I’m using that word loosely because figs don’t seem to like to set, best poured over a whole brie and baked in the oven. Sure, it’s also delicious spread on a slice from the nice warm crusty loaf you just baked, or as the base to a nutty salad dressing, but it’s really at home with cheese.


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I promised you I’m full of mistakes, here’s some more proof!

By Sunday I had a case of overripe mangoes, a bag of lemons, an overladen gooseberry bush and an overfull freezer. Something had to be done. I decided on a mango marmalade to use up the mangoes and lemons, gooseberry jam for the bush, and to make the compost heap jelly I’d been planning on since filling up my freezer with apple cores and lemon peels. The compost heap jelly recipe/idea is from the River Cottage Preserves book – which I highly recommend.

I decided to make them all at once to be more efficient. I went out to pick the gooseberries and ran into mistake number one. Plan a lot of time for harvest when you’re working with berries. Especially berries with thorns. Ugh.

Mistake number two was preparing the berries. Make sure you have the right tools for the job! I also got the gooseberry jam recipe from the River Cottage book, and she recommends using scissors to top and tail goosegogs (as my mum calls them). If someone who has been making jam for 20 years or more tells you to use scissors – use scissors. I started off with a knife because I was too lazy to search for scissors after breaking my last pair (a good two months ago – apparently I’m also too lazy to go get more too). Luckily the man intervened and fetched a pair but I wasted even more time. The consequence was that the actual jam making was going to have to happen right at naptime. And naptime is a bad time – because, and I say this without any blame or judgement, apparently the man cannot enforce the nap. At all.

So, I started making the three jams at once, which really was more efficient, and I *will* do that again. Then the naptime meltdown started. The gooseberry jam was hurriedly thrown in jars and processed, and I’m lucky that it set at all. I wasn’t able to check the setting point for any of them. I usually throw a saucer or plate (or in this case 6) in the fridge before I start making the jam. Then you drop a little jam on the cold plate, wait a minute and if it wrinkles when you touch it the jam is good to go. I didn’t have time for that with the caterwauling from the other room. So, I finished off the gooseberry jam, yelled instructions for the mango marmalade – add mangoes at this time – and ran off to deal with naptime. I forgot to say “AND WATCH THE BOTTOM OF THE PAN FOR BURNING”. So, I now have some nice “blackened” mango marmalade. I’m thinking BBQ sauce for that one. Sigh.

Mistake number three – the compost heap jelly. Actually I think this one is numbers 3-5. One. Don’t freeze this stuff hoping to cut down on waste if you only have a fridge freezer. It takes up too much room. I should have waited until we got our chest freezer. I had to clear it out on Sunday because I knew I was coming home that night with 20 pounds of pork from my Butchering class – see my next post for info on that – and got stuck with the choice of throwing it all out or making the jelly. Two, pay attention to your ratios. You want more apple than anything else, as it provides your pectin. Apple cores are PERFECT for this jelly, and I think they should make up 60-80% of your ingredients, to make sure you have enough pectin. I think I had 30% apple and I got a thick syrup. Not quite good enough. Three, if you’re making this jelly and want to process it with other jams you are making, boil the scraps the night before. As with all jellies, straining the fruit for 24 hours helps keep the jelly clear. Strain in a cheesecloth. You’ll be adding the sugar the next day, but you’ll still need to cover it. I boiled it on the same day as the others, but my syrup didn’t end up too cloudy. If it had set though, I’d be complaining about the cloudiness. In the end it made a fantastic glaze for the pork shank I brought home. I don’t think I’ll have a problem finding a use for the other 3 jars either – it’s great for dressings, drinks and marinades. In fact, a little part of me is happy it’s not jelly as I don’t eat a ton of jam. I know, HERESY!

Other mistakes this weekend? I still haven’t planted my winter garden. I’m late!

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I tried to make cilantro pesto today, with garlic, almonds and olive oil. And salt and pepper.

Too much garlic, too many almonds not enough cilantro. Boo! Now I have to wait for my plants to recover a little so I can add more. Oh well!

Anyone have good cilantro pesto recipes?

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