When someone approaches you asking if “you’d like to trade a 90 minute Thai massage for canned goods…” you say “yes, absolutely freaking YES!”. I’ve always surrounded myself with people who have trade’able skills/professions (hair dressers, yoga teachers, massage therapists, tattoo artists, etc.). Until I started canning a couple years ago, I never felt as if I had any skills of my own that I could barter with… “do need help some with spatial data analysis… No!?! “. My blissful, almost coma inducing massage not only left me in a intense state of relaxation, but may have made me a bit vulnerable and willing to give up almost… heyo… any of my canned goods. While she was super interested in some good ol’ pickles, I suggested that I could make something up. The original plan was to make a hummus-in-jar type of thing, but then I learned that tahini is not safe to can due to the oils. So with 2lbs of freshly soaked chickpeas, it was time for plan B.
Didn’t I promise more peach and tomato recipes? Well here you have it. Since moving to New Hampshire earlier this year (buying a car helps) I’ve been on a bit of a PYO fruit kick. First blueberries, then raspberries, herbs, peaches, and now apples… A couple weeks ago I put up some pickled yellow peaches that I acquired from Union Lake Peach Orchard in Barrington, NH. Not only did I promise the two sisters at the Orchard that I’d be back for more, but with news of their Belle of Georgia White Peach harvest I honestly couldn’t stay away. Bouncing around the Seacoast region (i.e., let’s pick a green spot on Google maps and go there) the weekend before last, we decided to pay the Orchard a visit, and boy am I glad we did. When we arrived at the peach stand they only had a couple dozen of pre-bagged lots left. As usual, I bought a bunch of something without a specific recipe in mind. With another 15 pounds of small tomatoes from the beau’s garden in haul I started exploring peach and tomato concoctions. This recipe is a slight modification on a recipe I found in Southern Living, the big difference is that I decided to can my preserves as I don’t have nearly enough fridge space for this tripled recipe.
After jarring up 7 half pints of this fruity, herby preserve, I had tons of leftover syrup/liquid. Instead of tossing it, I figured with all the added pectin I could easily make a jelly. To do so I simply poured the liquid through a fine mesh strainer then canned it per usual. Easy peasy and I had 7 quarter pints of jelly to take to the Seacoast Food Swap last Sunday! Don’t you just love byproducts?!
“No really, I’m just going to stop for a second…”. 45 minutes past and 5 pounds of fresh blueberries later… “Having a pick your own (PYO) blueberry farm on my commute home from work may be becoming a problem…”. Over the past month I’ve probably picked around 15 pounds of blueberries from Emery Farm in Durham, NH. $2.50 per pound of berries sure beats $5.99 store bought sub-par berries especially when you factor in the additional pound of “I just need to see if it’s ready” berries that you sampled along the way (I swear I only tried a couple…). Three (cough… six) trips to the farm has made me realize how calming picking berries can be. I have a tendency to get distracted pretty easily… look… shiny… so zoning out while hunting for the perfect berry is probably good for me from time to time. Although the blueberry season here in New Hampshire is unfortunately coming to an end, the wild raspberries and blackberries are just starting to pop off! Late last month I put up several jars of blueberry sage jam, and as I was running out of pumpkin butter from last fall, I decided to fill the void with this crockpot mint blueberry butter. This recipe is super easy to modify in that you could simply swap out or omit the mint for any other herb/spice. I opted for a low sugar option (4 cups of sugar vs. 7 cups) as I wasn’t trying to mask the amazing flavor of all my tediously (OCD a little?) picked berries. The consistency of the final product is thick, smooth, and nicely spreadable. My plan is to use it my overnight oats. Yum!
I’m actually off to Emery Farm in just a few minutes NO not for more blueberries, but for this month’s Seacoast Food Swap!
It seems as if the majority of my latest canning posts have had some sort of adventure/exploit attached to them. Most likely attributed to the season, or perhaps because I have acquired tons of new friends who also enjoy farmers’ markets, pick your own harvests, and tipsy late night jar’scapades, I have recently been reminded of how much I really enjoy the process of this hobby. Earlier this month a science lady friend and I were on our way out to the Great Bay Estuary to grab some mid morning water samples when I spotted a sign that read “PICK YOUR OWN BLUEBERRIES”! “Blueberries!… (looking at my watch, knowing that we were already behind time)… we totally have time, right?!” “Um… right?… yes… let’s do it!” Purple fingers, full stomaches, and satisfied taste buds we justified our spontaneous blueberry detour to Emery Farm and continued on with our science lives. Located in Durham, NH, Emery Farm is one of the oldest farms in the country… we provide our customers with our own fresh fruits and vegetables… dedicated to maintaining a down-home, family farm atmosphere… Upon further discovery, I learned that the farm is the oldest working farm in the Northeast. Of equally exciting news, the farm has volunteered its space for the August Seacoast Food Swap.
While picking and jar’storming (I’m on a role with these word combos tonight…), I consulted my flavor muse who suggested a myriad of different blueberry herb pairings. The result: this beautiful blueberry sage jam. I’d be lying if I said “I didn’t eat all two pounds of these berries that afternoon” requiring me to return the next day for additional recipe ingredients… hard life. 🙂 Stay tuned for a couple more blueberry creations as you can bet that I’ve returned for more pickings since that said morning.
Eight weeks ago I attended my first yoga class at Empower Yoga in Portsmouth. The class was great and exactly the “chilling out” that I needed after moving and driving 8 hours from Baltimore the day before. As a tradition, every Friday a group of ladies go out for post yoga coffee. Not only was I the newest coffee club member, but I was also the youngest attendee by a good ~20 years. After interrogating me on everything from my status (cough… 29/F/single) to my blood type we moved onto the epic topic of canning. Within seconds a new friend exclaimed, “I have a garden the size of half a football field, please come out and harvest things to put up!” For some ridiculous reason, probably because at the time I didn’t have any wheels, I didn’t jump at the instant mention of this phenomenal opportunity. After much hassle of wrangling plans/rides I finally made it out to the estate last weekend, and I think I can safely say that I harvested enough rhubarb, mint, mustard greens, cilantro, etc. to last me until next spring. 🙂
Because I’m a pain in the ass and insist on doing everything a little different, I decided to dismiss the whole strawberry rhubarb thing this week and opt for a cherry rhubarb creation instead. A food savvy friend recommended I throw some mint into the mix (genius) and voila: ladies and gentlemen I present to you mint cherry rhubarb jam. The flavor and consistency is almost perfect, the only thing I would change is maybe upping the mint a bit more. I was a little worried that the sweet cherry taste would overpower the overall flavor of the jam, but after letting it sit for a couple days the tart rhubarb notes are definitely starting to peak through! Enjoy.
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