Sunday, July 8, 2007

Year 'round Goodies

As you may well be aware, my garden produces more than I can eat in a single season. I would have to consume apples day and night to use all the apples, so I preserve things. I have dehydrated apples for pies, teas and snacks. Apple butter, Apple Sauce, and Apple leather. But apples are only the beginning of the bounty. There are apricots, peaches, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, lowquats, oranges, lemons, grapes, Asian pears, figs, pineapple guava, plums, tomatoes, pomegranate and occasionally avocados. And vegetables, too. And Herbs, don't forget the Herbs.
So now as the peaches and plums arrive, and I am still wallowing in apples, I realize there are things from last year that need to be eaten, too. Some are still in my freezer and pantry. I have been canning blackberry jam and apple products for a full week. Most of the blackberries and strawberries are out of the freezer and done on the plants, so I can write those crops down as done. But the others are just getting into full swing.
Dehydration is a great way to deal with produce and herbs. I am drying parsley, onion, garlic, anise, fennel, spinach, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, celery leaves and stalks, lemon grass, lemon verbena, mint and lemon balm. Later I will dry grapes, figs, ginger, green beans, tomatoes, lemon and orange peel, and basil. By the time autumn rolls in I will be packing away sweet potatoes, pumpkins and other squashes, and organizing my myriad of jars and packages. It reminds me of Badger's house, in the "Wind in the Willows". Baskets and jars everywhere, bags of stuff everywhere.
But sometimes, about now, I discover unused things that need attention. I found old dried apricots, dates, and figs- then I remembered why. Chutney! I had been saving them for Chutney. So today I made four jars.
Chutney recipe:
8 oz slivered almonds
1 pound carrots, peeled and shredded
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped dried figs
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup raisins
6 large cloves of garlic, grated
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 cups cider vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons powdered mustard
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
Mix all ingredients together in a 6 quart pot. Cook over low heat, covered, stirring frequently, until quite well cooked (about 20 minutes). This preparation is quite dry while it cooks the carrots, you may need to add 1/2 cup water during the cooking. When the mixture is bubbling all over, spoon it into hot sterile canning jars, tap or stir out air bubbles, and seal. Process in a boiling water bath to cover for 20 minutes. Makes 4 pints (16oz jars). This keeps for a year, but ours never lasts that long.
When this season of canning is done, I will take a picture of my production- stacked and labeled and ready to store up. It is quite impressive and tasty, too.

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