Courtesy of Wicklow Way Farm
Usually the time between the last harvest and when new spring crops emerge, there is a bit of a lull for canners who are eagerly awaiting early appearances of asparagus and rhubarb here in Southern Ontario.
Well, 2020 has thrown everyone for a loop this year. So unless you are living in a complete bubble in Antarctic, everyone has been affected in some way by covid-19 and the changes to daily life that have followed. And while we are hardly out of the woods yet by a long stretch, the new “norm” has given us at least some small measures of control in an otherwise chaotic situation.
When it was becoming clear to me that the simple pleasures of going to a farmer’s market may be threatened, I became concerned for small local farmers whose very livelihood depended on these markets. And it wasn’t just farmer’s markets that would be affected, but small farm to table restaurants and local food production as well. It was looking more and more like one of those domino chains that when one falls, all the rest of the dominos come clattering down.
So I thought to myself, how could I help in some very small way? How could I get some of the very best local produce available, to a very local community? And so “Northumberland Bounty” was born. Northumberland Bounty is a distribution hub for the best local produce and hand crafted foods Northumberland County has to offer. And while we are starting out small, we hope to grow and add vendors as the season progresses.
So there you have it, check out the Northumberland Bounty link above and watch for updates on the @victorycanning.poho and https://www.facebook.com/victorycanning.poho/
Every year we get excited over the fresh bounty of the season starting with fiddleheads, asparagus, lettuce, strawberries then moving on to peas, beans, cucumbers and zucchini. But truth be told for many households, it’s just a waiting game for the much anticipated tomato. This year is our first time we’ve been able to cultivate tomatoes as we now have a yard with southern exposure.
Yes, we did overcrowd and perhaps did over plant in our exuberance, eight varieties of heirloom tomatoes. It is a joy to see them grow, prosper, take over the raised beds and finally start ripening.
All Hail the mighty tomato!
And speaking of tomatoes….I’m super excited to be teaching a canning class up at Headwaters Community Farm just north of Port Hope (and Cobourg). If you’ve never been there, you are definitely in for a treat. Check out the link on the workshops page and hope to see some of you there!
To say I’ve been remiss in posting, is a bit of an understatement, so I think I’ll just leave it that no matter how much you think you have planned, life has a way of throwing you a few twists and turns along the way. But I haven’t been totally idle all these months…..A summer pop up venture in Prince Edward County has been occupying most weekends….
P+ B Market is a fun pop-up selling vintage and current home decor and garden items. And, because my friend and I are at heart, canning geeks…a canning cupboard! We’re selling hard to find (in Ontario) smooth sided and quilted 250 ml. jars, 750 ml. jars, vintage canning labels and seed packages as well as galvanized tin carrying caddies.
And this Saturday August 4th we will be participating in the Ontario Fermentation Fest held at the Crystal Palace, Picton from 10am-4pm. We will be bringing fun items from P+B Market (https://www.facebook.com/pbmarketcountyup/) as well as our homemade shrub in 2 delicious flavours! Come by our booth and say hi!
In my attempt to overcome my fear of Pomona pectin…ok fear might be too strong a word, but let’s just say, the last time I attempted using it for a habanero jelly it was not only stiff as a board, but granular as well, Ugg! So I decided to jump back in and try something that might be a little more forgiving with using pectin…so I found a recipe for conserve.
If you are like me, I tend to use some canning terms pretty loosely like jam vs. preserves and vinegar pickles vs. fermented pickles. But I hadn’t really looked into making a conserve before until I pulled out my Pomona preserving book. And I thought to myself, well, looking at the ingredients, it looks like a chutney. So what’s the difference?
When I heard that conventional cauliflower is actually quite hard to grow for the small organic farmer (weed management is a big issue), I needn’t have worried I wouldn’t be seeing any of the Brassicaceae turning up at all at my local market. I spied some lovely and almost Sci-Fi looking Romanseco cauliflower, which I thought would be happy being pickled.
I used Marisa McLellan’s recipe of “Lemony Pickled Cauliflower” Continue reading
Well anyone here in Ontario knows by now we’ve had rain, a LOT of rain. I mean deluge-overflowing-Lake Ontario rising-rain. Hardly inspiring for the local harvest (though the gardens do seem lush even if the fields are sodden). With everyone desperate to jump into outdoor living and bbq season, it seems cruel that the principal ingredient in BBQ sauce, namely tomatoes, are a long way off from hitting the farmers markets.
While tomatoes may be the star, rhubarb, abundant in spring, can play a surprising supporting role. The tartness of taste and silkiness in texture, are a delightful stand in for the usual tomato based sauce. With a slight adjustment to a chutney recipe, this sauce will stand up to the coals and lend a fruity punch to grilled meats and vegetables.
Based on Andrea Chessman’s Sweet Tart Rhubarb Chutney recipe from her Pickled Pantry I’ve tweaked it a bit to seem more in keeping with the bbq sauce texture.* Here’s the recipe: Makes about 6 x 250 ml. (half pint) jars
2-1/2 lbs fresh rhubarb (about 8 cups)
1 medium onion chopped finely
1 cup of molasses
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 TBS peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves
1 smoked pepper (optional)
1 TBS tomato paste
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cardamom seeds
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp pickling salt
Toast the spices in a Dutch oven or saucepan for a minute or so, then add all the ingredients, bring to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes until the rhubarb is broken down. Take an immersion blender and blend thoroughly. When blended, ladle into clean jars leaving about 1/2″ headspace. At this point you can cool and store in the refrigerator. If you do decide to water-bath (see disclaimer below) process jars for 10 minutes.
*This diversion from the original chutney recipe has not been tested for water-bath canning. I believe, as the adjustments are minor and the ratios are virtually the same, it is ok to water-bath can. However, I make no claim that it is safe to do so.
With the March’s Jelly challenge over (while I did make some it wasn’t a resounding success and vow to revisit this in berry season…) April’s is almost done too. Quick pickles (or sometimes known as refrigerator pickles) is a great way to kick off the pickling season. If you are in the northern climes, there isn’t much growing yet. Luckily you can still use local produce.
Wintering root veggies like carrots, turnips and rutabagas fit the bill nicely. These chubby little carrots sliced into sticks, and into a hot brine solution with some pepper flakes, lemon zest and peppercorns make a crunchy treat. No need to haul out the water bath canner because quick pickles are just that-prepare the brine, fill the jars and store in the refrigerator. Although they should last for about 3 weeks or so, I bet they’ll be gobbled up before that!
On this grey day in February, a little jar of sunshine as my preserved Meyer lemons do their thing. Preserved in salt with bay leaves from Corfu, and pink peppercorns from Kampot, Cambodia, I can’t wait to add these flavourful citrus preserves to my favourite couscous dishes, salads and sauces. And after January’s labour intensive marmalade challenge, I’m glad this one was a doddle!
After being inspired to start winter canning, thanks to the Food In Jars Mastery Challenge #fijchallenge, I thought I’d try my hand at trying to write my own recipe. Using Marisa’s handy 1:1:1 ratio (1 Lb fruit, 1Lb sugar, 1Lb fruit water) I came up with this pretty tasty condiment that not only kickstarts your day on toast, but works well in a soy, fish sauce, Thai style dipping sauce for stir -frys, salad rolls etc. Love it when condiments are so versatile!
Well after a pretty low key canning season (not for want of produce-more like it was too hot this summer to be standing in a kitchen with boiling pots of water) I’ve finally made a last minute stab at my favourite holiday chutney.
I like to call it my “3 P Chutney” as it encorporates pears, pepita seeds (or pumpkin seeds-the green kind) and pomegranate seeds. It is a truly tasty condiment with a lovely jewelled appearance in the jar. The only trick is to hold on to a jar, because it’s so pretty you’ll want to give them away! Continue reading