The Busy Harvest
It can be overwhelming in the fall after a busy summer to settle into the harvest and figure out what to do with all the bounty falling from the trees. If I have freezer room I will simply harvest the fruit whole, freezer bag it and figure out what I’m going to do with it when I have more time. There are tricks I have found over the years that make putting things away for winter an easier task. Like anything worth doing, it takes patients and time when it seems there are so many other things that need my attention. During the winter months when it is time to pull a jar of plum sauce or syrup out of the pantry to pour over our Sunday crepes it’s all so satisfying and the stress of harvesting and processing is forgotten.
Plums are a great example for preserving because there are so many different things you can do with them. So far this year we have jars of plum sauce, dried prune plums, plum fruit leather, plum syrup and plum wine on the go. The plums don’t last long off the tree and seem to all ripen at the same time, so when they are ready we need to pick them and process them. Our family gets so excited when the plums are ripe we tend to over eat them. Still it’s worth feeling a little belly ache as it’s a short window of opportunity to pick and eat them fresh from the trees. The thing I love most about canning is the taste of summer with every bite, especially during the winter months. There’s nothing like raspberry or blackberry jam on a crumpet, cherry concentrate in soda water, or apple sauce on your oatmeal to take you back to the freshness and abundance of the harvest season.
I feel like canning, or some call it bottling, can seem intimidating. It’s really not a difficult process and gets easier once you have done it a couple of times. It is important to have the tools on hand to be successful: large stainless cooking pot with double bottom, the correct size glass jars and lids, some cool kitchen gadgets like canning funnel and lifter, also sugars and pectin for jams or jellies.
Preserving food is definitely a labor of love. It’s a great way to deal with your own harvest and a wonderful activity to do as a family and community. I have yet to find anything that compares to the feeling I get from the simple pleasure preserving gives me.
Well I suppose I’d better get back to picking apples and making more apple rings. The kids can’t get enough of them. With every season comes a welcome change of scene and yet another thing to harvest. It’s nice to get back to basics, happy canning!