Lessons in what to preserve

Posted on Monday, February 28, 2011 | By Nicole Easterday |
 Each year I've put away harvest for the winter I've learned something new. Sometimes I learn a better technique or process that makes the job easier, quicker or creates a more attractive end product. More often than not, though, the most important thing I'm learning by March 1st is what I wish I had saved more of! In light of that I'm making a list, lest I forget. I encourage you all to do the same! Preserved goodies I wish I had more of:
  1. 1) Canned tomatoes, always canned tomatoes. Even after preserving 100 lbs of tomatoes this year (which I split with a friend), I still find my selection of jars dangerously low. We just use a lot of tomatoes all year. I love making hearty soups in the winter and Jared's your meat braise man. What's a couple to do when they run out?
  2. 2) Dried champagne grapes.  You can imagine my joy when Terina, my canning pal, showed up with a crate of delectable tiny purple champagne grapes.  I turned some into yummy jam, froze some and dried the rest.  I didn't have a fancy dehydrator (still don't, but it's on the wedding registry!) so I dried them in the oven with the door open and a fan blowing in.  I know, I know, not terribly eco-friendly but what's a girl to do?  In the end these little beasts were so tasty.  I have a mere tablespoon left, which I've been holding onto because I can't face the idea of running out.  I just ate a handful and that last tablespoon might not see nightfall.
  3. 3) Things other people made! I swear to dog, either hours of processing and canning tire me so much of something that I don't ever want to see it again or other people are just so much better than me at preserving yummy goodness than I am.  I'm seeing the trend of canning swaps grow so don't be surprised to see a FARMcurious swap coming soon to a location near you!
-------------------------- Speaking of canning exchanges and amazing things made by other people, this might be a good time to mention that I have a reward for anyone who can identify the person who made a certain jar of jam that I received in an exchange at Eat Real Fest 2009.  This delectable treat is reminiscent of bergamot tea-scented apricot jam and came in this tiny re-purposed artichoke hearts jar.  It was so incredibly delicious, complex yet delicate, and I have no idea who made it or how.  Please, please spread the word so I may meet this master of the preserving arts and learn their secrets!  What delicious things did you put away this year and what are you already running out of?