It’s wonderful to see a resurgence in the popularity of preserving. It used to be a given that when something was in season, homemakers across the country would capture as much of it as possible to last the rest of the year. But like many old-fashioned enterprises, canning disappeared for a while. Now chefs proudly display walls of their homemade jarred provisions, and you often see a young person selling her own jams and chutneys at a farmers’ market. Preserving is easy (see our how-to), but it’s even better with more than one cook to help, so invite a few friends over, crank the tunes and call it a party.
Kitchen 101: Canning vs. Jarring
Both methods preserve foods. True canning requires a special piece of equipment called a pressure canner (different from a canner, which is a large pot). Informally, we use the term canning for all methods of preserving.
Here are some ideas for jamming year-round:
September: Pear butter, grape jelly.
October: Apple chutney, mincemeat.
November: Cauliflower piccalilli.
January: Orange and grapefruit marmalades, cranberry sauce.
February: Pickled onions.
March: Pickled beets, pickled carrots.
April: Pickled radishes.
May: Pickled asparagus, rhubarb jam.
June: Strawberry jam.
July: Zucchini relish, blueberry and raspberry jams, pickled garlic, whole cherries.
August: Red-pepper jelly, dill pickles, corn salsa, tomato relish, whole peaches, pickled green beans.
Pectin is a natural fibre found in fruits that helps jams and jellies to “jell” or set. You can go without it but you’ll have to cook preserves longer, which makes them less juicy and less fresh-tasting. Pectin lets the flavours of the fruit shine through. Many fruits (such as pears) are naturally high in pectin; you can even make your own by cooking apple peels and cores. Find powdered and liquid pectin at hardware and grocery stores, especially in the summer. Use whichever the recipe calls for, as the two react differently.