You’ve collected the bounty from your backyard garden. You visited the U-Pick farm for berries. And you’ve made pie and had salad every night, but you still don’t know what you’re going to do with all this produce. Fortunately, there are dozens of ways to preserve summer’s amazing produce, from pickling and fermenting to jams and chutneys.
Preserving food is having a moment now, as part of the still-strong trend towards homesteading and DIY. Karen Solomon, author of Asian Pickles and Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It thinks that our generation is moving towards household arts and embracing older traditions.
For many of us, home preserving lets us taste these foods in this way for the first time, Solomon pointed out, particularly if we grew up on processed goods and fast food. Joel MacCharles, of the blog Well Preserved, spoke about his passion for preserving and how it relates to our wider food system at TedX Toronto in 2013> He noted the growing interest in homemade preserves is part of a wider move towards investigating where our food comes from and eating locally.
And you may be surprised to learn that preserves are about more than marmalade and dill pickles. “I think when people think of preserving they just think of pickles and jams,” Solomon said. In fact, nearly any fruit or veggie can be preserved one way or another. Her book, Asian Pickles, inspired in part by her time travelling and living in Asia, gives many great examples of unexpected preserves that are common in other food cultures, like mango or seaweed.
We’ve got 19 recipes for great preserves of all kinds, with something for everyone — pick a recipe and get started! We promise the (minimal!) work is worth it when you’re still enjoying all these great fruits and veggies into 2015.
1. Cherries: Maraschino cherries have nothing on these. DIY cocktail cherries are several steps above your average garnish, and they’re easily customizable — like in this recipe, which adds lemon flavours. They also make a great gift!
2. Peaches: This recipe is described as like the “heroin of the preserving world,” and we can see why that would be the case. Imagine how this butterscoth-peach jam tastes on vanilla ice cream!
3. Zucchini: Would you guess that there’s zucchini in this jam? It’s actually a key ingredient — though the pineapple and rum have plenty to do with its deliciousness as well.
4. Raspberries: Sure, you could make raspberry jam — and that would also be delicious. But it wouldn’t be nearly as surprising as this sweet-but-savoury raspberry chili chutney. Try it with crackers and goat cheese.
5. Radishes: If you ask us, radishes are under appreciated. They add wonderful colour and bite to salads, and this simple recipe for fermented radish slices is a great place to start with food preservation. Vibrant watermelon radishes would be particularly pretty.
6. Rhubarb: You might want to hold on to some rhubarb for making pie and jam with strawberries, but you could do a lot worse than this ginger-infused recipe.
7. Blueberries: Surprised? Yes, you can pickle blueberries — and they’re actually great on top of grilled pork, or as a tangy bite with ice cream. And like so many other pickled foods, pickled blueberries are also great with crackers and cheese.
8. Cabbage: Once you try this homemade sauerkraut, you won’t believe that you ever thought the stuff out of a supermarket jar was acceptable. It’s so easy to make it yourself with fresh cabbage, and so much more delicious when you do.
9. Limes: Okay, limes are never really in season here in Canada, but doesn’t citrus always make you think of summer? Enjoy that feeling all year long with these Indian lime preserves, which add a great authentic flavour to your home dishes.
10. Chilis: If your garden had a particularly proliferous chili plant, it can be hard to imagine how you’ll ever use them up— after all, we tend to use chills in small quantities. But these paneer-stuffed chills from Asian Pickles are a great solution and make a wonderful appetizer. Just remove those seeds so you don’t burn your mouth off!
11. Onions: Do you love topping your salads or sandwiches with crunchy red onions? Then you’ll get a lot of use out of these fermented onions, which also happen to provide some healthy gut bacteria.
12. Strawberries: The sweetness of strawberries balances beautifully here with the tart of balsamic vinegar and the slight heat of black pepper.
13. Kale: Kimchi, the ubiquitous Korean condiment, is traditionally made with cabbage, but hardy kale can stand up to the fermentation process as well.
14. Herbs: Pesto is a great option, but we also like chutneys as a way to enjoy summer’s many in-season herbs all year round. Give it a try with this Indian mint-cilantro chutney, which goes well with a ton of different dishes.
15. Cauliflower: Israeli pickles — called hamutzim — are a great way to use up produce that’s about to go bad. And don’t you find that when you buy cauliflower, you almost never use up the entire head? Not anymore, with this quick-pickle recipe.
16. Carrots: These thinly-sliced Vietnamese pickles are the perfect topping in a bahn mi sandwich. You could also try cutting the veggies into matchsticks and mixing the pickles with noodle dishes or into pho.
17. Bell Peppers: You’ll be surprised at the number of ways you’ll find to use these preserved red peppers. They’re great added into homemade tomato sauce, or as a way to add pizzazz to a store-bought bottle. Or try them tossed in with your salads, added to your tacos, or even with a simple meal of pasta and olive oil.
18. Spinach: There are a ton of ways to get extra greens into your diet, but this has to be one of the best ones. This Korean recipe from Asian Pickles is great as its own side dish, or can be served on top of steamed rice, noodle soups, or salads.
19. Asparagus: There’s nothing quite like fresh asparagus, and it’s only at its best for a short period of time each year. But the satisfying crunch of pickled asparagus is a close second, especially with a bit of spice added. They make a great garnish for a Bloody Mary or Caesar.