Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First day of summer + looking back on my first year of preserving

Summer feet
Happy Summer Solstice everyone! I am loving the sunshine and stretched out feeling of June. I mean stretched out in a good way, as in long days and a slowing down and sense of appreciation of life and beauty around me.

Even though I haven't been putting up as much as I'd like to be, I have been wrangling my preserving tools and systems into some kind of order. Part of that has been starting a preserving log  backup for the stained and often sticky notebook I jot cooking notes in  and that has led me to look back on everything I've made in the preservation realm in the last 15 months or so. 

This retrospective on my first year+ of preserving has left me with a high level of excitement at what's ahead, as well as a "Wow! That's A LOT" sense of pride in everything I've already accomplished.

Simple syrup trios at swap (Some rights reserved by jackhonky)
My beginnings in this world were literally, quite simple. For the past few years I have loved making herbal simple syrups. Whether as fixings for cocktails or desserts or flavorings for homemade sodas and lemonades, I loved harnessing the flavor of things like rose geranium, lemon, basil, rosemary, lemongrass and more, and then infusing those into something else. I was hooked. Of course when we launched the food swap last year, one of the items I produced was a trio of simple syrups. (Photo is thanks to Irvin of Eat the Love who came to and wrote about our first swap).

From there I started almost compulsively following all kinds of preserving and food blogs like Food in Jars, Punk Domestics, Well Preserved, Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking, Hungry Tigress, Grow It Cook It Can It, and many more. The folks behind these awesome resources have all been incredibly welcoming, helpful and inspiring. Some I have been lucky enough to meet in real life, but all of them I feel connected to via a larger shared food community. To them I send a collective gigantic THANK YOU  you've made the first year a whole lot of fun.

I also need to give a shout-out to my friend Susan, who along with my mom, is the one who showed me the ropes of water-bath canning. She has also shared the bounty of fruit on her Sebastopol property, with numerous marathon days, and nights, of harvesting and canning. I am enormously grateful and can't wait for this summer's action to hit!

Current fridge of jars + pickle chips in the making
It's entirely probable that I've left a few things off the "complete" list below. On at least three occasions since I thought I had finished it, I've had to go back and update after encountering jars of things in my fridge that hadn't yet been accounted for. And I know a lot of stuff has gone the way of my gullet, instantly to be forgotten. Still, it's a pretty good list and represents a lot of time in the kitchen, chopping, stirring, sweating and yes, eating.

Pickled Chard Stems
Marinated Cauliflower
Rosemary Rice Wine Vinegar
Lemon Balm Cordial
Brandied Cocktail Cherries
Fruit Leathers
Plum Jelly with Mom
Greengage Plum Jam with Vanilla
Greengage Plum Chutney
Infused Vodkas
Sweet Garlic Dills
Pepper Jelly
Fig Balsamic Jam
Jalapeño Bread + Butter Pickles
Pickled Jalapeños
Rose Petal Jelly
Dehydrated Hot Peppers
Meyer Lemon Lavender Marmalade
Blackberry Jam
Slow Roasted Tomatoes
Fig Balsamic Jam
Brandied Fig Preserves
Dehydrated Apple Rings
Apple-Pear Butter
Fig Jam with Fennel Pollen
Chipotle Fig Preserves
Quince Preserves (Plain + w/ Vanilla)
Quince Preserves w/ Star Anise + Lemon
Slow Cooker Applesauce
Spiced Applesauce
Apple Pectin
Quince in Rose Syrup
Oktobeerfest Mustard
Lemon Sage Wine Mustard
Curry Pickle Slices
Cucumber Slices with Lemon
Ginger-Garlic Mustard
Pickled Ginger
Wine Jelly
Blood Orange Curd
Cranberry Mustard
Pickled Eggs (Beet & Tarragon)
Brown Sugar & Cranberry Mustard
Meyer Lemon Curd
Blueberry Citrus Preserves
Key Lime Syrup
Dehydrated Pears
Blood Orange Curd
Grapefruit Hibiscus Curd
Pear Ginger Preserves
Bosc Pears in Lady Grey Syrup
Candied Kumquats
Blood Orange Marmalade w/ Cinnamon
Blood Orange Marmalade w/ Star Anise
Dehydrated Kumquats
Spiced Kumquats
Honey + Rosewater Kumquats
Pickled Asparagus
Kumquat-Habanero Marmalade
Kumquat Marmalade
Sweet Preserved Kumquats
Moroccan Preserved Lemons
Roasted Rhubarb Jam
Quince Preserves, 3 ways
Ginger Beer
Pickled Nasturtium Capers
Szechuan Pickled Green Beans
Pickled Beets with Cloves & Cumin
Olive Salad (for muffalettas!)
Pickled Ginger Peaches
Peach Jam
Peach Syrup
Bourbon Peach Skin Butter

Additionally I've completed five months of my Cook It 2012 firsts, including bread, butter, pasta and farmer's cheese, plus I've managed to keep my sourdough starter alive for eight months or so, though I have yet to make bread from it. (Hangs head in shame).

Perhaps you noticed like I did that I am in fact a terrible blogger in terms of documenting all that I am actually doing on the home canning front? (I've blogged about a mere 13 of the 72 items above, but you can see pics of much more here). 

But, like the discussion I had earlier today with friends over a leisurely lunch and a bottle of vinho verde rosé (instead of working on this post), sometimes it's important to forego the documenting in order to do the living. So here's to hopes of a nice long summer full of all the enticing things we can think of — in and out of the kitchen.

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