Friday, March 7, 2014
By ANNE MAHLE
A person who loves food can't walk through a day this time of year without thinking about how to preserve, harvest, save, can or freeze something.
The abundance is enormous, and at the same time, that occasional shift in wind direction from the north reminds us that this beautiful time of year with warm days that kiss our bare skin and warm nights that allow the windows to be wide open will soon give way to more and more layers, less and less sun, fewer and fewer days with the windows opened with abandon.
The echoes of our pioneer ancestors must ring the loudest in our veins this time of year as the yearning, almost need, to nest and gather grows in an un-ignorable way ... or maybe it's just me.
In any case, the shelves are lined with Ball jars at the grocery store, so even those with the slightest of impulses in this direction might be tempted to make a foray into the preserving realm.
Things that are on my current list:
• Core and freeze whole tomatoes
• Dilly beans
• Pickles of all kinds and varieties
• Pickled fennel
• Elderberries -- freeze, jam, jelly, syrup
• Peaches -- brandy, cordial, jam, chutney
• Raspberries -- freeze, jam
• Vinegar -- fennel, nasturtium, chive, raspberry
PEACH VANILLA JAM
4 cups peeled and pitted peaches
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 vanilla beans
1 package SureJell pectin
5-1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons homemade vanilla or pure vanilla extract
To peel the peaches, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the peaches to the water, one layer at a time. Remove after 1 minute or so to a bowl of ice water. Repeat as needed. Peel, pit and slice the peaches.
Scrape the seeds from the inside of the vanilla beans and in a large pot, combine the peaches, lemon juice, vanilla seeds and pectin and bring to a full boil over medium heat. Add the sugar and bring to a full roiling boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. When done, remove from heat.
Meanwhile, sterilize in boiling water, nine 8-ounce Ball jars and their lids by boiling for 10 minutes. Carefully remove from water when the jam is done and ladle the jam into the jars leaving a 1/2-inch clearance at the top.
Cover with the sterilized lids and return the jars to the boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove from the water and place on a towel on the counter to cool.
Each lid should making a fun popping sound that indicates it's cooling and sealed. You can feel it by pressing in the middle of the lid. If there is no give, you're good. If you can make a little popping sound yourself by pressing up and down once the jars have cooled, put those jars in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks. The rest will store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
Makes about eight 8-ounce jars of jam.
Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of "At Home, At Sea." She can be reached at: