Preserving with Kids

My home is bustling with excitement today because my parents just flew in from British Columbia for a two week stay.

Our morning table was a babble of voices as we got caught up over a breakfast of baked pears with granola and multiple cups of coffee. It’s wonderful to have the original homesteaders here on my little piece of land. We’re extending summer vacation a bit to visit with them and I won’t be online very much, but I had to tell you about a fun feature we did with popular website Kitchn.

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Foraging for Newfoundland berries and Mixed Wild Berry Jam

I‘m in that post-vacation slump, an in-between state of leisure and productivity where I stall at work because there is too much to do and not enough time.

Eventually I’ll get the laundry put away, the fridge restocked and the emails answered, but today I spooned wild Newfoundland berry jam onto vanilla ice cream, ate it up and joined the kids for a water fight. It takes a day or two to ease into gear and until then, I’m going to fondly reflect back on our time in Canada’s most eastern province.

This is the story of a hike that turned into a berry foraging adventure and the rental kitchen project that happened as a result.

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Cranberry Quince Conserve and a break

We’ve been under fickle skies for the past week.

In the time that it takes to stroll five minutes down my leaf-strewn lane, an afternoon of sunshine is overtaken by clouds. Painted in every colour of grey imaginable, they bring a dreamy rain that slides down the exposed tree trunks and slicks the leaves underfoot. Then, in a moment, rain changes to flurries of snow that never seem to land, only whirl around and around as if lost in the October winds.

The sensation of feeling adrift is a familiar one; being tossed around similarly to those golden-hued leaves abandoned to the tendencies of autumn gales. We have no normalcy these days, I confided to a friend one evening. While many things factor into this unsettling times, a certain upcoming surgery certainly plays a lead role.

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Strawberry Caramel Sauce

To my mind, caramel sauce is truly one of life’s greatest edible pleasures. As a canner, it’s long been a great disappointment to me that there’s no way to safely preserve homemade caramel sauce so that it can be shelf staple and given as gifts.

All that changed when I discovered fruit-based caramel sauces. I first learned of this magical concoction from a piece on Gilt Taste (sadly, the piece is no longer available).

pouring strawberry puree

In that story, the author wrote about how one could start a batch of caramel sauce but then, instead of using cream to finish the sauce, you poured in a fruit puree. Absolutely genius.

The first time I tried it, I was completely sold. The flavor is amazing, it’s easy to make, and the ingredients are nearly identical to jam, so it is perfectly safe for canning.

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Roasted Applesauce with Spices

To me, applesauce is the quintessential fall food.

One of my favorite autumn memories is of wandering an antique apple orchard outside my hometown of Portland, Oregon, bundled up in scarves and layers for the first time of season, picking up windfall apples with my mom and sister. We’d bring our dog with us, and she’d run between the trees, tossing apples up in the air with her nose and then chasing after them.

apples in a roasting pan

Once our bags were full to the top, we’d head home to preserve our gathered fruit. My mom would cover counter tops with newspaper and we’d begin to peel. When the apples were ready, they’d go into her biggest soup pot with a splash of orange juice, cinnamon and grated nutmeg until they’d cooked down into a homey sauce (the peels and the newspaper would go to the compost bin).

roasted apples with spices

Though I live on the other side of the country now, it still doesn’t feel like autumn until I’ve spent an afternoon tramping around an orchard, picking apples and then taking them home to the canning pot.

I make my sauce much like we did when I was young, with plenty of spices and without any added sweetener. The one difference is that instead of cooking my apples down on the stovetop, I peel, core, chop, and roast.

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