Sunday, September 20, 2015

Things Good and Sweet and Spicy

There was a time when I spent hours - nay, DAYS and WEEKS - canning and freezing and butchering and preserving all that we had grown and raised throughout the summer, in order to fill the cold room and freezers and keep the family fed for the next 12 months.

It was hard, hot work and sometimes I got a bit cranky.

The reward was looking at long shelves filled with glass jars of vegetables and fruit, jellies, jams, relish and pickles, all like jewels in the dark; bins of potatoes, carrots, turnips and cabbage; skeins of onions and garlic; freezers with moose and fish, lamb and goat, chicken, perigees and cabbage rolls. 

We were cash-poor but produce-rich, and it's what got us through the lean years when the children were small and we were homesteading.

Now I have the luxury of farmers' markets and abundant fruit close to hand without all the labour ... at a time when there are usually only two of us at the table and we are eating less (or trying to). And so I no longer do all that processing.

Still and all, when I go to the local fruit and veg store and the bins are piled high with produce fresh from the farms and orchards, I feel the urge. Peaches sing the little song, "Peach and Ginger Chutney." The mountains of peppers in all colours and heat intensity whisper to me in a little voice, "Red pepper jelly."

Peach chutney beginning to cook down.

It's far past peach season but I did get several batches of chutney made. I peeled and froze the last few pounds, as other commitments precluded finishing my project. As today is a cool, overcast day and I'm on my own for awhile, it seemed the perfect time to finish my preserves.

Some finished sealed jars of Peach & Ginger Chutney.
I use recycled jars as often as possible, as well as 'proper' canning jars.

The kitchen is awash in the heady smells of hot peaches, fresh ground ginger, red peppers, jalapeño peppers, vinegar, mint, sugar ... 

Grinding up peppers, getting ready to cook.

The stove is splattered, the floor is sticky, but the sink is wiped clean and the dishwasher churning away. As I enjoy a hot cup of coffee and put my feet up for a few minutes, the soft *pop*  *pop*  *pop* of sealing lids is a lovely sound. I'll clean the stove in a little while; sweep the floor and then mop it clean.

Finished jars of chutney, red pepper jelly and Moroccan mint jelly.
(I do not add green food colouring - this is the real deal.)
 These are the sounds and smells and colours of autumn at its best.

1 comment:

  1. I bottle various tomato based sauces, make my own paté and bacon, and store quite a lot of fruit/vegs to over-winter. I can't imagine ever stopping; it's a way of life.