Fruit Syrups

Syrup. For most of us, the word brings to mind pancakes or waffles drizzled with—OK, drowning in—liquid maple sugar or its cheaper, corn syrup–based counterpart. But as you start harvesting from your garden, the word expands to endless options based on the fruits of summer and enhanced with herbs.

My love of fruit syrups grew when I learned how to extract bonus jars of the flavor-packed liquid from fruit solids intended for jam—and make jam more easily in the process. Syrups are less finicky than jelly but can still be processed for long-term storage or simply stashed in the fridge. Traditionally made from boiled fruit that’s been strained to separate its juice, I’ve found a cold method separates the juice even more effectively from almost any fruit and a roasted method gives an extra boost of flavor.
Learn to roast and freeze fruit for syrup

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Planning the Season

Seed catalogs have been arriving for weeks, making me think about planning the garden despite the 5 feet of new snow that buried our local mountains in the last few days. This past weekend only enhanced the spring fever: I led a workshop at the 2nd annual Free the Seeds event and was impressed by not just the four-digit turnout but also the number of booths, workshops, and talks. The local Farm Hands organization lists more than 110 farms, ranches, community gardens, farmers markets, and restaurants and grocers that emphasize local food for a county with a population of under 100,000; nationally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent survey found that 167,000 U.S. farms locally produced and sold food through farmers markets, on-farm sales, and other direct farmer-to-eater sales.

This means that no matter where you live, it should be possible to grow or purchase locally grown food and use it in Twice as Tasty recipes. Now’s the time to start thinking about what you want to grow in your new garden, add to your existing plot, or ensure will be delivered by your community-supported agriculture (CSA) farmer.
Read more about planning the season

Dig It, Store It

November has been gorgeous in Montana, but the ground will soon be frozen solid. So we spent the weekend putting the garden to bed: digging the final potatoes, carrots, and beets; pulling the last green tomatoes and peppers from the greenhouse; and stuffing overlooked garlic cloves deeply into the soil. If it weren’t for the 50 pounds of tomatoes ripening on the living room floor, we’d be boxing up the canning equipment too.

We are packing food away, though: much of this last garden haul can be stored in boxes, hung in mesh bags or baskets, or otherwise kept whole for months. No canner, dehydrator, or freezer space is required. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve grown your own, have fall CSA crops, or are simply buying what’s in season over the next few weeks: Box it up to eat well all winter long. Read more about storing vegetables and fruit for winter

Apples

Applesauce is among my earliest canning memories, in the kitchen and on the tongue. My dad grew several varieties of apples, and every year my mom would puree the fruit into dozens of quarts of applesauce. I recall pushing down on softened apples with a wooden mallet while my mother cranked away on the handle of the Victorio food strainer. I called it the “Victoria strainer” and clung to the idea that the British queen once used a similar device.

But my favorite applesauce was made by my grandmother. Grandma Tiny chopped apples by hand for small batches she stored in her freezer. Her “chunky applesauce” outshined all others. Mom’s applesauce did have one advantage: we could pour it onto dehydrator trays and dry it into fruit leather for school lunches. Between the two versions, I was spoiled to all other applesauce and have never been able to stomach commercial forms.
Learn to make Grandma Tiny’s Chunky Applesauce and Auntie Julie’s Fruit Leather