Tart Cherries: Savory

Happy Can-It-Forward Day! As a new food blogger, I feel honored to be invited by the Ball brand to make a recipe from The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving. One pass through the book, and I had decided what to create for the sixth annual Can-It-Forward Day. Yes, recipes such as Low-Sugar Strawberry–Tequila Agave Jam and Apricot–Lavender Jam caught my eye, but how could I pass up the chance to combine tart cherries, chipotles, cilantro, and tequila—especially when I was midway through the cherry harvest?

We harvested and processed a double batch of this cherry salsa last weekend, and we’ve been sharing it with people all week for feedback. Love for it has been unanimous. The recipe produced a lovely fruit salsa, with plenty of cilantro flavor and a great tart bite. It’s been particularly popular as the accompaniment for our favorite fish tacos. Learn to make Smoky Sour Cherry–Tequila Salsa and Grilled Fish Tacos

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Canning My Way

Canning, jarring, putting up—depending on where you live, one of these terms likely comes to mind when you hear someone talk about preserving food. Once the domain of grandmothers with giant gardens and 4-Hers learning home-ec skills, recent years have seen a shift in the people processing at home. Eugenia Bone released Well-Preserved in 2009, sharing recipes developed in her New York apartment and designed to fill two to six jars at a time. Blogger Marisa McClellan launched Food in Jars, and her success and subsequent books helped popularize small-batch canning. Articles on home canning appeared in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times and on NPR, and Slate declared at-home preserving “ridiculously trendy.” Since then, the number of books, blogs, and people canning at home have only grown.

I love that a rising interest in eating well year-round has led more people to support farmer’s markets and CSAs, make meals from scratch, and save what’s in season for later use. The appeal of small-batch processing is understandable: Take your leftover fruit or veg and seal it in a couple of jars. The argument is that it’s a quick and easy way to preserve food.

The “couple of jars” part is where I disagree. By the time I prep my canning gear and the food item, heat a kettle of water, make a brine or jam, and finally process the batch, I want to pull the maximum number of jars from that kettle. Instead of going small, I recommend going big—at least big enough to maximize your yield while minimizing your effort and sometimes spreading out the work.
Read more about canning my way

Rhubarb

I grew up in a rhubarb family: large patches growing in my dad’s and grandpa’s gardens, rhubarb pie at Thanksgiving (never diluted with strawberries), and a stash of rhubarb sauce in my mom’s fridge that I put on everything from ice cream to Cheerios. Among the first things I planted when I moved to Montana were rhubarb eyes taken from my dad’s plants; they’ve since spread out into a garden patch that produces all summer long and never bolts—one of the few perks of gardening in the shady woods.

After a winter of playing with various combinations of produce-influenced cocktails that put a splash of summer into the grayest day, I instantly saw “beverage” when I cut my first stalks of rhubarb in spring. The straight rhubarb needed another flavor to balance the bright pink syrup, and I knew from making sorbet that rosemary would add just the right touch in a summer cocktail. Learn to make Rhubarb–Rosemary Syrup and Rhubarb–Orange–Ginger Marmalade