Asparagus

In our garden, asparagus kicks off the edibles’ season. Only herbs like chives and mint beat it to the mark. With these perennials, there’s minimal work involved once the plants are established. Simply wait for them to start popping out of the ground, and you know it’s time to get to work in the rest of your beds.

Hands down, my favorite way to eat asparagus is grilled. It’s so easy to prepare and is a fabulous accompaniment to anything else you would throw on the grill. It also works beautifully on pasta, in risotto, or over salad greens. We often gobble it all up fresh, saving only a little for refrigerator-pickled asparagus, but sometimes we can’t keep up and the spears get tough. It’s a perfect excuse to turn those spears into a puree that can be used to flavor sauces, soups, and rice dishes after the plants have stopped producing.
Learn to grill asparagus and make Asparagus Puree

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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