Easy preserves

Author: Canadian Living


Easy preserves

Since the dawn of time our ancestors furiously gorged on the bounty of summer fruits and berries, getting their fill before the season ran out.

Eventually they figured out how to preserve the surplus, a tradition we love to continue today.

Whatever your reasons for preserving -- an homage to your grandmothers, to connect with the earth or just simple economic common sense -- we have nine excellent recipes, from jellies to salsas, to help you make the best of this summer's wonderful produce.

Summer-fresh jams and jellies
Try these tasty twists on three classic flavours!

1. Strawberry Balsamic Black Pepper Jam
The sweetness of strawberries, tang of vinegar and heat of pepper create a perfectly balanced preserve to enjoy with cheese and crackers.

2. Strawbery Vanilla Jam
A vanilla bean infuses this strawberry jam with intriguing flavour and aroma.

3. Rhubarb Orange Jelly
Sharp yet sweet, this jelly is delicious on toast or as an accompaniment to poultry or pork. Use the pinkest rhubarb you can find for vibrant colour.

Summer-fresh preserves
This batch of recipes highlights the summer flavours of raspberries and currants in jams and liqueurs. Check "Best preserving pot" on page 2 of this article for what kind of pot to use.

1. Summer-Fresh Raspberry Freezer Jam
With a loose set and intensely fresh raspberry taste that captured our taste buds, this is the Test Kitchen's hands-down favourite freezer jam.

2. Raspberry Red Currant Jam
The natural pectin in red currants makes commercial pectin unnecessary for this lively soft-set jam. This recipe is adapted from the Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving (Robert Rose, 2006).

3. Black Currant Liqueur
French crème de cassis is the inspiration for this sweet and fruity liqueur. This drink makes a refreshing cocktail by topping 1 oz (25 mL) with 4 oz (125 mL) chilled white wine, sparkling white wine or soda water.

Photography by Yvonne Duivenvoorden

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Summer-fresh fruit flavours
These recipes feature the intense flavour of wild blueberries, stone fruit at the peak of perfection and luscious red tomatoes.

1. Sassy Sweet Salsa
Nicely balanced with fruit and vegetables, this chunky, colourful condiment goes well with any main course. If you want to increase the heat, add 1 hot red pepper, seeded and minced. For even more fire, include the seeds.

2. Wild Blueberry Topping
This dark, shiny topping captures the deep ripe flavour of wild blueberries all year round. Enjoy it with waffles, pancakes, yogurt or ice cream or warm it up and use as a syrup.

3. Preserved Apricots with Bourbon and Vanilla
Bourbon-laced apricots make an elegant dessert to serve on their own or over pound or angel cake. Choose firm, barely ripe apricots so they maintain their shape during cooking. A substitute for the vanilla bean is 2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla added to the boiled syrup.

Best preserving pot
When making preserves, it's important to use the right pot, such as a wide heavy-bottomed Dutch oven. (We used a 24-cup/6 L shallow one.) As a substitute, use a large heavy-bottomed wide saucepan.

There must be enough surface area for water from preserves to evaporate. Before boiling, mixture should come about one-quarter up side of pot to allow for expansion when preserve boils vigorously.

Photography by Yvonne Duivenvoorden

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