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Savoring the Seasons

Savoring the Seasons: Small-batch preserving

By MARY MCCLINTOCK

When I think of canning, I imagine spending many hours in a hot kitchen with large boxes of produce, big vats of bubbling preserves, and rows of jars coming out of other vats of boiling water. It’s easy to get overwhelmed considering such a scene, and to decide I don’t have the time and energy to preserve the produce I see at local stores, farm stands and farmers markets.

Then, I heard about a new book by Marissa McClellan, the woman who wrote “Food in Jars.” As soon as I heard the title, “Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces,” I thought, “Perhaps this book will help me move past feeling overwhelmed by canning.”

I got the book at World Eye Bookshop and am intrigued by the MANY recipes for SMALL batches of foods for each season of the year: Fermented Radish Slices, Spicy Pickled Asparagus, and more for spring, jam, tomato and zucchini recipes for summer, and apple, pear, beet, squash and carrot recipes for fall and winter. For those who have never done any canning, this book is a great way to try it out. “Preserving by the Pint” includes basic canning instructions along with many recipes. My guess is that those with LOTS of canning experience will also find intriguing new recipes to try.

When I saw this recipe for Blender Salsa (see below), I thought of The Bars Farm and their “canning tomato list.” Stop by 146 Mill Village Road, South Deerfield or call 413-772-1031 to let them know how much you want and when you want them. They’ll call when tomatoes are available.

Of course, “Preserving by the Pint” is just one of many great books on preserving and storing food. Here are a few essentials for a food preserving bookshelf: “Putting Food By” by Janet C. Greene, “Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables” by Nancy and Mike Bubel, “Wild Fermentation: The Flavors, Nutrition and Craft of Live-Culture Foods” by Sandor Ellix Katz, and “Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Homemade Cheeses” by Ashfield resident and Cheese Queen Ricki Carroll.

What are your favorite food preserving and storing books and recipes for food preserving? Please share!

Second Annual In the Field and Under the Sky: Local Farm Dinner to Benefit CISA, Saturday, Aug. 2, 5 p.m., Enterprise Farm, Whately. Locally grown food prepared by top chefs, craft beer, wine, and beverages. Presented by Whole Foods Market in Hadley. For information and tickets, visit http://www.wfmfarmdinner.eventbrite.com/.

BLENDER SALSA

Makes 4 half-pint jars.

By Marisa McClellan (from “Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces”)

Fresh, homemade salsa is one of my summertime refrigerator staples. Sadly, its season is painfully short and so I also make salsa for canning when tomatoes are cheap and good. I like this blender version, because the prep is easy, the cooking time is short, and it tastes awfully good on scrambled eggs and toasted corn tortillas with cheese.

1 dry quart (about 2 pounds) Roma tomatoes, cored and peeled

½ C. minced yellow onion

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, stem and seeds removed, roughly chopped

2 T. bottled lime juice

Zest of 1 lime

2 tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. citric acid

Prepare a boiling water bath and 4 half-pint jars for canning. Place 4 lids in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend in short bursts until the ingredients are well incorporated. Don’t process to the point of having a smooth puree ... you want a salsa that still has a little texture. Pour salsa into medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Funnel salsa into prepared jars. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

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