Capturing a Taste of Summer

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I know it’s only mid-July, but I can’t help feeling summer slipping away. Like being on vacation, the first half goes slowly, as though the pleasurable days will go on endlessly. But the second half speeds up and before you know it, vacation is over and you’re back to daily routines.

Don’t you wish you could make this summer last a little longer? Warm weather, long days; a bounty of the best produce…?

While we can’t control the weather or prolong the sunset, we can do something about the produce. We can capture a taste of summer by preserving or freezing some of it to enjoy later.

When our boys were young, Steve and I used to can jams and chutneys every summer in our tiny, high-rise apartment kitchen. It was both a hobby and a money saver. We developed a system, where one would fill the sterilized jars and the other would put them into the hot water bath.

We no longer take the time to can, but we still like to make pesto and jams to stock our freezer.

Here are a few preserving tips:

  • If you have an abundance of lemons, grate the peel, juice the fruit and store in pre-measured amounts in recycled takeout sauce containers, in your freezer.
  • When making jams or freezing sauces, be sure to use best-quality produce. Avoid bruised or overripe ingredients, which have a greater chance of spoiling later.
  • When making refrigerator jams, you can extend their shelf life a bit by sterilizing the jam jars first. To sterilize, wash heatproof jars and lids thoroughly in hot, soapy water. Put jars and lids in a pot of hot (not boiling) water to cover by a few inches. Bring the water to a boil and boil jars for 10 minutes.
  • Another option for sterilizing jars: stand washed jars and lids (open side up) on a baking sheet and put in a preheated 175-degree F. oven for 25 minutes.

Here are some easy Special Fork recipes to try:

  • Quick Fig Jam is a quick and easy recipe by Ben Mims. Spread jam on breakfast toast or use as a filling for tarts, pies, cakes and muffins. Or stir into your favorite barbecue sauce. This jam will keep, refrigerated, about a month.
  • When it comes to a quick dinner, Basil Pesto in your freezer is like money in the bank. Freeze pesto without the Parmesan cheese. When ready to use, defrost the pesto and stir in the cheese; then toss with pasta, spread on pizza dough or stir into mayonnaise for a quick dip.
  • Fruit Ices are a simple way to enjoy summer fruits in the fall; just purée the fruit, add sugar to taste, water to thin, and a little lemon juice for tartness. Freeze in ice cube trays and pulverize in a food processor to serve.
  • Freshest Strawberry Jam is made in under 20 minutes with uncooked berries. It keeps well in the freezer to give you a taste of summer in winter. A jar makes a welcome hostess gift during the holidays.

For more information on preserving, go to the following sites produced by the National Center for Home Food Preservation:

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Posted: Jul 13th by Sandy_Hu