When you’re young, your summer goals are simple: lose 10 pounds and get a good tan. Our goals this summer are simple too, but will probably involve a lot more work than losing 10 pounds and a lot less time sitting than we would do getting a good tan.
1. Pick blackberries, blueberries, peaches
2. Can, freeze, preserve blackberries, blueberries, peaches. We will have fruit pies in the winter. We will make blackberry jam and peach lavender jam with lavender from our garden on homemade bread with homemade butter (we’ve learned you can do that with a jar and a marble). We will make blueberry muffins on a winter morning, each bite a memory of fruit picked in the early morning under a warm summer sun. There will be mason jars filled with preserved peaches and blackberries on our shelves.
3. Make our own catsup
4. Pickle garlic with lemon and herbs – no more of that annoying papery stuff all over the kichen counter and floor. Pretty jars in our pantries full of cloves of garlic, lemon slices and herbs ready to grace a roast chicken.
5. Pickle cucumbers-bread & butter, dill and half dills, green beans (dilly beans), cauliflower (if it grows successfully in our garden), fennel and anything else we can pickle.
6. Zucchini relish for hot dogs on the grill in the summer. Horseradish beer mustard for roast pork in the winter.
6. Can tomatoes and make tomato sauce. Another item we can add to the list of things we don’t buy at the store anymore.
We don’t know if we’ll accomplish all this in one summer but it is possible since two people make half the work. But if we do succeed, if we do…we’ll be very proud and our pantries will look like a picture from Saveur. We’ll laugh at the failures and the messes we make and when we’re halfway through that bushel of tomatoes, we’ll wonder what on earth we were thinking-Heinz is damn good catsup. But we’ll persevere and we’ll celebrate the successes by hugging and jumping up and down – what we have come to call “the dance of the empty nest”.
OUR FIRST ATTEMPT: LEMON HERB PICKLED GARLIC from TART AND SWEET BY KELLY GEARY AND JESSIE KNADLER
NOTE: We wanted to start canning before we start picking fruit so that we can learn the mechanics of the process. We have two canners so we can have one at each house. These were donated by family who either didn’t want to can anymore or found one still in the box at a garage sale. The book was a Christmas gift mean to inspire and challenge us and it did. We have not written the steps leading up to starting the recipe. The instructions in this book are very easy to follow. This recipe appealed to us, because, other than peeling all that garlic, it looks fairly easy and if we bomb, we won’t be crying over ruined blackberries.
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tblsp kosher salt
- 1 lb garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 lemon slices
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 3 large thyme sprigs
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
- 1 tablespoon brown mustard seed
- 1/2 tablespoon chili flakes
- 1 tsp coriander seed
- 1 tsp fennel seed
Bring the vinegars, water and salt to a boil in a small nonreactive pot. Stir to dissolve the salt.
Place lemon slices, herbs and spices in each hot jar. Fill the jars with garlic cloves. Pour hot brine over the garlic, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Make sure the garlic is covered in liquid. Check for air bubbles, wipe the rims and seal. Process for 15 minutes, adjusting for elevation. Yield 2 pints. We used 1/2 pint jars.