For the second year in a row my sister, Sarah, and I have joined a local CSA. If you are not sure what that is, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture. We sign up in the spring and receive fruits and vegetables throughout the spring, summer and fall.
Our CSA , Doe Run Farms, has provided tons of great vegetables and delicious fruits. Most weeks we get more than we can eat so we started freezing some items. We freeze blueberries to use later in my Blueberry Boy Bait, a great coffee cake recipe by America’s Test Kitchen. We blitz onions and peppers through our food processor and freeze them in snack size bags to use later in the year for several savory dishes.
We also freeze tomatoes by just washing and drying them and lay them out on a cookie sheet. Then we place the clean tomatoes in the freezer for 3-4 hours and then bag them up. We just finished making twelve cups of homemade pizza sauce from our 2014 crop of tomatoes and onions.
This year our mother bought us the new Better Homes and Gardens: Complete Canning Guide to try out. There are several great recipes in there along with helpful hints on everything from Sweet Potato Butter to Apricot Chutney to homemade Cherry Cobbler filling. Spoiler alert the sauce is made from cranberry juice!
We have used the book’s recipes for homemade jam include mixed berry, a combination of raspberries, cherries, and blueberries as well as our delectable black berry jam. Their temperature and testing methods for seeing when jam is set is spot on and really helpful.
One of the things I am most proud of is our canned peaches this year. Sarah and I created a light simple syrup of one part sugar to three parts water and added a spice mixture that a friend sent us. You know who you are, Thank you, Friend!
The spice mixture included cinnamon, anise, cardamom, ginger, black pepper and lilac. It is a sweet and zesty mixture of DELICIOSNESS and it took an ordinary canned peach to something truly scrumptious. The peaches are sweet and spicy and the simple syrup they are in is so good you could almost drink it. Okay, I DID drink it. It is really good! The syrup is also the perfect thing to pour into a little sun tea for just a bit of peachy sweetness.
So you may be thinking, Carrie you’re making me hungry and you haven’t really told me how to make these things. Well that’s true and this time I am not going to tell you how. I am hoping that this post will inspire you to get to your local farmers market or roadside farm stand and make something of your own. It’s not any harder than cooking dinner, HONEST.
You can do it and for just over $20 on Amazon the Better Homes and Garden Complete Canning Guide can help. Or you can check out the Recipes section of the Ball website for full recipes on everything from jams and jellies to soups and desserts. Try something and let me know how it goes!
It’s almost apple season, I am off to try my hand at homemade apple pie filling, apple butter and apple chutney.
Talk to you soon!