While I could fret and worry about the state of our depleted natural resources, I chose instead to put some food by. The Beneficial Farms CSA had frozen figs on offer and I ordered some for the last of our pickup with them. We're down to just one CSA because the Beneficial Farms pickup day/time was not working for us. Originally out of Santa Fe, Beneficial Farms began offering shares to folks in Albuquerque a little less than a year ago. Sadly, the Albuquerque option is in a state of crisis and needs more people to sign up to be able to continue the service. Do I feel some responsibility? Sure, but it was becoming too stressful for us to manage.
Pickups are on Friday evenings at the Las Montanitas warehouse. If you are interested in supporting this CSA, click here for more information.
To make these lovely fruits into jam, I went right to Put 'Em Up, my new favorite book on canning and preserving. The recipes are interesting and she doesn't rely on alcohol for flavor as Eugena Bone does in Well Preserved. I think Well Preserved is a fantastic resource for canners who both eat quite a bit of meat (to utilize the many recipes) and have liquor on hand. Put 'Em Up, however is more or less alcohol-free and uses unique ingredients. Her fig jam is more than just sugar and fruit, for example. It also has balsamic vinegar, which lends an air of sophistication. Here is the finished product:
|Might pick up some bleu cheese to enjoy with the jam on fresh bread.|
The CSAs have also provided us with a plethora of apples, so I turned them into spicy apple chutney, also from Put 'Em Up. It smelled heavenly with the cider vinegar, brown sugar, curry, ginger and allspice simmering on the stove for nearly an hour. This is what it looked like in the pot. Here it doesn't look so appetizing, but believe me it smelled and tasted divine.
If you're thinking "isn't canning usually done in the summer?" I can tell you the benefits of canning in the middle of winter are many.
- It heats up the house (if I had listened to the local news and heard about the natural gas shortages, I probably would not have spent the day with the stove on and the canner boiling away, but so it goes).
- It adds humidity to our dry indoor climate
- I can avoid canning burn-out when all of the fruit and veg comes in at once. Freezing it allows me time to space out canning projects and tackle them when I can, not when I must.
- I didn't sweat to death in a sweltering kitchen for hours. It was rather pleasant, really.
- Did I mention how much more comfortable it is to can when the outdoor temperatures are not in the 90s?