Preserving the Summer

from left to right, onion maple conserve, pickled watermelon rind, zucchini relish and vanilla scented pickled cherries

When I was a kid I remember watching my grandmother's working hard in the kitchen making jams and jellies and pickles.  One grandmother made the best peach jam and the other made terrific strawberry rhubarb and my great grandmother, who lived to be almost 100, canned and pickled just about everything.  At the time it never occurred to me that I should have been paying attention because later in life I would want to duplicate those recipes and have no idea how to do it.  My great grandmother made a 14 day pickle and the best bread and butter pickles I have ever had.  As a child I didn't like them and would pout whenever my mother would put them on my plate but as I grew up I started to enjoy them more and more and now that I am canning and pickling things myself I would love to have those old recipes.  

Zucchini relsish

Last year I tried made dill pickles from a recipe by Martin Picard and they always turn out fantastic.  I had made them two years in a row and was equally impressed both years.  So of course this year they were the first thing I made.  While down at my sisters house she gave me a book of recipes for canning and pickling that she had bought for herself and was so impressed with she went back and got me one as well.  Since I picked it up I have been a canning fool.  It is one of those supermarket magazine/books that are full of recipes and as I read through the book I had to start tabbing the pages of all the recipes that I have to try.  Corn salsa, vanilla scented pickled cherries, honey Chianti jelly and the list goes on and on.  I must have about 40 different recipes that I want to try.  

Pickled watermelon rind

With the farmers markets in full swing I have been making it a point to purchase what I need and make at least two or three of the recipes every week. The first week I went overboard and made five different recipes including my dill pickles.  Last week I made onion and maple conserve, zucchini relish, pickled watermelon rind, vanilla scented pickled cherries and the dill pickles.  I had made pickled rhubarb and another type of pickled cherry prior to that and today I made a blueberry maple and hazelnut conserve.  I tell you, I can't stop myself.  

Blueberry maple and hazelnut conserve

My wife has been asking what are we going to do with all that stuff?  At this point I don't know what I am going to do with all of it, it might just end up as Christmas presents for everyone but I doubt some of it will last that long.  The vanilla scented pickled cherries are going quick and would be going even faster if my wife were able to drink alcohol.  She is 21 weeks pregnant so she hasn't gotten to enjoy my new vodka cocktail with pickled cherries.  I on the other hand have been enjoying them a lot.  The zucchini relish is magnificent and has prompted me to make a batch of sweet italian sausage just to use it on.  My personal favorite is the onion and maple conserve,  on a roast beef sandwich with a little blue cheese it is like nothing else on earth.  The blueberry maple and hazelnut conserve is great on ice cream and makes one hell of a cheese cake topping.  

Vanilla scented pickled cherries

Last year I was at he Corner Table and had an Amuse Bouche of pickled watermelon rind with  a cumin oil, I think, and have been craving pickled watermelon rind ever since.  Well now I have 6 pints and will be able to have it whenever I feel like it, mine is good but the Corner Table's was just that much better.  Hopefully as the summer turns into fall I will be able to continue preserving the harvest and have plenty of tasty goodies for the long cold winter I am sure we are going to have.  I have the whole weekend off and nothing to do with it, I should go fishing and try to stock the freezer but I will probably end up back at the farmers market getting honey so I can try the honey Chianti jelly or the lemon and honey jelly or any of the other honey recipes I can't stop reading.  I think its time for another cocktail maybe that will help me decide.