December 21st came and went, and now that we’re sure the world isn’t going to end it’s time to start with planning for 2013. Since this is the last day before 2013, it seems like as good a time as any to plan ahead for it. Here’s a quick rundown of some projects I want to accomplish next year:
- More Preserves. We’ve been giving away jams and preserves as gifts. They make great gifts for friends and family who really deserve more than just a card, especially around the holidays. When the jars start flying off the shelves, you realize just how little you actually have to keep for yourself. Next year, I’ll be doing a much larger quantity of jams and preserves.
- Cherry Jam: We loved this stuff but got relatively small amounts of it. We want more cherries, and more cherry jam. I’d like to experiment with more new recipes and combinations too.
- Peach Jam: We had a couple batches of peaches that didn’t turn out (got moldy before we could use them, etc). Next year I want to be more efficient and make more peach jam, especially the vanilla peach jam which has become a household favorite. We’ll probably stay away from white peaches for a while, since our luck with them was so bad last summer.
- Apple Butter: This made up the bulk of our holiday gifts and it was very well-received. Next year I’m going to experiment more with different varieties of apples, make much larger quantities, and tweak my recipe.
- Apple Sauce: It’s dirt simple to make, and is a great gift especially for people with young children. Who doesn’t love a dollop of apple sauce?
- Pie Fillings: Next year I’d like to make more, and more varieties.
- Other Fruits: I didn’t do anything in 2012 with pears, plums, citrus, or anything else that makes for fun preserves. Next year I’d like to try to do some of that and try many more new recipes. I want to do more stuff with blueberries, though I don’t have anything specific in mind.
- Tomatoes: I plan to greatly expand my garden tomato-growing efforts next year, and I’d like to be able to put together a few jars of sauce. If I can find a good local farm stand selling good varieties, all the better.
- Pickles: I didn’t have good luck with them last summer, but if I can harden my nerves I’d like to give it another shot.
- Flavored Liquors: Some things I’d like to be making myself, corking up, and keeping on hand:
- More Limoncello: It was awesome, and I think I can do even better next year.
- Spiced Rum: I’ve seen a few cool-looking recipes online, and I’d like to give it a shot. Plus, there are some people for whom a bottle of spiced rum would make a better gift than a jar of jam.
- Triple-Sec: It’s made a lot like Limoncello, just substituting the lemon peels for orange ones and making a few other tweaks.
- Amaretto: If we can find a good, cheap source of unmonkeyed almonds I’d love to try my hand at making amaretto and almond extract for baking.
- Vanilla Extract: It’s not a liquor per se, but it’s made with booze and it costs so much less to do it yourself than to buy the little bottles at the store. Plus, I’ve found that I can buy a 1lb bag of the beans on Amazon fresh from the supplier for a decent price.
- Vinegars: We don’t drink a lot of wine (especially not red wine) but we always end up with a few spare bottles after the holidays. I need to find a good vinegar starter and some good clean glass jugs for brewing. Also, I’ve seen some interesting recipes for making apple cider vinegar from apple scraps.
- The Garden: More tomatoes in the garden next year. We’ve got garlic in the ground already, and would like to do some onions and maybe shallots with them. I want bell peppers, a better selection of hot peppers, and maybe some greenish stuff (peas, green beans, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, etc) to fill in the gaps. I’d like a big barrel with potatoes, and maybe a few small cucumber bushes in pots on our patio. I’ve got a few other plans in mind that I’ll talk about later.
- Pick Your Own: The munchkin loves to go picking, and we put the mountains of fruit to good use. Next year I’d like to get more peaches and apples and I’d also like to try other fruits as well. Certain ones like cherries, plums, blueberries, grapes and pears are harder to find for picking, but there are a few places nearby that might offer them if the season is good and we’re very attentive to the schedule.
Some of my plans are going to have to get rolling soon (Tomato seeds have to start around March!). I’ll post updates about all these things as they progress.