Accidentally Cooking

Documenting my mistakes in the garden, kitchen and pantry

2013 Preserving Plans

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I started using Pinterest as a way to keep track of some of some gardening and cooking ideas. I saw one post on there that reminded me that it’s time to start putting together a plan for the sprint/summer/fall season. Since I have nothing else to write about, here’s mine.

The Garden

I’m only growing two crops that I expect to have enough volume for canning: Tomatoes and Hot Peppers. I expect to see some cherries on the new trees, but not nearly enough to do anything with until next year or later. Xander has requested pumpkins, so if we get a decent crop of those I may try something with them. We’ll know in the fall.

Pick Your Own

We know we can get a buttload of both peaches and apples from the local orchards, of good quality at a good price. According to various websites we should also be able to get cherries, blueberries, plums, pears, apricots, nectarines and grapes. I didn’t see most of these things available last year, so I’ll have to be more vigilant. If we can get them, I’ll put them in jars.

Things That Went Well

Probably the best-received gift we gave last year was the apple butter, which people raved about. The peach jam we gave away was also well received. The orange jelly was only a small batch but the people who tried it really loved it. The caramel apple jam was also a hit, though we made less of that than the apple butter and gave less of it away. The Apple Cider Jelly we made was very popular as well.

We made cherry, apple and blueberry pie fillings last year. All of these were surprisingly tasty and made for excellent pies (especially for Christmas, where an easy pie recipe was much appreciated).

The tomato jam I made was very tasty, but Dana and I are having trouble finding places to use it. So far, we use it as a replacement for ketchup on grilled cheese sandwiches and nowhere else. I’m hoping that burger season will inspire us to use more of it.

Things Didn’t Go As Well

The cherry jam I made was tasty but the consistency was not great. The pieces of cherry were too large, there wasn’t enough sugar and the “jelly” part of it was a very loose syrup. I would like to make more cherry jam, but I will probably follow the normal recipe with the pectin.

We just don’t eat enough applesauce. Our son doesn’t seem to want it, we don’t use it enough, and we’re running out of people with young children who would like some. The Caramel Apple Jam and the Apple Butter (both of which start off their lives as apple sauce) are much more popular.

I put up several jars of both apples and cherries in light syrup. The problem is, I have no idea what to do with either of these things, and they’re still sitting on my shelf.

The sundried tomatoes I made didn’t get dry enough and grew mold. The dried red pepper I made also ended up getting trashed. I won’t do either of these or anything like them again without a proper dehydrator.

The pickles I made had a nice flavor but were way too sour and vinegary. Plus, my luck with cucumbers last year was poor.

Goals for 2013

I want to make a lot of peach jam and a lot of apple butter. I’d also like to make enough apple pie filling to give some away as gifts. I expect to make more cider jelly and more caramel apple jam.

I didn’t make any regular blueberry jam last year. If I can find a good cheap supply of those expect both blueberry jam and combination jams with other fruits.

When Valencia oranges come in season, I’m going to try my orange jelly recipe with them.

If we can get a reasonable amount of tomatoes this year, expect lots of big jars of sauce.

I may try a small batch of pickles again too, if I can find good quality cukes at a good price.

I’ve been kicking around some ideas for new and interesting jam recipes. I’ll post some of my ideas next time. If things go well this season, expect to see a few of these new ideas brought to life.

Author: Andrew Whitworth

I'm a software engineer from Philadelphia PA. Sometimes I like to go out to my garden, or step into my kitchen and make a really big mess of things.

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