Baby Steps in Preserving

Another photo-heavy post ahead, consider yourselves warned.

Freezer Cherry Jam in Jars

Tis the season for preserving the bountiful harvests of summer, unless you live in a USDA garden zone 10, then your growing season is just beginning and the bountiful harvests are months away. After being subjected to post after post, picture after picture, article after article about putting up this season’s bounty with none such of my own (yet), I finally caved in to my curiosity and had to see what this preserving stuff was all about.

I’ll admit the various methods of preserving foods have piqued my curiosity for some time now, both from a self-sufficiency and a scientific standpoint, but I had never tried any of the more serious methods. Sure I’ve dried herbs, but that’s not really on the same playing field as canning or salting or fermenting. Drying herbs, the worst you can really do is end up with dusty tasteless herbs (assuming you’ve correctly identified the plant you’re drying as edible) but with the other methods there is a risk of serious to deadly illness. Add in the specific tools, the almost chemistry-lab-like procedure, and my lack of experience, and preserving seems a bit intimidating. This is why, instead of leaping right into the canned green beans and strawberry jams, I decided to start with baby steps and choose recipes that seemed to have a little more wiggle room for mistakes: Cherry Freezer Jam from the Ball RealFruit Instant Pectin label, and Bread and Butter Pickles from Smitten Kitchen.

Cherry Freezer Jam

Bread and Butter Pickles

I tried to follow the recipes the best I could and I’m relatively pleased with the results. The freezer jam has a good jam texture and a nice raw cherry taste, which makes sense since I didn’t cook the cherries. It is a bit sweet because I couldn’t find sour cherries in the store, but that’s okay. The pickles turned out really well. I was a bit worried when I was making them that they weren’t going to have enough liquid but they’re delightfully salty and sweet and crunchy. I’d have to say both recipes were a success. Now if only I didn’t have to wash the dishes.

Dirty Dishes
A sink full of dishes.

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