Thursday, July 24, 2014

Freezer Jams & Refrigerator Pickles: Easy Ways to Preserve Your Harvest

Our raised bed gardens


Fresh beans, crisp cucumbers right from the vine, and all those other garden treats.  We all so excited as we pick the first crops, but as the summer goes along are you wondering what to do with ANOTHER bowlful?  When my kids were young, I froze and canned a a lot -- learned it from my mom.  Now I still garden, but I don't care to stand over that hot canner or spend time blanching veggies that may or may not taste fresh when thawed.  Besides I have a smaller freezer and I keep that loaded with blueberries, cranberries, jam, and quality hamburger.  So when I got a chance to review this little cookbook by CQ Products, I was all in.  FREEZER JAMS & REFRIGERATOR PICKLES: EASY WAYS TO PRESERVE YOUR HARVEST is a nice collection of recipes for small batch preserving for the refrigerator and freezer.  Last weekend we had the whole family over for Sunday afternoon and I prepared pickled beans, sliced dill pickles, and beet pickles on Friday and put them in the refrigerator.  By Sunday all were ready to eat at our grill out.  I forgot to take pictures before the jars were opened, and if you look closely at the photo you can see that the jars are almost empty.  That's a good thing -- that means the recipes were a success.  I know there are plenty of recipes for all three of these delights, but I like the recipes in this little volume.  For one, the dill slicers don't have a ton of salt, yet they are crisp and tasty.  The dilled bean recipe didn't even require blanching the beans.  My son asked for the recipe and I know he will make more batches than I will because his family loves dilly beans!  My beets aren't ready yet so I bought some at an Amish garden stand.  I normally don't make pickled beets and instead satisfy my hankering for them by eating them at potlucks.  But my mom almost always put pickled beets on the table at picnics and family gatherings, so I made this recipe in her honor.  Since the recipe makes one jar that will keep several weeks in the fridge, I won't be overwhelmed with too many jars on the pantry shelf.

Other veggie recipes I want to try include a corn relish (YUM) and a pickled veggie blend of carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, and red bell peppers.  Those of you who have access to fresh fruits will love the jam and chutney recipes.  I've wanted to make apple butter but so many recipes make huge batches, and as I said before, I don't want so many jars of one thing.  If my son's apples are plentiful this fall, I will be making the recipe in this book which yields 4 cups that can be frozen for a year or stored in the fridge for three weeks. And before my raspberries are gone, I want to try the peach melba jam -- reminder to myself, buy a couple peaches, liquid pectin, and fruit fresh.

CQ products makes many, many small gift-type cookbooks.  I first saw them at an ACE Hardware store, but I think many gift shops also carry their books.  I know you can find this particular one on Barnes and Noble and you can certainly check out  http://www.cqproducts.com/ to see all the choices.  I want to thank CQ Products for sending me this and two other cookbooks for review purposes.  

A garden note--- Behind our raised beds is another garden plot.  This year that section has cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, beets, extra lettuce, peppers, and more tomato plants. It is edged in zinnias that are just beginning to bloom. This area also has my asparagus bed, two rhubarb plants and a small raspberry patch.  If you look closely to the right of the garden shed you will see our rain water collector, made from a large blue barrel. Russ painted it blue and had the top fashioned from sheet metal.  He calls this creation "Mr. Tin Man."  I think it looks like an old-fashioned water tower.

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