What do you think of when you think of canning? Do you know how to preserve your own backyard harvest? Did your elders teach you the art of preserving food?
For me I grew up with the canning game going strong in our family’s kitchen. In my Dad’s kitchen I recall canning beans for what seemed like days more years than not. In my Grandmother’s Kitchen she was always canning a new jam, sauce, relish, salsa, let alone a variety of fruits and veggies that provided nourishment for us all winter long. My Maternal Grandma would gather a few ladies together and we’d all work to put away the sweet corn til the deep freeze was full!
I never really recalled it being “work” when we were all together with a task to do. I enjoyed picking berries in the summer heat with my Grandpa as well as stirring the jam on the stove for Grandma. I was always amazed how she could turn buckets of berries into the most delightful beautiful deep violet jelly. I felt it was similar to Jesus turning water into wine and Grandpa would just wink when I asked if she was a miracle worker.
As I got older (20 yrs) and had my own little garden I had this misconception that a needed a big garden to have anything to put away for winter. What I learned within a quick couple summers was that my grandparents had a massive garden because they fed many households. A little garden would and could sustain me and it was my goal to figure out how to make small batches work for me and my patio container garden. It just takes one harvest of cherry tomatoes from one or two plants to give you a little jar of sun dried tomatoes. All you have to do is cook them on 200 in your oven for hours and toss them in a jar with some basil or garlic and cover them in a good olive oil. You’re welcome!
I gotta say I’m a good cook. My family loves to join us for holiday meals and Tom’s friends do seem to show up at dinner time a lot! As I’ve gained more experience in the garden as well as in the culinary department I’d say my canning concoctions and how I use them in the kitchen has gotten more interesting. Over the last couple years I’ve been giving out these unique creations to my family and friends as gifts. I don't think there is anything better to consume in the dead of winter than a jar home grown summer abundance in a mason jar making it my favorite holiday gift to share.
My grandmother has told me that one of my latest creations is actually something my Great Grandmother, Erma use to make. This has sparked a whole new quest of learning more about my Great Grandmother’s garden…I knew her well when she lived in town with pretty flowers, I don’t recall her garden. Interestingly enough I have an old wagon wheel of her’s that we both use (d) for Scarlet Runner Beans and I had no idea until my Dad watched a video of my garden. Isn’t that beautiful? It’s fascinating to me really and has sparked some joy that I really can’t explain.
Last year I had this idea of making some syrup out of herbs that could be yummy as well as medicinal. I utilized our abundant blackberry bush and got to work with some intuitive herbal additions to a traditional blackberry syrup recipe. I wanted to make it syrup instead of a jelly so it could be more diversely used. It would make an amazing glaze for a barbeque dish, you could add it your own salad dressing, it would make a fun cocktail or tea, and of course you can use it as you would regular syrup! While this is something I would easily share with friends and family the intention was to share it with you all but I knew it wasn’t one of my typical teas or tinctures and so I doubted myself. So I bottled them up and put them in the basement with the rest of the canned goods.
I’ve had the same dream twice now of my Great Grandmother being in my basement asking me “Why in tarnation these syrups are still down here?” so here I am bottling them up making names for these four different blends. I hope you enjoy them and I can’t wait to hear how you use your magical syrup! I do think Erma is happy I was finally posting and sharing them because the photo shot the next morning sure was perfect! I wonder how she will show up in my garden next, I feel as though she is smiles on me there often.
Look for more blog posts this summer with specific small batch recipes for you to preserve your own creations! I hope this inspires you to get creative with what you have in your own backyard and create your own way of preserving your harvest.
Only 7 bottles of each will be available on May 26th after the IG LIVE Update takes place. If you’re curious here are the details on the blends:
Summer Cool Blend – Blackberries, Borage, Cucumbers, Grapefruits, & Lemon Balm
Summer Heat Blend – Blackberries, Basil, Limes, & Lemon Hot Peppers
Summer Abundance Blend – Blackberries, Lemon, & Mint
Goddess Blend – Blackberries, Oranges, Rosebuds, Laender, & Geranium