The Main Menu: August and September are prime time for preserves

Now is the prime for preserves, says our food columnist Jan Main in The Main Menu.

By JAN MAIN

Preserving means preparing foods so that it can be kept for long periods of time without spoiling or deteriorating.

Originally preserving would have been done by salting or dehydrating, later various methods of pickling were used and modern methods include refrigeration and freezing. In all cases, you are preparing food to make it safe from bacteria by adding salt, vinegar, sugar or removing moisture (dehydrating.)

August and September are ideal times to preserve when fruits and vegetables are at its abundant best.

Here are some quick preserves to add pizazz to meals ideal for the modern cook with limited time.

Quick Vegetable Relish

My friend Kathryn Tanaka brought a sample of this refrigerator relish for dinner one evening. It was delicious served with a slice of old cheddar or meat.

Because you store the relish in the refrigerator for up to four weeks, you can prepare it quickly without having to use a boiling water bath, another time saver. You can vary it with vegetables or your choice: carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, cucumber, onions or peppers. This version used:

3 cups (750 mL) washed, dried, thinly sliced cucumbers
3 cups (750 mL) cauliflower florets
2 cups (500 mL) peeled, sliced cooking onions
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) white vinegar
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each, celery seed, mustard seed, salt and turmeric

In a stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the sugar, vinegar, celery seed, mustard seed, salt and turmeric to the boil. Pour over the prepared vegetables and stir well to coat.

Cover with plastic wrap or spoon into jars and refrigerate for up to one month. May be served the next day. Makes 7 cups.

Rhubarb Chutney

A batch of this chutney has many uses: as a glaze for barbecued pork or chicken, a condiment to cold meats or as an addictive nibble served with goat cheese on a cracker. It makes a great hostess gift too!

5 cups (1.2 L) fresh or frozen rhubarb cut into 1 inch 2.5 cm pieces
1 cup (250 mL) chopped onions
1 cup (250 mL) cider vinegar
1 cup (250 mL) loosely packed brown sugar
1 cup (250 mL) raisins
1/4 cup (50 mL) minced crystallized ginger
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each, salt, ground cinnamon, ground cloves and curry powder

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine rhubarb, onions, vinegar, sugar, ginger, raisins, salt, cinnamon, cloves and curry powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer; cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes stirring frequently or until thickened.

Remove chutney from heat then spoon into hot, sterilized preserving jars; top with sterilized lid and screw on preserving lid then process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Cool on rack, Check for seal; (lid will go down in the centre) then store in cool dark place or up to one year.

Faster method: Spoon hot chutney into clean glass jars or plastic containers; cover, label, date and refrigerate – use up within a month.


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