I have a larder. A pantry. I put up food. I might need a 12 step program.
I’ve referred to it before. I cooked all through the summer, during my personal Can-O-Rama. I will admit to a certain pride in my larder. Last summer when I was sweating in the kitchen with 50 lbs of tomatoes, my friends thought I was crazy. They said “What are you cooking for? Nuclear winter? It’s only the two of you.”
Yeah. And look at the winter we just had.
Right now, I need to come clean, though. In order to get control of my preserving nature. Because it’s possible I’m just a whisper away from being a hoarder.
I have enough fruit liqueur for a long time. I will not make more booze this year. Or next. I still have at least 10 quarts. That’s a lot of sidecars.
I have way too many jars.
36 jars of salsa is too many.
12 quarts of crushed tomatoes was not enough. 24 would be better.
This is what it looked like at the end of summer.
Here it is today.
Of course, this is just the foods-in-jars larder.
Let’s not discuss the pantry (baking - flours, sugars, chocolate, nuts, fruits, peanut butter, molasses and rices, grains, legumes, beans, spices, oils, vinegars, and all the mysterious wonderful international foods I gather along the way.. )
And then there is the freezer. The chest freezer: one cubic foot of wonderful. Packed, and therefore impossible to see into, it holds many wonders.
During the Snow Storms Of The Century, the three times we were snowed in for more than two days, the larder came in pretty handy.
There were lovely flash frozen haricot verts from last summer. Chestnut flour raviolis filled with sweet potato and ricotta. Lamb shanks - just add two quarts of crushed tomato, wine, herbs. Boudin blanc, served with mashed potatoes and prunes. Ragu. Pizza sauce. Homemade bacon. Pork shoulder. Frozen peaches (heavenly in February!) Corn, cut fresh off the cob, and flash frozen to be roasted and mixed with black beans.
OK. I'm done crowing. But here's what I've been thinking. Wouldn't you like to feel a little smug next winter? Want to join me for a season of small batch canning and preserving? Can-o-Rama 2010. You'll be keeping me on the straight and narrow. Really.
I've started with mango chutney and I'll post that recipe tomorrow.
Basic canning equipment - most available at the hardware store:
Ball Jars with lids that seal, various sizes. 1 pt is most useful. 1/2 pts are nice for jelly.
Magnetized lid lifter (not necessary, but useful)
Cookware - here are my favorites:
Large stock pot for sterilizing - 12 quart is nice - I found All Clad at an outlet store. I like the stainless pan for cooking tomatoes and salsas.
Preserving pan, non-reactive, at least 5 quarts, heavy bottomed - I like Le Creuset or Emile Henry or copper