It was going to be me or the raccoons, but certainly not the both of us, making use of the Italian plums in the front of my house.
Despite our heat wave of the last three days, I’ve been in the kitchen over the hot stove cleaning vegetables, stirring jam, and making a mess of every flat surface in my small kitchen. Like a factory, I’m dealing with food on a scale I only do once a year: 18 pounds of plums, 10 pounds of cucs, 3 gallons of vinegar, 20 pounds of sugar. It is canning time.
I have two older books I love to use, Fine Preserving: M.K. Fisher’s Annotated Edition of Catherine Plagemann’s Cookbook and The Complete Book of Pickles and Relishes by Leonard Louis Levinson. Far removed from today’s glossy celbra-chef food porn, these are hardy books with more than a few helpful and snarky asides, recipe histories, and food lore that looks backward towards my grandparents frugal past.
The Levinson book is the Moby Dick of pickle writing. More an assemblage, the recipes vary wildly from either calling for seven cucumbers or seventy pounds of cucumbers and a church social. I learned that Sarasota, Fla. has the worst water for pickling, Three Oaks, Mich. had a thief who netted 2,400 pecks of pickles out of vats, and the if you are making chutney in 1917, “See that your servants or coolies wash their hands properly.”
In summary, I’d make a temperamental farm wife and you’d get tired of all my fancifying if you had to sustain yourself on these jars from November to April.
Here’s what’s in my pantry:
6 quarts Dill Pickles
6 pints Dilled Beans
7 pints Bread and Butter Pickles (my fav!)
1 pint Crab Apple Relish
2 pints Elderberry Syrup (for waffles, of course)
10 half pints of Plum Lavender Relish inspired by The Herbfarm.
10 half pints Plum Ginger Jam
3 half pints of Jalapeno Jelly
9 half pints of cardamom Plum Jam, a favorite of mine that no one else seems to like.
10 half pints Spiced Plum with Raisins
8 half pints of Asian Pear Syrup
6 half pints of blackberry freezer jam due to Vic’s over-indulgence at the Madison Farmers Market.
Another half pint of blackberry jam that D gave me, that is way better than mine, as he strained his. Blackberry seeds are tenacious compared to raspberry seeds which I like to ignore.
The reality is that I don’t have a pantry. So, in fact, I have no idea where I will store all of this, but I get the feeling that my Toastation(TM) is going to stay busy this winter.
If you are in the neighborhood, stop by and get some jam, won’t you?
Wow. That’s all I can say.
I guess there’s no risk of you running out before I get to try a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and some of the other.
I can see why you only do this once a year…