Preserving the Bounty of Summer

Minolta DSC

Harvest  2004, oil on canvas, 32 x 60 inches

With the shorter, cooler days, I begrudgingly accept the coming end of summer and work to preserve some of the season’s bounty.   As a cook who prides herself on cooking seasonally, I also love to have a pantry of summer tastes for dark winter nights.

In the past, I went mad for making various fruit jams, using boxes of our favorite apricots and peaches, and buying pounds of raspberries from Mr. Bankert on Hygiene Road. These days,  Zoë brings us jars of her lovely  jam and we eat those boxes of fruit I cannot resist in desserts, pies and out of hand.

There are several things I do put up, jalapeño and poblano chilés and, this year, corn and salsa.  Zoë is an ambitious canner and one of our favorite of her many delicious concoctions is her peach salsa.  With a twenty pound box of peaches awaiting my attention I decided to get her recipe.  I hope she doesn’t think we don’t want her salsa gifts.  No, no, dear, please keep them coming ─  who ever has enough peach salsa?

salsa ingredients

Prepare a canning pot, your pint jars and lids. (see my book for detailed directions on hot-water bath canning).  Have hot sterilized jars ready, and water boiling in the canner.

Combine in a large, non-reactive pot, 1/2 cup white vinegar and 6 cups of peeled, chopped peaches. Peel by immersing peaches in boiling water for 10 seconds or so until skin rubs off.

salsa mix

Add 1 1/4 cups of chopped red onion, 3-4 jalapeños, diced, 1 red pepper, diced, 4 roasted and chopped Anaheims, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 clove of garlic, minced, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring.  Then boil gently until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, top with the lid and screw band. Process in a hot-water bath for 20 minutes (at our Colorado altitude, 15 minutes otherwise). Remove canner lid and let jars sit in the hot water for 5 minutes.  Remove and let cool.  This made 4 1/2 pints.

peach salsa

Zweck’s farm had gorgeous, large jalapeños again this summer. I pickled them to use all year in many Mexican and Indian preparations.  They are also great in a peanut butter sandwich with a sliced banana!

chiles in brine

The recipe comes from my sister Mimi on her farm in central Missouri and can be found in How I Learned To Cook, An Artist’s Life. Briefly, the chilés are slit, immersed in a salt brine for 24 hours, packed in jars with vinegar and processed in a hot-water bath.

jalapenos

And I couldn’t resist the poblanos at the Zweck farm. I roasted them on my gas stovetop.  Other years I have used the gas grill outdoors but have found the range works more quickly ─ the chilés sit right in the flame. I roasted two dozen chilés in about 1/2 an hour, using three burners. The smell is intoxicating.

 

roasting poblanos

Here is a heap, cooled and ready to go into ziplocks, (unpeeled) and frozen.

pile of poblanos

Lastly, I put up fresh corn.  Connie Zweck couldn’t believe I hadn’t done this.  “But it’s so delicious in the winter,” she said.  So I gave it a try.   The process was faster than I imagined.  I had a dozen ears and it took me about an hour to prepare them for the freezer. First, husk the corn.

cobs

Have ready a big pot of boiling water and a big bowl of ice water. Cook the corn for a minute then drop into the ice water.

corn cooling

I cooked four cobs at a time, cooled them and sliced off the kernels.

cutting off cob

I put the kernels from two ears into each ziplock, enough to add to muffins, Indian fritters or to stuff a chilé.

ready to freeze

With these jobs done, I am ready to enjoy the autumn, knowing I have preserved a little taste of summer.

 

 

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