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How to Make Capers

Friday May 30, 2014
freshly picked capers

Capers are the pickled flower buds of Capparis spinosa. The plant is native to the Mediterranean area, but succeeds as a garden introduction in other mild climate regions. Capers are essential to classic dishes such as puttanesca pasta sauce.

Most people get their capers in jars from the store, but if you're lucky enough to live where they grow here's how to turn them into those piquant little pickled orbs.

How to Make Capers

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

The Best Ways to Preserve Herbs

Wednesday May 28, 2014
fresh leafy herbs

As spring warms into summer, fragrant herbs become lush and especially flavorful. Whether you are gathering yours from the garden (lucky you!) or buying them fresh at the market, here are some ways to ensure you don't waste a single sprig or flower.

10 Great Ways to Preserve Fresh Herbs

Garlic Chive Blossom Vinegar

How to Make Herbal Vinegars

Rosemary Salt

The Best Ways to Preserve Cilantro

How to Dry Leafy Herbs

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

Don't Throw That Out!: Preserving Fresh Ginger

Sunday May 18, 2014
homemade pickled ginger

If you ever cook with fresh ginger, then I bet this has happened to you: You buy a hunk of the root at the supermarket, only need a small chunk for your recipe, and the rest starts to mold or dry out before you can use it.

With these 6 Ways to Preserve Fresh Ginger, that won't ever happen to you again. And you'll save some cash and time, too, because you won't have to go out and buy ginger every time you need it for a recipe.

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

Ways to Preserve Asparagus

Tuesday May 13, 2014
pickled asparagus

There's the bland, woody asparagus you can get at the supermarket year round, and then there's the tender, sweet, fabulous locally grown asparagus you can get right now.

Whether you're picking yours in the garden or buying it at the farmers' market, get plenty while it's this good, and put some of it up for the months ahead.

You can freeze asparagus or can it, but my favorite way to preserve this vegetable is to pickle it. Here are my top four favorite pickled asparagus recipes. Enjoy!

Pickled Asparagus with Fresh Fennel

Spicy Pickled Asparagus Recipe

Asparagus Refrigerator Pickle

Easy Pickled Asparagus Recipe

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

Flower Food for Mother's Day

Saturday May 10, 2014
pickled-redbud.JPG

Because Mother's Day comes during the height of Spring's blossom season, it just seems natural to send flowers. That doesn't necessarily mean a bouquet: my mom is more likely to get pickled redbud blossoms or candied violets!

Here are some flower recipes that you and your mom will enjoy. If you're a mom, maybe you'll make these with your kids. Happy Mother's Day!

Pickled Redbud Blossoms

How to Candy Violets

Edible Flower Recipes

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

Oven-dried Fruit

Wednesday April 30, 2014
dried kumquatsI dehydrate plenty of each fruit as it comes into season, from the strawberries just approaching their flavorful peak now to the citrus of late fall.

I use my dehydrator most of the time, but if you don't have a dehydrator you can still get excellent results drying fruit in your oven.

Each kind of fruit has slightly different prep and drying instructions. Here's the information you need to get started with some of the fruits that dry best.

How to Dry Strawberries in Your Oven

How to Dry Peaches - Oven Method

Dehydrating Apples - Oven Method

Dehydrating Pears - Oven Method

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

Preserving Peak Season Strawberies

Monday April 28, 2014
fresh peak season strawberries

Strawberries are the first locally grown fruit of the season where I live. After months of no fresh fruit except the storage apples from last year's crops, nothing could be more welcome than strawberry's bright red, juicy, aromatic goodness.

Whether you simply freeze strawberries to use later, or make strawberry jam or other classic preserves, using in-season, locally grown fruit really does make a huge difference. Whichever way you choose to preserve strawberries, the results will only be as good as the fruit you put in!

Here's a tip: if it doesn't smell like much of anything, it isn't going to taste like much of anything. A real, ripe strawberry has an intense and enticing aroma that clues you in to how fabulous the flavor is going to be.

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

Ready for Ramps

Wednesday April 16, 2014
ramps, or wild leeks

Ramps - a wild relative of leeks, onions, and garlic - are only in season for a few short weeks in early to mid-spring. They are prized by restaurant chefs and eagerly awaited at farmers' markets.

In some areas, ramps have been overharvested to the point of endangerment in others they are abundant. Make sure yours come from somewhere that they are plentiful, and/or that they have been sustainably harvested. Better yet, grow your own.

I have been harvesting sustainably from the same patch for decades, and it is thriving, I'm happy to say! But the ramps season is way too short to suit my taste buds. Here are some ways I preserve the deliciousness for year-round enjoyment:

Ramps Pesto

Pickled Ramps

How to Freeze Ramps

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

Ready for Rhubarb

Tuesday April 8, 2014
fresh rhubarb

Every spring I get excited when I first see rhubarb at the markets. Its rosy color and tangy taste are as much a part of the celebration of the season as the blossoms on the trees.

Rhubarb is only sold for a few weeks. I always get extra and use these ways to preserve rhubarb so that I can enjoy its flavor all year. If you grow rhubarb, it is still worth preserving some in the spring because the stalks can get pithy later during the summer.

If you're short on time, you can freeze rhubarb and get around to making something with it later.

Here are a few of my favorite rhubarb recipes.

Easy Rhubarb Compote Recipe

Rhubarb Freezer Jam Recipe

Classic Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

Ginger Rhubarb Jam Recipe

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

Homemade Chinese Plum Sauce

Thursday March 27, 2014
Plum Sauce recipePart of my spring cleaning each year is using up what's left in my pantry from last year. I'm eager for fresh new ingredients to come into my kitchen. When they do, I'll need space on my shelves for this year's preserves.

While I was taking stock of what I still have stocked up, I found some plums I'd dehydrated (a.k.a. prunes). They're a tasty snack on their own, but I was in a mood to experiment. What I came up with was a recipe for Chinese plum sauce.

Plum sauce is usually made from fresh plums, but I think using dried fruit in this recipe resulted in an even richer flavor. Serve this sauce in traditional fashion with spring rolls or duck, or do what I did and use it as a glaze for tofu and vegetables. Delicious!

How to Make Plum Sauce

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

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