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Leda Meredith

Leda's Food Preservation Blog

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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

Canning Multi-ingredient Recipes

Wednesday March 19, 2014
ratatouille_LMeredith.jpg

I often make extras of recipes such as soups, pasta sauces and ratatouille. I pressure can what I don't eat right away so that I have ready-to-eat meals in my pantry for those nights when I don't want to cook (freezing would work, too, but my freezer is usually packed full of other foods like fruits that don't can well).

But how can you safely preserve multi-ingredient dishes like these if you aren't following a canning recipe? If you're like me and enjoy improvising in the kitchen, here's what you need to know:

First, be sure you are completely clear on whether what you've made can be safely canned in a boiling water bath, or must be pressure canned. Here's that info.

Next, if it's something that must be pressure canned, use the pressure and duration for the ingredient with the longest canning time.

For example, let's say you want to can a soup that has both carrots and chicken in it. You look up carrots and see that they only need to be canned for 20 minutes. But chicken needs 75 minutes. You need to pressure can that soup for the longer canning time of 75 minutes.

Here's some more information you'll find helpful when you want to can multi-ingredient recipes.

Boiling Water Bath vs. Pressure Canning

Canning Times for Soups

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

Pickled Radish Recipes for Spring

Thursday March 13, 2014
pickled watermelon radishes

Radishes are one of the first garden crops of early spring, ready to eat in as little as three weeks after planting them from seed. They take to pickling beautifully, whether by lacto-fermentation or a vinegar brine method.

From this fiery pickled radish recipe to milder overnight radish refrigerator pickles, you'll find something here to suit every palate. Try using a colorful variety such as the watermelon radishes in this photo to make the recipes as much of a treat for your eyes as for your taste buds.

Radish Pickle Recipes

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

Can You Freeze Cheese?

Friday March 7, 2014
cheeses.jpg

Let's say you're about to be away from home for several weeks, and you've got some cheese that won't get eaten before you go. Or the store had a super sale on cheddar and you bought enough to last your family for months. Is it worth freezing cheese?

Sometimes. Some cheeses freeze better than others. For instance, that store brand cheddar will be alright for melting after it's been frozen (but not so great unmelted). Fresh, soft cheeses like queso fresco do not hold up well in the freezer.

Here's everything you need to know about freezing cheese.

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

How to Dehydrate Vegetables

Friday February 28, 2014
tomatoes on a dehydrator tray

Dried veggies take up little space, weigh almost nothing, and can be stored at room temperature indefinitely. That means they are a fantastic food for preppers, hikers, and anyone who wants to be sure there's something on hand for supper even if the power goes out.

They're also darned convenient. If it's freezing outside and I need some carrots or celery for a soup stock, the last thing I want to do is don winter gear and brave the cold for those pantry staples. Instead, I just toss some of the vegetables I dried last year into tonight's soup pot.

Here are some easy ways to dehydrate vegetables so that they keep their color, flavor, and nutrients. There are methods here for both dehydrator and oven drying.

How to Dry Vegetables

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

Canning Basics for Veggies, Meat, Poultry and Fish

Thursday February 13, 2014
fresh vegetables

The advantage of pressure canning vegetables, meat, poultry and fish is that you can store the sealed jars of food at room temperature: no worrying if the power goes out, or if you already ran out of freezer space.

Here are the instructions for canning these basic ingredients. Keep in mind that with animal products and unpickled vegetables, you must use a pressure canner.

This is non-negotiable because it is not safe to can non-acidic ingredients in a boiling water bath. If you aren't sure about the difference between pressure canning and boiling water bath canning, I hope this article will make it easy to understand.

Canning Times for Vegetables

How to Can Meats

How to Can Chicken and Other Poultry

How to Can Rabbit

How to Can Fish and Shellfish

How to Can Soups

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

Gifts for Your Valentine

Thursday February 13, 2014
mulled wine jelly

For Valentine's Day I like to make recipes that go with chocolate, of course, but also that are made with seasonal ingredients. The seasonal part would be kinda tough in February, except that I take some help from the store and my pantry.

Raspberry Curd is a silky, intensely flavored treat that is incredible with dark chocolate. I froze berries from my garden last year knowing I'd make raspberry curd for this romantic holiday. But if you need to buy your raspberries at the store, do it! The result will be just as delicious.

Mulled Wine Jelly has a glistening, jewel-like color and intriguingly spicy flavor. You can make it from scratch, or just make extra mulled wine to share with your sweetheart and then turn the leftovers into the jelly.

We're at the tail end of citrus season in most places, but you can still find kumquat fruits. Turn them into these candied, colorful wheels and dip them in melted chocolate.

Wishing you a cozy and spicy Valentine's Day!

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

Warm Up with Winter Soups

Thursday February 6, 2014
home-canned jars of soup stock

Maybe you're lucky enough to live someplace that's warm in February, but outside my door there's ice and snow aplenty. Brrr! This is definitely soup weather.

Most nights I enjoy making soup from scratch. But if I'm just home for a quick, warming lunch or coming home after a long day, then I'm grateful for the home-canned and dehydrated soup ingredients I've got.

Here are some great ways to safely preserve delicious, healthy soups. Later on they'll be just as easy to take from shelf to bowl as the store-bought kind.

Hope you're staying warm!

Soup Recipes - Canning, Dehydrating and Other Ways to Preserve Soup

Soup Mix in a Jar

Photo ŠLeda Meredith

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