By Carolyn Camilleri
Preserving Traditions One of the most satisfying moments a home cook can experience is admiring her own preserves. Jars of jam sparkle like jewels as they cool on racks. The vibrant colours of fresh vegetables are dazzling. It’s truly kitchen art and a point of pride for generations.
n my childhood memories, late summer has the fresh, astringent aroma of vinegar and pickling spices. Mustard pickles, dills, pickled beets, relishes, and stewed tomatoes lined shelves alongside jam and fruit “put up” earlier in the season. Preserving summer’s bounty was our family tradition, with recipes passed from generation to generation. Emily Lycopolus, owner of Olive the Senses, also grew up preserving fruit and vegetables alongside her mother, aunt and grandmother. She was five the first time she pitched in to help. “My hand was small enough to fit into the jar so my job was to sit on the counter and organize the peaches so they would lay properly inside the jars,” she says.
While there’s a certain nostalgia about continuing traditions, in recent years preserving has made a comeback for other reasons. It naturally goes hand-in-hand with the resurgence of home gardening. It’s also strongly linked to the local food movement — preserving local produce means reducing our need for importing food from elsewhere. And some people preserve food to have better control over sugar, salt and additives. “Especially in this current age of dietary and health restrictions, preserving foods in a healthy way — not processed with chemicals — is becoming more and more important as we become more educated on what is happening to our foods at the
factory level,” says Lycopolus. Fermented foods, an area within the preserved foods category, have received particular attention. “Pickles, as well as kimchi and sauerkraut can be preserved with lacto-fermentation to produce live probiotics, which greatly aid in digestion and auto-immune issues, among other health benefits,” says Nadia MacLean, manager at Olive the Senses. “Kombucha is also naturally fermented and a great source for live probiotics.” Instead of processing in a hot-water bath, which kills both good and bad bacteria, fermented foods are made using brine and a yeast-based bacteria or lactobacillus — essentially a starter, as with yogurt. Health
VIOLET BLUEBERRY BALSAMIC JAM Recipe courtesy of Olive the Senses • 4 cups fresh blueberries or thawed frozen blueberries • 1/3 cup Violet Dark Balsamic Vinegar • 3 tbsp Orange Zest Honey • 2 lemons, juiced • Pinch of salt In heavy medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes, crushing some of the berries with a wooden spoon. Pour into pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch from top and clean off any drips from rim. Seal tight with rings and lids and place into large pot of simmering water, ensuring jars are submerged by at least 1 to 2 inches of water. Boil for 15 minutes and then remove to kitchen towels to cool. Test the seals by removing rings and lifting jars by the flat lid. If the lid releases, the seal has not formed and that jam should be kept in the fridge and consumed first. Once a sealed jar is opened, jam is good for two weeks in the fridge.
Page One Publishing