The Preserve Swap

I have been looking forward to this evening's preserve swap for weeks. Finally an opportunity to speak with people who are perhaps as crazy about preserving as myself:).

I stood downstairs in my pantry for about 20 minutes perusing the lined up jars to determine what I would bring.

Raspberry Jam - selfishly I only have 4 jars of that left and it is my personal favourite, so the decision was that it would stay right where it was.

Angry Pickled Garlic which was made on a day when I was burning with anger. Those crispy spicy bite sized delicacies should be shared with others. Angry Pickled Garlic - check.

Spicy n' Sweet Pickled Carrots. What goes better in a Caesar than these other than perhaps pickled green beans. I love chopping these babies up and adding them to a salad. Add them to the swap list.

Pickled Shallots with Tarragon - these really need at least another 3 weeks before they are ready to be opened. I don't want anyone to get a substandard preserve, so I will save those for the next swap

Pineapple Jam - with the gorgeous winter weather we have been having it almost feels like spring out there. What better to accompany a sunny and mild winter day than a taste of the tropics. Some lucky preserve swapper will walk away with a jar of these.

Tomato Basil Jam - ooh another personal fav of mine. Great as an alternative to ketchup and so tasty in a toasted panini. The fresh basil from my indoor planters add the perfect snap of spring.

Meyer Lemon Marmalade - I have a few other marmalades to bring, so perhaps these can be saved til next time.

Marmalade with brown sugar and vanilla - an experiment with my favourite ingredients. Fresh vanilla pod which I looooove, brown sugar which adds a nice molasses flavour to the jam and the tartness of seville oranges. Nummies

Onion Garlic Jam - this jam might not be something one wants to eat while mingling at the preserve swap or on a first date. But the flavour of sweet onion, garlic and white wine married with a sharp cheddar or cheese of your choice is a delicious snack and a must bring.

Grapefruit marmalade - I go a bit marmalade crazy in February with Seville Oranges finally being in season and decided why stop with oranges. This refreshing marmalade is so good in the morning.

Apple Earl Grey Almond Jelly - I can't make shortbread cookies when I have this Jelly in the house. Their marriage of flavours would be sure to add 15 pounds to my frame.

Spicy Zucchini Relish - your burger will thank you. Do they serve burgers at The Avro?

Pickled Cauliflower - this is my favourite way to eat cauliflower. Pickled in brine with a bit of a bite, these crunchy pickles will find a good home on someone else's shelves....I hope :)

The jars are all ready to be swapped and find new homes and now I can't wait to see what I can swap these babies for!

Pickled Shallots in Tarragon

When I was a kid I remember my mom, my nona and my aunt sitting on the steps at my nona's house in the late summer with a giant bucket of silverskin onions that had been soaking in a salt brine for days. They would spent hours sitting on those steps telling stories, laughing, peeling onions and somehow still managing to discipline us kids when we stepped out of line. At the time I couldn't understand why you would want to sit and peel onions for 4-5 hours at a time. It seemed so labour intensive and I truly wondered at the rewards. Pickled onions weren't my favourite to start and when I saw the amount of work that went into them I was well and truly turned off the idea altogether.

But now that I am ever so quickly approaching my 40's, I understand the joy in preserving and pickling. I enjoy walking into my crawl space under the stairs and seeing the walls lined with jars filled with different goodies.

I am envious of that 'community' that my mom had when it came to preserving. Whether it was going to pick the fruits or vegetables with her friends or my aunts, chopping or preparing the ingredients as a group or sitting on the steps and peeling onions while you laugh, share stories and perhaps a drink.

Yesterday after letting my shallots sit in their salt brine for 3 days it was finally time to rinse them, rinse them again and rinse them one final time and prepare them for the jars. The final result is almost too beautiful to put in the dark under my stairs. I want to place them on my kitchen shelves for everyone to see. I can't wait for 8 weeks from now when I will have a nice roast beef in the oven, perhaps a glass of red wine in the decanter and will 'pop' the lid off and bite into my pickled shallot. I didn't have friends over to help me prepare them, but I will certainly have a few over to help me enjoy them.

Perhaps I need to host a 'preserve' party and create a little of my own sense of community?