This will be the last of the “preserving nature’s bounty” posts for this year.
A couple months back, I made my annual pilgrimage with my friend Lili out to Richmond Country Farms, which is a full-on, working farm. While their produce may not be certified organic, they don’t spray, and I love that I can buy produce that was grown within a very short distance of where I’m purchasing it.
I had some goals when I went there: salsa was on my brain, and I also wanted to make some jams. But I also will often wander into a farm market and see what inspires me. That day, it was figs and bosc pears.
I bought these things not even entirely sure what I’d do with them, but they were so beautiful, I just needed to have them.
Some internet research lead me to this recipe. I’ve adapted it and “north americanized” it. It’s a real beautiful balance of fruit and acidity, which leans a bit closer to being sweet rather than sour.
I would serve this with a baguette and a beautiful cheese (this is a sheep’s milk one) and a glass of bold red wine. You could also wrap it up in pastry and make it into tartlets or hand pies. You could also serve it as a condiment, on top of sweet potato latkes with a dollop of sour cream, for example. Or, there’s always the spoon-jar-mouth method of serving, which this recipe loans itself quite nicely to.
1 500 gram package of fresh figs, de-stemmed and quartered
3 bosc pears, peeled, cored and cubed
1/2 a medium-sized onion, sliced lengthwise
1/2 c orange juice
1 c brown sugar
3/4 c apple cider vinegar
1 large sprig of rosemary
Place the onions, pears and figs into a large pot with the orange juice and bring to a gentle simmer. Allow to simmer until the onions and fruit are cooked and the fruit has broken down.
Add the sprig of rosemary, vinegar and sugar and bring to a brisk boil, then reduce the heat to a good simmer and cook until the chutney is done, stirring occasionally. You’ll know its done, because it will be a thick, jam-like consistency, and if you put a spoonful on a plate, when you draw your finger through it, it won’t close right back up.
Enjoy immediately, or store in the fridge, or preserve using instructions here.
Summer is ending. The kids are back in school, and we are on the cusp of fall. I’ve even seen a few leaves…
While I’m not overjoyed at losing my freedom and bike rides to the beach, I’m really excited that classes are starting up again. I’m looking forward to getting back into the classroom, and to having a more dependable schedule. This time of the year also means harvest, and I’m taking full advantage.
There’s something about canning and preserving that makes me feel really smug. A recent trip to Richmond Country Market cost me $20, and out of that produce, I made three large jars of salsa, three 250-ml jars of chutney, and about the same of peach-apricot jam. A friend had previously brought me plums, blackberries and blueberries, and those went into various chutneys and jams, as well. These things will not only get me through the next year or so without having to buy jam, chutney or salsa, but I’ve saved a lot of money by buying and preserving at the height of the season when the produce is freshest and cheapest.
First up: my famous “Kitchen Sink” Salsa. I call it “Kitchen Sink” salsa, because basically everything but the kitchen sink goes in it. If you don’t like something, don’t put it in. If you like something, put in more! One thing I love in salsa is a little fruit. It adds to the sweetness. I’ve often used mangos, but this time around, I just happened to have peaches, so one of those babies was what made it into the 2013 vintage.
One last thing: I am lazy. I don’t peel my tomatoes. I don’t chop them by hand. Life’s too short, and so is summer, my friends… Ain’t nobody got time for that.
“Kitchen Sink” Salsa
5 lbs beefsteak tomatoes (or whatever you can get that’s local and ripe)
2 peppers (of any variety–use banana or jalapeño if you need a kick)
1 small onion
3 large cloves of garlic, or one head of garlic, roasted
6 green onions
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch cilantro (chopped)
1 tablespoon each of chili and cumin
Chipotle pepper to taste (or 2 chopped chipotles from the can)
1/4 cup lime juice
Corn (roast on the BBQ on the cob, and then slice off the kernels with a knife)
a can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 mango or peach, skinned and chopped fine
1 can of tomato paste
In a food processor, place the garlic and the onion, and process until finely chopped. Remove and put aside.
Cut each of the tomatoes in halves, and then remove the cores with your knife. Quarter each tomato, and then add it to the food processor. Process on low, or pulse, until the tomatoes are your desired chunkiness. You’ll have to do this in batches.
In a large pot (like a dutch oven or stock pot), heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil, and add the onion/garlic mixture to it. Saute for 5-10 minutes, until they are fragrant, then add the tomatoes. Stir well, and every 5 minutes or so once they are simmering.
Seed and hand-chop the peppers, and then chop them fine in the food processor. Add to the tomatoes. Season with s/p, lime, cumin, chili and chipotle. Add in your add-ons as well.
Prep the green onions and cilantro by roughly chopping with a knife, and finely chopping in the food processor.
Your salsa should take about a half and hour to cook down to the desired consistency. If you feel like it’s too watery, add a can of tomato paste, or remove a cup or so and blend it, then put it back into the pot. Keep tasting it and adding spices until you get it to how you like it.
Finally, add in the green onions and cilantro. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Either allow to cool and store in the fridge for immediate use, or preserve in jars (using the instructions here) for use later. Makes approximately 1.5 litres.