The Valley Preservery

Summer Solstice

Welcome to summer. It’s time to keep busy in the kitchen. In our area, strawberries are just coming out although we’ve been lucky enough to have some from the southern areas of the province. I have been happily enjoying rhubarb and want to share a couple of recipes that have been amazing.

If you read my posts or follow my column, you’ll know rhubarb is my absolute favorite vegetable – yes, it is a perennial vegetable. I love that it is so versatile and it’s good for you. It’s easy to grow and easy to source, often with just a call-out to neighbours and friends. It freezes well, bakes and roasts well, cooks well, and is a great centrepiece in jams, jellies, juices and more.

So far, I have made strawberry-rhubarb juice concentrate, strawberry-rhubarb jam, rhubarb and pineapple jam, rhubarb and blueberry jam, rhubarb conserve with toasted walnuts and Victorian BBQ sauce, a rhubarb-based sauce perfect for summer grilling. I’m not done yet!

My rhubarb escapades led me done a path to make a rich rhubarb ice cream, described by a local chef as the best ice cream ever, and a very nice free-form strawberry-rhubarb galette. The galette recipe came from Canadian Living but I substituted a different pastry recipe. The sour cream pastry is an old recipe from Bon Appetit and it’s exceptional. Easy to make, tender but holds together well for rolling, and is flavourful. The galette and ice cream provided a lovely finish to a meal with friends.

I have also been working on herb vinegars. The chive blossom vinegar is stunning. And, since I love tarragon and have plenty of it, tarragon vinegar is up next. I still have some from last June and it’s delicious on greens with or without the addition of oil.

Today, I’m scooting over to my friend’s yard to harvest Elderberry flowers to steep them and make an Elderberry Cordial that will provide the base for a refreshing summer drink.

To celebrate Canada Day, I am having four small children and two mothers over for a little class. The children (and maybe the mothers too) will learn how to make strawberry freezer jam that they will take home. I don’t think the jars will get to the freezer since they will last for a month in fridge, and I suspect they will be long gone by then. We’ll share some strawberry shortcake to celebrate Canada’s birthday.

Enjoy the summer, the gardens, fresh fruit and vegetables and the joys of preserving and creating in the kitchen.

Create Your Own Group

In December I did a workshop at home for a group of young people who work together. They came from across the GTA and drove up to the beautiful Beaver Valley for an afternoon of jam and pickle making. It was really fun. So, if you have a group of friends, colleagues, or family members who would like to organize a workshop, email me and we can set it up. Whatever you want to learn is fine with me. We create the workshop together. We cover the science of preservation and techniques for preserving safely. You get to do hands-on work and everyone goes away with something you’ve created.

Stay and Learn

Kimberley is in the heart of the Beaver Valley which is about 2 hours north of Toronto. It sits in the Niagara Escarpment and has a 300,000 year old history. There are many trail systems easily accessed, the Beaver River for kayaking, and lots of opportunity for skiing and snowshoeing. The Village has the lovely General Store and two very good restaurants. Any season, Kimberley is a super place to spend a couple of days or more. Sound appealing?

Why not come for a couple of days and enjoy the area and combine the visit with a workshop on food preservation! Next to the Kimberley General Store is the “Rock House” which is available for short stay rentals. Here’s the link:

There are also other homes for short-stay rental as well as small inns.

Agriculture Grey-Bruce Two Day Intensive Workshop

For several years, I have been teaching for Agriculture Grey-Bruce generally during their winter educational programs. This year, we are doing a full two-day, hands-on workshop that will include water-bath and atmospheric steam canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, fermenting, and freezing. Of course, we will begin with the science of food preservation. Food and drinks will be provided. This is a hands-on experience in a newly renovated commercial kitchen. The class will be limited to 20.

If you are interested, dates are April 28th and 29th. The location is the Rocklyn Hall. If you will be travelling from afar, there is a cute inn and B&B right around the corner called “The Rocklyn Inn”. Here’s the link:

For information about this workshop or to register:
Or email:

Edith Sitwell, a British poet, wrote: “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food, and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home”.

Stay warm and enjoy the blessings of winter.

Beaver Valley