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Fall/ Preserving Recipes

Sage and Roasted Walnut Pesto

Sage and Roasted Walnut Pesto

Sage and Roasted Walnut Pesto

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  • 1 cup sage leaves compressed
  • 2 cups parsley leaves compressed
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts roasted until lightly browned
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan
  • Salt & pepper to taste



Roast walnuts in a 350 degree oven until brown. About 5 to 10 minutes.


In a food processor, with the engine running, drop the peeled garlic through the feed-tube until finely chopped. Put sage and parsley into the bowl and whiz it until it is fairly finely chopped. With the engine going drizzle in the olive oil. You may need to adjust the amount to achieve the texture you like.


Stir in the parmesan and chopped walnuts. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remember that the parmesan is salty so add salt after the cheese has been added.


Serve with penne or spirals (pasta that will hold the sauce), regular or gluten free. If you want, add fried sage leaves for a little extra pizzaz. I freeze this pesto in food grade plastic containers.



Fall/ Preserving Know-how

Autumn Herb Bouquets

Herb Bouquet

The winds are blowing, the evenings are cool, and the end of season is in sight. But before the weather turns, it’s time to pick the final herb bouquets to dry, freeze and store for winter. Of course, using them fresh while they last is wonderful too!


Some herbs are better frozen than dried because the drying process reduces flavour. A typical freezing method is chopping herbs, adding a bit of water, and placing them in ice cube trays. They can be tossed into a soup, sauce, or pasta. I also chop herbs like mint and cilantro in amounts required for favorite recipes. One or two tablespoons of the herbs are placed in tiny mini paper bags I found at Michael’s. I freeze sage whole in wax paper as shown above and then placed in a small freezer bag. Since I love sage with squash and sweet potatoes, I will often freeze the cooked vegetables with sage and brown butter for use later in the season.


I have a dehydrator, but I don’t bother with it for herbs. They dry well using less energy-consuming methods. For smaller quantities I put bunches in a paper bag with air holes created using a hole punch. Each bag is labelled and tied to my portable laundry rack. Pictured above are various herbs that will be used for home-made Herbes de Provence. For larger quantities such as those I use for teas (mint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, bergamot), I hang them on my main laundry room rack (until there’s no more room for my husband’s shirts!). Drying can also be done in the oven simply by placing herb leaves on a screen, perforated pizza disk or a cookie sheet. Turn on the oven light and leave the herbs to dry overnight. Small amounts can be dried quickly in the microwave. Thyme (my most used herb), basil, parsley, savoury, tarragon, lavender, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, bay laurel and chives are all suitable for drying. If you are drying herbs, thoroughly shake and dust them off but don’t rinse them. The water can contribute to mold growth.


Capturing the end of season herbs is every cook’s delight. Take pesto for example. Use up basil, parsley & chives in a traditional pestos. Get creative with a sage-parsley and toasted walnut pesto. Freeze the pesto. Quick fry sage as an accompaniment to a pre-dinner drink or atop of a sage-butter pasta. Use herbs for a stuffing for pork, poultry, peppers, or cabbage. For a casual dinner, whip up brown butter scrambled eggs with herbs and an end of season green salad. The sky’s the limit.


Finally, it’s time to bring in the herbs indoors. I bring in parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and bay laurel and put them in a west-facing window. As the sun diminishes, I add a small grow light on a timer to keep the herbs going until spring.

The blessings of the autumn herbs are wonderful. Dry them, freeze them, use them fresh or use them in preserves, and bring them in for the winter! Keep the faith until spring!

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Fall/ Preserving Recipes

Foraging in the Neighborhood – Plum and Crab Apple Jam

Crab Apples

While on a recent walk into my village, I spied three grand crab apple trees positively laden with ruby red, blemish-free apples. When I got home, I emailed the owner of the house and asked if they had any excess apples I might pick. They said all the apples were excess since they didn’t do anything with them. Baskets in hand, and a promise to deliver some canned goods, I went down to collect the beauties. There’s nothing like foraging in your own neighborhood!

Crab apples (malus coronaria) are the only indigenous apples to North America. They are abundant, not sprayed, and are mostly free for the picking. Crab apples are high in Vitamin C and minerals. A great option to preserve for winter in many ways.

I made crab apple jelly (of course). The high pectin makes it easy to get a good set without adding commercial pectin. From the pulp I had after extracting the juice, I ran through a food mill which left a smooth rosy coloured puree to which I added a small amount of corn syrup and made crab apple fruit leathers using my dehydrator. Delicious snack. I also tried a pickled crab apple recipe which was a disaster. Despite pricking the apples all over, my apples burst during processing and ended up looking like a rough apple sauce! The taste was good but aesthetically unappealing. I also made a jam with plums which turned out to be quite nice. Tart from the crab apples but balanced from the addition of the plums. This recipe is from Canadians Topp & Howard.

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Plum and Crab Apple Jam

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Serves: 6 - 250ml jars

With crab apples still in abundance, try various approaches to preserving this fruit as a jam, jelly, pickle or leather. They can also be fermented and turned into crab apple cider. So flexible, so inexpensive, so good for you!



3 cups quartered, unpeeled crab apples (washed) in 1.5 cups water plus one 4-inch cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes until soft. Remove the cinnamon stick. Press apples though a food mill or sieve to remove skins and solids.


To the puree in a Dutch oven, add 4 cups of sliced blue or purple plums. Add 5 cups of sugar and ¾ cup of red wine or grape juice. Bring to a rapid boil for 20 minutes stirring frequently. Check the gel. Remember both crab apples and plums are high in pectin so look for a loose set. It will firm up as the jam cools.


Ladle into hot 250ml jars and process in a water-bath or atmospheric steam canner for 10 minutes adjusting for altitude. Let rest 5 minutes before removing the jars.



Fall/ Preserving Recipes

Cranberries in Fall – Harvest Moon Jam

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday. It seems so meaningful to give thanks to mother-nature’s gifts of the harvest, to those who grow our food and to those who prepare meals. You really can’t think about Thanksgiving without thinking about cranberries. I’m a huge fan of using cranberries not only at Thanksgiving but all year round.

Cranberries (genus vaccinium) is native to North America particularly the East coast. They grow in bogs and swamps relying on bees for pollination since their pollen grains are too heavy for the wind to carry. According to Acadian History, First Nations people were observed eating cranberry sauce with meats in the mid fifteen hundreds. It is likely cranberry sauce was being consumed for hundreds if not thousands of years before that. Cranberries are high in Vit C and are powerful antioxidants. Most available cranberries are commercially grown using extensive pesticides to control pests and quality. Not only is this bad for human health, but it is lethal for the pollinator bees! Efforts are being made to improve capacity for growing cranberries without pesticides which is a huge step in the right direction. If you can, buy organic cranberries. If they aren’t available, prepare a solution of 2 tsp baking soda to 1 litre of water and give the berries a quick dip. The alkaline solution will remove many of the pesticide residues (works for many other fruits and vegetables too).

Cranberry sauce, with or without orange or rum; cranberry mostarda a condiment combining cranberries and mustard which is excellent with ham, pork or cheese; cranberry juice; cranberry relishes, chutneys, conserves; cranberry and orange loaf, and the list of cranberry recipes goes on and on. One of my favorite recipes combines cranberries with pears and several spices for a lovely deep red and very flavourful jam. This jam appears in many preserving cookbooks going by different names like, Holiday Jam or Christmas Jam. I think of it as “Harvest Moon” jam.

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Harvest Moon Jam

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Serves: 4 - 250ml jars

Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the harvest, celebrate the growers and cooks, and be thankful for nature’s generous gifts.


  • 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 pound ripe peeled pears shredded (1.5 cup)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 TBSP grated orange zest plus ½ cup of orange juice
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, ground cloves and ground ginger



In a pot, combine cranberries, pears, water, zest and juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes until cranberries pop. Stir in sugar and spices. Bring back to a boil stirring until sugar dissolves. Off heat crush fruit with a masher. Return to the boil and cook about 10 minutes until the jam reaches a gel stage (217 – 219 degrees).


Put into hot jars and process in a water-bath or atmospheric steam canner for 15 minutes adjusting for altitude. Let rest five minutes before removing the jars.




The Humble Cabbage

In Fall, cabbage is as abundant as are its many uses. It is pickled, boiled, stuffed and rolled, braised, fermented, and eaten raw. Cabbage has a long 4000 year history being cultivated from wild cabbage in the Mediterranean region. Varieties emerged over time including flat leaf, curly leaf, headed and headless (aka kale), red and green, early, and late bloomers. Throughout history cabbage has been a culinary staple and used medicinally for its anti-inflammatory properties. Though cabbage recipes are many, I want to focus on a couple of favorites.

Sauerkraut: Late variety cabbage is perfect for fermentation. If you’re into sauerkraut in a big way, a 50 lb bag will yield 16 to 20 quarts. On a modest level, a 1-gallon stone crock will hold 5 pounds of shredded cabbage. I go small making a 1 litre mason jar with 2 lbs of cabbage. Homemade sauerkraut has the health benefits of being high in fibre, vitamins and minerals as well as being a probiotic due to the fermentation. Most commercial sauerkraut has undergone pasteurization which destroys the health benefits of fermentation. Try your own; it’s rewarding and better for your health.

Small Batch Sauerkraut

2 lb cabbage, stem end cut off, rinsed, outer leaves removed, and cored.
Shred with knife or mandolin.
Add 2 tbsp pickling salt and massage the cabbage for about 10 minutes until juices are released creating a brine.
Push the cabbage firmly into a 1 litre wide-mouth mason jar pressing down to remove air. Leave a 1-inch headspace. Weight the cabbage down using a fermentation weight, or small mason jar filled with water pressed into the jar. The cabbage must be kept below the brine. Lactic acid fermentation is anerobic (no air) and it releases carbon dioxide as it ferments. Therefore, it is wise to use a fermentation lid with an air vent. If you do use a regular lid, take it off every day to release the carbon dioxide. Check the ferment in 3 days and then in 6. Some people like a very light ferment while others like it stronger. I’m medium in my taste, which takes about a week. Once you like the taste, move the jar to the fridge as the cold will almost halt the fermentation process.

Not a sauerkraut fan? Try this fantastic non-mayo coleslaw that will last in the fridge for at least 3 weeks!

Refrigerator Slaw

2 lbs cabbage, 3 carrots, 3 green onions shredded; 1 garlic clove minced; 3 stalks celery and 1 red or green pepper cut in small matchsticks, 1 TBSP chopped fresh dill (optional).
In a small saucepan, heat 2/3 cup white vinegar, ¼ c sugar, ½ cup oil, ¾ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Pour hot marinade over cabbage mixture. Stir. Store in mason jar or other container in fridge.

The humble cabbage continues to be one of the great vegetables for storing, cooking, preserving, or eating raw. Enjoy

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I suppose it goes without say that we are in search of things to be thankful for. It’s been a tough year and a half. Nevertheless, Thanksgiving draws our attention to the harvest, to nature’s perennial gifts and to joining together in celebration. I think Thanksgiving meals are the most wonderful meals. Whatever is left in the garden gets onto the table in some form and the pantry gets raided for many accompaniments.

I buy my turkey from Spirit Walk Farm in Maxwell. Marg is at the Flesherton market on Saturdays. She and her husband are primarily sheep farmers, but they also have turkey, duck and chicken. It’s so nice to support local farmers, to know from where your food comes and to enjoy the freshest products. Marg also makes beautiful wool and is a darn good baker as well!

To season or accompany the bird, my garden is still full of beets, leeks, potatoes, chard, squash, peppers, arugula, lettuce, tomatoes and herbs. What’s not to love about bringing it all together on the Thanksgiving table?

I know there are probably as many stuffing recipes as there are households, but I am a fan of a simple onion-sage bread stuffing. A day-old loaf of bread cubed, lots of butter to sweat a large sweet onion diced and about four tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage or four teaspoons dry sage with salt and pepper to taste. Simple and delicious.

From the pantry, I have gooseberry jelly, apple-cider cinnamon jelly, cranberry sauce and new this fall is a cranberry-apple-pear relish with Grand Marnier! I found this recipe in the preserving book by Canadians Topp & Howard (available through Indigo). It’s a simple combination of the three fruits, raisins, sugar, orange juice & zested rind, cinnamon and nutmeg with the liqueur added at the end. I notice that the Ball preserving book has basically the same recipe but calls it a “pie filling”. They also suggest its use on top of baked brie. For the day-after, cold turkey sandwiches with Cranberry Mostarda are excellent.

This leaves us at dessert. Typical to the Thanksgiving dinner is a pumpkin or apple pie, or possibly a crisp. To be honest, I’m always so full, so I generally don’t enjoy the indulgence. For me, my hands-down favorite fall dessert is Caramelized Pears by Canadian Trish Magwood (2007). Pears are halved and cored and then lightly cooked i(10 Min) in a frying pan with 2 TBSP each or butter and honey, ½ vanilla bean, 2 star anise, 2 cardamon pods and ½ a stick of cinnamon & ¼ tsp nutmeg. Add 2 TBSP brown sugar and 4 tsp lemon juice. It creates a beautiful, flavourful sauce to drizzle of the pears. Trish adds a mascarpone cream but I never do. Simple is good. If you need to, add a small scoop of ice cream in the middle of the pear and ladle the sauce over. Traditional or non-traditional, a little sweet at the end is just so tantalizing.

Thanksgiving is around the corner. Enjoy your traditions, family and friends, and a great walk on the trails to witness the colourful wonders of the Fall season. With thanks.

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Many of us are up to our elbows working with the bounty of garden tomatoes. There are so many ways to preserve tomatoes and even more recipes to enjoy them: Canning, drying, fermenting, and freezing all work well with the mighty tomato. Last Fall I wrote about tomatoes but this year, I’ll add a few more bits of information to inform your preserving efforts.

We start, of course, with an analysis of the tomato. These fruits have been traced back to the Aztecs in 700 BC but it is not until the 16th century that they were admired by Europeans. At that time many believed they were poisonous as members of the Night Shade family. By the mid 1800s, tomatoes were well ensconced in the culinary habits of Italians which, through migration, became a North American staple.

For food preservers, it is important to understand that tomatoes range between 4.3 and 4.9 depending on variety, growing conditions, age, hybridization. This means, of course, that sometimes tomatoes are acidic and other times they are alkaline. Thus, the acidity level must be considered when choosing a preserving method and recipe.

For drying, freezing, or fermenting, the acidity level of tomatoes isn’t a concern. Tomatoes can be simply cleaned, cored, and processed in a dehydrator or packed away in the freezer. Dried tomatoes are super on pizzas or can be rehydrated in soups or sauces. They also make a great “fruit” leather. Frozen tomatoes, when thawed, will enable a quick slip of the skins making for an easy sauce, soup or addition to chili, stews or braises. And fermented tomatoes or tomato juice are packed with nutrition. Fermented tomatoes are a popular Russian item eaten alone or with potatoes as a condiment.

Where acidity levels play a critical part is when canning. For water-bath canning, tomatoes need to be acidified to make them safe. Modern recipes for salsas, chutneys, chili sauce, or canned tomatoes always add acidity. For example, for canned tomatoes, juice or simple tomato sauce, add 1 TBSP of bottled lemon juice or a ¼ tsp citric acid to each 500ml jar. Double that amount for liter jars. This year I made an oven roasted marinara sauce from the 2016 New Ball book of Canning and Preserving. I’ve made many tomato sauces but this version is superb. Here’s the link: (Note that Ball doesn’t have much of an online presence but Healthy Canning is an excellent, science-based site.)

For those of us who also pressure can, tomatoes are the base of some great recipes. Stewed tomatoes, tomato and vegetable soups, tomato-meat sauces, stews, chili and so on which are super for quick one jar winter meals. The pressure canner increases the internal temperature to 240 degrees which is necessary for safe canning of foods that are above 4.6 on the pH scale which includes, vegetables, meats, poultry, and fish among others. Pressure canning opens a universe of possibilities.

Tomatoes are abundant right now. Grab the opportunity to freeze, dry, can or ferment. Any way you look at it, tomatoes can fill the bill. They are tasty, flexible, readily available in summer and fall and are filled with lycopene and many vitamins. Enjoy them now and well into the fall and winter.

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Crab Apples

Crab Apples

Crab apples are everywhere right now. And what a gift they are. They originated in Kazahkstan, Russia and China but found their way to the Continent along the Silk Road resulting in many cultivars before arriving in England. From there they were introduced to North America during the 18th century. They are hardy, drought resistant and have given us fruits for both culinary and medicinal uses. The malic and tartaric acids in crab apples have been used medicinally to counter the acid effects associated with gout and indigestion. As for culinary uses, they are as bountiful as the trees themselves.

Crab apple bark is often used as an addition to smoking foods adding a sweet, apple flavour. The fruit is sometimes canned whole for use as an accompaniment to roast pork or other meats. Crab apple liqueur is easily made by immersing 30 to 40 washed crab apples cut in halve in a liter of vodka and one cup of sugar. Put the jar in a dark place and stir regularly for 2 months. Voila. A beautiful liqueur to serve neat or over ice cream.

Crab apples are ideal for jelly making. The skins make for a delightful colour. I extracted the juice from crab apples using a jelly bag. Just wash the crab apples, cook in about 1 cup water per cup of apples for about 20 minutes until soft. Place in a jelly bag or sieve lined with several layers of cheesecloth. Let the juice naturally extract. Don’t press the fruit or it will make a cloudy juice. Once the juice is extracted, make the jelly. Crab apples are very high in acid and pectin so no additional pectin is needed. If you are nervous about getting to the proper gel point, you can add one packet liquid pectin to four cups of juice and one tablespoon of lemon juice. Process according to manufacturers instructions. Jelly is water-bath processed for 10 minutes (adjusting for altitude) with an additional 5 minute rest before removing from the canner.

What is left in the jelly bag is the cooked apples. Don’t throw them away. They are excellent as an apple sauce or you can dehydrate to make a good old fashioned fruit leather. If you make the leather, sweeten with 1 – 2 TBSP corn syrup or honey but not sugar as it will crystalize. For 4 cups of pulp which has been put through a food mill to remove skins and seeds, add a tsp of corn starch which makes the leather pliable not brittle. I have a dehydrator so it takes about 12 hours at 125 degrees. Remove the leathers from a non-stick sheet and then put back in the dehydrator for about 2 more hours to remove tackiness. You can make the leathers in a low oven of 200 degrees. Some modern ovens even have a dehydrating setting but most do not so set the oven at the lowest possible warming setting. It will take about 10 0 12 hours. Once leathers are done (no soft or tacky spots), wrap in plastic warp or parchment. They should be stored in in a cool, dry place and will last a year. These are great treats for the pack-packs or for lunch bags.

The crab apples are still plentiful so take advantage of their many uses. Whether drying, canning, smoking or preserving, crab apples are wonderful for both culinary and medicinal uses. When nature provides free fruits, why not jump at the opportunity to enjoy!

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Fall/ Preserving Know-how

Apples, Apples, Apples!

Apples and Thanksgiving simply go together. For many people, apple picking is a family tradition and the bounty is so beautiful in all its red, gold and green colours. A pie or crisp in the oven, apple sauce on the stove or cider simmering fills the house with an aroma of sweetness and spice, contrasting by the crisp outdoor temperatures. There’s nothing like returning home from a Fall hike to the smell of apples cooking in the kitchen.

One of the most efficient ways to preserve apples is by making apple jelly. The reason is because nothing goes to waste. The pulp from the juice extraction process can be transformed into apple sauce or used as the basis of fruit leather. Very efficient!

As with any jelly making process, the apples are cooked with water until softened. If you are using organic apples or have treated the apples with a baking soda bath to remove pesticide residue, there is no reason to peel or even core the apples. Just chop and throw them into a large pot with enough water to prevent sticking. You can add a cinnamon stick, star anise and/or nutmeg, cloves or allspice. Cook about 20 minutes until soft. Remove whole spices and pour the mixture into a dampened jelly bag or cheesecloth lined sieve. Let it drip without squeezing for at least two hours. The extracted juice can be used right away or filtered again through a coffee filter or cheesecloth to remove any sediment. Apples are high in pectin, so it is quite easy to make jelly without the addition of commercial pectin. But if using commercial pectin, I prefer the liquid pectin for jellies. No time to extract the juice? Use filtered apple cider with or without added spices.

The residual pulp should be put through a food mill to remove skins, cores and seeds. This pulp is apple sauce which can be frozen, canned or put into a dehydrator at 125 for 10 to 12 hours to produce apple leather. A couple of tips: If you are canning the apple sauce, it needs to be acidified with lemon juice (see Bernardin or Ball recipes) and it may be sweetened if desired with white or brown sugar or honey. Pure, unsweetened apple leather will please children and adults alike. But if you wish to sweeten it, corn syrup is better than sugar which will eventually crystalize. So simple to create three recipes from 6 lbs of apples!

Why not try some spiced apple jelly with your Turkey or an apple sauce tart topped with sliced apples and a glaze made from melted apple jelly. Really, the possibilities are endless. Enjoy our wonderful apple season.  Happy Thanksgiving.


All Things Grape


Growing up in Niagara, Fall was time for celebrating of all things grape. To this day, the aroma of Concord grapes in their baskets transports me back to my youth. Who doesn’t love grape juice, jelly, jam, pies, or popsicles?

Many people in our area grow or have access to naturally grown Concord grapes or have wild grapes. These deep blue beauties are high in antioxidants and are extremely well suited for juices and jellies. Extracted juice can be slightly sweetened and water-bath canned or used to make jelly. Canadian Living recommends crushing 10 cups of picked over grapes with 1 cup of water and simmering in a Dutch oven for 10 minutes. The mixture is placed in a dampened jelly bag or cheesecloth lined sieved to drip for at least 2 hours. The yield should be 4 cups. For a jelly, you can use a long-boil method (no added pectin), or either crystal or liquid pectin. Follow the directions on the package or tested recipe.

Coronation grapes are Canadian developed seedless hybrids and cousins of the Concord. Simply for ease of preparation, they are preferred for pies, jams, conserves, home canned fruit cocktail or for dehydrating.

Let’s face it, most people end up buying commercially grown grapes at some point during the year. Grapes, like berries and apples are some of the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables identified as having large amounts of residual pesticides. However, in recent studies reported by the Test Kitchens of America, swirling these fruits in a bath of 2 tsp of baking soda per 1 quart of water and then rinsing in cold water removes the pesticide residues. This is because the carbonate and organophosphate pesticides break down in the alkaline solution. The method doesn’t work for pesticides that are designed to be absorbed or those that are applied to roots, but it is effective for the two most commonly used pesticides. So, go ahead and buy commercial grapes (and other fruits) to eat or preserve but treat them first to remove pesticide residue.

The mighty grape is a versatile fruit for preserving. Pick your own, gather some up from a friend, buy commercially grown or even stop off at one of your local wineries to pick up a bottle of fermented grapes (aka wine) to make a wine jelly and enjoy the wonders of early Fall.