Browsing Category




The long, cool spring has meant a bumper crop of asparagus and aren’t we lucky. This versatile vegetable has a long history dating back to the Egyptians and was described in Roman culinary writing as early as the 1st century AD. It is packed with vitamins and minerals and is known for its diuretic, expectorant and stimulant properties. Throughout history, only one rule pertains to asparagus: do not overcook!

A quick, short cook is the best way to enjoy asparagus. Whether you steam, roast with prosciutto, grill, serve cold drizzled with balsamic or indulged with Hollandaise, asparagus is a perennial springtime favorite. And, let’s not forget the silky asparagus soup.

Asparagus preserves very well in several forms. It can be blanched and frozen or dehydrated. It is excellent in fermented form. Pickled asparagus is delicious when eaten or popped into a Caesar drink. Asparagus, like most vegetables, is low-acid and must be pressure canned for long-term storage. Whether frozen, dried, canned or pickles, asparagus is a constant reminder of spring.

Embrace the bumper crop of asparagus this year and experiment with new recipes or try your hand at preserving asparagus for enjoyment in the winter months when sourcing fresh vegetables can be a challenge.

For more information contact:


Strawberry Season

My berries are starting to turn a beautiful red so I expect to see the spring beauties in the grocery stores very soon. There is probably no other jam as popular as strawberry. I know I have made cases of it for my grandsons! I wanted to focus on a few tips about making strawberry jam.

In North America we have wild strawberries, the tiny and intensely flavoured version are delicious on a salad or ice cream. The berries we tend to grow and buy were originally imported from Europe. Strawberries are high in Vitamin C and manganese and are rich in antioxidants. Ironically, most commercial berries have been heavily sprayed with pesticides making them one of the biggest culprits on the “dirty dozen list”. If you buy commercially grown berries, all is not lost. Giving them a 30 second bath in a solution of 2 teaspoons of baking soda to one quart of water and then rinsing will remove pesticide residues according to research done by Test Kitchens of America. Pesticides break down in alkaline solutions. While this method doesn’t work for all pesticides, it does work for the most commonly used spray varieties. So, give them a dunk.

Strawberry jam is notoriously known for the floating fruit problem. That’s when the fruit floats to the top of the liquid as it gels. Some people just don’t worry about it telling people to stir the jam before eating. That works. But if the floaters bother you, here are a few ideas that might help the problem. Floating occurs because the air in the cells of the fruit cause it to lift up like a balloon. Therefore, removing the air, to the extent possible, will reduce the floating phenomenon. For example, some recipes call for putting the sugar on the chopped fruit and allowing the combination to sit for several hours. Doing so helps the sugar to migrate into the cells so the air can no longer causing floating. Long-boil or traditional cooking of the jam without the addition of commercial pectin will also result in less air and therefore less floating. If you are using commercial pectin, before putting the jam into hot jars, stir the jam frequently for about five minutes. This method can help a bit. The final tip is to ensure the berries are chopped finely and crushed. A pastry blender and potato masher are helpful instruments. Don’t use a food processor as it adds air to the berries. Finely chopped and crushed berries have already released air so the tendency to float is much reduced.

We all await strawberry season with much anticipation. It seems like the announcement of summer – strawberry shortcakes, cordials, jellies and jams. Whether being used in salads, desserts or preserved for winter, strawberries are no doubt one of nature’s great gifts.

For more information:

Preserving Know-how/ Spring

Wild Leeks in Spring

Wild Leeks in Spring

It must be spring when the forest floor is dotted with wild leeks! The cool spring this year has meant the leeks are starting later and staying longer which is great for we foodies.

Wild leeks, commonly called ramps, are of the onion family. They are easily spotted in forests and fields. The plants have distinctive elegant bright green leaves and bulbs that look like green onions but smell like garlic. They have strong roots which means a shovel makes foraging easier.

Once cleaned, wild leeks have many culinary uses. The bulbs and leaves are edible. Try a sauté, braise or stir-fry.  They are delicious any way, cooked or raw. I make Wild Leek and Potato soup and freeze it for a cold summer vichyssoise or warm winter soup. The bulbs freeze well but don’t forget the leaves. Throw them in the food processor and add a bit of water. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze for a bright addition to a winter soup, stew or sauce. Pickled wild leeks are amazing too. To store fresh leeks, wrap in paper towel and put into freezer bags in the fridge. Don’t bend the leaves as they bruise easily. Make sure the bags are sealed or the entire fridge will smell of garlic!

Wild leeks have been over harvested to the extent they are becoming endangered! Take no more than 20% of any cluster of leeks. If you’re heading out to forage for wild leeks put on your conservation hat and then enjoy these precious gifts of nature.

For recipes/info: Martha Rogers

Leeks in Spring


Rhubarb: Think Spring

As spring flowers awake, we are reminded that despite the chaos of today, spring has arrived in all its hopeful glory. One of the first edibles in spring is the mighty, versatile and inexpensive rhubarb. Often called the “pie fruit”, rhubarb is actually a perennial vegetable. While the leaves are poisonous and must be removed, the stalks are packed with vitamins. It is a known antioxidant. For centuries Rhubarb has been used in Chinese medicine for the treatment of digestive issues and hyperlipidemia. While we are most familiar with the sweet applications of rhubarb in pies, crisps, jams, and so on, in Middle Eastern cuisine, rhubarb is often used as a tart counterpoint in rich dishes like lamb stew. We are lucky to live in rural Ontario because just about everyone knows someone with a rhubarb patch. And, since rhubarb will produce from early spring until late fall if regularly pulled and seed pods removed, this means we can easily access free or very inexpensive food. This year in particular, we should be sharing this bounty and thinking creatively about its immediate use and preservation for next winter through drying, freezing or canning.

Three ways to expand your rhubarb repertoire include roasting, juice and jelly making:

Roasted Rhubarb:
A 25 minute roast (350 degrees) of rhubarb tossed with sugar, cornstarch, and a touch of liquid (juice or water) produces a jammy-like accompaniment to ice cream, a pound cake or to oatmeal. It freezes well.

Rhubarb Juice:
A fantastic refreshing drink. Add sparkling water (or spike it if you like), a snip of mint and some ice. The juice freezes well or can be preserved. The chopped rhubarb is cooked briefly in water and then put into a dampened jelly bag, cheese cloth lines sieve. Let the juices drip naturally for at least two hours. You can sweeten the juice with simple syrup, honey or stevia. The beautiful pink juice is perfect for spring and summer.

Rhubarb Jelly:
If you’re extracting rhubarb juice, why not transform it into a beautiful, tasty jelly that is wonderful on toast, as an accompaniment to cheese or as a glaze for meats or tarts. Pictured here are gifts made for wedding guests.

As spring approaches, rethink your relationship with rhubarb. It is healthy, abundant, and extremely versatile. For recipe details, contact me at: