When I hear cooks talking about preserving the bounty of their garden, I often think of canning tomatoes, pickling beets, packing sweet corn in bags and of course, making apple butter. Those are all delicious, but they have one thing in common that I just don’t want to come around anytime soon: fall.
We are just getting into spring here in Chicago, and all I can think about are sunny days at the beach, grilling outdoors, long bike rides and preserving. Spring is one of those times of year where we take a back seat to slow cooking and turn to fresh, vibrant, lighter meals. I enjoy this time, but I can only eat so many asparagus spears before I want certain things to just smell normal for a minute. I love the tart and sweet flavors of rhubarb, but I can only eat so many rhubarb cupcakes, pies and tarts in a week.
So, why not bring the philosophy of preserving the bounty of my fall harvest into the spring season? Here are some fall ideas that can be translated into spring:
Instead of making kimchi with Napa cabbage, try it with the great tasting ramps (wild onions) popping up in your woods. Instead of cooking down apples into butter, use the same technique with rhubarb to make a tart compote for topping your crostini at one of your summer picnics. Instead of pickling the mid-summer green bean harvest, use the same recipe for all the asparagus that is in season now.
My arugula patch is so big right now that by the time I try to eat the last of it, the greens will be overgrown and bitter. So now is a good time to turn some of those into a fresh pesto, freeze it and use it all summer long tossed with grilled vegetables.
This is one of the reasons that I don’t think I could live in a place that has the same climate year round. I love the change of weather and the different flavors of foods that are at my fingertips during each season. So to remember the season that will be passing soon, preserve it and use it during the next season. Summer will be here before we know it!
What are your ideas for preserving spring produce? Share them here.