Tag Archives: Preserving

We are one!

Article and photographs by Gayle Hurmuses and Hurmuses family archives,  featured image by Brandi Deziel

A year. 58 recipes, a couple of dozen articles, many reviews, and 16 contributors with more coming soon!

Grampa's store, Main St, Vancouver
Grampa’s store, Main St, Vancouve

It’s been an exciting year and a growing experience full of opportunities to meet great people, to try new foods, and to share the love of cooking.  At the end of the day, that’s what this site is for, to teach about food, to discuss it, and to share a passion for food and its annual rituals.

On the Ptarmigan
On the Ptarmigan

I grew up cooking, in a food industry (fish exports, restaurants, grocery markets) household where everyone not only cooked, but each had their own specialty. Funny thing, we were all so busy cooking that it’s one of the few activities we don’t really have pix of us doing.

My folks would regularly host parties with 100 people or more and we’d cook as a family enough food to feed all of them. Christmas dinners were often for 35 to 40 people, with furniture moved out of the way and tables brought in from everywhere.

The National Cafe - Vernon, BC. - Uncle Jeff
The National Cafe – Vernon, BC. – Uncle Jeff

In those days it was a lot more common for people to preserve their own foods, and it’s what I grew up doing…certainly during my childhood. Both my mom and Mrs Davidson the next door neighbour, would each can bushels of food every year, with Mrs Davidson having the edge on volume and variety.

BushelTomatoes1I don’t make everything myself from scratch, but have always made it part of my objective to know how to do so, to understand how things are made and how to work with the seasons. There are some things that I always want to do for myself, or I’d simply do without them…like canned tomatoes.

For me, there is no comparison between home canned tomatoes and even the best that one can buy commercially. In a pinch, I might consent to use commercial tomatoes for a pasta sauce, but never for tomato soup, where the taste of the fruit itself is the key note.

Last year I did one bushel of tomatoes and really ought to have done two, as I usually do. The sauce was gone in a moment and I’m already down to only 3 quart jars of tomatoes, which I could easily use up in a week. I still have a good amount of ketchup and salsa…which makes me happy.

Sadly, my computer was held hostage to an evil repair company in September (note to self, always go to the Apple Store) and I was unable to post almost anything during that month, although I certainly did a lot of canning and preserving. I’m planning to post some of those retroactively, as soon as time permits.

Canned Tomatoes, Salsa, and Ketchup
Canned Tomatoes, Salsa, and Ketchup

That bushel of tomatoes netted me 7 litres of canned tomatoes, 3 litres of tomato sauce, 16 pints of salsa, and 9 pints of ketchup. The ketchup is entirely bonus, as it’s made from the skins and cores of the tomatoes, which most would normally toss out. It’s almost the best part of cooking a bushel of tomatoes simply to get the ketchup.

The thing about canning is that it’s not about the money you save, it’s about the quality you get…and it’s about owning the food you eat and share with the people in your life.  It’s a great family project, and adds enormously to the appreciation of the food we eat.

Grape leaves
Grape leaves

This website celebrates the importance of the seasons as part of the calendar of food and of keeping us grounded. It’s a reminder that everything we eat comes to us directly out of the earth. So, this year, as last year, we’ll look at planning a garden for cooking and follow that process all the way through to cooking from the garden, preserving the harvest and later use of that food during the winter months. Over time, we’ll look at planning these activities year over year…one doesn’t need to make every canned item every year…if you’re not a nomad, you can plan your preserving in 2 or 3 year cycles, or join a canning exchange group in order to assure a good variety of canned goods.

From seed to jar, food always provides a context for being grounded, for following the seasons, enjoying the best of food as it appears, and setting some of it by for later use in the winter.

Yes, it’s work, but it’s a joyful celebratory labour that creates fun from beginning to end and it’s an act of love and caring to share with the people who are important in your life.

Grampa Hurmuses Turkey
Grampa Hurmuses – The Turkey Master

Philly’s Easy Kim Chi

Recipe and photos by Philly Markowitz

Finished Kimi Chi w/Rice
Finished Kimi Chi w/Rice

This is a non-traditional recipe for those who don’t have easy access to dried shrimp or don’t want to use it. It makes about 3.5 litres –
if you have a glass gallon jar it will be the perfect size to hold the batch.

As the recipe makes a gallon, it’s great for hostess gifts and parties. Or, you can change the number of servings on the selector below, and the site will automatically divide the recipe for you.

Joel’s Smoked Mackerel Kim Chi

Recipe by Joel Loughead, photo by Gayle Hurmuses

A Canadian fusion Kim Chi, very non-traditional, inspired by the availability of ingredients in Joel’s kitchen one night.

“My kimchi recipe was dead simple. i accidentally realized i had the ingredients on hand so i just threw it together.

i used smoked mackerel because i had part of one laying around! from what i understand, traditional korean kimchi often uses all sorts of seafood–dried shrimp, anchovies, i’ve even heard raw oysters! i thought smoked mackerel would work, and behold, it did. you can pick it up at any decent grocer. check the seafood section.”

Philly, who did one of our other Kim Chi recipes says of Joel’s version:

“Smokey and delicious; a deep complex flavour. Over rice, it would be a meal”. 

Dead Easy Dills – Kosher Style

Kosher Dills
Kosher Dills

These are those crisp pickles that snap in your mouth. Crunchy because they are uncooked, making them the hands-down easiest pickles you can make.

You need a saucepan, cheesecloth, jars, or a crock, and the ingredients. Maybe a funnel if you’re using jars. It takes about 15 minutes top to bottom if you use ice cubes instead of cold water.

I have a thing for alliteration, so could not resist putting dill in the title, but fennel is a nice alternative.

Aging them for 2 days makes them what is called “half-sour”, aging for 4 or more days is called: “full sour”.

Note that the longer you age the pickles, the more yeast will form on the top. Try to skim it off, as this will affect the pickle taste. It’s perfectly safe though and a natural part of the kosher pickle.

If the yeast weirds you out, then stop aging the pickles at two days.

Pear Chutney

Pear Chutney
Pear Chutney

This is a wonderful chutney that I love with steak and that friends love with their curries. It’s a great way to use up pears in a bumper crop year and lasts a long time even after opening.

It looks lovely in the jar and makes a great gift.

However, after opening these you should swap the tin lid for a plastic one that is not susceptible to rusting.  The vinegars can be quite aggressive with these sorts of preserves that are used over a long period of time.

Pectin-free Strawberry Jam

IMG_20140625_205329Recipe and photos by Mimi Jones Taylor

I wasn’t sure if we were going to get a strawberry harvest in Ontario before July this year. Our winter was frigid, then in April, just as things appeared to be warming up, they froze over. I know that if the farmers have seedlings in the ground before Victoria Day weekend, they have to do their best to keep the ground warm and moist for the little guys, but with our last frost being on that weekend, the farmers certainly had their work cut out for them.

You see, I have a thing for strawberry jam. And when I say I have a “thing”, that doesn’t mean I eat every jar I lay my hands on. In fact, I hardly eat strawberry jam at all. But I do love to make it.

Before I moved to the Green Belt, though, I never contemplated making jam. My mother tried her hand at it when I was a child, and all I remember seeing were pots of bubbling and boiling liquids here and there and gooey Certo spilling all over the stove and having tons of filled jars in our cellar.

My late husband the chef made wine jams for sen5es – in their early days when they were a gourmet food store that served light fare. He had always prided himself on the fact that his jams were made with only the naturally-occurring pectin in the fruits themselves, and no additional pectin was used – no small feat when you add alcohol to the cooking fruit, since alcohol can inhibit the jam from gelling.

But my love affair with making strawberry jam started the year my son was in Junior Kindergarten. He is “on The Spectrum”, meaning he has autism. He is a high-functioning child with a condition formerly known as Aspergers. As a result, when he started school, not only did he have a Kindergarten teacher, but he had an Educational Assistant, along with the Special Education Resources Teacher, and the student teachers all helping him to transition from the happy, carefree life at home to the confined life inside a classroom. At the end of the year, when it came time to figure out what to give his teacher for a thank you gift, I was faced with having to give at least four gifts. I didn’t know what to do, since this was just before the dollar stores started selling better-quality mugs, and besides, teachers have a billion mugs anyway. All of his teachers had gone above and beyond the call of duty with him, and I wanted to thank them in a special way. I could have just baked cookies, but I had no idea who had what kind of allergies, and my kitchen facilities are in no way, shape, or form nut-free.

While I was trying to figure out a suitable gift, one evening I stopped in at Whittamore’s Farm on the Markham/Toronto border to pick up a quart of strawberries so I could make some strawberry ice cream. Whittamore’s had stunning flats of berries, along with pretty jars on the shelves near the strawberries. Then it clicked. I should make strawberry jam. Why not? It would be something different, homemade to show that I cared, and, more importantly, it wouldn’t be another mug.

I bought a flat and some jars and brought it all home. I researched the best way to make jams without using additional pectin. And off I went. Turns out I actually learned something from observing all the people around me make preserved fruit. I ended up with ten x 250 mL jars of jam that first year. And all of the teachers came back to me in September to let me know how much they had enjoyed the “fruit” of my labours (yes I just made that joke).

We have been very lucky with the school system for my son. He has managed to have the same EA and SERT since JK, something that is practically unheard of in the public education system in Southern Ontario. So every year, these wonderful teachers, and the new teachers and EAs who have come into my son’s life, all end up with jars of homemade strawberry jam. I was told by his SERT that she hides the jam in a special place in the fridge with a huge note on it. “This is MOM’s jam. Do not touch on pain of death!” This is coming from one of the kindest, most patient people I have ever encountered on this planet!

But getting back to my fears about this year – with frost occurring well into May, I feared that there would be no fresh strawberries in time for the end of the school year, and I would be forced into purchasing eight – yes he had eight teachers involved in his life this year, including the principal – cheesy dollar-store mugs and filling them with bulk store candy. But the weekend before school closed, I saw, much to my delight, flats of Whittamore’s strawberries ready for preserving. I took pictures of my process, and as you can see, the fruit this year held a lot of water, even more than in previous years. I did have my son help me crush the fruit so he could take part of the credit of making the actual jam. All I had to do was whip up some labels, and voila – instant (and when I say instant, I mean made in 90min) presents to show these hard workers – who do what they do more for love than the pittance of cash we pay them – a small token of my appreciation of everything they do every day for my son.

Here’s my simple recipe. Hopefully you will have people waiting with bated breath for your jam year after year as I have with mine. Just remember to share!

Eatin’s Canada – March

The theme for March is: Seeds, Spring, and Promise, so this month’s articles and recipes focus on seeds.

aFennelSMarch is when the plans for the year’s food activities begin, planting the garden and using the first early produce (for those lucky enough to be in a warmer area this year). So, this month’s main Food for Thought feature looks at that.


Labrador Creole Bean Soup – Photo and recipe, GaddAboutEating

Recipes this month feature seeds and beans, we have: GaddAboutEating‘s Labrador Creole Bean Soup, Gurpreet Chana‘s Butter Chicken with Whole Seed Spices, Lindiwe Sithole‘s Zimbabwean style Red Kidney Beans, my own Chai Packets, Sean Gault‘s “Down to a Science Ribs”, and Alison Cole‘s article on Sunflower Seeds, featuring a  recipe by RawRose, Sunflower Seed Hummus.

Convivial01I’ve introduced our Events Calendar and invite you to submit events to it. If you have any issues with that, please message me through the contact form that is also on the page.


MexicanVanillaPlantationThere will be more reviews coming, but this months main review is on The Mexican Vanilla Plantation.  This is without exaggeration, the best Vanilla I have ever had. There is an audio interview on the page to listen to as well as the review.

Sugarbush Pails - Photo by JP Campbell
Sugarbush Pails – Photo by JP Campbell

My personal favourite feature this month, is JP Campbell‘s Sugarbush Sugarshack, also the first article to have a voiceover. Eatin’s Canada wants to be inclusive on all levels and this is intended to help the blind and those that have difficulty reading from the screen the opportunity to enjoy the content.

There’s more to come, but that’s all for  now!