It’s hard to think of canning in July, when you’re still hungover from strawberries and busy licking sticky peach fingers. But Marisa McClellan — the crafty Philly canner behind popular blog Food in Jars and its new spin-off cookbook — urges you to think of the months ahead while you’re snacking your way through the farmers market.
“If you’re looking to eat more locally and want to eat fruit in January, you have to can,” she says.
As we enter the peak of “canning season” — April through October — we checked in with McClellan for a little fresh inspiration.
Go ahead and pick too many — McClellan’s site is packed with peach recipes. Try a simple peach butter, or dress up traditional canned peaches with a little bourbon or brandy.
“Okra pickles are a great thing for people who aren’t sure about okra — you reduce its slime factor, and it turns into something really crisp and delicious,” says McClellan.
Poor kohlrabi is famous for being the last one picked during the CSA box draft. But with the help of a mandolin, this little cabbage-like veggie is the perfect jar candidate. “It’s a really good one for pickling,” says McClellan. “It’s super crunchy, and when you toss it with a vinegary liquid it just becomes bright and crisp and all of those things that you want in a pickle.”
“Apricots are one of those fruits that don’t taste spectacular plain, but when you cook them into jam, it’s spectacular,” says McClellan. “Pick up a quart, cook them with a little bit of sugar and you’re done.”
Whatever you do with jams, don’t alter the sugar ratios. “If you see a jam recipe and you think that’s too much sugar, you can’t change the recipe,” she warns. “If you slash the sugar, you end up with syrup. It’s not as if you’re eating a whole jar of jam in one sitting — or, well, you shouldn’t.”