24 May 2011

Summer’s Best Flavors All Year Long

You can make this too!

The most exciting time of year in my kitchen is when I find inspiration from shopping at the farmers market and buying my favorite fruits and veggies as fresh as can be, straight from the farmers that grow them. Usually when market season is over, my interest in cooking tends to diminish a bit. This year however, instead of grieving the loss of access to those amazing products that I appreciate so much, I hope to embark on a method of extending that special feeling I get when knowing that my meal came directly from the hands that grew it: preservation.

When I was asked if I wanted to write this blog post about Cara Haskey’s introductory class to her preservation series, I was immediately intrigued, yet a little intimidated. I had never considered food preservation, as it always seemed complicated, and things can get a little hectic in my kitchen when I attempt new projects. However, after getting a taste (literally and figuratively) for what you can do with canning, I can confidently say that the payoff definitely seems to be worth the process.

Preserving also seems to be the best way to make use of summer’s bounty. Cara expressed that she often preserves simply because she cannot resist buying far too much of a beautiful item when it is available at the market. Seeing and tasting that extension of the market season in the form of homemade jams, chutneys, salsas and pestos that Cara generously shared from her pantry, I imagined myself almost forgetting that the market ever ended during those normally routine winter months. Cara also touched upon the importance of using fruits and vegetables as close to harvest as possible in order to maximize their flavor.

The class went on to explain a variety of other aspects of canning including safety tips, how best to organize your collection, and what equipment to use. And though it did seem overwhelming at first to think of all the things one must consider when preserving, Cara does a great job of explaining everything in a simple way. The rest of the classes should prove to be equally informative and delicious, as every class will cover a different topic such as low sugar jams, pickling, and tomatoes, each one in more depth.

Cara in action

Cara truly offers a knowledgeable and unique perspective on food preservation as her background includes volunteering with Portland Farmers Market, a certificate as a Master Preserver and Food Safety Advisor from Washington State University Extension, many years of canning experience, and a genuine appreciation for farm fresh foods.

The next class in the series will take place on June 9th and will be all about luscious Oregon fruits and berries. Click here to register for upcoming classes, offered once a month at the Buckman Market location, and find out more about Cara’s background at her website, www.modernpreserves.com.

–by Laura Harrison

Laura Harrison hails from the East Coast following the Oregon Trail in search of greener pastures. Drawn by a desire to bring delicious, healthy, and sustainable food into her home and to the masses, she finds herself digging in the dirt and loitering around farmers markets more often than not. Her love for fresh and responsible food influences her life decisions, dinner plans and wardrobe. She currently works for Gee Creek Farm and volunteers with Growing Gardens as well as with the Portland Farmers Market’s Fresh Exchange program. Laura wants to continue helping bring farm-fresh produce into the cities as she enjoys bringing it into her own kitchen.