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    Preserving the Season’s Harvest

    This is the perfect time of year to get out the canning jars and start preserving the best of summer’s fruits and vegetables while getting an early start on fall produce. If you haven’t tried canning, you’ll find it an enjoyable and rewarding way to preserve summer’s peaches, tomatoes and peppers to enjoy in the middle of winter, or apples and summer berries to savor in the spring! You’ll still be purchasing produce when in season, but will be able to enjoy it all year long!

    The practice of canning and preserving foods has been around for a long time. Pickling, salting and dehydrating have been used for thousands of years to keep food from spoiling, and to make it available to eat all year round. At the end of World War II, most households were canning foods grown in their “Victory Gardens,” when it was seen as a patriotic duty to ensure families were as self-sufficient as possible so more supplies and materials would be available to the troops.

    For the last twenty or thirty years, the long-neglected art of canning has made its comeback due to the emphasis on eating healthy and eating locally grown produce. Young family cooks are turning to grandmothers and older relatives to learn the art of canning. Old canning cookbooks are being sought out. Canning websites are extremely popular. A wonderful array of home canned fruits and vegetables is being produced by a new generation of canners.

    You’ll find fantastic fresh produce, ready for canning, from the farmers who grew it. Visit Nyia Yi Farms from Stockton for the perfect pickling cucumbers. Stop by Arata Fruit out of Byron for the last of the season’s peaches, nectarines, and plums for some tasty jam or chutney, or pick up some of their Mission figs for fig jam. Don’t forget an extra stop at Berrylicious out of Gilroy for luscious strawberries and blackberries.

    Rainbow Orchards from Camino will have crisp early fall apples and cider to make into naturally sweet homemade applesauce. Ken’s Top Notch will have loads of juicy nectarines and grapes for jams, and Fifth Crow Farm will have bushels of beautiful green beans for making a killer batch of pickled dilly beans.

    You can’t beat the quality and freshness of farmers’ market produce. You’ll find varieties that you won’t see at the supermarket, and you’ll actually know where your food comes from! Enjoy the best of both seasons this month. And thank you for supporting your local farmers and farmers’ market.

    Blackberry Lemon Marmalade

    4 cups blackberries, washed (Berrylicious)
    2 cups lemons, seeded and peeled (Arata Fruit)
    5 cups sugar
    Zest from 6 lemons
    1 package low sugar pectin

    Mix pectin with 1/4 cup sugar; set aside. Heat lemons, zest and blackberries in a large pot. Add pectin/sugar mixture and lemon juice. Bring to a full boil. Add remaining sugar and return to a full boil. Boil 1 minute. Check for gel. Skim foam. Fill sterilized jars, add lids and rings. Process 10 minutes. Makes 6 to 7 half pints.
    Recipe: Debra Morris, PCFMA Staff