So this month of the Canadian Food Experience project, and this month Valerie from a Canadian Foodie challenged us to write about preserving. I really struggled with this because I don't really make preserves, or so I thought. The Canadian Food Experience project brings together food bloggers, from across the country, to share their collective regional and cultural food experiences.
Eating veggies off season, pickling, canning tomatoes, going into the cold storage room to get veggies that were grown in the summer – these are not things that I grew up doing. If something wasn’t available or in season we’d just eat something else.
But I grew up in a country 10 degrees North of the equator where most vegetables were available pretty much all year round.
There are 2 seasons - hot & dry, or hot & wet and the only time that you could find a cool, dark place to store preserved veggies would be the inside of a refrigerator when the light goes out. I ate beets, tomatoes, oranges and beans all year round. Different varietals in different months, but there were always available.
That said I do have a experience with preserves. While we don’t do preserves in the “North American” way, we pickled pigs tails, pigs feet, cow hooves, and beef tails which we then either eat with lots of onions and herbs (see below), or we use them in cooking to raise the flavour profile of the dishes. No part of the animal was left unused.
The one thing that we made most in my family, was hot sauce and hot pepper jam. While there are commercially available jams & hot sauces there’s nothing like cutting up hot peppers (while not wearing gloves), then trying not rub your eyes while in the middle of a coughing fit after inhaling some capsaicin (pepper juices). It’s a treat you definitely want to miss.
Despite the obvious discomfort, the sense of pride that you get from “trading” pepper sauces, and testing other people’s recipes is quite fulfilling especially if you know deep down inside that yours is really the best - Not competitive am I – but I digress.
I learned to make pepper sauce and hot pepper jelly from Grandma Ruby and in a previous post, I added Atulfo mangos chunks which had the perfect balance of hot and sweet. I’ve continued my family tradition and make my own pepper sauce, which is a staple in my cooking, and I also make my own hot pepper jam.
I’ve never made strawberry, blueberry or blackberry jams because my sister-in-law does them so well, so why mess with perfection. I prefer to focus on trying to blend the two cultures and seeing what mixes or messes I can make.
I got my hands on some guavas the other day at the market so I decided to whip up a batch of guava jam, and I popped some hot peppers in it for a bit of fun. Whoo hoo!!!!!
This went over soooo well. We could barely wait for the jam to set we were eating it warm, slathering it on sharp cheddar cheese with crackers.
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