Labor Day weekend was, for me, quite laborious. But worth it. Check out the larder.
About a week before, I read about the CanORama going on nationwide. Naturally, I read about it the day after it started. And that was a busy weekend for me – no really, I’m not making excuses. I thought it was a great idea, wondered if there was anyone I knew who would spend three days in a hot kitchen, realized there wasn’t, and set forth on my own personal Can-O-Rama.
First, I foraged at the farmers markets and farm stand: wild and cultivated organic mushrooms, locally caught tuna, beautiful golden and deep red beets, the last of the white perfumed peaches, a few pounds of big yellow freestone peaches, the first of the deep purple ovoid plums -what I grew up calling prune plums, haricots verts and even some haricots jaunes, deep purply red highly flavored raspberries, plump garlic heads.
There were about 8 lbs. of romas from the garden (hallelujah, who woulda thunk?) and several bunches of Genovese basil.
I had my work cut out for me. And then a friend called to tell me her figs were ripe and she and her family had had enough, already, would I please come take some. So add to the pounds of food I planned to process, four picture perfect, utterly ripe pounds of brown turkey figs.
At the end of three days –
2 halfpints duxelles
6 halfpints tuna in olive oil
2 pint jars whole golden beets
2 pint jars whole harvard beets
4 pints frozen white peach raspberry puree
4 pints frozen sliced sugared yellow peaches
6 pint jars spicy asian plum sauce
6 pints frozen mixed yellow and green haricots, blanched
5 half pint jars raspberry chocolate jam
12 pints pesto, frozen
2 pints oven roasted tomato sauce, frozen
14 4-oz jars honeyed fig confiture with lemon and thyme
I was inspired in all this canning by Eugenia Bone’s fine cookbook, Well Preserved. And Christine Ferber’s Mes Confitures. And my own sense that summer is fading, and must be savored and tucked away for the winter ahead. It’s been a great summer of canning, and I hope to do a bit more before turning over the garden and saying goodbye to my farmers market friends until Spring.
Here’s the recipe for the fig confiture. It’s all mine, with techniques derived from the masters.
makes about 12 4oz jars, the perfect amount to set out with a chunk of great cheese. an exceptional gift if you can bear to part with it.
4 lbs. fresh figs
3 cups sugar
1 cup exceptional floral honey (clover, wildflower, apple blossom)
3 small organic lemons
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
Place the figs in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them to submerge. Allow them to sit for 10 minutes
Lift the figs out, stem and quarter them. Set aside.
Wash the lemons well and slice very thin with a mandoline or sharp knife.
In a preserving pan or other 5 qt or larger non-reactive pan, add figs, sugar, lemons, honey and thyme. Bring to a boil and keep boiling for ten minutes.
Pour off into a ceramic or glass bowl, cover with parchment, and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, bring the mixture back to a boil, reduce and simmer 45 minutes or longer, until it is aromatic and thickened.
Remove the thyme sprigs. Fill hot, sterilized jars with hot jam. Wipe the jars, place new lids and finger tighten the rings. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.