Off-Season Abundance

From Oregon, Stahlbush Island Farms takes sustainable farming practices to a new level.

A trip through my grocery store a few months ago brought me face-to-face with a freezer special that would change the way I think about canning. Packages of frozen berries—organic, sustainably grown, heirloom variety black raspberries, to be exact—were on sale for less than half their usual price. I bought ten packages.

I wasn’t sure exactly what I would do with them. Perhaps a pie? Maybe put them in smoothies? It didn’t really matter that there was no plan in place when I bought them. Frozen berries are gold, and I have a tendency to hoard them when they are not in season. Around late winter, however, my freezer is typically overflowing with other space-hogging savouries like chicken stock and beef bones, pumpkin tarts and cannelloni, that I look for ways to make space.

Black raspberry jam at warp speed. Thanks Pomona.

Ten bags of black raspberries just screamed to be made into jam. I hadn’t considered using frozen fruit in canning before; I saw the act of canning—whether doing jam, pickles, or sauce—as a way to preserve fresh produce. I had understood freezing and canning as an either/or choice.

It is not so. Frozen berries make beautiful jam. They break down quickly with cooking, and with the help of some Pomona’s Universal Pectin I made a batch of jam in record time: half an hour, start to finish. The possibility of using frozen produce to can July’s bounty in March, in the off-season when there is nary a raspberry to be found, makes anything possible.

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