Home Canned Marinara Sauce

For most of the year, I am a staunch advocate of the small batch. I make jam in skillets, put up pickles one pint at a time, and simmer my chutneys in a miniature Dutch oven. However, come tomato season, I change my tune and go big. Very big.

Over the last five years, I’ve gotten into the habit of buying at least 100 pounds of tomatoes in the first or second week of September and spending a few very messy days painting my kitchen red.

bowls of tomatoes

I peel tomatoes, pack them into jars, and can them whole. I make tomato jam. I roast trays of tomato puree until they thicken into brick-red paste. And I cook up vast vats of basic marinara sauce that becomes the base for batches of meat sauce and soups all year long.

Having homemade marinara sauce on your pantry shelf is a dinnertime lifesaver because it means that you’re never more than 20 minutes away from a meal that you can feel really good about. [Read more…]

12 ways to preserve the August harvest (without canning)

I keep telling myself that September is going to be my big canning month, and it very well might be; I can’t say no to the bushels of tomatoes and crisp new apples beckoning at the markets during the fall.

So far, I’ve pickled a few jars of asparagus and made my usual strawberry honey jam, there was a batch of sweet relish, too, but I am not regularly turning my kitchen upside down with mega home canning projects. Oh, the cookbook is taking care of keeping us in dirty dishes just fine, thank you very much.

That said, I am still preserving the beautiful summer produce here and there, by freezing, roasting, packing in oil and drying. These are just some of the options to saving the season.

[Read more…]

Lacto-Fermented Pickles Header

Make Old-Fashioned Brine Fermented Pickles Like Your Great Grandmother

I’m standing at the kitchen counter of the cabin my husband built for us when we moved off-grid. It’s over 90 degrees, it’s approaching the lunch hour, and my three children, aged 1 – 6, are getting hungry.

A set of red headed pigtails is at my side while I chop the mid-summer vegetables that need preserving – summer squash, cucumber, and a few green tomatoes that came off the vines too early. They’re all going into a gallon jar of pickles that will contain no vinegar, will never be heated or boiled, and will not see a lick of refrigeration.

These are old-fashioned brined lacto-fermented pickles. It’s a mouthful, in more ways than one, but these are the pickles our great grandmothers made. They keep for months, if prepared properly, I really appreciate the health benefits we enjoy from them, and though I’ve made them for years, I appreciate them even more now that we’re taking a crack at this sustainable off-grid homesteading life.

Oh and they are dead easy to make. [Read more…]

Whipped Raspberry Honey Butter and we are off!

Tomorrow we leave for what is sure to be an adventure – a ten-day road trip around Nova Scotia and PEI, hitting as many ocean views, beaches, and lighthouses as we can.

You can follow along on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the up-to-the-minute reports, a peek at our current views, and, of course, snapshots of what we’re eating. And I’ll be bringing a full report to the blog when I return home, complete with recommendations and our best tips for seeing the Maritimes with small children.

We’re ready for a change of scenery and are eager to smell the sea. It will be my first visit to Canada’s East Coast. About time, don’t you think?

I’ve been unable to resist the call of the impeccable fresh produce at the markets these days, which is why I was left with a basket of raspberries to use up right before our trip. I could have frozen them, but instead whipped up a batch of raspberry honey butter and froze it in two jars.

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Honey-Sweetened Apricot Thyme Jam

Every July, I buy a 25 pound box of apricot seconds and spent the next week scurrying from one recipe to the next.

It’s a race again time to get all that fruit cooked into jams, chutneys, mustards, and other preserves before they begin to soften, brown, and develop moldy patches.

Some might question this behavior, but when you love apricots as much as I do, it is imperative to squirrel away as many pounds of this sunny, short-seasoned stonefruit as is possible when they’re available.


One of my very favorite apricot preserves is a honey-sweetened jam, gently flavored with something herbaceous. It’s a really good trick, because it takes a basic preserve and transforms it into a perfect pair for cheeses, roast meats, and other sweet-and-savory applications.

[Read more…]