How to Start Preserving Like a Pro

Thanks to Pinterest and DIY movement, preserving has made a triumphant return — to which we give a big thumbs-up.

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how to start preserving_ homemade chutney and compotes
photo credit: James Tse

This Summer, Start Preserving

There is no downside to canning: It can save you money by avoiding costly imported produce, preserve seasonal flavour all year round and reduce food waste by using up your garden’s bumper crop. Plus, canned jams, pickles and sauces make pretty, handmade birthday and hostess gifts for those impossible-to-buy-for people on your list.

The other good news is that canning leftover cukes and tomatoes won’t compromise your health. In the colder Canadian months, fresh produce often travels hundreds of miles to reach our tables, losing valuable nutrients along the way. Suddenly, the word “fresh” seems like a misnomer. In this case, canned and frozen may be the better option.

As for frozen versus canned, while the heating process involved in proper canning reduces more nutrient content initially, the vitamins and minerals are better retained over time in the air-starved container.

But what about all that sugar in homemade jellies and jams, you ask? Truth bomb: It’s not there just to make it taste good. Sugar sucks up moisture, preventing mould and bacteria growth, plus it thickens preserves and makes them more spreadable. If you want to cut the sugar, I suggest sticking to smaller jars, so you can use them up quicker once opened and prevent bacterial growth and spoilage.

Here are two recipes we: one savoury and one sweet. Take your pick or make them both!

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how to start preserving like a pro_ compote recipe
photo credit: James Tse

Grape, Marsala and Fig Compote

Chutney is an Indian accompaniment that often combines fruit, vinegar and sugar into a sharp, chunky relish. While it’s traditionally served with curry, it can be a tasty pairing with cheese, yogurt, sandwiches, sausages and burgers or served as a dip. This version features the sweet, tangy, spicy and earthy combination of beets, apples and ginger.

Beets are packed with fibre, vitamin C, antioxidant betalains and inorganic nitrates – unique compounds that may help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and enhance exercise performance. Apples, on the other hand, are loaded with quercetin and catechin antioxidants that early research suggests may have heart-healthy and anticancer properties. I guess that apple (and beet chutney) a day does keep the doctor away!

Grape, Marsala and Fig Compote Recipe

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how to start preserving like a pro_ chutney recipe
photo credit: James Tse

Spicy Beet & Apple Chutney

Sweet, boozy and herbaceous, this simple wine-soaked compote is a perfect accompaniment to a melty brie or a sharp Parm. Grapes – and the Marsala wine made from grapes – pack a healthy dose of resveratrol and proanthocyanidin antioxidants, which studies suggest may help reduce the risk of inflammation, blood clots, heart disease and cancer. It’s important to remember that more is not always better, especially with booze.

Studies suggest that moderate red wine consumption (no more than one to two glasses a day) may help reduce the risk of heart disease, while abstainers and heavy drinkers are at higher risk. We say that eating our antioxidants (in moderation) is always a tasty and healthy solution, so pass the cheese and compote!

Spicy Beet & Apple Chutney Recipe

You might also be interested in these articles

Preservation 101: How to Make Jam Like a Pro
50 Crowd-Pleasing Potluck Recipes Guaranteed to Be a Hit
The Most Addictive Guacamole Recipe Ever

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