Sunday, October 09, 2011

Preserving three seasons

An unseasonably warm October day is the perfect time to write about the three seasons sitting in my kitchen.

The first is winter, which comes in the form of maple syrup, courtesy of Dave of the Useful Arts digital marketing blog.

Dave and his daughters tap the maple trees in their yard each winter; I believe this year they harvested 40 gallons, which they then boiled down to sweet syrup. The flavor is darker and richer than most commercial maple syrup, with an edge of caramel. Perfect on pancakes on a chilly day.

Next is summer, which means flowers, which means bees, which means honey. This stuff is hyperlocal: it came from our next-door neighbor's beehive. Last year was his first with the hive, and I loved seeing the little guys all over our garden.

The bees produced 30 pounds of honey last summer; they particularly liked our lavender and thyme, which became apparent as soon as we opened the jar and inhaled the scent of sweet summer flowers.

Hyperlocal honey

Sadly, the bees didn't make it through the harsh winter. But our neighbor decided to give it another shot. And when Noah from Best Bees came to install the new tenants (10,000 of them) this June, I was invited to watch.

The aromatic honey, drizzled over figs and Greek yogurt, is summer in a bowl.

Figs with Greek yogurt and hyperlocal honey

The third season I have in a jar is fall, in the delicious form of pear marmalade made by my coworker Robbin.

Pear marmalade

I'd never heard of this before she told me about it — I only knew of marmalade as a citrus preserve — so I was very excited when she presented me with a jar. Pears don't have a particularly strong flavor, so unsurprisingly the fruit isn't the dominant note; instead, it's spices like cinnamon that come through and make me think of fall foliage and hot apple cider.

On this warm October day, though, it's also good with a goat brie.

Goat brie, pear marmalade

I'm really lucky to have friends who like to put edible things in jars and share them.

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