Fall Fruit Preserves with Regent Park CRC

This past Wednesday, NFFTT reunited with our friends at the Regent Park Community Food Centre (CFC) for the third event in our canning / preserving workshop series. We had been delivering fall fruits to CFC food skills coordinator Emma Palumbo and her team for weeks (including more grapes than one kitchen can handle), so we were well stocked for a great afternoon of canning and preserving! Today’s menu included grape jelly and stewed pears made with fruit picked in Bloordale Village, an apple sauce made from Spadina Museum apples, and crabapple jelly from fruit picked right outside the CFC! After a quick snack that included delicious bread and butter zucchini pickles made at last month’s workshop, the team got to work prepping the fruit.

Pears, apples and crabapples were sliced and processed, grapes were boiled and strained, and lemon juice was squeezed. The kitchen was a hive of activity and it didn’t take long before all the fruit was ready to go! There was only one problem – there were way more grapes than we could possible turn into jelly in one afternoon. The solution? Grape juice for all! We ended up using about have of the juice to make jelly, and the team strained the rest of the grapes to make beautiful purple juice to be served at CFC community meals for the rest of the week.

The team started ladling the different fruits into the jars, making sure to leave enough headroom at the to top of each on to allow the vacuum seal to properly form. It’s also important to make sure to wipe the rim of each jar after you fill it so that the seal fits tightly! Batch by batch, the jars were dropped into huge pots of boiling water to be processed.

When all the jars had been boiled and set aside to cool, the afternoon was finished! Tired but happy, the whole team retired to the CFC communal dining room to eat a delicious meal prepared by Emma and co., consisting of a lovely frittata, a spicy soup made with chilis from the CFC garden, and banana chocolate chip cookies fresh out the oven. Canning is hard work, and requires a lot of attention to detail to make sure things go right, but it is also an amazing way to bring a community together. And as Emma told us, winter is right around the corner, and there’s nothing like opening up a jar of hand picked, hand preserved fruit to brighten up a dark, snowy day. Happy fall preserving, everyone!

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