Larder spring clean...

02 November, 2014

I don't actually have a larder. But I love the idea of one. Or a cellar. Some sort of cool room where I can stock shelf upon shelf of wholesome home grown and home preserved goodies, have barrels of cider on the ferment, maybe a crock of kim chi or two, and large containers full of staples like whole wheat kernels that I would grind as needed to make sourdough bread, with my own homegrown sourdough starter.

Instead, I have this:

It is a couple of cheaply and cheerfully built shelves which house the majority of my preserves, in addition to my seed boxes and my nut and dried fruit stores.

It now being only one month to summer, I feel that the stores should be less than they currently are, to allow for filling up again with summer produce. So I have decided that I will give myself until the end of the month to clear out the shelves. Meals this month will need to prioritise use of preserves.

So this is what I need to use up.

Working along the top shelf from left: 

Three bottles of Fig Chutney. I think these are from 2013 so really need to be used. I like chutney, but I don't know about eating this much of it. I know I could give it away, but that feels like cheating. Any recipe ideas using copious amounts of chutney will be appreciated.

Three half pint jars of pressure canned salsa. This is easy - mexican here I come. Worth remembering to do again as these were well utilised.

One pint jar of pressure canned tomatoes. Also easy to use up. Maybe butter chicken. Also will do again, in addition to passata (those are long gone), as these were a mainstay of winter meals.

Moving along to the right, things will get a little trickier.

Six pint jars of pressure canned zucchini. I have not used a single one of these. I had hopes of making zucchini soup but they never eventuated. Ideas anyone? I will need to reconsider preserving zucchini this season.

Three pint and one half pint jars of pickled artichokes. My favourite way of using this so far is on homemade pizzas, and occasionally in salads. They are a bit too acidic for my taste, so a little goes a long way. I have intentions of pressure canning some non-acidified artichokes in oil (when the plants actually give me enough to preserve) but for now I have lots of slightly too acidic artichokes. Recipe ideas would be gratefully received.

One half pint of pickled cherries. These have been totally delicious, and are on the cards again for sure. Easy to eat, just add brioche and pate. Done.

Further to the right includes more challenges.

Three bottles of strawberry sauce from the strawberry jam epic fail. I was gong to give these away as gifts, but I was concerned that the jars I used were originally sweet chilli sauce and barbeque sauce containing and they might have taken on those flavours. I've not been brave enough to open them, as I don't think I can stand the disappointment of another failure. And I have no idea what to do with them. These may just get decanted onto the compost. Nothing is wasted if it becomes compost.

Next along is my stock. Six pints and one quart. Note very different depth of colour. Both are chicken stock made via the same method. I put all the bones into my slow cooker, just cover with water and add a dash of vinegar, then leave on high for 2-3 days. Then I strain and put in jars, then pressure can at 11 pounds for 25 minutes. I used to freeze stock but I like this much better. I think I may exempt these from the clean out, as stock is a year round harvest.

Moving to the lower shelf on right:

Five quarts and one pint of pressure canned peaches. I see a lot of peach crumble in my future. Also being more conscious of adding peaches to yoghurts for breakfasts and desserts. Maybe a peach cake. I'd love some suggestions.

Next along to the right, and bringing up the final preserves for consuming:

Three pints of cherries. These are great on yoghurt too. Maybe I could also try a jelly. These have been good, but less and more smaller jars I think would be better as the full pint jars are a tad too much.

One pint and two small weck jars of apple. More crumble methinks. Definitely preserving these again though.

One jar (towards rear, with red lid) of plum jam. This is from 2011. Clearly it needs to be used or I need to accept I will never use it and chuck it. Maybe a tagine?

Three jars of blackberry jam. I should have remembered I don't really eat jam.  Only way I've been using these is adding to cut up fresh apples (if I use the preserved apple it all just becomes mush) and then adding crumble or putting in a tart. Maybe could try cake again here. Next year I will just bottle blackberries in syrup.

There you have it.

Challenge to self: Reduce preserves shelf to bare bones by 1st December 2014. I will be posting a pic of the shelves on this date so now I have committed and have to do it. As the internet is my witness.


  1. I feel your pain - I'm just starting on the preserving road and already I realize that I have to can things in different proportions (250 ml jars of jam are much too large for our family who only eats jam as an occasional treat) or quantities (we are only in November and our canned hot peppers are already half way done!). It's all a matter of trial and (lots of) error, especially in the beginning.

    1. I know, it is such a learning curve. But good to know I'm not the only one :)

  2. So is getting a pressure canner worth it?
    I've been umming and ahhing over the last couple of years...

    1. I think so. I requested mine as a joint christmas gift, so everyone chipped in and I was a very happy girl.
      I reckon its worth it for the stock and canned tomatoes alone. But I have plans of canning meat or tuna eventually. I love that it has freed up my freezer space. Not to mention the no energy storage costs.

  3. Good luck. I always go through my stores once a year. Jam is a problem for me too. I used to eat a bit of it, but I'm not eating sugar right now and that means no jam. BTW I toss zucchini into any soup. Mine is grated so it just makes it thicker and a bit of depth of flavor, but not much else. And you should try the strawberry syrup on pancakes or waffles. It might have a touch of chili flavor, but it might end up being really good like that. Some people add chilies to such things on purpose.

    1. I think I will be brave and just open the strawberry sauce. I'm thinking maybe swirled through ice-cream...
      True, chilli can be a great flavour enhancer. I had a chilli chocolate gelati once and it was excellent. All right, you've convinced me.

  4. good luck! but what if your crops fail? maybe keep a couple of things, 'just in case'. we have very little in the larder now, - i am buying fruit to stew for my breakfast muesli - as dad's orchard is still recovering from the bushfires of a couple of years ago and we didn't have big crops last summer.

    but i agree with you on the compost. my version is - i take it to my mum's chicken and dogs. i don't mind feeding them with leftovers or failures i can't face eating. chooks eat anything (and give you eggs in return)!

    1. E - don't scare me like that. Crop fail?!! I wasn't scared before, but now I am. Well, I guess in that worst case scenario I'll be making a lot more trips to the farmers market. But hopefully it won't come to that!
      Funny, my chickens are very pedantic eaters. I've read other chickens eating anything and everything, but clearly mine didn't get the memo.

  5. Bek, I am looking at all those jars and seeing Christmas hampers and incidental gifts. Two birds with one stone, space AND Christmas sorted!

    1. It is a tempting strategy, but I would feel like I'm just palming them off second rate goods. I mean, they aren't even FRESH. And I'd worry I wouldn't get the jars back, that someone would accidentally chuck them in the recycling. The horror. My good ball jars! Not to mention the weck jars I brought home from Europe. Oh no, I just couldn't. As much as I wish I could.