PHOTO: Nick Olejniczak/Flickr
January 7, 2016

As excited as many get about home food preservation, I still find myself working hard to convince some that the energy and resources put into canning, freezing and drying is worth the effort.

Food preservation is not, of course, just about the end products—the sparkling jars of jellies, colorful containers of pickles and gurgling vessels of ferments—that sit on the kitchen shelf or in the basement larder. It can build community, create a sense of self-sufficiency and carry on traditions. Ideally, one would preserve in order to maximize both the culinary and social benefits.

Here is a list of creative ways to get the most from your home-canned goods. Gather some friends and family and plan to preserve items that will provide versatility throughout the year.


Jams and Jellies (Sweet)

Ways to use your preserves
Cara/Flickr
  • Instead of purchasing “fruit on the bottom” containers of yogurt, add fruit preserves to plain yogurt.
  • Serve on a cheese plate—especially herbal jams. Top a cracker or piece of bread with a slice of cheese and a dollop of jam.
  • Thin out by heating and use to glaze a pork roast or whole chicken.
  • Heat and pour over ice cream.
  • Add to a pie or cobbler filling.
  • Dollop onto unbaked thumbprint cookies.
  • Use to bake layered fruit bars.
  • Mix with pumpkin purée for a fruited pumpkin butter.


Chutneys and Compotes (Savory)

Ways to use your preserves
Exarchlzain/Flickr
  • Use chutneys and compotes to complement to grilled meats.
  • Mix into homemade burgers.
  • Add to plain yogurt or sour cream to make a dip.
  • Purée with oil, vinegar and herbs to make a homemade salad dressing.
  • Serve on a cheese plate.


Vegetable Pickles (Sweet or Sour)

Ways to use your preserves
Suzie’s Farm/Flickr
  • Use on a classic relish tray.
  • Chop, and mix into a homemade tartar sauce.
  • Make a unique relish for homemade sausages.
  • Add to tuna, chicken or egg salad for extra zing.
  • Use on a composed salad (i.e. dilly beans in place of green beans on a classic Nicoise).
  • Use as sandwich or panini toppings.
  • Garnish Bloody Marys or other adult beverages.

Fruit Pickles

Ways to use your preserves
iStock/Thinkstock
  • Add to a pie or cobbler filling for an interesting pop of flavor.
  • Reduce the brine to make a syrup for drizzling over a dessert cheese or cheesecake.
  • Marinate dried fruits in the brine to accompany a cheese plate.

Relishes (Sweet or Sour)

Ways to use your preserves
Brett/Flickr
  • Mix with plain yogurt or sour cream for an instant dip.
  • Garnish hors d’oeuvres.
  • Mix into potato salad.

Fruits in Very Light Syrup

Ways to use your preserves
Roslyn/Flickr
  • Eat from the jar for breakfast or a snack; add a 1/4 cup cream or half-and-half for extra indulgence.
  • Use in a pie, cobbler or crisp.
  • Add to a smoothie.
  • Purée into a sauce for grilled meats.
  • Purée and dry to make fruit leather.
  • Purée and add warm spices for a chilled dessert soup.
  • Purée and add to homemade cocktails.
  • Heat and pour over ice cream (especially with boozy fruits like brandied peaches and cherries or wine-spiced pears).

Pesto

Ways to use your preserves
Cooking etc/Flickr
  • Dollop onto pizza before or after baking.
  • Mix with plain yogurt or sour cream to make a dip.
  • Garnish bruschetta or other hors d’oeuvres.
  • Mix pesto into pasta or macaroni and cheese.
  • Add to mashed potatoes or potato salad.
  • Bake into a savory quick bread.
  • Mix into soup at the end of cooking.
  • Toss with raw nuts and bake.
  • Blend with cream cheese for a bagel spread.

Salsa

Ways to use your preserves
Susy Morris/Flickr
  • Use in place of tomatoes in chili.
  • Use in a layered dip.
  • Substitute for regular tomato sauce to create a Latin-flavored pizza.

Tomatoes (Sauce, Puréed or Whole)

Ways to use your preserves
Susy Morris/Flickr
  • Add to chili.
  • Use in classic tomato soup, gazpacho, or other soups and stews.
  • Use in lasagna or other layered casseroles.
  • Make a barbecue or enchilada sauce.
  • Use in homemade sloppy Joe.
  • Use on top of classic meatloaf in place of ketchup.
  • Purée to make Bloody Marys.

Dried Greens (Spinach, Beet Greens, Kale, etc.)

Ways to use your preserves
JJ/Flickr
  • Add to smoothies.
  • Add to a savory nut or trail mix.
  • Create a signature herb mixture.
  • Add to homemade pizza dough for a nutritional kick.

Dried Fruits

Ways to use your preserves
Vinay Bavdekar/Flickr
  • Add dried fruit to homemade granola or no-bake breakfast bars.
  • Use in trail mix.
  • Marinate in alcohol and use in a cocktail.
  • Add to a pie or cobbler filling.
  • Add to a raw vegetable or bean salad.

Dried Tomatoes

Ways to use your preserves
Dana/Flickr
  • Add to pasta cooking water to plump while noodles cook.
  • Add to risotto as it cooks.
  • Soak and purée into a sauce or dressing.
  • Add to a slow-cooker meal.
  • Add to a quiche filling.

Fermented Vegetables

Ways to use your preserves
Justin Kern/Flickr

Focus on adding fermented vegetables to dishes that don’t require additional cooking so as to maintain the health benefits of fermentation.

  • Add to raw vegetable or bean salads.
  • Purée into a salad dressing.
  • Top sandwiches and wraps.
  • Add to tuna, chicken and egg salad.
  • Add to cold pasta salad or potato salad.
  • Garnish avocado toast.
  • Offer as a taco topping or baked potato topping.
  • Garnish Bloody Marys or other adult beverages.



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