When you get a dozen or so ripe tomatoes from the garden every day, dehydrating them into crispy sweetness is just too easy (after all the tomato sandwiches and fresh salsas, etc., have been indulged in). A note about food safety: We freeze the dried tomatoes to avoid concerns about not getting every last bit of moisture out of them. They hold up well in the freezer for well over a year. Many state university extension offices also have great recommendations for preserving fresh tomatoes.
Oregon’s embarrassment of agricultural riches (cherries! grapes! hazelnuts! pears!) includes the most luscious blueberries anywhere ever. In order for July to feel right to me, there has to be some blueberry jam creation. This is a labor of sweaty joy, from the trip to the farmer’s market for a flat of blueberries, to the inspection of canning jars and the filling of the big pot for the water bath processing. Small-batch production takes a while. I can only do 3 pints/6 half pints at a time. This year, we rocked 9 pints and 30 half pints. Can a couple of sweets-loving people such as Craig and myself consume all that jam? No. These delicious reminders of Oregon bounty will migrate out to friends and family sometime in the winter when the skies are heavy and we all miss the sun.
Water bath canning isn’t difficult but its rules must be respected. If you haven’t tried it, check in with your local county extension office for guidelines. Oregon State University’s extension office is a good place to start. And if you want to check your local public library for good recipes and guidance on the topic, check the books out in later winter or early spring. By July, there’s a waiting list for the best books.