Tag Archives: Preserving

Stocking Up – a fall festival of food

Stocking up – A fall festival of food

Fall is always a special time of year for me.  Going back to when I was a small child and helping Mom, Dad, Gramma & Great-Gramma clean the garden and start preparing for winter, it was… precious. Time with loved ones. Gorgeous colours for the transition in nature.  Amazing food.

This year was a special one for me and my family. I took a full week off to pick and preserve fruit for the winter.  It worked really well. My wife and I just had our first child this spring, so it was a lot more challenging than picking & preserving in years past and it was also a lot more fulfilling.  But I’ll get to that later.

We got really lucky with the picks we signed up for. The first was a small acreage north of Edmonton, which listed needing 1 tree picked.  We got out there to find 3 eating apples. 2 crabs, and an Evans cherry all dripping with fruit. After speaking with the owner, we agreed to pick for two days, and pick as much as we could. The second day I’d already signed up for another apple pick, so that evening we got another full tree of eating apples and a handful of crabs.  All in all, there was nearly 500 lbs of apples & crabs, and almost 50 lbs of cherries.

One of the challenges I have with picking is deciding where to donate.  This year it was easy – the day after the pick we had an appointment near Whyte ave, so YESS got a nice surprise and a lot of fruit. It was neat because the chefs had just arrived and once I started bringing the food in, they immediately started planning what they would do with it. Very fun experience.

We had planned to juice a lot of the apples. I’ve been picking with OFRE for a few years now, so one of the friends in the organization has a T-frame jack press, that works really well.  I’d called him ahead of time, and we’d arranged to press it all in one go.

There was too much to do in an evening after he was done work, so we did it in two.  Mix of eating & crabs produces a very nice blended flavour.  If you ever have the chance, try to do some small batches of juice to see what different apples taste like. If you think all juice is the same… you haven’t been picking & preserving long enough.  =)

The following day was batch pasteurization day.  We have a lot of jars that have been handed down to us from family members who don’t use them anymore.  It’s very nice for us to have them all, and on a day like that day was… it was a necessity. 

100 L of apple juice, canned in 1 Day. Sweet (not sweetened, just very tasty as is.  Also – pun).

While I was busy with the juice, my wife and her Gramma were working on applesauce.  Remember, that new baby we had?  Well, we figured making our own applesauce would be a good plan.  So we had nearly 100lbs of that sauced too.  Much of it was frozen, as we were still running out of jars at this point (and a little sick of canning).  Applesauce is also great in baked goods – especially the chocolate chip walnut spice cookies I’m eating while writing this.  As an added bonus, my daughter really enjoys it now!  Huzzah!

This was a big part of the fulfilling part of the year.  Being with OFRE now for a few years, the whole family is involved.  It’s bringing us closer together.  We’re eating great food.  And we are spending time together in meaningful ways.

I hope my little one has great memories of this like I did, so that one day she can follow in my footsteps, like I do in my parents and grandparents, and great-grandparents.

By Jordan A. Wilson

Pick of the week – Looking back

When I look back to 2009 when I was at a friends for a potluck event and the idea was suggested of starting a fruit rescue volunteer group, which eventually grew into OFRE, I feel grateful to have been part of it all since the beginning.

OFRE has led me to so many places, many of them I never foresaw in my future such as a fruit pick volunteer, fruit captain, executive director, president of OFRE board, representative for Slow Food Canada at Terra Madre, canning instructor with Metro education and City of Edmonton Arts, presenter at PKN13, and Avenue Magazine’s top 40 under 40! All of these and more I can credit to my involvement with Operation Fruit Rescue over the years. Sometimes when you say yes to something and jump in, you never know where it might take you, I guess!

Terra Madre 2012

Volunteers teach canning

Show What You Grow

In the beginning, I was excited at the prospects of getting access to locally grown raspberries and apples. I was living in an apartment at the time, so growing my own food was still beyond reach for me. I had no idea what kinds of fruit people would be calling to ask us to rescue such as plums, pears, and even apricots! The first year taking phone calls and answering emails for OFRE I thought for sure, some homeowners were pulling my leg when they would tell me they had plums and pears to share.

This is my 5th year being involved in OFRE and I still find incredible joy in climbing trees to get fresh fruit right from the tree, slashing down giant rhubarb bushes, telling new volunteers about OFRE and fruits they will find, and making delicious preserves to enjoy well after the season is over. Now, being a mother to a beautiful little girl, I can’t wait to take her on some summer fruit picks over the next couple of years to show her how to pick apples right off the tree and give her a taste of a berry or two!





OFRE volunteers teaching canning courses this fall!

Exiting news!

This fall OFRE volunteers: Amy Beaith & Molly MacDougall be official canning instructors with City Arts Edmonton offering a series of 2 canning courses on different foods and techniques. These courses will show you what you “Can” do with locally grown fruits and vegetables, and hopefully prepare you to get out there and preserve some of the rich bounty that grows in the Edmonton region.

Volunteers teach canning

pear jammin night

Molly and I both love to can! We have strong experience as home preservers and have each taken a canning course in the past year. We have taught many OFRE workshops together over the past year and are the ladies behind the unique OFRE products sold at farmers markets. Amy Beaith was also the canning instructor with Eat Alberta this past April teaching two sessions on canning focusing on locally grown Evan’s Cherries in the fruit class and peppers for the pickling class.

To sign up for these exciting new classes offered for the first time through City Arts Edmonton, click on the class titles below. There are 2 classes in the canning series running during the months of Sept and October. Sign up early so you don’t miss out!

OFRE cider, jams, and syrups for sale on September 1st!

This year has been an amazing one for OFRE in terms of community connections, newly recruited volunteers, and new projects outside of picking fruit.

Many of our volunteer pickers are not only interested in harvesting and eating local food, they also want to learn how to preserve the fruits of their harvest. Many of the traditional canning/preserving skills have been lost, but there is a keen interest among the younger generations in learning these skills and making food in a more sustainable way.

OFRE cider, jams, and syrups for sale

With this in mind, we have started to host canning, preserving, and cider making workshops for our volunteers. The goal of these workshops is threefold:

  1. educate each other on canning and preserving practices and recipes
  2. make products to distribute among members
  3. to generate a source of revenue for OFRE through sales of items made from OFRE fruits. Fresh products made my volunteers using Edmonton grown and harvested fruits doesn’t get much more local OR sustainable than this!

Spiced Saskatoon Jam

OFRE now has 460+ growers in our list and I feel that we have barely scratched the surface of how much fruit is actually grown in the city. To think about what is here in terms of quantity as well as variety is quite mind-boggling, especially when you think that 1 apple tree can produce 200+ pounds of fruit in a season!

Apple cider

With this many growers, we gather a lot of fruit! So, making cider, jams, jellies, etc. is one way for OFRE to get through the fruits rescued in such a way that this can be shared and enjoyed long after the season is over.

We will be making our debut at the Alberta Avenue Farmer’s Market this Thursday (Sept 1st). In the summer, the market is outdoors and the market runs from 5pm-8pm. Look for our items at the Community Tent.

Best Ever Preserved Contest

Bernardin has partnered with “Feast of Fields” for a contest called “Best Ever Preserved”. This is your chance to submit that favourite fruit preserve recipe that everyone loves such as jams, jellies, etc.

Best Ever Preserves Contest

The contest runs until August 19th, so hurry and get your entries in! You submit a recipe and send in a jar of the preserve to the chef for tasting.

Prize for the winning entry is: 2 tickets to the “feast of fields” and a canning kit. (value $500)