Nelson chef Jamie Hertz shares tips for preserving the seasons.

Nelson chef preserves the seasons

It is canning season, and Nelson chef Jamie Hertz gives some tips for preserving the seasons.

It’s funny how quickly the weather can change the Kootenays. One minute everyone is on the lake enjoying the really hot sun and the next the smell of burning wood is in the air from all of the fires going to keep their homes warm.

We are getting closer to the fall, which is my favourite time of year. The fall brings cooler weather, which means the meals get heartier and the flavours get richer.

My home often smells of a pot roast simmering away or it has a lingering smell of some soup that I just made. As well, our friends tend to gather around more to enjoy a great meal while in each other’s company.

I have found my email, Facebook account, and even mobile phone blowing up from all of the questions people have for me in regards to food.

It may be a simple tip to an existing recipe that they already have or help creating a dish for an upcoming dinner event. The buzz that seems to be going around is questions and topics about pickling, canning, and preserves. Most of us are harvesting all of our great fruits, vegetables and herbs and wanting to preserve them for the winter months.

This is one of the most satisfying processes to go through because it takes us in a full circle. Planting, growing, harvesting and then preserving before it ends up on the table.

This process can also be very frustrating when jars don’t seal or the flavours don’t quite meet one’s standards.

Canning things is an art and it doesn’t matter how many books you read or tips you get, we all have to go through the learning process to perfect your skills, so be patient.

There is a reason our parents and grandparents are better at it than us and that’s simply because they have many more years of practice.

It’s knowing things like when the fruits and vegetables are in a perfect state, or the perfect amounts of salt and sugar in our brines. It’s knowing the best method to use to get the desired results and how long things should sit on the shelf before they are ready to eat.

I like to do my canning throughout the year as things come in season. In May, when Creston asparagus is in season, I usually buy at least 100 pounds and put them in jars.

As the season progresses to cherry season I like to pit them and pickle them in brandy, a nice treat in a martini or to help spice up a banana split.

It can be a lot of work if you do it all at once and a little overwhelming too, so I like to spread it out over the year.

After working as a private chef for most of the summer I am back with Nelson Underground, ready to get it started up again for the fall and winter. I am going to theme the dinners around rustic, hearty dishes and use things like duck confit and fall mushrooms.

To inquire about dinners and bookings, contact me at 250-551-0485 or add me as a friend on Facebook.

-Jamie Hertz

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