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Enjoy fresh tastes of summer all year long through home preserving

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"Best of Bridge Home Preserving: 120 Recipes for Jams, Jellies, Marmalades, Pickles & More." THE CANADIAN PRESS/ho

TORONTO - Yvonne Tremblay loves capturing the flavour of summer in jams and jellies so that she can enjoy the taste of luscious juicy peaches and delicious raspberries all winter long.

"It's a very short-lived season and when you get local fruit it's going to taste better, no matter where you are, that summer-kissed sweetness, and it's going to give a great flavour. If the fruit smells and tastes good it's going to make good jam," says Tremblay, a professional recipe developer and tester.

"There's this abundance that happens in the summer and you cannot possibly eat it all, but you want to keep it."

She and co-authors Jennifer MacKenzie and Sally Vaughan-Johnston have provided their expertise to a new cookbook from the Best of Bridge franchise that features sweet and savoury items, along with recipes that can be made from the various jams, chutneys and pickles. "Best of Bridge Home Preserving: 120 Recipes for Jams, Jellies, Marmalades, Pickles & More" (Robert Rose Inc.,, 2014) contains easy-to-read recipes, tips on the latest canning information and food safety, along with mouth-watering photos that are bound to get a home cook's creative juices flowing.

Among the recipes are single- and mixed-fruit jams, conserves made from fruits and vegetables, fruit butters, relishes, pickles and salsas.

Many of these items can then be used as another ingredient, such as pickled beets that can top a salad or tangy green beans to garnish a clamato drink.

"You can put pickles in a sandwich, you can chop them up and make a tartar sauce out of them," adds Tremblay. "The chutneys are wonderful. They're very, very popular. You can brush it over chicken after you've roasted it, eat it with Indian food which is popular, put it in a jerk chicken or pork sandwich as an accent, use it with chips, fish depending on which flavour it is and what else you put in it."

Masala chips or cheese with chutney makes a wonderful appetizer, she notes.

Tremblay, who lives in Mississauga, Ont., has practised preserving for years. She is the author of "250 Home Preserving Favourites: From Jams and Jellies to Marmalades and Chutneys" (Robert Rose, 2010), which incorporates material from her first book, "Prizewinning Preserves: Fabulous Jams Jellies Marmalades And More" (PrenticeHall Canada, 2002). Mackenzie, a professional home economist based in Buckhorn, Ont., in the Kawarthas, is the author of several cookbooks including "The Complete Book of Pickling: 250 Recipes, From Pickles and Relishes to Chutneys and Salsas," also published by Robert Rose in 2009.

"Even if you've never done it before, this is your great step-by-step book that has the best coaches to help you be successful," says Tremblay. "And even if you only make a couple jams, a couple of pickles, you're going to have some great eating."

Safety is key. Bacteria and microorganisms that are airborne or come from the fruit can get into jars.

"What you don't want is that you spent all that time and money for the ingredients to have your things spoil. The other aspect is what if you didn't know it was spoiled and someone eats it" they could become ill, Tremblay says.

Start with clean equipment and process jars on a rack in a kettle of boiling water for about 10 minutes to remove oxygen from the jars. Don't skimp on the amount of time. If there is not a good-quality seal, it could release and you'll end up with spoilage.

Use jars and new two-piece lids designed for canning. Don't reuse jars from commercially prepared products unless you are planning to eat the jam right away.

To get a proper vacuum seal you also need to measure the space between the surface of the preserve and the top rim of the jar, called the headspace. This allows room for the food to expand during heat processing and ensures the proper vacuum seal upon cooling. It's very specific — for sweet jams it's five millimetres (1/4 inch), Tremblay says.

Another common mistake among novices concerns the setting of the jam.

Pectin and sugar are needed for the setting of sweet jams, jellies, marmalades and conserves.

Preserving recipes have been designed for a certain amount of sugar and a particular kind of pectin — liquid versus crystals or regular crystals versus light — and those should never be interchanged. Check the pectin's expiry date. If the best-before date is past, the jam might not set.

Prepare the fruit properly. If chunks are too large when the recipe says finely chopped, larger pieces might float up. With pickles and relishes, ensure pieces are a consistent size. Tremblay chops and cuts by hand. "Usually with a food processor the pieces aren't a consistent size and if you overdo it the mixture gets mushy and it changes the texture of it."

With jelly especially, use a deep pot and don't be distracted — it can quickly boil right up to the top of the pot and overflow, which makes for a sticky mess.

"I recommend people use up their stock within a year because then you start the season over again and you want to eat fresh and preserve the new season," says Tremblay. "I always say come March if you have a ton of jars start giving some of them away. I'm a big sharer of jams."

Follow @lois_abraham on Twitter.

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