“JARRING” TIPS FROM A 30-YEAR PRESERVING PRORootham Gourmet Preserves offers insight into preserving Ontario’s fall harvest.
Marilyn Rootham has preserved well over the past 30-years. Since 1983, long before “local” became a rallying cry, the registered dietitian, and her family have been sourcing local produce for their wide range of sweet and savoury preserves and selection of unique marinades and salad dressings. The care and craftsmanship behind Rootham Gourmet Preserves recently caught the attention of television show Food Factory and will be featured on an October 10, 2015, episode (airing on Food Network Canada) that follows the field-to-jar journey of their new Barrie’s Farm Asparagus Smokey Anitpasto.
Marilyn started Rootham Gourmet Preserves, just after having her first child, Will. She began by jarring the fresh produce in her garden, coming up with some inventive and creative combinations including: Marinated Fiddleheads and her signature Tangy Red Pepper Jelly. When there became too many preserves to eat, her sister-in-law offered to take some jars to sell in her Muskoka gift shop. Product flew off the shelves and when the cottagers went back to the city for the winter and wanted to purchase the preserves at home, a business was born. Rootham Gourmet Preserves continues to grow and evolve, with Marilyn, and now Will, creating new products with ingredients from local growers, such as Barrie’s Farm of Cambridge, ON.
“Over the years we have built a business that stands on a foundation of a high-quality product, using as many local ingredients as possible and great family relationships,” says Rootham. “We continue to produce new offerings for a new generation of customers. No matter how many times I hear it, I love when people say, ‘My mom always buys this and it is our family’s favourite.’”
After three decades of jarring Ontario’s bounty, Rootham has learned a thing or two about preserving. Her top five tips to help you capture fall’s flavour include:
- No time for preserving right now? Buy your local produce, wash it and freeze it. Frozen tomatoes can easily be skinned by running them under the tap. Partially frozen produce can easily be chopped. Your sauce will still have the great local taste!
- Keep your fruits looking their best! When slicing fruit, add ascorbic acid to your bowl to keep the fruit from browning. Powdered ascorbic acid can be purchased at drug or grocery stores.
- Make it your own. Taste your sauce before you jar it and don’t be afraid to add more spices or herbs for your own individual preference.
- Get a tight seal. Make sure your preserve is at 180°F (82°C) when in the jar and leave a ¼ to ½ inch head space. This will insure a tight vacuum seal.
- Preserve your preserves. Store your preserves in a cool dark place to retain both flavour and color.