When summer's bounty is at its peak, the sheer volume of canning can begin to feel like drudgery. (Even the best-intentioned planning tends to go awry.) But remember: The hard work you put in now pays of many-fold in the months to come.
We're big entertainers in the Punk Domestics household, and one of our greatest joys is cracking open jars of home-canned goodness when throwing dinner parties around the holidays, or anytime.
If you're going to be laying out your house pickles, chutneys and jams, I recommend you make a trip to your local thrift store and find a relish tray or two. They're a handy way to serve up multiple things for easy nibbling. We've been collecting a mid-century pattern of dishes called Black Cockerel from Mancioli, but find one that suits your style. They've falled out of fashion, so they tend to be pretty cheap.
At one of our parties, here's what graced our relish tray, served with bread or crackers:
Left: Zucchine sott'olio. This Calabrian oil pickle is a good use of those late-season, oversized zucchini. The preservation method makes the zukes almost squeak when you bite into them. The Calabrian chiles give it a pleasing and not overly hot burn.
Top: Five spice pickled cherries. Leena of Leena Eats gifted us a jar of these beauties. If you've never tried pickled cherries, you're in for a treat, and the addition of Chinese five spice takes these to a whole new level. Great on their own, they also make a nice alternative garnish for a Manhattan, and positively pop in salads like this frikeh, feta, cucumber and cherry salad.
Center: Curried apple chutney. A classic, the warm aroma of curry complements apples beatifully. Like most chutneys, this one is best after it's had a few weeks to cure in the jar and allow the flavors to meld. Try this alongside pork or even the Thanksgiving turkey or ham.
Bottom: Tomato-meyer lemon chutney. When I organized the DIY food contest at Eat Real Fest two years ago, this was a prize-winning entry. The creator, Rany, graciously shared her recipe with me. If you don't have access to fresh meyers, I recommend ordering from Lemon Ladies here in the Bay Area. They are sublime. This chutney is great with everything, but makes a nice alternative to fresh tomatoes in a BLT when the maters are bland and styrofoamy.