Antipasto Sunday (revisited)

23 Jan

I’ve been making antipasto with a group of friends for the last several years.  With a little advance preparation – and good notes from previous years – we’ve crafted a solid system that turns out nearly 100 delish jars in a Sunday afternoon.  It’s a busy, but enjoyable, day in the kitchen.  We start this serious kitchen session by securing just enough counter space for the prosecco and cheese plate.  As we start chopping, perfect piles of cracker-sized vegetables begin to cover every usable kitchen surface. By the time the stockpots are sputtering, we’ve discussed, laughed and solved all manner of first-world problems (all the while improving our knife technique).   Soon the processed jars are lifted out of the monolithic pressure canners and left to cool on the dining room table.  Antipasto is a delicious addition to a casual holiday spread, and makes for a fantastic gift (especially when paired with good tuna and crackers).

Here’s my advice on organizing, preparing and making your own antipasto.  Before grabbing the carrots out of your crisper, be sure to read the entire post as you’ll need to purchase and collect some of these items in advance.  I recommend doing some of the work a day or two a head of time.

ONE: Ingredients List

Antipasto calculator - Sheet1 (1)

TWO: Equipment List (Organized by station)


  • Scale: to weigh ingredients
  • Can opener
  • Colander: to rinse vegetables
  • Vegetable peeler


  • Cutting board
  • Favorite chopping knife
  • Several large bowls for chopped vegetables and compost


  • Large stock pot(s): for every batch you will need one
  • Large wooden/metal stirring spoon
  • Measuring cups


  • Clean jars, new lids, screw bands
  • Baking sheets for heating mason jars in the oven


  • Canning funnel
  • Large spoon: for filling jars
  • Clean cloth: for wiping down filled jar rims
  • Water bath or pressure canner
  • Jar tongs
  • Timer
  • Cooling racks

THREE: Instructions

Shopping (2 hours, do in advance)

We divided the fresh vegetables from the grocery items and made two lists.  One for the market and the other for a big box retailer.  (I would have done all my shopping locally except the price difference was shocking; ketchup alone at my normal store would’ve cost nearly $50!) Price-checking is especially worthwhile when making a large batch.  This year we made ninety 250ml jars for $96.91: slightly more than a dollar each.  This doesn’t of course, include the mason jars themselves.

Cooking Day (3 person hours per batch)

Prep the rest of your vegetables.  Crack open all the tins/jars and drain.  Start pouring prosecco.

  1. Bring 2 quarts of salted water to boil in stockpot.

  2. Set oven to 240 degrees F and sterilize jars for at least 20 minutes. (Repeat as necessary)

  3. Add carrots and onions and bring back up to a boil.

  4. Add cauliflower and peppers and bring back to a boil.

  5. Stir in mushrooms and eggplant and bring to boil.

  6. Test for doneness with a skewer.  Remove from stove when barely tender.

  7. Drain well and return to stockpot.

  8. Add all of the remaining ingredients.

  9. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently and gently to prevent the vegetables from burning.

  10. Ladle mixture into hot sterilized jars.  Leave 1 inch headspace.

  11. Wipe the top of the jars with a cloth to ensure a clean seal with the lid.  Cover with heated lid and lightly tighten band.

  12. Process: 15 minutes from boil if using a water bath, 10 minutes @ 15psi if using a pressure canner.

  13. Carefully remove jars and allow to cool undisturbed.  The lids will pop to indicate they are sealed.  Reprocess or refrigerate any unsealed jars (there’s always a few…)

Store your antipasto in a cool, dark place for up to one year.  You can serve as it is, or by adding 1/2 of flaked tuna to each 250ml jar.  Serve with bread or crackers.  Revel in feelings of productivity.

Handy volume to weight calculator
Editable food labels from Lia Griffith
General water-bath method via Bernardin
All-American pressure canning manual


Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest Wordpress

Buying local meat: Step 3 – Forcasting

15 Jan

Forecast your needs.  Most small-scale farmers raise livestock based on purchase orders, and accept orders once or twice a year.  This means you get beef or pork once a year, so you will need to estimate your annual consumption.  The simplest way to do this is to figure out how many meals a week you prepare per person.

For example: I make dinner 4 times a week for 2 people and once a week for 4 people. That’s 12 meals a week, which is about 600 per year. Assuming an average portion of 8 ounces (1/2 a pound) of protein per person, that’s 300 lbs per year.  Once you’ve got that figure, decide on the mix of protein that works best for you.

Annual family consumption:

  • Chicken: 100 lbs
  • Beef: 80 lbs
  • Pork: 50 lbs
  • Turkey: 40 lbs
  • Lamb: 30 lbs

Now that you have determined your personal needs, compare that against the offerings of the farm.

Product sizing and minimum amounts:

  • Chicken: whole birds are approximately 10lbs
  • Beef: side = 500 lbs, quarter = 250 lbs
  • Pork: sides = 100 lbs
  • Turkey: whole = 20 lbs
  • Lamb: whole = 60 lbs

Poultry is the simplest to calculate and order because it’s available in smaller sizes.  The larger meats however, aren’t available in small enough portions for my personal needs so I share them with friends.  Turns out my friends have about the same needs as I do, so we order the minimum amounts to share.  (Involving friends in the cow-pooling also make the bi-annual chicken chopping more enjoyable…but more on that later).


At this point you can also estimate how much your order will cost based on the price per pound.

  • Chicken: 100 lbs @ $3.75/lb = $375
  • Beef: 80 lbs @ $4.50/lb = $360
  • Pork: 50 lbs @ $4.95/lb + processing = $280
  • Turkey: 40 lbs @ $3.95/lb = $158
  • Lamb: 30 lbs @ $7.00/lb + processing = $240
  • TOTAL: $1413

That might seem like a lot, but keep in mind your grocery bill is going to be significantly less because you won’t be buying (very much) from the butcher any more.  You’re also paying a very reasonable price per pound.  For example: my local butcher sells organic ground beef for $7.99lb and rib eye steaks for $19.99lb.  I pay $4.50.

As mentioned previously, I suggest putting aside funds each month in a savings account.  It alleviates the stress of writing a $500 cheque in the fall when the lamb and chickens are ready to be picked up.

Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest Wordpress

Buying local meat: Step 2 – Find your farmer

10 Jan


My favourite farm family: The Irelands.


Next up in this buying local meat series: How to find your farmer.

Depending on the type of area you live in, finding a farmer can range from a simple phone call to a countryside adventure.

I recommend word-of-mouth as the preferred method. However, if you’re the first of your peers to make this foray, you will need to do your own investigating.   It’s important to connect directly with the farmer if you want to maximize the economies of scale.


Besides The Google, here are some ways to find a local farmer:

  • Check the labels on the meat at your local grocery/market to see where their product is coming from.
  • Snoop around your favourite butcher shop.
  • Browse local food publications.
  • Ask your favourite chef or restauranteur.
  • Stroll through farmer’s markets.
  • Look up the local farmer’s association.

Questions to ask before signing up:

  • Product: How is the livestock raised?  Is it free-range? How and what are they fed?  Are they organic? What types of meat are available?
  • Processing: How is the meat butchered? Is it aged? Can I customize cuts/portions?  How is it packaged?
  • Regulations: Is the farmer licensed by the local authority?  Is the processor?
  • Cost: What is the price per pound?  Is that gross (hanging/carcass) or net (actual product) weight? Are there additional processing charges?
  • Contract: How often do they accept orders?  Is there a cut-off date? Is there a deposit?  What kind of payment do they accept?  Pick up or delivery?

Take your time deciding; this is a big investment.  As you find answers to your questions, you’ll also glean extra information about the product and the people.  You’ll probably start to have questions of your own as you determine what’s important to you as a consumer.  Depending on the time of year, you might be able to get in a smaller order of poultry to trial before making a larger order.

BC Farm Fresh directory



Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest Wordpress