Harvest, Exchange, Celebrate: Share Food, Recipes with Friends

Celebrate food with friends by practicing an age-old harvest that still flourishes in the twenty-first century. Participants share recipes of the food they bring yearly to the celebration.

| September/October 2005

  • Harvest bounty graces any fall table.
  • Glorious colors of autumn's bounty embellish the harvest table.
  • DeWitt and Susan share a stunning array of harvest goodies, including chutneys, jams, soaps, and lavender sachets.
  • Conjuring up the heavenly scents of fields in Provence, lavender is a harvest favorite, great for potpourris or attractive bundles all on their own.
  • Ripe peppers dance with exotic spices in the making of salsas and chutneys.
  • Fruity vinegars, such as pomegranate, add some zest to your pantry.
  • Harvesters gather around a table to compare soaps and vinegars, jams and jellies.
  • Attractive harvest or kitchen-themed aprons make thoughtful gifts for friends who love to cook.
  • Friends discuss favorite jam and jelly recipe ingredients.
  • Glorious colors of autumn's bounty embellish the harvest table.

Your garden has produced bushels of the best tomatoes ever. Or your favorite organic strawberry grower had a bumper crop. And all the cherry varieties—from Burlat to Utah Giant, Rainier to Royal Anne—were superb. After you preserve these, you begin to think of how to share them: family and friends, house gifts, groups you belong to.

When it comes to sharing food, our roots go deep—back to prehistory. We wouldn’t be here if our ancient ancestors hadn’t shared gleanings, hunt, and harvest. Now many of us share for friendship, the pleasure of putting by, and tradition.

A group of about twenty friends and I have been carrying this tradition forward for fifteen years with an annual Harvest Exchange at the home of DeWitt Durham and Susan Gere in the San Francisco Bay area. DeWitt makes vegetarian black-bean chili and frybread, and friends bring homemade cider, beer and wine. We come together to share the bounty, celebrate the season, and keep the homemade and handmade alive. Through the years, we’ve seen the kids grow tall, new gardens established, and changes in careers and homes.

We enjoy trying new recipes and bringing back old favorites. We can’t live on mustard, pickles, applesauce, or cherry jam alone; we need chutney, salsa, herb vinegars and oils, and exotic spice blends. We don’t all make potpourri and soap or bath scents and salts—but we appreciate their grace notes.

Bob and Joanne's Peach Chutney
Makes about 4 pints

My friends Joanne and Bob have also made this recipe with nectarines, a tasty variation. The chutney is most versatile if prepared with mild curry powder. Serve it with roast chicken or duck, with cream cheese and crackers as an appetizer or snack, or as an accompaniment to hot Thai or Indian curries.

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