About this time last year, Kelly and I took part in a canning and preserving class here in Bashaw. We learned how to make strawberry/rhubarb jam, canned pears and sweet pickles. Ever since then I’ve been telling myself I’m going to start canning our food for winter, and for Christmas last year my mother-in-law even bought me a canning kit.
I think canning and preserving food is quickly becoming a lost art in our society today where we are so used to having anything we want to eat at any time of year. Fruits are imported from the other side of the world in the middle of winter, and nobody even knows where the carrots or potatoes in their stew came from anymore. The story of how this all happened is a long one that I’ll leave for another post, but needless to say, it’s a topic that I’m rather passionate about. So yes, canning my own food has the major appeal of reducing my footprint on the environment by preserving local produce for the winter months, but I also just love cooking and learning new things in the kitchen. For health reasons, I also like the idea of eating food that hasn’t been sprayed with a lot of chemicals and filled with preservatives. In fact, we plan to buy a small deep freeze to store some green beans, carrots and other veggies from the farmers market for the winter.
Last week our friends John-Ross and Laurissa came over and we made a huge batch of green tomato salsa with roma and beefsteak tomatoes from Jackie and Grant’s garden. We also harvested all the carrots from our back yard and washed them up to make dill pickled carrots. They were pathetically small, but perfect for pickling. It took a long time to cut up all the carrots and the tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic. Jars had to be sterilized and then filled and processed in the canner. But it didn’t feel like work. Partly because we were sipping wine, but mostly because we were lost in great conversation the entire time.
I had so much fun in fact, that I decided to do another whole batch of salsa last night by myself. It isn’t quite the same experience canning alone (and without wine), and I didn’t get to bed until 1:30 a.m. but I have 12 jars of salsa to show for it at least. And this time I didn’t make the mistake of dumping in several table spoons of cayenne pepper before taste testing it, so I think it can safely be labeled ‘mild’. I think the lesson for me was that yes, we CAN reclaim the lost arts of the kitchen, but it’s always better to have some friends to share in the work, and of course to share the salsa and carrots with, too.
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