Monday, May 11, 2009

Yes We Can..(or we may be on the verge of canning)

I had to laugh when I read Daughter Number Three's recent post about her purchase of a new book and DVD, The Fresh Girl's Guide to Easy Canning by Ana Micka, "which looks to be a really helpful intro to something I may be on the verge of doing." DN3 notes that the book is nicely designed, with graphics by Aleksandra Stancevic of Entropy Design Lab.

I feel like I'm also "on the verge of" canning, though I've yet to plunge those jars into a boiling water bath. I've been slowly gathering the equipment, and have spent some time on canning jar sites, comparing Ball jars – locally made made in Indiana – with Weck jars – from Germany, super cool. (But I have a lot of jars already, so will only need to pick up some lids.)

DN3 goes on: "(I'm thinking of canning spaghetti sauce from all the tomatoes I am theoretically growing.)" Ah yes, the theoretical garden...I know that one well. We have deer who make it really difficult to garden.

In an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, called "Sprout Savings in Your Backyard," Ana Micka says that she strives to produce 120 to 150 jars of homemade soups, tomato sauce and veggies each season, enough for three meals a week during the non-gardening months.

Wow, that's a lot of work – but then you could save time and money in the long run, with high-quality food on hand. I'll be more likely to try a few small batches of jam, with berries from the farmers' market. There's another good guide called The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving that addresses other ways to put up food, too, year round. And my favorite take on traditional food preservation comes from Jessica Prentice, in Full Moon Feast. Jessica helped found Three Stone Hearth, a community supported kitchen (CSK) in San Francisco. Here's a photo of sauerkraut production at Three Stone Hearth, from a blogpost over at Cheese Slave.

I think it's exciting that people are reclaiming home arts around food: gardening, cooking, and preserving. Here's a photo I took last November at the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C., from the days when home canning was getting a big marketing push (compete with cheerful blonde mother and daughter) from the feds.


Lyle Daggett said...

My grandma (my mom's mom) was a prodigious home canner. All manner of fruits and vegetables -- peaches, pickled crabapples, bread-and-butter pickles, tomatoes, every sort of jelly and jam and fruit preserves.

And the prize delicacy, watermelon pickles. She boiled the watermelon rind for something like 24 hours to get it soft enough to eat. They were flavored like sweet pickles, though still had a trace of watermelon flavor. Firm enough to chew but soft enough to melt in the mouth.

My grandma found many ways to be frugal during the Depression of the 1930's -- making pickles from watermelon rind is one example. Or, for instance, when she boiled potatoes she would save the water and use it to make potato bread.

elena said...

I love all of that...ingenious food. But I've not yet tasted a watermelon rind pickle: let's hope it makes a comeback. Potato bread sounds delicious.