From the garden to the shelf: the next step in growing & eating locally
As more people turn to their backyards and farmers markets for their meals, it seems only natural to take local eating to the next step: canning and preserving. Without it, eating local may seem pretty bleak in the winter months depending on where you live. For me in Seattle, the rainy, cold, gray days of winter aren’t made any brighter when the selection at the farmers market is very limited. But opening a jar of lovely red raspberry jam on one of those rainy, cold, gray days can bring back the warmth of summer – at least in a memory.
I’m one of those people who’ve recently started to dabble in canning. I don’t have any stories of canning in the summer with my mother and grandmother. That wasn’t their cup of tea. So I’m kind of on my own. But luckily I turned to a friend who had just that kind of upbringing: life on a rural small farm with a mom and grandmother who canned and canned. And then they can some more, you know, just because. (The first time I canned with her, she showed up at my house with nine different types of fruits. We canned for 9 hours. I learned the hard way not to send the farm girl to get the fruit because when she cans, she cans.)
I also recently took a canning class with local Seattle author Amy Pennington. It was fun and I learned a lot. One of the ways she suggested learning to can was by canning with someone who already knew how. Clearly, I’m on the right path. While my friend and I have only dabbled in jams (raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, peach, plum, orange marmalade, pluots, cherry and lemon vanilla), we have plans to expand our canning repertoire this fall. Canning tomatoes, pasta sauce and salsa are on our “to-can list.”
As I explore different canning web sites, as Pennington suggested doing, I’m realizing, you can pretty much can or preserve anything. While I don’t think I’ll be canning any types of meats
anytime soon, I am intrigued with many of the recipes I’m finding. With food safety is a concern, Pennington says it’s best to stick with reputable resources while first starting out. Since I’m doing a little exploring in the canning world, I thought I’d share some of the links she recommended in class and others I’ve found.
Happy canning! And here’s to recreating these sunny warms months in the dead of winter.
Urban Pantry, Tips & Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable & Seasonal Kitchen by Amy Pennington http://www.gogogreengarden.com/index.php/cookbook-mainmenu-46
Ball Canning & Preserving http://www.freshpreserving.com/
Sweet Preservation from the Washington State Fruit Commission http://www.sweetpreservation.com/home
I love the cute download-able PDF’s for your canning projects from the Sweet Preservation site – oh, and their free!
Canning Across America http://www.canningacrossamerica.com/
National Center for Home Preservation http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/
State Extension offices are another great resource for canning & preserving, plus since they’re local to your area they have good recipes for what’s grown in your neck of the woods:
University of Idaho Extension – Canning & Home Food Preparation
Washington State University Extension
Awesome Links, Meg! And thank you for sharing your experience in the class with Amy and your crazy 9 hour canning session with your friend! Here's to many more hours in the steamy kitchen.
Now do tell, friends!! What are you eating these days? Tonight we had new potatoes, steamed chard, sliced cucumbers, and melon/blueberry salad. It was just perfect for this 105 degree day. (yowza!!!)