Monday, August 23, 2010

Go Local Week 12- Canning and Preserving as a Family

Well, this is our final guest post for Go Local 2010. I hope you've gleaned some good ideas about how to use your bounty! While I had hoped to post far more recipes and canning/preserving tips, my garden adventures dictated otherwise.
The topic Holli shares today is something I've thought a lot about this summer. Holli brings us a blog about spending her youth in a steamy, summer kitchen with her family. I've often wondered if I'm torturing my children by making them help in the garden and making them entertain themselves while I can and freeze foods. I know they are learning valuable lessons, and I don't regret that, but sometimes I think they'll hate me if they don't get to just play all the time. Reading what Holli has to say cements my belief that kids need to learn how to work AND be given time to play. If they are going to be working, I'd rather have them right next to me over a steamy canner full of peaches and tomatoes than anywhere else. I don't think I'm ruining their lives by teaching them how to live sustainable, self sufficient lives. Though sometimes I'm pretty sure they would disagree.
Holli needs no introduction. She's been here many times before, and most of you already read Feeding The Big Guy. Let's just say...welcome back. And thank you for sharing these memories.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------by Holli
Growing up on a garden in an orchard valley, I spent many many weeks of my childhood canning, dehydrating and preserving. Usually it was a family affair including the likes of one or more of my six siblings, parents, Grandmas, Aunt Char, even various cousins.

I have fond and not so fond memories of this reoccurring summer ritual. Preserving is a lot of hot work and as a girl, particularly a teenager, I almost always had 'better' ideas of ways to spend my summer. But, looking back now, I see how much I learned over the years, and I'm grateful I was 'forced' to participate in canning, dehydrating and preserving.

Below is a brief sampling of lessons I learned while preserving. Consider this my testament to the importance of work like this, and my personal urging that you make the canning, dehydrating and preserving in your home a family affair. Spats, complaints and general moans aside, it's good for the soul. Grab your partner, children, family members and friends, and start preserving bites of summer together to enjoy this winter.

Lessons Learned While Canning, Dehydrating, and Preserving
  • A sharp paring knife is absolutely essential.
  • A sharp paring knife must be respected.
  • Just get to it; procrastinating, dragging one's feet and complaining only make the process take longer and feel more painful.
  • A stitch in time, really does save nine.
  • Nothing smells as good as a warm kitchen full of hot, steamy fruit.
  • Teamwork, works!
  • Bing Cherries (and many other fruits) stain. Do your canning and preserving in "play clothes". Also, wear an apron.
  • Preserving is affordable, resourceful, and delicious.
  • Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, et al do not really exist (this I tragically learned the summer I turned 8 while canning peaches with my Mom and Grandma Brenner. I'll never forget the words they used, the way the kitchen smelled, or the way I felt upon hearing this news.)
  • Most of all, I learned how to can, dehydrate and preserve; skills that have been with me and will continue to be for decades.
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I think August and September are pretty intense when you decide to make food a priority in your family. The gardens are bursting at the seams and the stove top is almost always busy preparing the fruits of our labor. I know it's worth it in the end. Once we get past the intensity of this season we get the calm. The garden WILL freeze eventually and then we will take a break and shift our focus elsewhere...for now though...the hard work of preservation is in full swing. For me it's a labor of love and the way to a more fulfilling life, not to mention a happier belly come December! keep talking about food, friends. It's important!!
Thank you for joining me in the Go Local Challenge this year. Sometimes I think it's a silly effort to continue this challenge every year. But people tell me all the time that these discussions and posts have helped change the way they look at food, or at least reminded them of the value of healthy, local, sustainable options for their tables. That's what I like to hear. I know I'm not changing the world on this tiny little blog, but I also know that I've changed a HUGE part of my own world for the better, and I think you for joining me in my quest. Eat well today!

6 comments:

  1. Fish Face comin' at ya!!!

    http://someofakind.blogspot.com/2010/08/fish-face.html

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  2. Andrew and I have been loving learning to can together...glad you have such fond memories of doing it as a family!

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  3. I have fond memories of hating canning days with mom and my grandma when I was a kid. Heather, they'll be fine :) and they'll develop a taste for home-preserved food that will never be sated by store bought substitutes (canned peaches from the store--blechh!! Grandma's--a taste of summer in a Mason jar).

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  4. Once again I was kind of a slacker in the local eating dept, but I did just get some local peaches, tomatoes and corn today. I am going to make some more fresh salsa with the peppers from my neighbors garden.

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  5. I have THE fondest memories of canning with my grandma. And, oh what I wouldn't do to taste the cruncgy dill goodness of my granny's pickles and the fabulous flavor of her pickled beats!  This week we are munching on roasted corn and okra!  Local yumminess with a southern flair.

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  6. What a great post! My family never did any of that so they are all a little shocked when I started doing it a few summers ago. But they do like the jam! I kind of slacked off this summer in my challenge efforts (though the weather in Seattle didn't help the garden!) but as always I'm inspired by these posts!

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