FALL FEATURE: The Art of Preserving
Transitioning from summer into fall is one of my favourite times of year. The air feels more clean and crisp, the beautiful warm colours come out as well as my scarves, boots, and sweaters (yay!)
Another great part of this time is starting the hibernation process of culling away the beautiful produce the summer gave us. You're thinking, what the f' am I going to do with all these tomatoes?
A few years ago we started the tradition of picking up produce from Keremeos on our way back to Vancouver from Penticton. Ambitious with 200 lbs of tomatoes in tow, we thought of all the recipes we could make from pasta sauce, to salsa, to sun dried tomatoes.
For 2-3 days of hard work, we end up with enough preserves to last us until the following year's canning extravaganza.
I'm looking forward to the future when I have a garden (and not a dinky balcony-plot) where I can eat fresh produce and then preserve the rest that's unhumanly possible to consume before it spoils.
Benefits of preserving:
- Knowing your ingredients. When it comes to buying their store-bought counterparts, there's a lot of additives in the mix. And usually, if the ingredients are pretty clean, it makes the product really pricey...
- Save money! When you buy the produce in season, it's a lot more cost-effective and makes your batches and batches of salsa/marinara/bruschetta so much cheaper.
- Eating locally
- Connection. Preserving brings people together. It's a labour of love with a lot of cooperation to get the job done. Not only that, you foster a deeper connection to your food, being involved in the process from earth to table, rather than off the assembly line.
- Who doesn't love homemade! Seriously, you're set for Christmas gifting and house-warmings.
Tips & Tricks
- Make a game plan! Find recipes, prep the ingredients, and figure out time-management because there's a lot of processing time involved. Either you can be busy, or you'll end up with a LOT of downtime.
- Keep everything clean & sterile! You don't want to end up with biotch-ulinum. This isn't the happy bacteria we preach about with fermenting, but a serious bug that will give you a pretty nasty trip to the ER.
- Make it social. Get a group of people together to buy-in on the ingredients, split the workload and then divvy the "fruits of your labour". This is a seriously good time. I even invented a drinking game, every time a lid pops, you drink. Hooray!
- Keep an eye out for what's in season.
There are endless possibilities and recipes out there. Homesteading is quickly becoming a movement to reconnect with our food and slow living.
- Invest in canning tools including: a metal basket to keep your jars under the boiling water during processing, a magnetic stick to grab sterile lids from boiling water, jar tongs to place and remove jars from boiling water.
- One book I recommend is Put 'Em Up! full of great recipes and simple to follow instructions.
What's your favourite canning recipe or food to preserve?
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