Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Canning: The Pleasure of Putting Up the Harvest

This time of year, my Dad can be found carrying overflowing baskets of produce back to the house. My Mom can be found in a steamy kitchen, lowering jars stuffed with their homegrown veggies into boiling pots of water, to thwart spoilage and preserve them for the upcoming winter. Despite the back breaking work, my Mom always talks about the pleasure she feels in putting up the harvetst to feed her family and continue the tradition of her farming heritage.

Jars of green beans to be pickled.

Growing up, as I helped my Mom with our garden's produce, she told me stories of helping her Mother put up preserves from their family farm. My memory has flavored these stories with a very romantic (if not slightly unrealistic) image of the women in my family joined in loving comradory, escaping into their temporary basement kitchens, gossiping and laughing over their work together. The reality was probably more like a bunch of tired women, spending their spare time between their day jobs, slaving over the hot, boiling pots, working late every night until their pantry was full, but what is reminiscing for but to forget the hardships and romanticize the past.

My parents canned tomato juices, regular, low acid and tomato basil.

Although canning and preserving foods for the winter is no longer a necessity for survival, it now represents an affordable year round source of organic produce, as well as a continuation of tradition. For me, even further removed without a garden of my own, perhaps it is this lack of necessity which helps me to enjoy the tradition of this process. I can delight in my voluntary trip to the farmers market or to my parents house and get a great satisfaction looking at the jars of food I've put up which will save me money while still giving me great quality of food.

Canning roasted salsa.

Since its that time of year, we're gonna get all hot and steamy in here as our posts put up a harvest of digital delight chronicling our adventures with canning! Stay tuned.

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