When I was a little girl my great grandfather used to make the most awesome pickles. We’re talking turn your mouth inside out sour. These were true dill pickles that can never be found in a store. When he died my mother and I hung on to the pickles as long as we could. When my mother and I finally opened them, I remember savoring every single bite. I don’t know what was better, the pickles or the memories they brought about.
Canning for much of the American history was not only a way of life but was necessary for survival. The process of canning dates as far back as the 18th century when Napoleon held a contest to see if someone could develop a method of keeping food last longer for his soldiers.
I don’t need canned goods, thankfully, to survive the winter. However, eating sustainably means eating in season and not wasting food. So what’s a girl to do when she wants strawberries in the middle of winter?
As someone said at the food swap yesterday, canning is a lost art. What people think of when they think of canning is this labor intensive process or a tin can full of preservatives at the grocery store. And that’s really not the case. It’s actually quite easy and fun. More importantly canning is sending a bottle of home to your loved one in a war zone. It’s giggling with your sister over a bowl of tomatoes that you are peeling.
Home canning isn’t as hard as it may seem. A day’s worth of work can keep a season’s produce for a rainy day. Likewise, the jars are colorful little touches of love to the plate.
I would leave you with my favorite recipe, but honestly, I love them all. Even the Orange and Grapefruit Marmalades that have taken me a year to master and require the same amount of attention as an unruly child.
However, I will recommend some wonderful books that have become my canning bibles: