Canning

Putting food by resonates deep in my soul. Childhood examples set by my parents from gardening, to raising sheep, to making poultry stocks that were turned into soups with ingredients gathered on hikes, to fishing and crawdad catching, all lead to my strong drive to fill the freezer and larder with provisions, but it’s more than that… It’s an imperative at some level. I enjoy canning and freezing, and am driven to do it. Perhaps a genetic tick that a thousand years ago would have been necessary for survival? Digging holes in the permafrost to keep the family’s summer catch from spoiling over the lean winter has been replaced with the garage freezer, and that freezer has its own circuit on our Gentran (meaning in the face of a major power failure we can take our house off the power grid and run parts of it off a 5KW generator).

My mom taught me how to can jams. That’s mostly what she enjoyed doing. I used her method until 7 years ago, when I took a culinary kitchen garden class, and 3 meetings were spent in the college’s kitchen putting up produce in various ways. The chef was big on water bath canning. I said to him, “I put hot product in jars, clean the rims, seal the jars (etc), because that’s the way my mama taught me. He replied, “I use the water bath because that’s what my mama taught me, and it’s the best we’ve got (pressure canning aside) to ensure sterile canning.” I’ve never looked back, and not that there were many,  have never opened a fuzzy jar since. The first time I canned, using the water bath, when mom was around, she was totally offended. Trying to explain why this was a more comfortable (safer) way to process home-canned product did not dissuade her from saying, “Oh really, this is just BS.”

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