Saturday, September 24, 2011

Home Preserving

As I write this I am in the presence of my girlfriend and two of her friends who are busy preparing jars, tomatoes and bell peppers to create salsa that will be bottled and sealed to be enjoyed during the winter. It is the time of the year to be processing the many great treats available from the local farmers and from ones own patch of soil. With 80lbs of tomatoes and 40lbs of peppers they have well supported a couple of local farms.

A couple weeks ago I processed two cases of Okanagan peaches. It was my first foray into solo canning. It was a very enjoyable experience. Peeling and chopping, heating the jars and syrup. Filling the jars and gently placing in the water bath, waiting 20 minutes and the rewarding sound of the snap lids snapping to signal the jar being sealed. The pleasure in this brings one back to the "olden" days when a family had to process and preserve food grown in the summer. Fresh food was not available during the winter. If a household was to survive the cold, dreary months they had to have nourishment. I think back to the days of the First Nations, who would dry and smoke fish and berries and other wild edibles for winter. This was the main focus of there existence. While I am no expert in First Nation culture and history, from what I have gathered, things relating to food are interspersed in the legends and tales. The animals were represented in art and song.

Processing and preserving is a large part of bringing a Slow Food philosophy into ones home. It can takes hours to create some wonderful eating for the family. It allows the choice of buying less commercially processed food and the chemicals and additives that can be present in them. The ingredients have words that are pronounceable for an 8 year old. The food industry makes billions marketing products made from cheap corn based foods laced with sugars and chemicals and dyes.

Preserving food is just fun. What a way to spend a day with friends and family doing something productive and rewarding. A pantry full of clear bottles filled with your own produce is picturesque. There is nothing like the taste of summer on a cold January morning when you open a jar of preserved peaches. It is an art that is gaining new fans and popularity in the food world.

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