Personally, I blame it on reading way too much Laura Ingalls Wilder and Lucy Maud Montgomery as a child…all those amazing words and images about preserves, canning, and the importance of putting down food when in season to see them through the winter always intrigued me. There is something about preserving the bounty of the spring & summer yourself to enjoy during the winter that fills me with great pleasure.
I am now five years into my canning obsession – I just completed the first session of the season and have many lovely jars of pickled asparagus (with dill & garlic) to show for my efforts! And there are still a few months ahead of me to keep adding to the larder…
I have preserved peaches, artichoke hearts, olives, green beans, tomatoes, carrots, cherries, and asparagus; this year I plan to add beets, eggplants and raspberry jam to the list.
There is a “zen” in canning for me, and I often go overboard; I once came back from a weekend in Montreal with 20 lbs of gorgeous multi-hued Quebecois carrots from Jean Talon Market…what was a girl to do, but can them?. Therefore, I am bountiful with my canning efforts – guests rarely leave a dinner party without a jar of something in their hands. And I will be transporting jars out to Vancouver next month for my mother, upon request.
I was talking about this with a friend yesterday and she said that “canning scares me, it seems so complicated”. It has many steps, that is true, but it is pretty straightforward once you understand the process.
If you are already canning, or interested in starting out, here are a few books that I swear by:
Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone : excellent for small batches and I love the recipes she includes on how to use the finished product
Although there is an initial investment to start canning (such as the “kettle”, jars, equipment like jar lifters and magnetic lid wands), you will reap the benefits for many years. There’s nothing like adding your own pickled green beans to a Bloody Caesar, opening a jar (or two) of your diced tomatoes to throw into your pizza sauce or pasta dish, or tossing some diced pickled carrots for crunch & colour to a winter salad…
We can all can – do you?