Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What to do with an abundant harvest? Why can, of course.

Cause I can can can. Cause I can can can. If I had a soundtrack to this post, that would be it (thanks to Moulin Rouge). Because this weekend I learned to can.

I had called my Homestead Hookup (she has also recently loaned me her sewing machine, thus the moniker) and the next thing I knew, I had two wonderful women at my door with everything we needed to do some canning. With my recently picked apples from Hood River, we got to business.
JiFa and her lovely daughter, we'll just call her Emo :)
On the agenda? Carrots in vinegar, honey and dill, followed by Apple Ginger Jam, and finally, Spiced Apples. I don't think this would have been near as much fun by myself. And a personal coach!? I'm so darn lucky.
Canning is also a facial: steam bath galore
I learned a whole new world. Canning is pretty technical. You have to do each step just right or BAM! Botulism and you die. Seriously. You do have to be pretty meticulous. Sanitizing the jars, filling them but keeping enough headroom at the top, wiping the jar edges, boiling the lids, placing the lids, screwing on the lids, then the hot water bath. And steam! I can't imagine doing this on a blazing hot summer day (like my mom always did). Pop pop pop go the lids afterwards. And in the end? Wow.
Apple Ginger Jam and Carrots with Dill,  Honey and Vinegar
It was so rewarding to stack these up in the basement. And that jam? Uh, super, super tasty. The spiced apples come from my memories of a grandmother who served these spicy red cold slices with dinner (you know the meal we now call lunch). She once showed me how she made them, and I believe it was a whole lot of cinnamon red hots melted down and apple slices simmered in them. My recipe here is different with a sauce of cloves, cinnamon sticks, and a few cinnamon red hots, and those apple slices. Look how beautiful the jars are...
Spiced apples
I loved doing this, and I'm so lucky to know how to now! While this summer's abundance has waned, fall's pears, apples and carrots are still going strong, so I foresee a little canning in my future. More photos of the canning experience are here.

All of this comes from a fantastic book I read this summer, Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally. So why eat local? Is it just another new buzzword? No, it's really about going back a generation or two. Fresh vegetables and fruit taste so much better, and eating local means it's not being shipped all over the world (think about it in miles and how few miles you can have in a meal). Eating locally means you support local farms and farmers. And you know how much we love picking and going to farms.

There's loads of online support, guidance and hookups. These are some resources I've been inspired by...
Edible Portland—part of the Edible network. Gorgeous, too.
Eat Local Challenge—great ways to think about and incorporate eating locally, and really excellent stories of others doing the same thing
One Local Summer—summer being pretty much the easiest time of year to go local, really great recipes and stories in the links
Dirt to Dish–is really local, and here in North Portland. Her stories of eating fresh, local and healthy are fun and include issues of transportation, families, and gardening.
Kitchen Parade—an amazing resource for healthy seasonal recipes. Her directions for super slow roasting tomatoes are handy, among others.

We're going back to Hood River this weekend for a big autumn festival. I think we all know we'll return with a car trunk full of freshness.


SassyFemme said...

You had me thinking this could be a great thing to do, until I got to the Botulism part. Um, think I'll just stick with buying from the local farm markets as long as possible.

Anonymous said...

Yay for the Hood River Harvest Festival! We're headed up there, too, to nab some pumpkins, hit the BBQ stand at the Apple Valley Country Store, and soak up the end of fall.

Monogram Queen said...

Uh i'll just patronize my local Farmers Market too. I am way too lazy and would probably kill us all.

AdRi is a lucky lucky woman to have you!

CrackerLilo said...

I'm much too lazy for that one, but I'm happy for people like you and your canning instructors who have the patience and work ethic.

Katherine Gray said...

Yay for you! Not sure if I'll get to it this year but I'm hoping to take the class with Preserve in the summer next year.

Your kitchen is gorgeous! Love the countertops. Had I known food photography was in my future I would have put in lighter countertops.

And your photos are lovely. Worthy of framing.

purpletwinkie said...

Great blog post.

I love the concept of local eating.

When you find some recipes for sagebrush and joshua trees, let me know.

Karolcooks said...

Question: I made tomato sauces from my garden tomatoes and froze the sauce instead of canning. I didn't want to die as you mentioned before. Is freezing sauce OK?

rodger said...

I loves me some canning! As you know, this is one of our favorite summertime activities.

We can enough jam, salsa, green beans and pickles to send as holiday gifts so our families and friends can have a bit of summer in the middle of winter.

You spicy cinnamon apples sound luscious. I'll have to give that a try.

bemused said...

Bravo! Those jars of food look smashing and delish. I am so impressed, lelo.

I grew up watching my mom and grandma can applesauce, jellies, jams, pie cherries, pickles (oodles and oodles of all kinds of pickles*) and just about everything else under the sun. Years ago I made strawberry jam, even poured wax on top before adding the lid (don't ask me why, those were my instructions).

These days I freeze, homemade soups primarily. I just love cooking up batches African Chicken Peanut, Cream of Tomato, Chicken Tortilla, French Onion and Vegetable soups to thaw and eat on rainy, winter days. Throw in a hunk of fresh bread - yummmmmm! We have a large freezer in the garage so I have the space and it eliminates the fear of sickness due to improper canning. Freezing is so much more idiot proof than canning for me.

*That's fun to say - oodles and oodles of all kinds of pickles. Add a little sing-song tune to it and it's even more fun.