Thursday, March 18, 2010
I recently have read rumblings about food preserving as fluff. I’m not going to link to the articles here, but they’re along the lines of calling it sweet, precious, and little hobbies that aren’t tied into producing real food or the local environment or economy, and to not fool yourselves.
I was thinking about those articles this morning as I ate my plain yogurt swirled with no sugar peach jam made last August. And I noted to myself I want to make all of my jam with this Pomona Pectin this year because it requires little to no sugar for preservation. It’s like swirling straight fruit into my yogurt, or cottage cheese in the afternoon, or spreading on my toast in the morning.
And I was thinking about the perceived preciousness of my food preserving hobby while I made dinner last week with a jar of my favorite tomato chili I canned in September. All of the green chilies in it came from our garden, and the tomatoes themselves came direct from a local farmer. It’s a sure-fire staple in our household, as I brown ground turkey and an onion, add the jar of home canned chili sauce, a can of black beans, and whatever vegetables I have in the fridge. This time I had a bunch of sweet mini bell peppers I needed to use up and in about a half hour, we had a big pan of chili, and when topped with cilantro and avocado became dinner, with enough left-over to stretch a few days mixed with green salads. Precious.
All of that precious chutney? It serves as roasted chicken sauce without buying expensive and sky-high sodium-filled sauces. And last night’s grilled cheese sandwiches become more of a dinner when filled with chutney and cheese.
I suppose our gifts of useful jams and canned peaches to friends and family at the holidays and as hostess gifts aren’t as sexy as something from the mall, at least to the writers of those articles poo-pooing we who preserve our own food. But then it’s really just like the diminution, the precious-ifying of “women’s work” that has been lobbed at us for decades. The people who “don’t get it” when those of us actually enjoy the creativity and time in our kitchens are the same ones who believe this traditional women’s role is something to not take seriously or is not valuable.
But the secret? We’re the ones who are able to glory in a moment of picking our own fruit, to remove ourselves just a wee bit from the insane push for more monetary fulfillment and to be thoughtful in our purchases, our money and where we spend it. To perhaps connect with the earth and our mothers and our grandmothers for nourishing ourselves and our families. It’s hard work, it’s creative work, and to me, it’s fulfilling work. If that’s what precious is, so be it.
I’m looking forward to the precious harvest this year when I’ll preciously be picking fruit, preciously harvesting vegetables, and canning and freezing for next winter. Preciously.