Preserving the Harvest

One thing that’s been on my mind as I plant all my seeds and watch them grow is what to do with the food once it’s grown. Obviously, eat it. But I also know that many things can ripen at once and we may have more fresh food than two people can get through. Which leads me to… preserving.

I’ve had even less experience with preserving than I have with gardening,. I remember when I was young my mother bottled some fruit. I don’t remember the making of the jars of fruit, but I do remember the breakfast where the jars came out for us to eat. For some reason I decided I didn’t like it. Whatever the fruit it was a stone fruit, jarred whole with the skin on (or possibly there was just a bit left on accidently) and I remember finding it hard to cut into with my spoon and the skin got stuck in my throat and an argument erupted with me and my mother over if I would or would not eat the fruit. If I remember correctly, after many tears, it was an argument she won and the incident never repeated itself. She did used to (and still does) make jam from time to time and I always loved that, until illness left me unable to tolerate refined sugar or strawberries.

In America there’s a big culture of preserving. They have different names for things. They call putting food into jars “canning”. We  refer to food in cans as canned food, I think Americans call them “tins” and “tinned food”  (any American please feel free to correct me here!). They are also big on “pressure canning” which means you can preserve all sorts of vegetables and other foods that I have never seen preserved at home before. The sort of preserving I knew about from my childhood was mainly “bottled” or “jarred” fruit, things which can be made with what American’s call “water bath canning”. There was also a bit of preserving things in oil and pickling. It was usually (in my neighbourhood at least) something your mum did while you were off climbing trees and nicking old for sale signs to slide down hills on, rather than something your mum did with you to pass on the knowledge and skills. Which is why I’m researching online and learning all the American terms.

I think to start off with I’m going to look into “water bath canning”, it’s what the people around me are familiar with so asking for advice is easier, as is buying supplies. I will also look into freezing and dehydrating. Until I get some produce I won’t have much to preserve, but I don’t want to get caught short with a basket of tomatoes and not know what to do with them before they go soft. So I’m going to research methods and recipes and post my results here so when the time comes, I may not be ready but I’ll have something to fall back on other than a hurried phone call to my mother!

 

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