Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ahead of the trend

For more than a year - ever since a community gardener described to me his ill-conceived experiments in canning and I wondered why he wasn't dead - I have been thinking that we need to do much more to revive canning and preserving knowledge - in a word, reskill. I wanted to do a tomato canning party in the Thanksgiving Lutheran church kitchen last year, but the produce and an opportunity just never coincided. And just last week, thinking about teaching others, I realized I need to pull together my favorite canning and preserving recipes.

Well the New York Times has caught on. If home and community gardening are booming, so is doing something with that produce. Today's suite of features focuses on Eugenia Bone, a New Yorker who has written a canning cookbook.
The advice in the article seems pretty good to me, and there are references to other cook books in the "Dos and Don'ts" article.

I'd add to them an older title on my book shelf, Helen Witty's Fancy Pantry - which seems to have anticipated by a few decades the trend toward preserving for taste, not just frugality. But hey - there's no reason to trash simple canning either. I also picked up a book last summer with lots of good ideas - The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving.

The blogs mentioned in the articles seem pretty sound - but I've noted in the past that web preserving recipes vary widely, and some are simply not safe. If the acid content of a recipe seems low for water bath canning, compare it with a similar one in something standard and safety tested, like Putting Food By or the Ball or government recipes and guidelines on-line.

On my wish list for this summer is a rack for my 8 quart stock pot - like the one shown in the photos in the Times - so when I do four jar batches I don't need to get out the spackleware behemoth.

1 comment:

John Leech said...

Some local folks here are into canning - the folks from Mustard Seed House have been encouraging revival of 'home arts' since their first recession readiness workshop for local church leaders last September (about a fortnight before the Lehman Bros collapse). Some churches have been putting their younger members in touch with older ones who've got the chops - and the cans. We talked with a visitor about where we would put a community garden - and she pointed to the front 40 of our yard: that is where her grandparents' victory garden was during WW2. (They canned rows and rows in the basement of their home - still standing, now a 12-step program meeting place.)