Monday, September 6, 2010

Savoring the Seasons

Ever notice as the seasons change, certain food items aren't as easily obtainable as they once were? As we rapidly approach Fall, some of our favorite fruits and vegetables will disappear from the local markets until next summer. Blueberries, for example, will only be around for another week or so at the local farm I like to patron.
When this happens, that's when I like to perform the age-old tradition of canning or preserving. This technique has lost a lot of attention, but I'm determined to bring it back. I remember as a little child, my grandmother going out to the garden and picking either tomatoes and cucumbers (or whatever else that had reached its maturity) and bringing it in to the kitchen to preserve for the months that they would not be available. My grandfather even built what was then called a "wash-house" to store the many jars of preserved foods. I often thought, as a kid, that little building looked like a mini general store at times.

Those times and memories are some of the reasons why I became a chef to begin with. Thus, since I am a chef, I really appreciate the effort that goes into canning. From resourcing fresh and local produce, and showing support to those local farmers, to the labor that's involved with producing the canned products. Recently, my wife and I, spent an entire day visiting local farms, obtaining all the fresh produce that we could. We spent the next four days making pickles, jams, jellies, marmalade's, fresh salsas, stewed tomatoes, just to name a few. Not only is it self-gratifying to do it ourselves, but we also know that the products are fresh, sustainable, and chemical free, not to mention the affordability.
So, as I mentioned blueberries earlier, one of the items we canned was a fresh blueberry jam. For the little amount of money we spent, we ended up with about ten jars full. That should definitely last us till next blueberry season. Matter of fact, we got so many jars of different items, that we've planned to go to the local farmer's market to share the "fruits" of our labor.

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