Friday, August 3, 2012

What I like about putting food in jars:

1.  You have to follow a recipe.  This might be tough for some people.  Some daring cooks throw ingredients in a pot and watch the magic happen.  I have never been one of those cooks.  I follow a recipe.  Pretty much every time.  I still pull open the cookbook to see how to make a pie crust, even though I've made pies a hundred times.  I still follow the recipe on the back of the Bisquick box for pancakes, even though I make pancakes at least once a week.  Sure, I experiment sometimes with substituting ingredients if I don't have something on hand.  But my mac and cheese is straight out of the Betty Crocker cookbook.  Somehow I never manage to accurately memorize a recipe and don't even ask me to experiment on a classic!  With canning, you need to follow the recipe to a T, or you risk ruining your hard work or worse, getting sick off of improperly preserved pickles.

2.  Jars of food are pretty on a shelf.  There is nothing better than organizing your little stockpile of jars.  I totally get why people on the coupon shows buy and stockpile.  They have OCD about arranging their treasures on the shelf.  I am not a couponer, but I do enjoy lining up my jars.  The raspberry and strawberry jams are a beautiful red, and the pickles and green beans are amazing shades of green. 

3.  Preserving tradition.  People used to can out of necessity.  Then it became something to do to save money and to put up one's garden.  Now, it is a hobby.  Canned products in the grocery store are so cheap, it is arguable if you really save all that much money canning your own fruits and vegetables.  Plus, frozen products are so handy and taste pretty fresh.  But there is something nostalgic about food in jars that gets me going.  I mean, how neat is it that I am storing my jars where Eric's grandmother (and her grandmother) stored hers for years.

4.  Preserving local.  I am a "local" nut.  I am not a true locavore (someone who eats food only from within a certain mile radius of home).  But I believe in the value of buying local for economic development and to support healthy and vibrant communities.  At work, I am involved in a variety of projects to increase the utlization of local products in our county.  So I guess I'd better walk the walk and talk the talk.

5.  What else am I going to do with all of these cucumbers?  I can't stand to see things go to waste.  And since Eric is REALLY into gardening, I've gotta do something with the stuff!  I used to just freeze everything, but it's not that much less work and the taste of freezer-burnt green beans is absolutely disgusting. 

6.  It lasts for a long time!  Canned products are shelf-stable for 12 months to ? years.  I like feeling that if we had a complete societal meltdown and we all had to live off of the grid and independently, we'd survive a lot longer than most!  I'm not paranoid, and no, we do not have a bomb shelter just in case.

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