one woman's compost is another woman's pickle

Hmm. A title like that certainly sets me squarely within a certain demographic, doesn't it? Anyway, we've been doing a lot of it around here--canning, that is, and it hasn't been a bad thing at all. Au contraire ... I don't know when we'll get to have our own garden again, but when we do, it's going to be a pickling garden. Tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, a few peppers, onions and garlic. And some chilis. Should be just right for ketchup, tomato jam, pickles, saurkraut and kimchee.
Why am I telling you about all this now, you may ask, in the middle of advent, with snow on the ground? Well, besides my slowness at getting around to posting things, it is only recently that we have fully benefitted from having a store of canned items on the shelves. No fresh veg for tonight's dinner? No problem, grab some pickles and some kimchee and we'll call it good. Need some fruit for breakfast? Thank you, homemade applesauce!
But really it's because I've had numerous conversations lately about things like cloth diapers and homemade yogurt. Things that are daunting to consider when you haven't done them before, but that can be incorporated into a life such that they hardly feel like extra work. For me, canning was that thing that alternately attracted me and intimidated me. For years I've wanted to experiment with funky flavored jams and sauces, I've wanted the health benefits of lacto-fermented pickles, I've wanted to keep eating September's tomatoes into the spring. But oh, the botulism! The failed seals! The time in a hot steamy kitchen!

This fall I took the plunge, armed with my great aunt's canning jars and several books from the library. I read instructions over and over, I sanitized like crazy, I felt ridiculously proud over lids that popped just like they were supposed to. 
And you know what? It wasn't so bad. Not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. Just like anything, once you understand the process and have a system in place, what initially required huge effort gradually takes less and less, until the work slips easily into the rhythm of the day. Canning isn't going to become part of our weekly routine, like making bread and washing diapers is, but it will be part of our seasonal rhythms, the way we celebrate and take advantage of the harvest. So here's a little prod of encouragement--if there is something that you've wanted to change about your life, or wanted to experiment with--something like using cloth napkins instead of paper, or making your own granola for breakfast--well, there's nothing like doing it.

Want further instructions for the things I've mentioned?
Bread: No-knead is a good place to start.
Granola: Here's our current favorite recipe.
Yogurt: We use the instructions and process from The Frugal Gourmet Keeps the Feast, but there are plenty of directions online.
Diapers: Green Mountain Diapers is a great resource for information/washing instructions, and also a great source of reasonably priced diapers.

and the canning we did:
lacto-fermented pickles: instructions from Wild Fermentation.
tomato jam: recipe here.
ketchup: recipe from Well Preserved.
chili sauce: recipe also from Well Preserved.
watermelon rind pickles: recipe from My Mother's Southern Kitchen.

No comments: