Monday, August 25, 2014

Why Canning?


Hi Readers! 

Have any of you ever canned or pickled or "jammed" anything? Laura will share some of her thoughts and experiments on this later this week. Do any of you have any helpful tips or tricks? I would love to hear about all of your experiences with it. Please tell us below as I am still very new to the whole idea of canning and preserving. I was very excited about taking a class that I told ya'll about last Friday. Sadly, that class got canceled this weekend so Ben and I did not get to go. Secretly, I was most excited that the former food critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Meredith Ford, was going to be teaching the class. Ben pretty much thinks that I came out of my mom's womb born to be a food critic. Naturally, I was excited to get to meet her and learn from all of her skills. We will be going to their next class, however! In the meantime, Ben and I went over to the Preserving Place in Atlanta to ask some questions and pick up some tools to start canning ourselves. My very first question that I asked Martha McMillin the owner was-- is canning as hard and as scary as it's cracked up to be? I've heard all of the warnings of botulism and bacteria if you don't do canning right. I've also heard that it is so much work to do canning right. I wanted to know the hard core truth about canning from a woman who clearly knows her stuff on all things preserving. She quickly reassured us, and in fact even told us she feels it her calling to enlighten people on the ease and joys of canning and to assuage their canning fears. In no time, Ben and I had an armful of canning tools, two canning magazines, and a heart of confidence that we could definitely figure this out on our own. I'm hoping the confidence is realistic and that we have beautiful jars of canned tomatoes ready for those winter months where "fresh tomatoes" would add charm and flavor to hearty soups and stews. I want to store up while tomatoes are in season now, so that I will still have access to  beautiful, local, organic tomatoes when they are in fact not in season during the colder months. If you're wondering, where we live in Georgia, tomatoes tend to be in season until mid-late October. All of you still have some time to buy some and get to canning yourselves. 

To Learn More About Why You Should Consider Canning Click Below...

The Why of Canning: 

Last night I was telling some of our friends that we had gone to the Preserving Place to pick up some canning supplies, and our friend looked at his wife and sarcastically said "Oh, yes you will be canning this week for the winter months too!" She laughed and said "No. I will be microwaving for the winter months." We all laughed and I mean I get it, what's the point, right? Actually, I can't say that I get it totally, because I in fact do see the point very much so. If we weren't moving out of our house and moving states within the next few months I would be canning and preserving anything and everything. As for now, I'll have to just stick with canning tomatoes and keeping my preserved goods to a minimum. I think there is definitely an allure to canning that's innate in us. It makes us think of fond memories such as our grandparents or reading Little House on the Prairie. I can find a whole host of reasons why canning is a win for everyone, but there are a few reasons that really push me to sacrifice the time and effort to make sure I do it. In short, it's worth it because it saves me money, it is such an easy way to ensure I am consuming high-quality ingredients full of flavor and most importantly full of nutrition that will build my immune system and health, and it allows me to tangibly give back to my community by buying a bounty of harvest from local farmers who work hard to bring us amazing food. Sure, I can buy a can of tomatoes from the grocery store in the winter. However, if I have the choice between canned tomatoes from the grocery store sitting in cans with BPA and that come from who knows where and have been who knows where OR farm fresh tomatoes that come from farms that I know and love and are placed in mason jars that I love by my own hands with only ingredients that I choose to put in them, then it's definitely a no-brainer for me. The owner of the Preserving Place mentioned how important canning is in local communities and in the economy of communities. She said if you buy large batches of produce from a farmer that can really make or break a farmer. Farmers can make or break communities. If you buy 3 pounds of tomatoes one week instead of just three tomatoes for one recipe that's a huge difference in farmer's livelihoods. I know for Ben and I wherever we live we feel very strongly about giving to that community by being  givers and not just takers. We want to be a tangible blessing to our neighborhood and city. A large part and portion of communities is the local farmers and it's just so important that we support them. When you buy something from the grocery store (unless you're buying from Whole Foods and they tell you the exact farm it came from) you do not know who you are supporting and what you're supporting by buying from them. That green bell pepper very well could have come from a farm in another country with unethical farming and employment practices. I don't want to support that and I definitely don't want to eat that! It's important for me to know where my food comes from, not only because I want to know who I am supporting, but also because I want to know what I am putting into my body and how it will affect me. It's our responsibility to do so. Obviously, the ideal would be to have my own garden of homegrown tomatoes, but that isn't an option for Ben and I in this season of our lives. One day! In the meantime, I'm making extra use of my local farmer's beautiful harvest.

 I also end up saving money from canning as well.  I went to my local farmer's market  this weekend and I knew that I wanted to negotiate with some of the farmer's on price since I was buying a large batch of tomatoes for canning. I asked the farmer, "If I buy a large batch of tomatoes will you give me a better price on them?" Our farmer said of course! I was so happy and kept asking my husband later on if he was proud of me for negotiating and saving us money. ;) He assured me he was, but I think I was more proud of myself. I'm usually the one trying to think of ways to save us money on our food budget, and I've wrote many posts on how I do that. It's definitely harder to buy higher-quality ingredients on a low food budget, but it definitely can be done! 

I'll let you know how my canned tomatoes turn out. I'm just so excited that this winter I will have batches of canned tomatoes to add to my favorite vegetable soups that I make and batches of canned tomatoes for my wonderful tomato sauce. We're definitely excited to do our first round of canning! Later this week I will tell you a little more about the Preserving Place in Atlanta and what tools I picked up there. 

P.S. The three lovely pictures above of the canned goods are from The Preserving Place's instagram. You can follow them at: Preservingplace

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