Preserving Traditions

Its that season again. The one where I go insane trying to find time. Time to Can.

Yesterday, I was reading a post by Amber over at Strocel.com on her canning adventures.  She talked about how much fun it was to preserve, and about knowing what was in the food she preserved being a great thing.  I agree on both counts. Check her out, she’s a really interesting, creative mom with two kids and a knack for always thinking what I am thinking! How does that happen? I’m here in Eastern Canada, she’s on the West Coast! *looks around with eyes narrowed*

Amber’s post got me thinking (more) of all the things that we preserve and can and I realized we do a lot. Not in the sense that we eat nothing but preserved food all winter, but by in large, we pack away quite a lot of produce every year. I grew up with this, so did my husband, to a point, so when we first started dating, we canned and canned and canned….It was fun, and exhausting, and frustrating and… well, the fruits of our labours (literally) were quite yummy. Now that we are married, we seem to have figured it all out, sort of. Our veggie patch gives us so much that we have beans, peas, beets, carrots and squash all year. This year the buttercup was plentiful, which is my husband’s favourite. Last year it was Spaghetti, which is mine. My son loves the tanginess of butternut. In fact, he’s a big benificiary of all this food. He loves vegetables . We are truly blessed parents.

Now if only he would sleep…….

We have some tried and true things we can and put away every year. Much like a tradition now, I have discovered that we are capable of being very domestic and frugal in our preparations for winter, and I enjoy so much this part of being a family. The collective effort of gardening, harvesting, and preserving gives us a tangible sense of taking care of the family.

Some of the things we do every year without fail, I figured I would list out, for fun.

  • We make applesauce and apple pies from Prince Edward County apples every year as a tradition, right after Thanksgiving. Mutsu apples are best for pies, MckIntosh for applesauce.
  • Blueberries, in the summer, picked fresh go on trays in the freezer to freeze solid, then into stackable Ziploc containers. If your freeze them a single layer at a time, they won’t clump together when put together into the container. This makes for great garnish on salads in February when blueberries in the store are so expensive you might just turn blue from the sticker shock. We also discovered this works great for raspberries and shelled peas.
  • I make lotion every year from my herbs. I dry comfrey, calendula, and chamomile to put into grape seed oil based balms and lotions. They make great gifts, and a little goes a long, long way. Just the other day, I gave away a pot of Tea Tree oil and Herb Skin First Aid balm I made last year. It has beeswax, lanolin and Vitamin E in it as well as calendula, comfrey, and tea tree oil in it to soften and heal skin. The person I gave it to was so pleased with it! It made my day. This year I am going to try and make some rosemary body wash/soap. We have a ton of rosemary this year. I also like to make soap, but with a little one afoot, I am afraid to start he process unless he isn’t home, which is never. I would have to be so careful with hot liquids and soap ingredients, and once you start the process, you can’t stop for diapers or crying or bumps that need to be kissed.
  • Our traditional Christmas gift to our friends are jars of home made pesto. We grow Genovese Basil in the back yard here at our home, and when the bunch is monstrous, we chop it back, make the pesto, then freeze it in big containers (we keep our empty margarine tubs for this). Come Christmas, it gets thawed, put into pretty preserving jars and wrapped with ribbon. This year we did a batch of regular pine nut pesto, and a batch of walnut. I would like to branch out into other herbal gifts, but we seem to be very good at pesto, and people clamour for it, much like my home made shortbread. I have a fantasy about starting up a herb farm, plant lots of Pesto basil, and become the Pesto Kings of the area. I’d call the farm The Basilicum. (this would be also part of the farm where I have chickens, sheep, some horses, pigs, and a HUGE market garden with a booth at the local farmer’s market.)

So now you see where I look at my watch and think about it all. But, no matter the scramble, it is worth it. As always, I am more than happy to share recipes and process, if anyone so desires.

Happy Canning!

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