Friday, March 12, 2010

I am NOT trendy

My kids will tell you that there is no way I am trendy.  So I'm sure if they read this article, they would say that mommy has always been a weirdo and done this. As an aside, my daughter had a friend over recently who was out in our back yard.  As she started to swing on the clothesline and I was shouting at E to tell her to stop, I over heard her say to E "don't you own a dryer?"  What my kids have to put up with.

My friend Kirsten sent me this article from Slate.  It's all about how ridiculously trendy it is to be home canning.

I agree with some of the points made in the article, mainly that canning and preserving do not save any money and there is a serious amount of work involved.  I grew up helping my mother can and preserve and I can't say that I remember all that work fondly.  It was years and in fact, only in the past 3-4 years, that I was able to eat peaches again.  I grew up in a house that my grandfather had built, in Bristol, CT and we had 2 peach trees, 2 pear trees and an apple tree in the yard.  Every summer I helped my mother can and freeze peaches - which meant plunging peaches into hot water in order to skin them - which meant being covered with peach fuzz.  Nectarines were my stone fruit of choice until I started getting peaches from Farmer Allan in my CSA.   They were fabulously delicious and having only to deal with a couple of bags of peaches a week made it manageable to peel them.

It's only been since I've lived in DC that I've had a garden.  I'm in the Friendship Heights community garden.  My first plot was tiny, abutting the fence and had been neglected for a number of years.  That first summer I came down with the worst case of poison ivy I've ever had.  Head to toe rash.  Unbeknownst to me, the ivy was all over the fence, along with other yucky vines.  That first plot grew enough food for my family of four of eat fresh vegetables over the summer.  As bigger plots came available, I moved up.  Now I have one of the largest plots in the garden, at about 500 sq feet.  A few years ago, I signed up for a CSA, because the farmer was delivering on my campus and I thought, what could be easier.  I'll supplement my garden and fill the extra freezer with veggies.  The kids and I had always gone picking strawberries, blueberries, sour cherries and apples so I was already freezing and making jam.

Last summer, there was a notice out on my local neighborhood listserv from a woman who was cleaning out her father's house.  She had boxes of canning jars to give away.  Lucky for me, I was the first respondent.  As it turned out, the woman happened to be good friends with my neighbor as well.    Unlucky for me, most of the jars were the old fashioned kind that is no longer recommended to use.   Included were some really old jars with zinc lids. 

I've saved all the jars because they are beautiful and I figure, I'll find a use for them.  I did make a batch of pickles trying the jars and they came out ok.   The plan is to use all the regular canning jars, then if needed, try the old ones.

When I was at my mom's in Maine last summer, I was asking her about her vacuum sealer food saver gadget.  Next thing I knew, mom came home with one for me as a gift.  The stars were all aligned that I would throw myself into food preserving last summer.  Big garden, CSA produce, pick your own berries, etc.

What is the point?  The point is the whole canning phenomenon is not new to me, it's just taken me awhile to get to this point of where I had the time, resources and energy to do it.  I'm not trying to save any money but working the garden and preserving the food is just part of who I am.

Now what do I do with the last gallon bag of hot peppers in the freezer?


  1. my very thoughtful post on preserving got put under "I bought a toilet" where it makes no sense at all. Computers... can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

  2. I'm not even a canner and I was irritated by that Slate article! as well as the ones proclaiming backyard chickens and vegetable gardent "trendy" like they're iphones or something!

    That sounds like a pretty big community plot - no wonder you're canning! I love those old canning jars. To bad about the lids, but the glass sure is pretty.