Sunday, June 21, 2009

Canning demo at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market

If you are new to my blog because I just met you yesterday at the AAFM, welcome! The recipe is linked below, and also check out my other canning posts by clicking here. I teach home canning classes for Ann Arbor Rec and Ed. - we'll be making salsa in August. Want to learn how to can before August? I am available to teach you and a group of your friends how to preserve food at your own house with your own stuff. It's like a Tupperware party, but instead of buying products, you'll learn how to can for yourself and get to keep the food you made. It's lots of fun! Send me an email at momskitchen at comcast dot net if you are interested in getting on my mailing list. Also, If you are interested in the "Yes. We Can" apron I was wearing, you can find it at the Pittsfield Grange's Preserving Traditions group. They also teach canning classes.

On Friday night, we had a terrific storm. We went over to our neighbor's house and drank beer and watched it from their screen porch by candlelight. I was hoping the rain would stop because yesterday, I did a canning demo at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market. On my way to the market, Newport Road was closed because of fallen trees. (I was was a giant hole in the road!)On my way home from church yesterday, parts of Joy Road were washed out from erosion and there was a huge pond in one spot that almost drowned my engine. Wonder what happens when you drive a hybrid electric vehicle through deep water?

It stopped raining right as my market demo was starting, and it was really fun to see so many people interested in canning! I prepared (or should I say tried to prepare - we had electric problems so I was unable to actually finish my canning project there) Natural Strawberry Jam. An interesting note is that the berries I was using yesterday took a long time to firm up - at least a 1/2 hour per batch. I think the wet and cool season we've had thus far in Michigan has resulted in no pectin in the berries. So if you are one of the people I met yesterday at the market, keep that in mind when you try the recipe. These berries took longer than expected to pass "the wrinkle test".


I'm noticing a few trends lately. First, there's the "green living" folks - the people that want to reduce their food miles by getting their food locally. It's the people that read the Michael Pollan books, or "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. Most of the people I talked to yesterday were in this segment. I noticed that when I asked the people "of a certain age" if they had canned jam before, most replied "a long time ago". But it's great that they are thinking of firing up the canner again! There's a real interest in eating local food.

There's also another segment of folks interested in canning - for lack of a better word, I am going to call the group the "preparedness" folks. These are the people that are preparing for an apocalypse of some kind. One guy told me yesterday he was worried that our power grid was going to collapse and wanted to have a plan for some food when it did. Given that our power goes out in the summer time about once a month, maybe I should start thinking a little more this way. There's always people that think the world is going to end soon, and that we should have a plan. Their reasons are many - impending war, world economic collapse, the book of Revelations, etc. People like this are the reason that read the "Left Behind" books are so popular. They watch "Mad Max" over and over again for reasons other than how hot Mel Gibson was in the 1970s (only reason why I watched that movie more than once) Perhaps they actually enjoyed the movie "Waterworld"? It reminds me of Y2K fears, which is another time when people got really interested in home canning.

I kept seeing references online about Mormons and home canning, and it got me curious about that. Evidently, self reliance is a core teaching of the LDS, and canning is a big part of that. It's a great idea. There's a Reskilling Fair coming up in Ann Arbor, whose supporters are hoping to teach people how to grow a squarefoot garden, build a hoop house or a cob oven, make herbal tinctures, sing rounds, can, dry and preserve those local fruits and veggies or cook up a local feast for your friends. The concept of reskilling is about re-connecting with basic lifeskills related to what we eat, wear, use and live in. Reskilling means learning to provide for ourselves and our communities by growing, preserving, creating, building, and teaching. Sounds like Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts for adults!

For me, home canning is an extension of my love of cooking local foods and I like saving money. I only can things that I can make at home cheaper. I am a thrifty environmentalist. I also like preserving food because when we eat it later, I can always remember what it was like on the day I put it up. Come February, on the morning I open a jar of the jam I made yesterday, I'll remember the big storm and the Farmer's Market and how hot and muggy the kitchen was and have wishful thoughts for strawberry season again.


Anonymous said...

I love the end of the world folks. I hate to say this, but if society collapses, you are going to die and probably not in a nice way. Unless you have more ammunition (and undoubtedly a lot of them do) than the rest of the tattered remnants of are going to die and probably not in a nice way.

I was seriously thinking of buying land and trying to be self-sufficient...until I realized that unless I had 50 tons of ammunition, it would all be for naught.

Sorry to be fatalistic....

On the happier side, I am thrilled that people are canning! I found out that I love it! :)

PS: Yes, I really was up and about at 8:30 yesterday!!! :)

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I wish I could have been there yesterday - just missed you. We are REALLY early market-goers. I hope it went beautifully!

The Whittier Family said...

We can food for preparedness, but not in an end of the world way. Unfortunately financial stability is something that very few of us have. It is nice to know that if something happens such as a job loss, an unexpected expense, or an extended power outage, that we have food to make it through until we can get back on our feet. The fact that the food is yummy, local food bought when it was fresh and cheap is an added bonus that makes sure that the supplies are rotated each year.

Kitchen Chick said...

As a child I always heard about how dangerous canning is (e.g. botulism), but now I'm a bit sad that I never learned to can while growing up. My grandmother used to can, but she never taught her children. But this winter I bought a canning kit, and I'm really excited to give it a go this year, especially with jams and pickles.

Scott W said...

Thanks for the great recipe. My first go at canning was a big success. I got 6 pints from this recipe, basically using two quarts of fresh strawberries. Does anyone know why this is a "down" year for strawberries?

Mom said...

My understanding is the cost of fuel and fertilizer is up, and the season started later than usual because of our cool spring.

Buttercup said...

You are an inspiration - thanks for all you do to teach and lead on this subject.

As I've written, I'm a little bit of a dystopian but I also enjoy the feeling of self-empowerment that growing and preserving my own food gives. Hope TP is wrong about the need for ammunition!