Why I Can
Oh let me count the ways! After just spending the last 4 hours in my kitchen, hands soft and wrinkled like prunes, I was making a mental list of why I am so adamant about continuing on with this practice that I hold so near and dear to my heart.
Many of my friends who do not can say they would love to, but don’t have time. Or, they don’t know how. It is something that I have to set time aside for and I always factor it into my fall routine (I don’t can in the summer because I get too grumpy over a hot stove when it is already 30 plus degrees outside!). Once the smell of crisp apples in the air wafts my way, I just can’t help myself. I don’t stop until the shelves are lined with beautiful multi-coloured hues of apricots, plums, beets, beans, tomatoes, chutneys. And the list goes on.
So last night, I dug out half of my Red Ace and Chioggia beets in my garden, and today set about to make my Mom’s pickled beets and beet horseradish (recipe below). Being raised in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, this was a way of life for my family, and practicing the Art of Canning really brings me home. It reminds me of spending days in the kitchen with my Mom or my Grandma as a child; the counters lined with produce from the garden or neighbouring fruit trees. It is something that I feel so blessed to be able to continue to share and pass on to my own daughters. Home canning also makes an amazing Christmas gift, potluck dish, or last minute addition to spruce up an antipasto platter.
Of course the environmentalist in me sees all of the wonderful benefits of canning from a sustainability perspective. The ultimate canning experience involves growing and preserve your own food. Community gardens like Pemberton Creek Community Garden make this goal more accessible to everybody - even those who live in townhouses. A close second is purchasing produce locally and then canning. Re-usable glass jars mean no waste to clutter the landfill or tote to the recycling centre. You also have the satisfaction that the ingredients in the jars are controlled (and can be pronounced) by you! You can also eat canned goods free of guilt, knowing that no leaching from tin or plastics is going to adversely effect your health. Furthermore, very little greenhouse gas emissions occur with the transportation from back yard garden to pantry. Plus that whole eating local thing: but I could go on for pages about that! So, what are YOU waiting for? Just the know how? Stay tuned to the Stewardship Pemberton Society website at www.stewardshippemberton.com for upcoming workshops, or send us a comment on what you need to get started.
Dawn Johnson is a director for the Stewardship Pemberton Society. She is currently dreaming of a large scale, multi-generational communal canning party aimed at turning the crab apples along Portage Road from bear attractants to perfectly pink additions to Pemberton pantries.
Mom’s Beet Horseradish Relish (from Willy Dwarnichuck)
6 cups ground beets
2 cups ground fresh horseradish
2 cups white sugar
2 cups white vinegar
1 TBSP salt
1 TBSP ground black pepper
2 TBSP cayenne pepper
2 large cloves garlic (crushed)
Scrub beets, leaving stem and tails intact. Boil, cool, then slip the skins off. Process in food processor until desired consistency. Peel horseradish and grind in food processor. Combine all other ingredients in big pot and bring to a boil. Add beets and horseradish, and bring back to a boil. Fill sterilized jars and process in hot water bath for 20 minutes for 250 ml jars, 30 minutes for 500ml jars.
Makes approximately 8 250 ml jars.