September 8th, 2011 by ~

Why go through all the trouble


I don’t know if its just me, but canning seems to be experiencing a revival of sorts.  Maybe its strategic placement, but the bookstore I frequent has made several publications available on the craft.  I see boxes of jars at the hardware store and at the supermarket. My Farmers Market has its own canning guide and distributes it to the public.

Back in the day, canning food is how a family survived.  They grew their own garden and they put by its bounty for consumption until next year. It was hard work, but essential if they expected to have anything to eat.  This is obviously not the case now.  Cheap sources of food are ubiquitous. The quality pales in comparison, but thats for another post.

For me, there is a reward to canning food that goes beyond economics. It falls under the main category of anything I attempt to accomplish: Do I enjoy it?  If the answer is yes, and if I can make the time, I will.

In my restaurant last week, we processed around 175lbs of fresh, locally grown tomatoes. Some became sauce, some for juice, some went into the dehydrator and the rest into canning jars.  It was a lot of work coring, peeling skins and deseeding, but it was pleasurable work standing around the center work island, with casual conversation ensuing.

There is one aspect of the canning process that would go overlooked by everyone other than me.  Its a tiny instance that happens sometime during the cooling process.

Its the ping.

Years ago, when I was a little boy watching mom can the homemade ketchup she and dad loved to make, I would wait to hear the sound the made by the lid as the vacuum seal became secure.  It would let out a little ping, and I would tell mom that another one was ready.  Afterward, it was my job to press on all the jar lids to see if they sealed properly.  If it clicked, then we would use that one right away, and put the others on the shelf for later.

When my jars make the same ping, I am taken back to that simpler day.  I smile, and remember the aroma of cloves and spice that filled our little country house from the simmering batch of ketchup.  Some things you just can’t put a price tag on.

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