I grew up in a household with shelves of canned goodies stashed in the basement: beautiful orbs of grapes floating in purple-tinged juice, dark cinnamon-laden apple sauce, and bright green beans standing at attention. Unfortunately, as with many families of the 1980s era that commitment to preserving the best of the season, tucking it away for later was also shelved into a dark corner as our family’s approach to food was affected by the lure of convenience.
But just last year, thanks to my involvement in our book Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving, I fell in love with the time-honored craft of canning as an adult. For many of us here at Lark we sometimes find the allure of the topics we publish irresistible. And so we joyfully pick up the needle and thread or, in my case, stock up with a canner and jars. Motivated by the fond childhood memory of my mom’s efforts and armed with Ashley English‘s accessible and common sense approach to the craft, I felt like I really could make the leap. In no time at all my enthusiasm knew no bounds as I quickly found myself whipping up batches of sauces, jams, pickles, relishes, and more. As a passionate foodie AND collector of beautiful objects, I found unabashed delight in preserving the luscious, seasonal treasures from the garden and farmers market into glorious condiments and treats that could not only be displayed like proud trophies on the shelves of my pantry (“Look what I did!”) but also gifted to my friends, family, neighbors. You think those pickles you can get at the store are good? Just wait until you’ve made your own to suit your own tastes (extra spices for me, please!) using cukes you grew yourself.
And now with the bounty of Summer produce kicking into high gear again, my mind is simply brimming with ideas for how I can creatively “put a lid on it.” It’s seems I’m not the only one. According to allrecipes.com, fifty-five percent of American home cooks plan to can this year, and of those, nearly 97 percent will be canning more than previous years.
This season my adventures have included Raspberry and Blueberry Jam with Lemon Verbena, Classic Bread & Butter Pickles with Red Pepper, and Chai Peach Jam. I’m looking forward to my canning roster changing with the season with Autumn’s Spiced Pear Chutney and Cardamom Apple Cider Butter (both from Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving) on my wish list.
Be sure to check out Ashley’s incredibly thorough and helpful post on the topic on Design*Sponge, filled with advice and encouragement. If you haven’t already picked up the jar, you may soon find yourself wooed by its siren call.