Canning: for a last minute supper (and holiday gifts)
I know, I know. I’m late in the canning season, and with all the blogs and articles raving about harvest time a few weeks ago, I may have missed the window of opportunity.
Or have I? I may be late for harvest, but I’m early for the holidays! What better gift, than the gift of creative food combination with your favorite’s ingredients and flavours, warm your family’s and friend’s taste buds.
I was really lucky to have grown up with a mother who basically, did everything from scratch. Homemade everything, she is of the generation (and of Italian decent) that even our cookies and ketchup were homemade. Direct from our family garden, she would spend her fall season cooking and canning, hurrying up to limit the loss before the winter cold would arrive.
I’m not kidding; beats, carrots, beans, pickles, corn, ketchup, and relish – you name it. If she could create it and can it, she did it. Which by natural momentum, ensured we ate great, local and wholesome food, the majority of lives.
In the essence of my food mission and this blog, I worked up the courage to also adventure myself in the canning lifestyle. I admire people who have to courage to confront one of their biggest (but most frightening) food challenges. Whether it’s that soufflé, that steak or that tartar – you want it perfect and above all, safe for human consumption.
So, I took on the challenge. Canning my food. I’ve always been scared of the glass breaking in the boiling water, or not properly filing and sealing, allowing dangerous bacteria’s to enter – and the most dreaded nightmare, the whole system blowing up in my face with long term skin damages (it could happen you know). Ok, actually it couldn’t, but at that time, it was a source of stress.
I recruited a top food taster of mine, my Mexican cousin with a stomach of steel and above all, an honest taster. He would tell me if what I created would not allow for a successful story and blog, motivating food fans to start their own canning adventure.
Step 1: I got educated with the best Canadian source
Growing up with this Canadian brand, I was delighted to find that Bernardin offered a step by step guide on how to can with success. They made the process much easier (and less overwhelming).
I also found several great information sources for canning, but I won’t lie, it is a complex food world. For example, did you know you have to include a couple of drops of lemon juice when canning anything with tomatoes? The acidity of the lemon juice balances the acidity of the tomatoes, allowing the tomatoes not to go sour. You can also find a portfolio of canning recipes on the Bernardin site including precious tips and tricks to simplify the process.
Step 2: I chose my favorite “canning” veggies and vinegars, and kept it simple by purchasing ready to use spices.
Because I had no idea in what I was getting myself into, I kept it safe and used a high quality spice mix found in supermarkets. I have a preference for Les Soeurs en Vrac brand because I know the quality of their products, but you can easily create your own spice mix with what you have on hand.
By grilling my veggies (once peeled with a drizzle of olive oil) in the oven Mediterranean style giving it a unique taste, I let them cool down, sliced and started my combinations like carrots and apple cider, beats and balsamic and the most delicious; fresh tomatoes from the garden à la naturel and ready to use, a perfect option for a weeknight meal.
Step 3: I canned the life out of those veggies
Following the guide step by step, all went well and no food explosion to report. I still had to wait a month to ensure the canning combinations had well marinated.
Step 4: Product testing
Julian (my Mexican cousin) was ready to taste, he risked it all. The verdict? It was absolutely amazing. Pickled, sweet and very tasty, he requested more. Yes! Stomach of steel test is passed.
Step 5: I tasted myself, and I must say, I am truly impressed
I could not believe was I succeeding in creating. I was truly impressed with the canning experience and I can honestly say: canning? Bring it on.
Go ahead, try it out – it will truly change your attitude towards the old fashion way of eating local, tasty and fresh produce – even during the winter.