I can understand why housewives probably jumped for joy when canned foods became available and they no longer had to do it themselves. It is a lot of work. However, I also know that a lot is lost with the convenience of buying a can of whatever at the store.
During our canning adventure this past weekend I was amazed at the amount of interest from friends who wanted to participate. At first it was scary (and there were some burned fingers) but then everyone got into the swing of it and it was like a well oiled machine. The cooperation and laughter really felt good…
Another cool thing about canning your own stuff – aside from the satisfaction – is the taste! Damn! What is available to us in the grocery store is so homogeneous. We came up with all sorts of recipes (thanks to one of my favorite books: The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich a sister Oregonian!) The tastes were so different – tart from green tomatoes, spicy from the turmeric, curry and pepper, sour from the vinegar. And the sense of wonder when you grab a fork and eat those last bits that are too few to dedicate a jar to. There’s nothing like a group of hot, working people enjoying a moment of yum together. Very cool.
Marion Cunningham has a great book called “Lost Recipes: Meals to Share with Friends and Family”. In it she tells the story of creamed corn. If you’re like me the thought of canned creamed corn makes me want to run the other way. But the reason the canned version exists in the first place is because people used to LOVE IT because it was good… very good. (Maybe I’ll post the recipe later this week.) My point – we’re missing out on so much because we’ve forgotten the power of good food and friendship. So much of what we can get today commercially is like a often repeated story that has lost any meaning… Canning is one way to start over with friends who are curious, taste buds that are surprised and ideas that are reborn.