It’s that time of year, the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market is a study in abundance, and my summer reading, Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, has inspired me to can.
So, I took a perfectly good Saturday and Sunday and made two trips to the Farmer’s Market, a trip to the hardware store, two trips to a grocery store, burned many BTUs of gas on our gas stove, and taught myself to can following the Ball Blue Book of Preserving and an article on canning in the October 2008 Bon Appetit.
This was my discovery:
- $15 of organic roma tomatoes plus
- a few dollars of organic shallots plus
- a few dollars in organic lemon juice plus
- $30 in canning supplies (jar lifter, magnetic lid lifter, pint jars, canning funnel)
- labor peeling, seeding, stirring, ladling, and then boiling the jars of sauce
makes about six pint jars of fresh tomato sauce, something which when purchased would have cost many dollars less than what I spent. Yet, I didn’t burn myself, had some fun cooking and learning, have some lovely jars of pinky-red tomatoes lighting up the shelves of my basement, and I have stored a bit of this lovely summer sunshine for later.
I realized that canning is kind of like knitting a sweater. It’s not that I saved any money, it’s that I got to enjoy the process and engaging with something concrete – beautiful yarn in the case of a sweater, beautiful produce in the case of canning. That level of absorbtion and attention is almost intoxicating, while my hands were slicing the 50th tomato, my mind was wondering at the variety of shape and color and detail in the box of romas. Plus, I experienced a distinct sense of abundance when processing a big pile of tomatoes- their weight, their texture, their color, bounty. So, after I finished the tomatoes on Saturday, I was up for another round on Sunday. With dinner guests arriving at 6PM, I carefully planned my day of cornbread-baking, coleslaw-making, peach cobbler-baking, and my husband’s slow cooking of the spare ribs with more canning. I discovered that
- $20 in fresh figs plus
- zest of two lemons plus
- sugar and brandy
makes six 1/2-pint jars of drunken fig jam. It’s tasty, though I’ll have to arrange to get myself invited to sophisticated dinner or wine tasting parties where I can bring this as an addition to a cheese plate…Dear reader, let me know if you’re hosting such an event. I have the housewarming gift ready to go!
I loved it, I’d do it again, and I realized just how much I love my dishwasher, which I think ran about 6 times this weekend, no fooling, and that’s even after I hand-washed all of the pots.