I brought out my canner for the first time this year last night. I spent a lovely evening putting up a beautiful strawberry-rhubarb compote. My new stainless steel canner was a pleasure to use. Waking up to the row of rosy red jars lined up on the counter put a smile on my face in spite of the nip in the air that I know is cooling off my tomatoes’ feet and slowing their growth as I write this.
For all of you just starting to preserve food, I have a word of warning. I bought a new food preservation book this week. It arrived in the mail and I couldn’t wait to try some of the recipes but I have to say, I’m concerned. This is a relatively new book but some of the information is dead wrong. The time given for boiling beets is a ridiculous two hours and the author is still recommending oven canning, something the USDA frowns upon. If you are learning to use a canner, please start with one of the standard books like the Ball Blue Book or Keeping The Harvest. If you can find an experienced mentor to work with the first few times you should do that but be sure that this person is following the newest guidelines. Preserving food is not difficult but it is a science and not something you can afford to be cavalier about. Use the best equipment, the best ingredients and the best instructions.
After three years of talking about Peak Oil to everybody who will listen, It was amazing to hear the President give a speech on it last night. I am watching the early morning news shows and that’s all the heads are talking about. I don’t know if it will change anything or not but one can only hope that it will get people thinking about a future where we see energy shocks and shortages. The cost of food (and everything else) will be drain on family economies. One of the best ways to address the problem is produce as much food as you can locally. If you can’t grow it in your yard, then talk to your local government about public spaces being used for garden spaces. Churches and schools and parks can be landscaped with perennial food plants. If you buy in bulk from local sources then preserve the harvest for your daily use. You will save money, eat better, support your local economy, enhance your community and mitigate the effect of the coming energy crisis.