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The notion of putting food up is one that previous generations were familiar with - taking the bounty of the local harvest and preserving it for later. Of course, many of us didn’t grow up with the tradition of putting food up. But as we have become re-introduced with the art of growing our own vegetables and cooking from farm-to-table, the art of home-preserving has seen a resurgence. Now we have the desire to figure out how we can extend our enjoyment of locally grown fruits and vegetables. Until I learned how to “put-up” the harvest, I would use the winter to dream about sun-ripened local tomatoes and local fruits.
Canning and food preservation techniques allow us to eat locally year round - we can preserve our seasonal harvest for later enjoyment. Canning our own fruit preserves, fruit sauces, and pickles gives us control over what we are eating - we know what we did to preserve it - what spices and herbs we used and the amount of sugar and/or salt in our preserves. There is something almost magical about opening a jar of homemade applesauce in March, long after apple season has ended, and long before we can even imagine harvesting our own apples. Tasting summer in home-preserved peach jam allows us to envision a summer day, even in the middle of a snowstorm in January.
But learning how to can and jar my own food was inspired by my parents-in-law, who grew up during World War II canning from the Victory Gardens. I originally found their interest in home-canning to be quaint and old-fashioned. Now, I thank them yearly for taking the time to educate me as to why I should home-preserve. Especially when I eat my own rhubarb compote, tomato sauce, or preserved peaches in lavender syrup in the middle of winter!
Always yearned to learn how to can? You, too, can learn to "put up" food with Kathy Lee here at the Gardens. Join her for Comprehensive Canning 101 - Jam Making with Local Fruit on Saturday, August 10 from 1-3 pm. Late summer is a perfect time to condense the delicious flavors of the season into various sweet or spicy spreads for your family. Create fruit/pepper jellies or jams from local Colorado fruit. This class is easy, fun and includes taking home some great tasting spreads.
Guest Blogger: Kathy Lee
Katharine is a former research scientist, and now is the chef/owner of Modern Gingham Preserves, a local preserve company based in Denver, CO. Kathy tries to forage for as much local fruit as possible-aiming to pick unsprayed trees in the greater Denver area that would otherwise go unpicked. The fruit is made into unique fruit jams, fruit butters, chutneys, pickles and whole-preserved fruits. She has been a home canner for 16 years after being inspired by her English parents-in-laws tradition of home-preserving.
Cover Image: Courtesy of SuzukiQ