Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In a Pickle

There are many things that you can pickle, but are they all in season? We are very fortunate in California to have fruits and vegetables that are always in season. However not everything is always in season here so what do we do? We run to the store and buy something that has been shipped halfway around the world! Can you believe I saw tomatoes at the store the other day that were a product of Holland, yum! What do you think they looked like when they were picked?
I have been pickling and canning jams and sauces all spring and summer. I started with pickled beets. Fortunately beets and most root vegetables are in season year round in California. Then I made fruit and berry jams as they came in season. I followed that with cucumber pickles, there are pickles grown specifically for pickling and you don't usually find them at your local grocer. I found them at the local farmers market and they are only in season from May to November. I then canned tomato sauce from local grown tomatoes which are in season from April to November.  The last thing I canned were deli dill pickles which had to ferment in a cool dark place for 3 weeks.
Why go to all this trouble? First, it is fun! Second, the end product is delicious. Most importantly though is the benefits are amazing. Food that is grown locally and allowed to ripen in fields is many times more flavorful and nutritious. You can have foods that are not currently in season in their canned form in the off season. Buying local, which is most commonly considered anything within a 250 mile radius supports our local economy and more customers supported local farmers the prices would go down. Post consumer waste is reduced because of the fact that most containers used in home canning can be recycled year after year reducing the pollution from manufacturing commercial canning containers and the waste from them that is dumped in the landfill day in and day out!
Canning is not hard. It takes a few specific pieces of equipment and usually most of them can already be found in your kitchen. If you are interested in exploring canning please let me know and I will share a list of tools necessary, my favorite sources for recipes and the procedures.
Just another week or so I can open up those deli dills and bite into one. I will let you know how they taste!

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