Canning and jaring is experiencing a CT renaissance


Every time I go to buy farm produce, I’m afraid that’s it. At this time of year, the local premium can end abruptly. Farmers have already dodged drowning rains and high winds from two tropical storms. It is only a matter of time until the first frost; then goodbye tomatoes, corn, zucchini and all the rest.

As sad as it sounds to me, it inspires others to canning – preserving the farm-fresh flavor for the whole year. I admire their industry and their passion. The love of local products makes their pots simmer.

Home canning, “setting up” as it used to be called, is a time-honored activity. It predates modern refrigeration, freezers and our global food distribution system. It was a time when eating local was the only option. During the few short weeks that the crop matured, glass jars with two-piece metal lids were sterilized, filled and “processed” for tasting during the year.

Julia Currie made her canning debut ten years ago with an itch to make bread and butter pickles. She lives in Easton.

Frank Whitman for Hearst CT Media

I turned to Julia Currie, a passionate canner, for more information. She lives in Easton amid a mix of colonial elegance, modern suburbs and roadside farmhouses. These farms and local markets give him access to fresh seasonal produce. In addition, it has a network of sources throughout the state and in the Hudson Valley for food to be preserved.

I dropped by a few weeks ago while she was making bread and butter pickles and spicy peach salsa. Pans were bubbling on his stove, ready to sterilize jars and blanch peaches to peel them.

Julia’s canning season begins in mid-June with strawberry jams. After the harvest, she plows through blueberry jam, canned apricots and peaches, quince jelly, corn and tomato salsa, dill beans and pickles. She likes to mix it with chutneys, a garden of assorted pickled vegetables and, in some years, pizza sauce.

Julia Currie is busy canning end-of-season produce in her Easton kitchen.

Julia Currie is busy canning end-of-season produce in her Easton kitchen.

Frank Whitman for Hearst CT Media

Her pantry shelf is a colorful mix of jars, large and small, tagged or labeled, some dressed to gift with shiny fabric caps.

“What I love about canning,” she told me, “is that you can enjoy the products all year round. Canning is like magic. It’s a pleasure because the result lasts so long. She finds the work satisfying and the results rewarding.

A few simple tools are sufficient for canning: a large jar to sterilize the jars and process them when they are full; tongs for handling hot jars; and a large Dutch oven for baking. Julia recommends a good digital scale, as many recipes are measured by weight.

While we were chatting, Julia put the empty jars in boiling water to sterilize them for ten minutes. At the same time, the sliced ​​cucumbers, onions, vinegar and spices were brought to a boil. Clean jars were filled, lids screwed on, then submerged in boiling water to process for 10 minutes to sterilize and vacuum seal which will preserve contents. That’s it.

Wild honey put together by Chef Daniel Moreno at Kneads Bakery Cafe in Westport.

Wild honey put together by Chef Daniel Moreno at Kneads Bakery Cafe in Westport.

Frank Whitman for Hearst CT Media

Chefs are also getting into canning. At Kneads Bakery Cafe in Westport, Chef Daniel Moreno stocked up canned fruit to use in his baked goods as well as pickles, honey and peppers to use in his dishes.

On a recent visit, he proudly showed me the canned and canned foods from the local farms he set up this summer. Open only a year ago, it has already made brandy cherries, bread and butter pickles, blueberry jam (for filled donuts), canned Jimmy Nardella peppers and honey. Savage. Makes your mouth water, right?

If you’ve been craving pickled or canned specialties but don’t want to take the plunge now, look for Jane’s Good Foods at local farmers’ markets and specialty stores. It offers a range of pickles, fruits and condiments that have a loyal following.

Home canning has never gone away, but it is now experiencing a renaissance. It is not too late to put products in place before the end of the season.

Frank Whitman writes a weekly food column called “Not Bread Alone”. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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