CSA’s, Canning and Preserving

Fall brings on so many wonderful things: the leaves start to change color, the temperature dips, the air becomes crisp and refreshing even in 20 degree sunshine, people start to slow down a bit and become less manic about getting wasted on patios. You know, that sort of stuff. It is also the time for harvest and a winding down of most vegetable gardens. People tend to go indoors and start preparing for winter. So what did our ancestors do to prepare for winter? They canned and preserved meats and vegetables so that during those frigid winter months they could still eat vegetables and fruits that had been preserved during the spring and summer months. This is not a new craft, not even a little, so when a few years ago my best friend moved out to the suburbs and started having babies. What she also started to do was talk about canning and preserving. I always took it for granted that I would go out to my grandparents place or my parents place and come home with jars of pickles, beets, carrots, jams, jellies, beans, gosh – you name it. So when my friend, who I had known as a young twenty-something living the high life in a very urban setting, started canning, I was sort of shocked into the realization that, ‘whoa. Yea, people do preserve stuff. And it is not only a really cool craft but uber practical’. Alright, fast forward to last year. I met a lady who has a garden near Carstairs. Now this lady is married to a very successful man in the city, they do lots of philanthropic work, and so they don’t have to grow their own food, nor do they have to preserve it. But the story that came out next was how she grows enough food for herself and husband, three grown children who have amongst them 5 children. They get together a couple times throughout the summer to preserve much of the food they procure from a little family-sized garden plot. Thus, I decided to do an episode on Canning, Preserving & CSA’s. So I spoke with Brenda Vrieslaar of Noble Gardens a CSA outside of Calgary, http://www.noblegardenscsa.com/  Bruce Berry of Almost Urban Vegetables just on the edge of Winnipeg, http://www.almosturbanvegetables.com/ about what a CSA is, and really how much produce comes from just a little bit of land. It is pretty incredible.

I wondered what would I do if I had access to all that produce. Well, I think it would be prudent to preserve a lot of it, time permitting of course. So I wanted to find out about canning. I spoke with Brenda Lerner of Jammin’ It, a kiosk at the Kingsland Farmer’s Market  http://kfmcalgary.com/ . Brenda brought in a couple jars of preserves for us, which we have devoured already. I also wanted to talk to someone who has been canning for her whole life as a hobby. Ellen Kelly from the City Palate http://citypalate.ca/ was gracious enough to chat with us about her experience growing up in the Waterton Lake and Calgary areas, and how she learned to can and preserve with her Grandmother. I just loved speaking with Ellen, I felt like I was speaking with a more approachable Martha Stewart.

And then finally, my good friend Geoff Rogers, former Executive Chef at Home Tasting Room, who basically brought back the trend of using preserves in restaurants, chatted with us about how preserves are not just a granny sport or homemaker’s hobby. Chef Rogers is now in the planning and development stages of a new restaurant he is opening on 17th Avenue called Market. It is slated to open in the New Year.

Also, something to note, Julie Van Rosendaal, Geoff Rogers and myself are planning on offering a canning & preserving class.  Truth be told, I will just be there getting in the way most likely, but here is a chance to learn how to can and preserve from the best! Check back for more information.