Hi, I’m Chelsea, a stay-at-home wife and mother with a long-time affection for food.
The Short Story
I’ve been canning high-acid foods for years, but THIS year I’m learning to can low-acid foods with my all-new All American pressure cooker! This blog will document my progress in new territory, as well as foray into food preserving techniques I’ve already perfected. I hope you enjoy the journey!
The Long Version
I first learned to can as a child in my mother’s kitchen. We canned peaches, pears, applesauce and tomatoes nearly every fall for most of my younger years. My teens were unpolluted with any activities that didn’t involve boys. In consequence, Mom’s boiling-water canner collected dust in the basement until one fall day some years later. My husband and I were strolling through an apple orchard and the scent of fermenting apples triggered a preserving memory in me. Thrilled with an opportunity to prove myself as a traditional housewife to my new husband (since he remained unconvinced by my cleaning skills), I immediately *ahem* BORROWED my Mom’s canner. That first season back at canning hooked me! I’ve canned all the usual foods nearly every year since then: peaches, tomato sauce, applesauce and jams. Some time later, I also permanently borrowed her food dehydrator and learned to make turkey, venison, and beef jerky, dehydrated apples, bananas, and other fruits.
Preserving has always been about personal satisfaction for me. While I’m preserving, I feel transported back to a time when that was simply what housewives did. It was a natural seasonal activity, like gardening or sewing, that was done to provide for her family. It’s not a necessity today. There’s plenty of people with good intentions who tout words like “frugal”, and “organic” as a reason to preserve foods. I read articles and snippets almost daily about all the ways commercial foods will kill us or turn our children into zombies, and I agree with most of them. But I still don’t preserve food because I should. I do it because of the intense personal satisfaction I get from creating a meal from scratch. I do it because I like the way I feel when I eat a sandwich that’s made with banana peppers I grew myself and canned myself. I like feeling like a prairie mama, like if some day my family is stranded in the wilderness (and I still have access to my canner and dehydrator and, ya know, electricity) that, no worries; we have soup and beef jerky. I preserve food because I feel like it, and unlike most of my other hobbies, this one at least does save us money and happens to be healthy. Lucky me!
That being said, part of my motivation for learning to can low-acid foods does stem from a desire to be healthy. I have a slight obsession with soup. I grew up on Campbell’s soups, and after getting married I always kept our shelves stocked with our favorites. My daughters share my love for the stuff and until recently I never blinked an eye at opening a can for them. But this year I decided to start trying to keep only healthy foods in our house (Doritos are healthy, right?) and one of the biggest offenders in my pantry was canned soup. First of all, canned food contain varying amounts of BPA, plus it’s high in sodium and the ingredient list is laced with words I can’t pronounce. I’ve been freezing homemade soups for years, and that’s been fine, but now I have two little urchins demanding Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup and Chef Boyardee Spaghetti and Meatballs. (Go ahead, judge me. I know I’ve been bad.) By the time I remember that it’s lunch time, I’m frantically trying to thaw frozen soup. I want to can my soups so I can eliminate the thawing process and get right to the heating part. I’m not sure if laziness is a good reason to invest in a pressure canner, but it works for me!
So there you have it. I preserve food to get my daughters to eat a healthy meal, I preserve food to continue my love-affair with soup, and I preserve food so I can pretend I am a prairie mama and wear an apron and my hair in a low bun. (Okay, that last part is an exaggeration. My husband has a strict no-bun policy in our house.)
Feel free to drop me a line or a recipe request! I will happily experiment with anything!
∞ Chelsea Daniels