Wednesday, August 3, 2011

To Can and Can Not




Just as there are certain things we’re born to do, there are certain things we should try only once.

I took a class on canning tonight. It’s good to feel humble now and again – if one doesn’t make a habit of it.

It was kind of like being back in my ceramics class, or flying a plane, when the teacher sort of takes over at some point, spotting disaster. (Here are the teachers, prior to disaster alert.)



I can grow food, my problem is what to do after it’s grown. Here’s Christina -- talented writer, photographer, dedicated teacher, horticulturist, seed-saver, chef, world-traveler, blah-blah-blah. I think she lacks focus.



After learning many things, including that botulism is not detectable by sight or smell, I said, “It seems there are many ways this canning business might kill you.” They laughed. I was serious.

My jars are safe, pretty, because they required little self-participation.

41 comments:

Birdman said...
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Birdman said...

Growing up nana and mom did it. I loved their pickles. And I'm STILL here!

Anonymous said...

Two can and can not.

Kaori said...

I'm an expert canned-goods-taster. Would love to have been there :D

bandit said...

Never was big into canning, despite my Iowegian roots, and having married into family with origins of living on the land. That could change soon, depending on recent developments.

Due to frequent geographical movement, and my own insecurities, I stood on the periphery, often literally or delberately, of any efforts of such a noble and necessary endeavor. Usually, I'd be relegated to the task of lid picker, fishing jar tops from boiling water and carefully placing them on top of each vessel carrying our nature's bounty.

One soon learns the importance of using the right instrument for the job (a pair of tongs)to avoid injury to life and limb, and instilling in oneself the mantra of "right side up", all learnings quickly reinforced by the senior women on the job. Guys, you must always respect the elder ladies, putting aside those petulant, boyish traits, or risk the hazard of a severely bruised ego.

Still, if you perform your duties well, there's always the chance you might shine one day. It's a matter of pride. Who knows, if you're good, keeping focus, you might advance to the position of lefse flipper.

Carolynn said...

Canning & making jam are not, nor will they ever be, on my resume. A. They're too much trouble and B. they're too much trouble.

the good soup said...

Damn about the botulism. I watch my preserved strawberries, all lined up red and pretty and wonder if I'll ever opening them. Was I in an obsessive or careless mood the day I vacuum packed them? I just can't recall.

Linda said...

At least you found a class to take.....I learned by trial, error and death;)

altadenahiker said...

Bandit, you do know your way around the canning kitchen.

Birdman, we made pickles, too.

Kaori, that will be my job from now on.

Carolynn, you forgot C) Too much trouble.

Good Soup, I know! If I made jam solo, I'd label it Death in a Jar.

Petrea Burchard said...

That top photo--whatever that is, don't eat it.

For those who haven't met Christina--she's a pretty woman and normally peaceful, but she's going to strangle Hiker for that photo.

altadenahiker said...

Ah, she'll be ok. I didn't say click to enlarge, plus I've taken her pretty picture many times for Patch.

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

Any time I start thinking about trying my hand at canning, I stumble across a cautionary tale that backs me off those urges. Few as amusing as this one, though. Those who can, can. Those who can't, write.

Petrea Burchard said...

Truly, she does have a sense of humor.

Margaret said...

HA! You big liar! I bet you were the best student in the class. I bet you're at home making jam right now.

bandit said...

Insert "tomatoes" in place of ego".

Trish said...

I have to beg to differ on the statement "botulism is not detectable by sight or smell".

when the body that ingests said product expires, eventually it will start to smell.

just sayin'.

and, I spent every summer, almost always THE FREEKIN HOTTEST WEEKEND ON RECORD, canning with my mother. We didn't have AC, we had fan. I wasn't allowed to hang out in the icebox to cool off and my mother was grumpy, hot and sweaty all weekend. Hence, I dislike the idea of canning, from several decades of experience.

I am sure Christina is a lovely gal, not always looking like she has been shot by a botulism freaked student! ;-)

altadenahiker said...

No, Trish. That's Christina's expression when she realizes, "Damn, it's late and tomorrow I have to climb Mt. Everest."

Bellis said...

What's that green stuff? Vines or hops? I wonder why you were baking those jars in the oven - my granny never did that. Her dill pickles were the best - we'd cycle to a farm and buy raw gherkins and dill, and then work hard for the next few days. They went into a brown crock with mustard seeds and vinegar. Did anyone ever regret the coming of freezers and Trader Joe's?

Paula said...

I see a brine bag, grape leaves, those cute little squat jars that cost a fortune but are totally worth it, and big pots. I've been struggling with canning all summer, learning the ropes and there's a lot to it. I've also been exploring fermentation. I had two different crocks of sauerkraut going and one of them just went to the compost pile, the other is great. I think it takes heart to learn to put food by so don't get discouraged. And if Mme Gramaphone hasn't already mentioned it she's friends with a Master Canner (maybe this is her??). That's right, like a Master Gardener, you can become a State of California certified Mistress of Canning.

KB, if you don't learn to do anything else I encourage you to at least at least learn to make your own preserves, jams, jellies, etc. There's no comparison between them and store bought.

PS I love that glass "crock". I want one! You can also do that kind of individual pickling in wide mouth mason jars. I'll shut up now.

Paula said...

I just checked and Petrea is friends with one of them, "Can All Things" is on her FeeBee profile photo. I don't want to use her name without her permission.

wv hamation
One more good reason to eat meat.

Rob said...

You CAN do it!

Desiree said...

I've love reaping the rewards of other people's canning efforts.

Anonymous said...

We certainly can can-can.

Banjo52 said...

Brava. But I'll stick with Kroger for awhile longer . . .

Christina said...

Ha! That picture of me is hilarious.

And you've hit the nail on the head: lack of focus! That is my husband's biggest complaint about me. I can't do any one thing for more than a couple hours . . ..

Petrea Burchard said...

I'm sure you know her, Karin. She writes for the LA Weekly. If not, I can put you in touch.

Cafe Pasadena said...

Your teacher in the 2nd photo looks like Altadena's Webster. Either that, or you have an uncanny power to make your teacher look like Lori.

I don't know if either Lori or your teacher can go for that. No can do or can do, that is the question.

Cafe Pasadena said...

Editors Helper: "2nd photo" meaning the 3rdfoto, of course!

dbdubya said...

I find it easier to go to Von's and buy it off the shelf.

Mister Earl said...
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Mister Earl said...

Not 100% sure about this, but I'm pretty sure that my people don't can. Canning is for gentiles in the midwest.

Botulism? That's why I pay a "taster" to test everything I eat. Only lost seven of them in 15 years.

altadenahiker said...

Paula, of course you can can. Yes, I think both instructors are master canners. That's something else I learned that night, that there's such a thing as master canner.

DB and Banjo, meet you in the aisle.

Bellis, grape leaves for the pickles. Something about yeast or fermentation.

Terry, coincidence on the posts.

Cafe, hmmm, maybe.

Wonder how we'd go about verifying that, Earl.

bandit said...

Ahh, the Midwest! I'll back Earl on this one.

altadenahiker said...

I googled Kosher Canning but just came up with pickle recipes.

Pat Tillett said...

How is a person supposed to drink whiskey out of a flat and round little mason jar like that?

Bec said...

Canning is one thing that totally intimidates me - all that wax seal, simmer, glass jar stuff seems like chemistry lab. Want to write a guest blog on my site about your canning adventures???

altadenahiker said...

Ha ha, Bec. Better you should write a guest blog on mine re: successful culinary adventures.

OR we both try making the same thing and show our results. That might be funny.

Mister Earl said...

Mostly, we let Manischewitz do whatever canning needs to be done.

Susan Campisi said...

I'm firmly in the can not can camp.

Trish said...

Hiker---well, gee, am glad Christina doesn't try to do TOO much! ;-)

I think a search for "kosher canning" includes a link to the 2nd Ave Deli in NYC.

Bec said...

I'm game for making the same thing if you come up with the idea :) Like I said, canning sort of baffles me and nothing edible lasts very long around here!