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The Clean Air Partnership is a registered charity, founded in 2000. Our mission is to work with partners to achieve clean air, facilitate the exchange of ideas, advance change and promote and coordinate implementation of actions that improve local air quality.

“Revenge of the Root Cellar” or “Yes, We Can!”

There’s been a quiet revolution going on the kitchens across Canada. As people start to go to farmers markets more and more, they get to know their farmers. They grow accustomed to the delicious bounty that the harvest brings in, and sometimes, if you’re like me, the harvest goes to your head, and in a moment of weakness you buy an entire bushel of tomatoes.

More and more people are starting to buy large quantities of fresh food at harvest time. Quantities that they could never eat before the produce went bad. So people are turning to an art that had previously been relegated to the kitchens of our grandparents. A new generation of people in the GTHA are taking up an interest in canning, myself included. Now I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I love local food, so this just seemed the next logical progression. One of the things I’ve discovered since I made my first foray into the world of canning last year is that once you start, you quickly become addicted to canning.

Last year I started with my own ketchup and a few jars of tomatoes, peaches and pears. This year, I’ve made tomato sauce, ketchup, 2 batches of tomato salsa, a peach cilantro salsa, pear jam, peach jam, a habanero hot sauce, a boatload of pickles and even a small jar of pickled eggs. And I’m not done yet.

From left, mixed pickles, ketchup, tomato sauce and of course pickled eggs!

The coolest thing about this is that I’m not the only one who’s in on the canning revival. There’s a canning co-op in Toronto, more and more local restaurants and shops are carrying locally produced or house-made preserves, and there’s a new wave of cookbooks that focus on new takes on classic canning recipes and techniques. Two of my favorites are The Harrow Fair Cookbook and Canning For a New Generation, but there are so many out there now it’s hard to choose.

The results of an afternoon of canning. Makes you feel very productive when you can measure how much food you’ve prepared using square footage!

So why are people getting on board with canning? With 79 cent cans of tomatoes at every supermarket, it’s certainly not any cheaper to can your own, and it is much more time consuming. For me and the people I can with, it’s a desire to reconnect with our food. There’s something tremendously satisfying about knowing where your food has been every step of the way, about shaking the hand of the farmer who harvested it, and about preserving the great flavors that our region has to offer. It’s also about supporting our local economy, providing farmers with a market for their food that pays them a fair price for all their hard work. There’s also a community building aspect to canning; each canning day is an event unto itself where neighbors get together with a common goal and make food that is shared within the community.

My cellar, where I keep all my preserves. There’s nothing better than opening a jar of tomato sauce and savouring the flavours of the summer in the middle of the winter.

So I say to you, go out and find a recipe for something you want to preserve. There’s lots of recipes online, or you could always check out a book on preserving from your local library. Ask your parents or grandparents if you can borrow their canner (I’m sure they have one somewhere), head down to the nearest farmers market and buy a whole bunch of whatever you want to preserve. Then in February, when the taste of real, fresh produce is becoming a distant memory, crack that jar open and indulge yourself with the flavors of the harvest. Your future self will thank you.

Until next time, happy preserving!

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3 Comments on ““Revenge of the Root Cellar” or “Yes, We Can!””

  1. Seasonsgirl October 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    Pickled eggs… didn’t think of that… even with our chickens and the egss it never occured to me 🙂 Do you use them for anything outside of eating ?

    • cleanairpartnership October 15, 2012 at 9:38 am #

      Nope, just used them as tasty snacks! I didn’t even think of using them in a recipe, so now I’m going to get out and do some research on how to use them!

      • Seasonsgirl October 15, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

        Let me know what you find 🙂

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