Preserving Food

Years ago we planted fruit trees and grape vines. The person who planted those things was one who did lots of home canning both for personal enjoyment and as part of a frugal lifestyle. Then I became a person who did not have time for canning. I was too busy with piles of other things to can more than occasionally. One of the unexpected things that 2020 has brought is the return of food preservation. It isn’t surprising really since I’ve spent significantly more time managing food resources since the beginning of quarantimes. We’ve been rotating our food stocks and making sure things are replaced as they are used. Noticing that the grapes are ripe and making plans to store them for later falls right into that food management process. So far we’ve put up two batches of grape juice, one batch of home made raisins, and one batch of pear butter. I’ve got some cooking pumpkins waiting to be turned into puree for making pies and pumpkin bread. The grape vines are still covered, so I’ve looked up a recipe for a savory compote. It is a cherry compote, but I’m going to see if it works with grapes.

I am not the only one with a renewed interest in home canning. The shelves were bare when I went looking for more mason jars. I was fortunate enough to grab some quart jars, which I’m going to need because the grape vines are still loaded. The reason I have time to delve back into home canning is that much of the actual labor of it has been off-loaded onto my in-house assistants. Two young adults with a vested interest in getting a paycheck are much better at getting the work done than they were as younger children whose Mom just asked them to work. Is all this home canning economical? Am I saving money? Probably not. In my very frugal years I did the math and home canning saved money only if I already had the jars and equipment and if the fruit was free. Also, you have to squint hard at the fruit being “free” because owning grape vines or fruit trees means vine/tree related chores. There are hours spend pruning and tending. Time-spent is a cost, even if it isn’t measured in dollars. However it does deliver flavors and foods that simply aren’t available in commercially produced products.

Mostly I know that there is something deeply soothing in preserving food for later use. It speaks to the panicky portions of my brain that want to be assured that no matter what happens we’ll be able to eat. It may not make sense financially, but I’ll take small reassurances and happiness where I can find them.