Fall is a great time of year in West Virginia. In fact leaf color is peaking right around now around Cedar Creek. It’s a perfect time for a rural drive. It is also harvest time in gardens around the state and people are getting out their pressure cookers (reviews on this page: http://ricecookergoodness.com/best-pressure-cooker/ – looks like the All American Pressure Cooker/Canner is the best choice) to put food up for the winter. My mother was big on canning and now that I’m a little older I can see it has its benefits. Back when I was a kid it was just this annoying chaos taking over the kitchen! It’s especially good to can if you have your own garden and can control the pesticides and fertilizers that you put on (or don’t put on) your crops. I love having canned peaches and apples — two of West Virginia’s best canning crops — all winter. If you have a peach tree or two on your property make the effort to preserve some, you’ll be happy you did come mid-winter.
Here’s a few reasons to get a good large pressure cooker, some preserve jars, and take the time to do some canning:
- Taste – this is the biggest one for me! Fresh from the garden right to the mason jar makes for maximum yumminess.
- Poverty – I can afford fresh produce from the grocery store, but some folks can’t. Canning/preserves is very economical if you have all the equipment and you have food grown on your own land at little to no cost.
- Generosity – nothing says “I give a damn about you!” like a jar or two of home-made preserves (especially jam)! When in doubt at Christmas time give a jar of something and you will be sure to please.
- Waste not Want not – if you have a high-producing WV garden like my mom did you won’t be able to eat everything as it ripens. You won’t even be able to give all away! Canning the excess as it comes means no throwing perfectly good food into the compost.
- You’ll feel good about it – There’s something really satisfying about taking care of your own food with your own hands and connecting to the land and the earth. Making preserves is kind of a back to basics, down-to-earth activity.
- Good for the planet – Connected to the last point is that you won’t be buying food that’s been trucked in or flown in from a thousand miles away. This is obviously good for freshness but also reduces all those nasty carbon emissions we are so worried about.
- Health – as mentioned earlier, if you are canning your own food you need not be concerned about what chemicals have been used to grown them and what chemicals have been used to keep the pests off. Usually it is better to avoid ingesting chemicals and additives if possible.
- My mom did it – Yep, I can be a sentimental guy at times.
So there you have it. If you aren’t a canner already the first step to getting the necessary gear is to purchase a large electric pressure cooker http://ricecookergoodness.com/electric-pressure-cooker/ or regular pressure cooker and a bunch of mason jars. After that it’s not too hard. A good web search will get you all the info you need to successfully copy your mom.