There’s something intensely satisfying about standing in front of shelves and shelves of goods you preserved yourself. Or tasting a recipe you threw together on a whim and realizing it’s fantastic. These are only a couple of the reasons why I can, but they’re the two that stand out the most for me as we come up on the beginning of the produce season here in Canada. It won’t be too long until the first tender spears of asparagus start poking through the soil, after all!
Canning is more than a hobby for me. Putting up my own food has become an integral part of my personality. I like knowing that even if catastrophe happens – we find ourselves without an income or there’s an extended power outage, I still have plenty of food put by to feed my family. I like knowing that it came from local farms and producers, and that I inspected every ingredient for freshness. And maybe more than anything, I like the quiet mindfulness my mind sinks into when I’m canning – almost a meditation – where I can let my mind run free as my hands perform the same motions over and over. That escape from the everyday burdens of life, deep into my imagination, is where I often wind up finding ideas and solutions for another facet of my life – writing. The two are not so dissimilar: like any art form, both involve creation, hard work, a great deal of learning and practise and in the end, something you can be proud of.
Far from leaving me exhausted, spending hours – days even – in this state is rejuvenating, and always leaves me looking forward to the next time (although at the end of blanching and peeling some 150lbs of tomatoes, I often swear I never want to see another nightshade again). Canning is what I do to relax. The fact that you get delicious food out of it is just a bonus. And those jars sure do look pretty all lined up like that.