The joy of growing, canning and preserving our food

'Can't be wasting!'

I am a product of my upbringing.

The tales of root cellars where everything was preserved, my grampa's stories of living during the war when things were rationed and the prevalence of farm culture from both my parents' Prairie heritage—all these elements combined with those Little House on the Prairie volumes in my head to make me thrifty in the kitchen.

Gramps used to say, when I politely refused the last morsel, "Can't be wasting!” and I would capitulate.

My parents would refer to those starving kids in Africa to get me to finish what was on my plate. I often wondered, did they like sandwich crusts?

This time of year is when we work to save and store. It's the end of harvest of course, so it's a mad dash to make sure as little is wasted as possible.

Some of the bounty doesn't get used - it's impossible to eat it all, even when we share. But I am heartened when I remember my farmer neighbour's words: “Everything going back to the ground helps the soil for the following year.” Mother Nature provides.

We have dried fruit and herbs, canned chutney and jam, made hot sauce and kimchi and infused vinegars and oils. I have baked bread and pies and zucchini loaves. I have roasted squash and tomatoes and put them in the freezer. My last effort was to plan menus for the next couple of weeks so we can use the last of the arugula, cucumbers and green tomatoes.

It can be exhausting. I have new admiration for the pioneer housewives and their fortitude in the face of such a daunting task—providing a variety of flavours for a household through a cold, dark winter.

Before there were OXO cubes, Heinz ketchup and Classico pasta sauce, there were just the amazing women who kept everyone from losing their minds over endless bowls of turnip soup and boiled potatoes with mutton.

I’m sure many of you might think me crazy, or perhaps you admire my efforts but have no desire to do any preserving or drying of food. In our world today there is no urgent need to do any of this on a home scale, as it’s all available commercially.

My raisins come from grapes I pick, washed and sorted over the course of an evening. They take about 40 hours in my dehydrator. My motivation is in the satisfaction of harvesting what I grew. That, and they are the most delicious raisins I’ve ever eaten.

As we head into winter and lose much of our local produce, I am hoping this offers a nod to the farmers who provide us with so much bounty.

If we respect the food we eat and recognize the work it took to grow it, then that qualifies as not wasting our thoughts.

Just because it’s easy to obtain it all now doesn’t mean we need to take it for granted.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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