I have this wonderful childhood memory of going to see my Grandma on weekends after school started and invariably spying several quart jars of dill pickles soaking on the front porch. It meant that she had spent countless hours working alongside my Aunt in the tiny kitchen, and we would be driving home with these oh so sour, crunchy pickles, together with instructions to shake the jars periodically and let them sit for several more days before opening.
It’s a great memory and every year around this time, I visit the farmers’ market and when I see the baskets of cucumbers, I smile to myself and remember the sight of those delicious, homemade pickles. Lately, I’ve contemplated making my own pickles and I have learned that everything I would need is available close to home.
Toronto-based food author Sarah B. Hood, author of ‘We Sure Can!‘ – a book about the art of preserving food – says there are several reasons why many of us are drawn to the age-old tradition of preserving food:
It can save you money
One of the biggest money savers when it comes to preserving, is tomato sauce.Even cheap tomato sauce can cost $3 a jar. And if you go to a place where they make it from scratch, it will be even more. Amazing-tasting tomato sauce can be made at home for less than $2 a jar.
You can eat local all year long
More and more people now take a bigger interest in what they eat, where it comes from and how it is grown. Preserving lets you have greater control over that. You can take home baskets of fresh vegetables from a local farmers’ market for a reasonable price, preserve it in jars and enjoy your wares all winter.
You’ll be making cool presents
When Christmas rolls around, your labour of love will be all you need to give. Just think of the hours of shopping and waiting in line that you’ll save!
Gaynor Radcliffe, of Lakeview Gardens in Innisfil, says the key to success when pickling or preserving is starting small just like she did in her kitchen a few decades ago.
“It can be a lot of work, but once you are done and you look around at what you have, it is definitely worth it,” Radcliffe said.
And she knows what she’s talking about. After all, the Radcliffe family has been growing flowers, vegetables and herbs at their farm on Killarney Beach Road for decades and the jams and jellies created in her kitchen are sought after by locals looking for something delicious.
“My advice is to start small, follow the recipes exactly and make sure you have the right equipment to do the job right,” Radcliffe advised, also suggesting a trip to a local farmers’ market where cucumbers, tomatoes, beans and other produce will be in abundance throughout September.
by Robin MacLennan
Barrie Farmers Market
Innisfil Farmers Market
Orillia Farmers Market
Barrie Hill Farms