Wednesday, 23 April 2008

another post about food? ummm yup.

Yesterday my friend and I did some canning, or if you like, 'putting up food'. That's what they call it in the southern novel I am reading at the moment. Any Lee Smith fans out there? Can I get an Amen?

Canning is not necessarily for everyone, it is not cost effective unless you have your own fruit trees, or know someone who does, and it takes a long time. But there is something beautiful about this slowness of it all, and I, being a bit of a romantic, am completely wooed by the whole process. It makes me think about generations of woman who have done this careful work out of necessity, and to nourish those they love.

Today, woman's work is sometimes frowned upon (which considering the feminist movement and how hard people had to work/are still working to get equal choice and opportunity, I can kinda understand) but if a woman CHOOSES to do traditional 'woman's work' and is looked down on for it, well that is just the most misogynistic of all.

Okay, okay less talk, more rock. Let me take you through my day of canning, and I will do a general overview of the process for those who have never done it before.


Mayana, my canning buddy, has a generous friend with some organic fruit trees.

Some Grannysmiths for applesauce.

Feijoas to star in our chutney


do this until you develop blisters, which I did.

The humble feijoa, which Lies talked about in her last post, is one of the best NZ fruits. I've heard that the feijoa tree is quite common in other countries but the climate in NZ is uniquely suited to make this tree bear fruit. I also think the inside of the feijoa resembles native Maori artwork. my contacts help block onion fumes, (I am IMMUNE! sorta) so chopping onions for the chutney was my job. (Glasses TRAP the fumes, has anyone else ever notice this?)

3) COOK!

THE APPLESAUCE: add a little water to the pot, and simmer until all the fruit breaks down. then add your sweeteners and spices. we just used honey and cinnamon.

don't forget to stir

when it looks like this, you are almost done!

time to concentrate on the chutney. We used a recipe, kinda. Feijoas, onion, apple cider vinegar, ground peppers, spicy green chilies, salt, lemon juice, green capsicum, diced apples, and raisins. all in varying amounts.

I'm very lucky to have a friend who cooks like me and thinks of recipes as loose guides. A sprinkle of this, a dash of that, then do a taste test and adjust accordingly. And for a change, I wasn't in charge of anything, I was just sous chef taking orders from the one who knows what she is doing.

keep stirring that applesauce

(I put this as step number four but it's really step number 1-6 because you do it the whole time. unless you don't have kids. which I don't usually, but I did this day!)

Happy, check!

happy, Check!


Wash your jars, even if they seem clean. You don't want bacteria growing in your canned goods.

boil your lids!

heat at about 150 C to kill more bacteria

NOTE: If you have children and they are old enough to understand, you might want to say something like this before you start this step "I m going to be very busy for the next little while and I won't be able to look at what you are doing/ get you a drink of anything/ respond to you in anyway. just for 10 mintues. but I still love you. And please stay out of the kitchen "

set them up with a nice activity, or just go ahead and put on a dvd. because IT'S GO TIME!

ok this is such an intense step that I had no free hands for taking photos. just imagine the ponies are hot jars being filled with applesauce and chutney. I know you have a good imagination.

a)take the hot jars out of the oven and fill jars pretty much to the top with your mixture.
b) tap them on the bench top several times to get the air out because air bubbles are canning's number two enemy (number one is bacteria, remember?).
c) take the very hot lids out of the water, wipe clean the rim of your jar, and screw the lids on.
some people then put the jars back into the oven to seal, but we didn't. They self seal from the heat and pressure of mixture. You know the jars are sealed when the lids concave in.


yes you did it! now good gracious go put your feet up, the kitchen can clean it's self! (ok it can't but wouldn't that be lovely?)

I'm off to eat applesauce!

*UPDATE: Vivianne has let me know that I actually mean preserving, not canning, since I am using jars. but of course! what an armateur I am.


Little Miss Flossy said...

What a fabulous day you've had! I'm with you on the contacts thing, my students think onions don't make me cry because I'm, well, old and used to it but contacts are my secret. I've never noticed the inside of a fejoa before, too busy scoffing them LOL

petal said...

What a lovely write-up of the preserving process, makes me want to have a go myself.

Emma said...

Thank you for posting this Kimberlee! It shows that domestic work, coded as women's work is creative and meaningful! I totally agree

Feminists criticise the home as being the site of women's oppression, domination and confinement - not to mention critiques that involve discussions of domestic violence & home as a site of privilege for particular groups of women, namely white and middle class.

There are also many feminists who want to revalue and celebrate the home and women's work within the home. I am one of them! (But I also think its important to be aware of reasons why feminists feel ambivalent).

Unpaid work is just as valuable and important as paid work. And the home itself carries with it, to use Iris Marion Young, "critical liberating potential because it expresses uniquely human values - Safety, Individuation, Privacy, Perservation – oneself & identity."


P.S. A rant was not intended - just observation - well I am tutoring WOMEN 100 so these things are on my mind, you understand.

Vivianne said...

Love the blog, been reading here for some time.

Great canning (only I would call it preserving cause you are using jars, not cans :-) ). I think most people I know are in awe of those of us who still preserve our own food these days, and they love to get some for pressies. I've been drying field mushrooms this week, have to make the most of free bounty, and my fiejoas are not ready yet :-(

Anonymous said...

What a fab posting! Shall I give it a go? Nah, might just read it again instead and pretend it was me making it! Jannelle / Heart Felt /

Fiona said...

Whew! That was a lot of work. I'd thrown in the towel by step no. 2. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the process though. :)

Vivianne said...

Now i feel stink for pointing out that I would call it preserving :-( I'm not always pedantic :-) I was just excited by the notion that someone was going to show pics of real canning (with cans),cause I don't think many people do it anymore :-(

I've tagged you for a Food Quiz. Have a look on my blog for details. Only if you have the time and inclination :-) And only cause I love your blog

kimberlee said...

ha, vivianne no worries. I really don't mind being corrected. I've been puzzling in my mind over what the real canning process would be like too! how do they seal the cans?

cheers and thanks for reading!

Nikki (Mother of the Devil Child) said...

Oh K, hilarious as usual.

Almost inspired me to do some preserving but I have not a lot of fruit and no time to do it. And I'm not sure the devil child would comply with the not-bothering-me bit.