Get Pickled: Canning Makes a Comeback

Categories: Food & Health
Posted on Friday, July 24th, 2009 at 2:51 am by dpacheco

If you’re a fan of living, probiotic superfoods like yogurt, kimchee, or any number of pickled vegetables, this article’s for you.

Vancouver’s Straight.com offers a few tips on canning fermented foods for yourself and your loved ones, and gives a much-appreciated shout-out to two of our DIY guides for the budget gourmand: Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning: by the farmers and gardeners of Terre Vivante and Wild Fermentation: by Sandor Katz.

Self-described “food geek” Andrea Potter is the queen of cool canning in Vancouver. But as innovative, hip things often do, it started by accident.

“I made this raspberry coulis at a restaurant I was working at,” she told the Georgia Straight. “After a few days, it got kind of fizzy. I thought it was lovely, kind of neat-tasting. But the chef said, ‘That’s rancid! Throw it out.’ That’s when I started learning about aged sausages, sourdough bread, miso, sauerkraut, and I really got into this book.”

The book she’s referring to is Wild Fermentation: the Flavour, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (Chelsea Green, 2003). For those who are part of the burgeoning DIY foodie culture, it’s a paperback bible on the 21st-century version of home-based food preservation.

As the head chef at Radha Yoga & Eatery, Potter’s got the food-safety background to responsibly lead a new revolution of an old craft. Fermenting, she said, looks a lot like old-style canning. But instead of an OCD-like focus on sterilized jars, she claims that a finger straying into a jar of ginger beer won’t kill off your nearest and dearest.

In addition, unlike regular canning, in which food is boiled until all bacteria—good and bad—die, fermenting means food is still alive with enzymes, probiotic bacteria, and other goodies. Potter claims her kombucha (a fermented tea) can “battle pathogens”. […]

For those with limited patience, an easy way of preserving fruit is to dump booze on it. The basic technique is to start with a clean jar, layer fruit and white sugar in equal amounts, pour rum or another type of alcohol over the whole thing, and twist on a lid. Voilà—totally doable in a condo kitchen. (For detailed instructions, check out Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation [Chelsea Green, 2007].)

For Potter and McDonald, with the best of the region’s produce bursting into markets and stores, canning is as relevant today as ever. Plus, a can made in July is one less present to buy come December.

Read the whole article here.

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