Every once in a while I am surprised by the goals I set for myself. If you had told me 5 years ago, that this would be a passion in my life, I would have laughed out LOUD. But, I guess, when you find yourself at Point C, then getting passionate about what is involved in life at Point C becomes really important. Before I get too philosophical talking about life, the big goal I set for myself this year was to learn to can.
So how in the world did I get to this place of wanting to can? I have to say I have always loved farmers markets, bazaars, and natural produce and have admired my grandparents who both grew their own produce, and canned all the bounty from their summer gardens. I just think that kind of diligence is amazing, and I love that you get the long satisfaction of eating your hard work for months to come. Maybe I like delayed gratification…
Since the idea of locally grown started to make inroads in the US, I really bought into it. It makes sense. Here in Kyrgyzstan it makes even more sense. Since the next closest import country is China, whenever we are talking about produce and canned goods that are imported from there I cringe a little on the inside. Maybe reading the article about the exploding watermelons didn’t help. But since I know that there just simply are not a lot of environmental regulations in China (whether the article is true or not), I would much rather put food in my mouth with quality I can vouch for.
Even if the canned goods are of the highest quality in the winter time, they are still expensive, especially when you compare prices to the fabulous prices of fruits and vegetables in their growing season. How can you lose? When the food is freshest it is cheapest.
And the final reason that this became such a great desire of mine is that I love to see the incredible pride that women in Kyrgyzstan take from canning their own produce. And they should. It is a huge undertaking, so as they set their jars on the table they should be very proud of the work they have done. I figured, if they can do it, so can I. This will be fun.
And challenging… Ok, where to start? First of all, I already know that canning with friends is the only way to go. In fact, when Magevney, LaVena and I compared stories, we discovered that all of our grandmas or moms who have canned can with their sisters and friends. The bonding is part of the satisfaction. Fortunately, I had ready and willing friends to join in the fun. So, the pact had been made: we would learn this together. Now, how to go about learning to can? None of those said grandmas or moms are in Kyrgyzstan. And we wanted to do a hybrid of American canning methods with Russian/Kyrgyz canning supplies. So, how are we going to go about changing the fire-proof method of canning in the US to fit what supplies we have as novice canners? Well, I think I will save the challenges of canning for another blog.