(Black Press file photo)

COLUMN: Feeding the family

It’s a little early to start thinking about canning fruit, but why not plan for it this year?

I was somewhat prepared with the basics at the start of our lockdown: flour, rice and pasta.

What I had neglected to prepare for came into focus as these weeks have dragged on.

Canning, preserving and pickling food that could feed my family.

It’s not that I don’t know how to do these things, I just didn’t find the time last year to haul my canning jars out.

“I will do it next year for sure,” I thought to myself.

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So here I am, opening up the last few jars of raspberry jam and dusting the lids off the peach salsa.

Typically, I would have canned tomatoes, peaches, salsa and pickles. They sure would have come in handy and saved money as well.

Saving money and feeding their families was what a group of mothers (mine included) did when I was growing up.

They formed a co-op and named themselves The Penny Pinchers.

They would order in bulk from a natural foods catalogue. Whole wheat flour, baking powder, coffee, dried beans, etc. And carob.

If you don’t know what carob is, then you certainly did not grow up in the 1970s.

It’s kind of like a “healthier” version of chocolate but in reality not even close.

To say we were traumatized by carob is not an exaggeration.

My siblings and I weren’t dumb. We knew what real chocolate tasted like. Whole wheat carob chip cookies were the stuff of nightmares and we let our mother know it.

But when that is the only sweet treat allowed in the house, we begrudgingly had to eat them.

Reflecting back, those cookies held my parent’s best intentions. Feeding us natural, organic food without preservatives must have taken enormous amounts of time and energy.

As a community, we have a lot of time on our hands right now.

Maybe you are baking bread or attempting a new recipe to keep your family happy and fed. It’s the perfect opportunity to experiment in the kitchen and give them new things to try.

As long as you aren’t sneaking carob powder into the baking and calling it chocolate, then you should be fine.

It’s a little early to start thinking about canning fruit, but why not plan for it this year?

There is nothing better than opening a jar of Okanagan peaches or cherries that you canned yourself. My dad remembers pitting cherries until two o’clock in the morning.

It was a long and messy process, but those cherries tasted amazing.

Older recipes that produced large batches like the ones my parents used are being tailored down into new recipes for small batches. Pitting cherries until the wee hours of morning is no longer necessary.

The e-book, Preserving by the Pint, by Marisa McClellan promises to allow for dabbling in preserving, without committing to a whole shelf of a single type of jam.

The Canning Kitchen, by Amy Bronee, looks good too.

If you have never canned before, download The Farm Girl’s Guide to Preserving the Harvest, by Ann Accetta-Scott.

These titles and more are available through the ORL e-book collection on our website orl.bc.ca. I also searched for a recipe that included carob, but oddly enough couldn’t find one.

Caroline McKay is the community librarian at the Summerland branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.

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