August 22, 2020

Small process candied jalapenos

Cowboy Candy (candied jalapeno peppers)
Living in the year 2020 has meant I've needed to become determinedly focused on the items in my pantry and freezer. While I can't expand the space inside my freezer, I've been quite able to expand the space allotted to pantry items. 

We've been processing small batches of fresh produce. It's not enough to get us through to next year, but it is laying the groundwork for future seasons. Canning jars are more expensive than ever. A pressure canner now costs $100 and up, although I'm not sure I'm going that route. My great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother only ever water-bath canned and nobody died from food poisoning. If the contents of a jar looked bad, 
which it rarely did, the contents were dumped on the compost pile. And still, nobody died from the compost. 

Food canning isn't new. I confess I didn't pay enough attention to my grandmother when she was deep into the canning season. But maybe I picked up more information than I thought. The canning process isn't foreign to me. 

Here on the manor, we take the time to plan our next steps in managing our resources be it a cash outlay or spending our time. It will take time to build up a reserve of canning jars, but it will be worth it in the end. This weekend I was able to obtain a small number of jalapeno peppers which made two pints of Cowboy Candy (candied jalapenos). It may not sound like much, but it helped reacquaint me with the canning process. Planning ahead, I'll plant my own pepper patch next season and be able to make more than two pints.

While none of my foremothers probably ever touched a jalapeno (much less ate one), I like feeling a connection to something that was an important part of their summers. For my great-grandmother, canning meant having food available for a year. In her day, one didn't just zip off to the grocery store in a heated automobile in the middle of January. For my grandmother, canning preserved the bountiful harvests my grandfather provided. They made it through the Great Depression because of those harvests, and she was able to share with family and neighbors in need. In later years, she shared part of the harvest with my mother and me. 

My mother canned because she liked to have better fruit available. She was also a fan of jellies and jams and we had a lot of those on hand. In my mother's time, hopping into the car and going to town for groceries was easier than canning and preserving. Grocery shopping was her norm, and so it's been in my time up until The Year of Our Lord 2020. 

We've already started to be more aware of what is in the products we purchase to eat and taken steps to reduce food additives. This year has opened our eyes to how fragile our supply lines are. So now I make plans and take steps to preserve our life here on the manor, one jar at a time. May that life remain fruitful. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor

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