Monday, August 1, 2011

a meditation on canning

I have decided that I really need some open shelving in the kitchen. I don't have decorative dishes or a teapot collection to prop up, but I do have jars of pretty food that just seem a crying shame to hide away in the basement.

During our last few years in Indiana, the boys and I worked every wednesday morning at a local CSA, coming home loaded down with overflowing baskets and bags of produce. We ate it raw and sautéed and smoothied and baked, and we spent all day thursday stuffing what was left into jars. Every batch went straight from stovetop to cooling rack to the recesses of the storage closet. And while I knew I had put up dozens of jars, glancing around the kitchen you would never have guessed they were there.

At the end of the canning run our last year in Indiana, my husband wanted to see the goods all together in the open. He dug through the closet and brought out every jar. By the time he got to the early strawberry jam the entire dinner table was filled. The effect was amazing. Such a sense of abundance and accomplishment, such a stunning array of color and shape. Modern art at its finest; old-school at the roots.

And all of a sudden all I wanted to do was line the walls with an evolving series of brass-capped jars.

We moved to Colorado a year ago this week, six days after the baby was born. Needless to say, I didn't do much at the CSA that summer, and I didn't put up any jars to haul across the country. For the first time in a decade we spent a winter with store-bought jam. No homemade pickles, no bottled peaches, no pomegranate jelly.

And no open shelf exploding with color.

But this summer the garden is coming up and the farmer's markets are stocked. I put up the first batch of early strawberry jam last month. Time to look for some shelving.

What do you think? Would you decorate with pickled beets and applesauce? And is there a store jam out there remotely acceptable to a homemade-addicted palate? It's going to take awhile to rebuild my stock . . .


  1. Love it. You should definitely decorate your kitchen with this.

  2. There really is nothing more stunning in a kitchen than rows and rows of canned goods.

    I don't think I've ever felt a greater sense of satisfaction than looking at our closet stuffed with jars of salsa and applesauce.

    A few years of one year jobs has put canning on hold. Hopefully I'll be able to pick it up again soon.

    I'd love to see the result of your canning this year!