(No, it’s not a dance.)

The first “can” is for all the things Heritage Homestead wants to accomplish, and what we currently can do. We have many ambitions that include teaching, a retail presence, and CSAs. Most of that still falls under the “can’t yet” column, but we decided earlier this year that we wanted to help a family with a free CSA for 2017. That was definitely a CAN. So far, we have been able to supply them with eggs, salad greens, scallions, and strawberries—and both they and we are excited to see what else the garden yields!

Early next year, we will be asking you again, through our website and Facebook, to nominate families for the free 2018 CSA. If you don’t follow us, be sure to check in then.

So, on to the second CAN … which actually represents a verb: to can—i.e., food preservation. What better time to talk about canning than when our local farmers’ markets are filled with fresh, local choices in abundance, and our gardens are in full bloom and ready to produce way more produce than we can use.

If canning is already a part of your harvest season, I say kudos! It’s a great old tradition that is being revisited by many—as well it should be. Keep up the good work and be sure to teach someone else.

If canning is a new idea for you, I recommend you put a little forethought into it. After all, it is very important, when dealing with your family’s food, that you know what precautions to take.

For the tech reliant among you, there is endless amounts of information available through a simple Google search. My favorite results include: motherearthnews.com, pickyourown.org, and freshpreserving.com.

The last is sponsored by Ball and Kerr (two of the major producers of canning equipment and supplies). It is a great source of detailed instructions for a beginner. Also, since it’s sponsored by these companies, you can get a look at all the equipment available and prices.

But if you’re like me, and you just end up printing everything anyway, I would recommend you purchase a book. The Ball Blue Book, currently in its 37th edition and available just about everywhere you can buy canning jars, costs around $10, and is an excellent place to begin. It’s an easy-to-understand guide to the basics. And, even though I’ve been canning at least as many years as the number of times this book has been revised, I still refer back to mine.

You will find out through your first investigations that a great deal of money can be invested in home preservation. I recommend you begin with a box of jars and a stock pot you already own or can borrow. Make salsa or soup and process your jars in a water bath, according to the recipe of your choosing. These easy, high-success foods are a great way to get your feet wet before investing in the endless array of tools, a pressure canner, countless books, and more.

A little warning here: it’s a great feeling of accomplishment when you hear the “pop” of those jars sealing—a feeling revisited on a cold winter day when you open those jars of soup that taste like summer. And, there is a true artistic beauty to shelves of canned green beans, tomatoes, and peaches. They are a reminder of a time when people turned necessary work into a passionate expression.

— Sue has raised four adults: two sons and two daughters. She has three grandchildren, all boys! She is a published poet, an artist, and most recently, a barista. Find out more at Heritage Homestead on Facebook and online here.

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