This week, I’ve been trying my damnedest to practice being in the moment, being grateful, and using what I have. Oh, so Zen-like. August has this effect on me, with its reminder that summer is waning and the light is shifting and the garden is giving up its produce for anyone who’s paying attention.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time these past few months not just gardening, but reading about food production, health, and pesticides, and agricultural policies made interesting by people like Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver. I’ve thought about what it means to grow our own food and preserve it for the winter months ahead. Are we using what this place offers to the best of our abilities and in ways that are kind to the environment?
Anyone who has paid attention to the idea of sustainability asks themselves that question over and over. In my case, it sometimes gets phrased as, “Do I really need to go through the Taco Bell drive-thru when I have a fresh tomato from my garden that will make a perfectly good sandwich?”
Sometimes sustainability questions are pretty simple.
Anyway, yesterday, I took finally took my own garden’s produce and learned to can. I come from a family who didn’t grow food or preserve it while I was growing up, although I was surprised to recently learn that my mother canned food before I was born. (Really? My mom occasionally burned Totino’s Pizza on Saturday nights because she just plain didn’t want to stand in the kitchen long enough to watch it in the oven. She really preferred going out.) It’s no surprise to me that I don’t know how to do a lot of things related to growing and preserving food or that I’ve come to this so late in my life.
But at least I got here. And I’m growing cucumbers that are the most prolific things I’ve ever seen that aren’t rabbits.
So I started my own canning lessons with the cucumbers. Yesterday, I canned my first pickles. I followed advice I had heard that the best pickles are made from cucumbers picked that day, so off I went in the morning and gathered these: