Plan, prepare and preserve

di Priscilla Pajdo del October 19, 2020

TORONTO - We are just finishing up with our harvest and like many Italians, the tomatoes, eggplants and a myriad of tasty fruits and vegetables have been preserved in jars for use throughout the year. There is nothing more satisfying than a fully stocked pantry, especially if it one in your own home. This year, there may be more homemade preserves filling the shelves.

Growing up, I remember our family’s pantry contained rows of glass jars filled with a wide assortment of fruits, vegetables and legumes. This came in handy throughout the year, especially during the winter months when the costs tend to increase for out of season produce.

When the pandemic hit earlier in the year, Canadians put more focus in making homecooked meals. By mid March, grocery sales had increased by 36% compared to their average sales in 2019, according to Statistics Canada. In the midst of a global health crisis, Canadians not only stocked their shelves with disinfectant and toilet paper, but with food as well.

During the months of “lockdown” and with restaurants mostly shuttered, people were using some of their newfound downtime in their own kitchens being creative. Some of this creativity extended out into gardens as the weather warmed.

Even seed retailers across Canada were overwhelmed with online orders in the spring. Both seasoned and budding “green thumbs” turned to planting seeds in their backyards, balconies or community gardens as a source of fresh vegetables.

There is something gratifying about planting and growing your own food. That, along with genuine concerns over food insecurity and the cost of groceries has prompted people to find ways at becoming more self-su.cient. Especially, since food prices this year are more of a challenge to forecast, said Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, Senior Director of the Agri- Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University.

Harvesting the bountiful produce grown in the garden over the season and buying fresh produce when the price is right can sometimes leave you with more food than you bargained for. This is when properly preserving your bounty, for later use, is a wise and resourceful plan.

Now, as more people are turning to this pandemic-fueled canning trend, it has become harder to find the appropriate jars and lids.

The scarcity of canning supplies has put many in a sort of “pickle” without the proper vessels to preserve their tasty goods. Due to the demand for preserving items, many retailers are experiencing shortages. Thankfully, I was able to reuse some of my glass jars; however, replacing the single-use lids has become a challenge. The lids have a rubber seal that after one use, do not ensure a safe seal if used again, those are hard to come by.

For those who were lucky enough to procure the necessary supplies, a pantry full of jarred tomato sauce, pickles, jams and a wide assortment of provisions await a tempted tummy. Different creative methods such as freezing and dehydrating are other alternatives to preserving food.

A well stocked larder can help give people a sense of security. Especially as coronavirus cases are on the rise and more regions scale back to re-imposed restrictions to mitigate the spread.

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