May 30, 2012 by
Last year my keen interest in local food inspired me to grow some of my own. I asked my husband to build me a garden box in our wee townhouse backyard. I enthusiastically (i.e. with no forethought or planning) planted tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, chilies, and a few other items in a 3' x 5' box. Needless to say, that didn’t work out so well (while I did get a ton of tomatoes, they killed everything else I planted).
This year I am determined to reap a successful harvest, so I consulted a friend's father who has a passion for all things gardening. He gave me some pointers on the quantity of items to plant and how to lay out the box to maximize returns. In addition to my little backyard box, I signed up for a 10'x22' plot at a local community garden. For someone used to balconies and small yards, it’s making me feel like a full on farmer! This week I put in a wide range of vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, lettuces, herbs, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, cucumbers, zucchini, carrots, beans and peas. I spend hours daydreaming about the wheelbarrows full of vegetables I will take home, beaming with pride at my self-sufficiency.
Wait...we are only a two-person household...and my husband won’t even eat broccoli! What to do with all the fruits of my labour to ensure we enjoy them into the fall and beyond?
Learn to preserve!
Canning and preserving your own food is a great way to save money while also ensuring that you and your family consume local, healthy, additive-free foods. The process of canning food is not difficult, but there are proper methods to ensure the food you make is both delicious and safe to eat. Unfortunately, over the last century as more and more people turned to modern convenience of pre-packaged foods, these skills aren't as common as they used to be. Thankfully, the Culinary Studio on Belmont Street in Kitchener has your back!
On the 2nd Thursday of each month from June until September they are offering a class to teach preserving techniques with local produce. Both sweet and savoury preservation such as pickling, salsa making, chutneys and jams will be taught, resulting in 3-4 different types of preserves. They will present classic as well as unique pickling recipes, and discuss and taste what they can be used for. Hope to see you there!
Recipes subject to change slightly, based on produce availability.
Light, seasonal snacks will be provided. Each class is $75, or all 4 (June 14th, July 12th, August 9th and September 13th) is $250.
JUNE: Pickled Asparagus, Strawberry Balsamic Jam, Preserved Lemons, Tomato-Vegetable Relish
JULY: Canned 'Elmira' Cherry Tomatoes and Basil, Classic 'Chow Chow', Peach-Vanilla Chutney
AUGUST: Smoked Pickled Peppers, As-Hot-As-You-Like Salsa, Pickled Baby Carrots and Classic Dills
SEPTEMBER: Caramel Onions Aigre-Doux, Apple-Plum Love Chutney, Smoked Apple Butter
Make your grandma proud, visit the Culinary Studio website today to register!
Michelle Sullivan lives in Kitchener and is passionate about all things food related and about sustainable, healthy living.