The concept of homesteading has grown in popularity to near fever pitch in foodie hot spots such as San Fransisco and Brooklyn. Here in Buffalo, we’re playing catch-up, but there’s no shame in that. Being slightly behind the curve on food trends, like most inland U.S. cities, gives us the ability to study and research what others have done, glean from them what we can and craft our own variations.
A handful of years ago, people would have thought the idea of raising chickens in a Buffalo backyard absurd, or driving to a farm for more than an annual apple cider and doughnut run a waste of time. Today, backyard chickens are legal, urban farms and farmers markets are popping up left and right, and people are teaching themselves to do many of the things that modern conveniences have outmoded for the past few decades. Seems these days that making jam, growing vegetables, curing bacon and even raising a few feathered friends are the chosen hobbies of many. Whether the motivation is purely improved flavor, the sense of pride and accomplishment one receives, or the security imparted by knowing where your food comes from, homesteading is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
In that vein, classes which focus on homesteading skills are also popular, fueling the urban warrior within and rousting memories of Girl Scout badges and early Martha Stewart episodes. Lexington Co-op has chosen Artisan Kitchens & Baths loft showroom to teach some affordable and simple canning classes this summer. The schedule (below) includes pickling and canning, both worthwhile programs. Canning can seem cost prohibitive at start-up, but I’ve found very affordable supplies here in the city at Wegmans, and garage sales are a good bet, too.
I know so many people who have begun canning this year, and many others who have done it for ages. Buffalo Rising’s Food channel has decided to host a Pickle Swap Party, and we hope you’ll consider joining us. First and foremost it is important that any newbie make sure they follow a reliable, approved recipe–winging it can result in serious (even deadly) food poisoning issues. Reliable recipes can be found in any of the books produced by the Ball Jar Company (who, incidentally, produced their first glass jars here in Buffalo, but that’s a story for another day), and also on the website of the Cornell Co-operative Extension. If you’re really intimidated by the process, sign up for one of Lexington Co-op’s classes–you won’t believe how simple it is!
Our Buffalo Rising Pickle Swap Party will take place on a weeknight in late September. Participants will be asked to bring three jars of any item they have recently canned, pickled or otherwise preserved themselves (for this project, preservation by freezing will not qualify). A $5 entry fee per participant (not per jar) will help us cover costs.
At the party, each participant will crack one of their three jars, serving samples of their preserved masterpiece to guests and a panel of judges who will pick the best items representing specific categories. Additionally, each guest will be allowed to “swap” their two remaining jars for the jars of others. Jars must be a minimum of 8oz. in size and signing a waiver will be required by all parties.
We know September is a way off, but we wanted to give you fair warning as you plot and plan, prepare and purchase your items for canning this summer. Applesauce, canned tomatoes, pickled hot peppers, preserved lemons, strawberry jam, peaches in syrup, kimchi–it’s your call. More details will be disclosed as the summer progresses. Check us out on the 24th of each month for news and updates, maybe even a recipe or two. We hope that you and your foodie friends will join us!
Please use the Facebook share and Re-Tweet buttons at the bottom of this article to help us spread the word!