Friday, September 12, 2008

Canning fever

We've been getting reports of a mysterious illness sweeping the Southern Tier. The symptoms are varied but unmistakable, and seem strange and often baffling to all those not affected.

A telltale sign: hoarding vast quantities of fresh produce in one's car.

The desire to have a perpetually simmering kettle on the stove:

The legions of jars colonizing any horizontal surface available:
G's Blue Eyes seems to be suffering from a similar affliction. What can I say? It's September in Upstate New York. Everything is in season. If the Farmers Market was open every day, I'd probably be there everyday, lugging misshapen bags of vegetables back to my car like a deranged gerbil, obsessively stockpiling food for a famine that never comes.

Likely, I'll have the good fortune of never facing a real famine. But the end of the local produce season will come all too soon. By the time we hit Halloween, the tomato vines will be hanging from their cages like torn fishnet stockings, blackened by frost. The only thing still producing in the garden will be the venerable kale, all else will be dead or dormant. It's that stark vision that drives me, I think, motivating me to capture as much of the summer as I can before it's all gone. It's preserving the flavors and the colors of the growing season. Would it be going too far to say canning is like edible scrapbooking?

Ok, maybe. But that's what it felt like to me, today. Biting into a September pickled beet will bring me back my hazy summer afternoons, and hopefully make the winter a little more bearable.


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