EL PRIMER PERIÓDICO EN ESPAÑOL DE LA SIERRA
By Christina Reed
The Hired Pen
*This is a time-sensitive food story, so, shop locally…for best results.
Eastern Sierra, CA—Happily, a lot of us are all jammed up this time of year. Our fruit trees have abundant amounts of produce, our gardens are in full swing, and many take this time of year to work on preserving the fruits and vegetables of our labors. And, who doesn't like a good homemade plum or apricot preserve on top of our pancakes, waffles, or ice cream?
Local hardware and grocery stores are stocked with glassware, preserving / jamming tools / equipment, and the necessary spices / seasonings / preservatives, and recipes, to complete your preserving needs.Set aside a place in your pantry for preserving tools / spices.
While many consider “putting up preserves” as a “hobby,” back in the day, before refrigeration, canning and stocking your pantry and cellars was purely a matter of survival! Your pantry was the stockpile / food cache of the home. Still is for many in the eastern Sierra. And, preserves and jams date back to the Middle East, perhaps the eleventh century? Honey was used instead of sugar. And, we know Stone Age people didn't use artificial sweeteners or preservatives.
Root cellars were a part of most homesteads, and cool, dark, dry places had shelves or boxes stuffed with paper or straw or sawdust, with vegetables, fruits, nuts, spices, and jars stored everywhere.
Americana lore is filled to the brim with stories of the food processing / curing of the 1800s, and whether you salted, brined, smoked, dried or canned and preserved it…preserving food is nearly pre- historic. When food wasn't available, knowing how to preserve it, when it was the freshest and available, became a matter of survival.
Now, your Grandma Lucy's Texas Chow Chow (sweet, tangy and spicy) recipe might not save you from starvation, but it sure tastes great on eggs, tostados, in potato salad, atop cream cheese on a charcuterie board (all the rage nowadays), or as a chutney / relish on a frankfurter hot dog. Ironically, Texas Chow Chow relish is based on green tomatoes (devilishly hard to find in stores nowadays), cabbage, bell peppers, onions, jalapeño peppers, sugar, a few spices, and vinegar. You'll need glass jars, and you make a water bath (to sterilize the jars for 15 minutes) in a canning pot, to complete the process. Spices include: dry mustard, mustard seeds, tumeric, ginger, ground cinnamon, crushed red peppers, cloves, and celery seeds. Once the mixture is ready (cooked tender), it's time to fill, cool, and label your jars. And, the jars need to be stored in your cool, dry pantry until use. PS-The recipe varies, depending on the bounty of your gardens. Taste for your preference. Don't ever skip cooking the products and sterilizing the glassware, however, or it'll spoil…. Used at home or gifted to family, friends, or colleagues, a gift box of preserves, jams, or Texas Chow Chow makes everyone happy, and you're continuing a dying art…saving food at home. Shop Locally!
Photo: All jammed up this summer with “putting up preserves”? Gear up for a bountiful summer and fall harvest with visits to our local stores for the jamming / preserving / glassware you'll need. Now's
the time to stock up your pantries and root cellars. Photo by The Hired Pen