Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
There is nothing I like the taste of more than fresh, local food. This unseasonably warm wave of heat has me in the mood to start working in the garden. The reality will probably be that winter is just getting started. While I miss sinking my teeth into a ripe tomato and smelling the tomato vine scent linger on my hands, I have months before I can enjoy that feeling again.
The closest one can get to that natural feeling during these bone-chilling months, is by wet packing the fruits of their labor into jars at the peak of their perfection. The practice is most often referred to as canning. Terre Haute resident Olivia Goulding cans just about everything that grows in her garden.
“I make a lot of pickles. I can tomatoes in all of its forms, juice, sauces, whole, salsa. I use the tomato until the tomatoes can’t be used anymore. We make apple pie filling, apple sauce and apple butter. We grow raspberries and can them as jam or pancake syrup when the jam doesn’t come out just right,” Goulding said.
Goulding says even if one does not have a garden, a fruit like tomatoes are generally inexpensive in the summer to buy at the grocery store.
“If you can take those home, can them, you’ve preserved a fruit for the rest of the winter,” she said.
Canning does have the upfront cost of buying the jars, rings and lids, but once you buy them you should have the jars and rings for life.
“You can go to a resale shop or garage sales, a lot of the time you can get the large jars for really cheap,” Goulding said.
• From fresh foods to dry goods
Another method that addresses the idea of preserving food is called dry packing.
“I like to cook whole foods, when we go to the store and buy a whole grain like rice for instance it is much more economical to buy in bulk,” Goulding said.
She faces the problem many consumers are confronted with, using bulk food before it expires. Her solution is storing any food that does not have a fat content in a clean food grade container and sealing it.
“What you have to do is address the aspect of oxygen, because that is what spoils food. A little packet called an oxygen absorber, added to a food grade container, sealed really tight can store food for a long time,” Goulding said.
Depending on how well the container is sealed the food inside can last anywhere from five to 30 years.
“If you have a way to buy a food today and store it for a long period of time, then you have locked in the price of today and you have also preserved a food for your family to use in the future,” Goulding said.
Once a dry packed item is unsealed, it should be covered with a plastic lid.
• Hope for best, prepare for worst
We have all seen the stories in the news, consumers rushing out to the grocery store, clearing the shelves, because they are not prepared. Their cupboards at home are bare and there is a chance they will be without access to a local grocery store for days.
Then there are the times where the breadwinner in the family looses their job. Providing for their family is no longer possible, so they turn to family, friends and food pantries for support.
Life threatening car accidents and medical conditions turn lives upside down. Medical bills appear to arrive in the mail daily, amounting to rising debt.
The neighborhood 10 miles away was devastated by a natural disaster and they are without food, water and clothing.
Each one of these circumstances can cause people to walk down grocery store aisles with sadness, knowing they cannot afford the prices listed on the tag. Saving and properly storing food grown today can help one prepare for the unexpected.
“It is kind of like an insurance policy for your own family, should anything arise,” Goulding said.
• Community Canning Day
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints welcomes the public to attend a Dry-Pack Canning open house. Canning supplies such as large tin cans and lids can be purchased through the church’s storehouse in Indianapolis.
People may also purchase food through the storehouse, or purchase it from a bulk and bring it with them. The church will pick up the cans and products from Indianapolis, provide packing instruction and help label and seal the cans.
Order forms can be downloaded from www.prov
identliving.org. Paid orders must be received by Jan. 28. Make checks payable to the “Indianapolis Home Storage Center.”
Mail orders and checks should be mailed to:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jared Goulding, c/o 5500 Wabash Ave. CM1, Terre Haute, IN 47803.
Jane Santucci is an environmental freelance writer for the Tribune-Star. Santucci is a proud volunteer with TREES Inc. and Our Green Valley. She also sits on the Wabash Valley Goodwill Industries Board of Directors. Share your environmental stories and tips with her at email@example.com.