DSC_0898proto-liqueur du noix – walnut liqueur

*plink*

I love that sound. I love sitting on the couch and hearing that loud, satisfying *plink* come from the kitchen – a sound that says, “yes, you’re doing it right.” I love it so much that I’ve started a second food blog that will fill my home with that sound, every week, for the foreseeable future.  I’m both excited about this and a  bit anxious – I have a hard enough time keeping up with one blog.  But the need for info and interest in the revived art of canning and preserving made it a no-brainer.

So welcome to The Urban Canner!  I’m going to do my darndest to keep this one jam-packed, pun totally intended.

A little background…

I’ve been canning for years now – a product of buying way too much at the farmers markets and not wanting to waste the hard work of my local growers.  It’s been an entirely self-taught endeavor.  And in nearly every book about canning that I’ve picked up, the author tells me about grandma’s kitchen skills, growing up in a big farm kitchen, and enduring the annual end-of-summer canning marathons to put up that season’s harvest.

My own grandma story is mostly sans canning.  Grandma on Dad’s side was a Grosse Pointe Lady of Standing who may have had canning in her upbringing (she came from a Dutch farm family), but had eschewed it for cocktail parties and women’s club meetings.  Mama on Mom’s side was thrifty and the ultimate homemaker, raising 11 kids in post-war Los Angeles (I am one of dozens of grandchildren).  But aside from a few escabeches, preserving and canning weren’t a prominent part of the mix.

I started from scratch, figuring if I could teach myself how to use Photoshop, code HTML, and make a consistently fabulous hollandaise, I could teach myself to can, preserve, and pickle.  And you know what?  I did.

I’ve never really had much space to work in, and it turns out that most of the people I know are in the same predicament.  The countertops of most urban L.A. kitchens, especially those of the apartment variety, make militant mise en place a standard operating procedure.  And that’s without subtracting the space required for the coffee maker, toaster, and any other canisters, racks, or sundry kitchen countertop flotsam.

Turns out limitations can be a great thing.  That whole elaborate, many-jarred hoohah that I read about over and over in other people’s canning experiences evolved, quite happily, into a small batch activity.  I altered and adjusted according to available workspace and storage space and didn’t drive myself crazy trying to can, pickle, and preserve beyond my means.  Is it for food security? A little.  Especially when I read articles like this. Is it to save money?  Nice benefit for sure.  But mostly, I like home made foods (I rarely buy salad dressing, condiments, or jams anymore – I make my own).  I prefer my own pickles over store-boughts.  And a big plus is that I waste less.  And I love making my farm vendors happy by getting a little more than I need and then popping back a few weeks later to give them a jar of something made from what they grew.

Whatever the reason that brought you here – welcome!  The meaty stuff begins soon – canning, contrary to popular belief, is a year-round endeavor, especially in here SoCal (winter citrus, anyone?).  In the meantime, if there’s something you’d like to see here, please drop me a line in the comments.

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