Updated: Feb 7
I am Sylvia. I am a natural gardener. I create. I eat Plant Based. I’m a minimalist. I grow. I harvest. I preserve. I’m a rebel. I’m a modern-day Urban Homesteader.
My 2019 quest was to preserve what I grow either through freezing, dehydrating, fermenting or canning. Specifically, I was interested in the canning process called water bath. I took 2 classes (Beginner Canning: Fruit Syrups + Wild Fermented Soda at the Urban Canning Company) , (Canning 102: Pressure Canning at Crowley Museum & Nature Center hosted by Sunshine Canning) and a class in preserving ( Kitchen Herbalism by Magnolia and Pine). I read books from the library and was gifted preserving book from friends, Tina & Nathan. I also joined an online facebook group called Food in Jars Mastery Challenge 2019. Every month was a new challenge and ingredient. Also my new friend, Brenda, was interested in the process of canning so we spent many hours canning together.
I grew and harvested fruits, vegetables and herbs. I was also was gifted or purchased some items in abundance at my local Amish market that is 5 minutes from my home. I processed the following vegetables, fruits and herbs.
After a small investment in Ball jars, lids, a canning pot and utensils, I set off on a preservation adventure.
Before grocery store chains and fast food, Americans had small gardens and preserved everything. Before Americans were the original people of this land who learned how to grow, harvest and preserve. I found 2 youtubers that use every method of preservation and gathered inspiration from them. (Dianxi Xiaoge and 李子柒 Liziqi) I also summoned the spirit of my grandmother who was always popping open a jar of food to add to the meal.
While it is nourishing to eat in season, extending our food to last throughout the year was an important goal for me. The cabinet that used to house my “fine dishes that never got used” was converted to house my concoctions.
I vowed not to become a hoarder of canned food or just interested in how much I could put up. I wanted to take this journey to the next step which is using my preserved foods. First of all, two nice benefits for creating from scratch is the ability to gift them to others and secondly to barter with other like-minded people.
Next, I was ready to find ways to use my creations. I made Chutneys, Relish, Liqueurs, Syrups, Pickled, Condiments, Sauces, Salts, Jams, Compote, Teas, Infused Oils, Tonics, Infusions in Rum/Vodka and Vinegars. From there I used these in my everyday cooking.
Being part of the Facebook Group (Food in Jars Mastery Challenge) was very helpful for this newbie. It forced me to use ingredients I would not normally use or to research and try different techniques. For instance, one month we were challenged to “Use the Damn Jam”. I opened my Papaya Jam and made a family favorite, Banana Bread, but substituted it with papayas.
I’ll share some of the recipes, resources and techniques later. They are simpler that you think. It’s time we took back our ability to control the quality of our foods and use real ingredients. We don’t need to be 100% dependent on grocery stores to supply our food. It’s time to eat real food and not processed calories.
I thank my grandmother for showing me what homesteading looked like in the 50’s and 60’s. I thank my mom for cooking every day, trying new recipes and exposing me to a variety of food. I am bringing a modern-day urban twist to growing, harvesting and preserving.