Prairie is such an odd word to spell, it would probably totally trip me up in a spelling bee. But I digress before I’ve even finished the first sentence.
The Little House on the Prairie series contained some of of my favorite childhood books. There was always such a sense of adventure in even daily household tasks. (Probably because daily household tasks were an adventure). I remember thinking the food the food the Ingalls family ate always sounded delicious. I was especially obsessed with salt pork. Why salt pork? I have no idea. And I wouldn’t recognize a piece of salt pork if it landed on my head. But it includes salt and pork so it must be delicious.
Anyhow, on to the point of this post (finally). Speaking of traditional food storage methods a la LHOTP, I took a canning class at ABQ Old School recently. (I also took a kitchen cosmetics class). I’m interested in learning how to can because some of our bumper crop of tomatoes often goes to waste in about August when we start getting tomatoed-out. But then the sadness commences in January when all the tomatoes at the store taste like red cardboard and our delicious, juicy garden tomatoes are just a happy memory.
It was an entry-level class, so we just tackled pickles rather than water bath canning or the terrifyingness that is pressure canning. I don’t know why the idea of a pressure cooker strikes fear into my heart, but it does, almost as much as a spider.
We talked a lot about canning in general including dreaded botulism. Most interesting for me was what sorts of food can be safely water-bath canned and what require the higher heat of a pressure cooker to ensure the destruction of bacterial beasties like botulism. Most high acid foods (those with a pH of 4.6 or lower) can be water-bath canned without the addition of extra acid (lemon juice, etc.). But some foods require additional acid to be safely water-bath canned including (a surprise to me) tomatoes. Our canning instructor recommended the addition of a 1/4 tsp. of citric acid to per jar of tomatoes raise the acidity to a safe level. There’s a lot to learn, but I have some time to practice before summer.
So, my pickles are currently pickling and a water bath canner will be on its way shortly. And luckily I have friends much more experienced in canning that I can call on for moral support. In the meantime, check out these sweet pickle pictures. I think they’re pretty foxy. Excuse me while I go get some further inspiration from this website totally focused on foods from Little House on the Prairie.