Mid December 2013, Arlene Jung travelled from her home community of Wawakapewin First Nation to Thunder Bay, Ontario. While she was there, she was invited to the Thunder Bay Friendship Center to host a canning workshop in order to spread her expertise of local food storage. The class of 8 adults and 4 children used various fruits and berries to make a long-boiled jam which they did in a water bath to ensure the seal for months. The flavours were blueberry apple and strawberry; all of which can be harvested from the land. Arlene showed that when using commercial pectin you are instructed to use a horrifying amount of sugar. For the batch of jam pictured below, they opted to use fresh apples as their source of pectin and only put in a fraction of the sugar (2 cups). The pot full of simmering berries was able to make 18 jars of jam which the participants were able to take home to their families. An elder who attended said she loved the flavour of the berries in the batch made with a lower sugar content. Advice from Arlene is that “if you remain connected to your food, you can more easily moderate how much you eat of a less healthy treat”.
In addition to a fun-filled afternoon, participants learned about benefits of canning from Arlene who has experience canning everything from fruits and vegetables to meats and fish. As a door prize, a lucky participant got to take home a Canning Starter Kit which includes everything you need to start canning. Kits can be purchased at stores such as Canadian Tire or Wal-Mart, or they can be ordered online. The Thunder Bay Friendship Center has committed to lending their canning kit to anyone interested in borrowing it.
As stated by one of the young adults in Arlene’s workshop, she “always thought only old people could can food. It’s easier than I thought”. While canning used to be essential for year-round nutritional sustenance, today it is a healthy was to subsidize diets by preserving locally grown fruits and vegetables. Eating locally has huge nutritional and environmental benefits, and canning allows you to serve out-of-season foods year-round!
Thanks Arlene for spreading your knowledge!