Halal Consumer - Issue 29 - page 6

Canning is the age old practice of preserving fresh food to be
eaten later. It is a technique that helped previous generations
survive long hard winters by preserving harvests that were
reaped during the summer and autumn. In those times, preserv-
ing food through canning was a matter of survival.
In these days of easy access to food year-round, many turn to
canning in order to maintain tradition. The unhurried process
appeals to many canners as a respite from the chaos of modern
life. Others seek to have more control over the way their food
is prepared and also preserve fresh fruits and vegetables from
home gardens.
When some hear the term “canned food,” they think of alumi-
num tins. The practice of home canning is actually done in glass
jars. When food is prepared in jars at very high temperatures,
between 180 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat is sufficient
enough to kill off the bacteria, molds, and yeasts that cause food
to become unsafe to eat or spoil. Canning kills these microor-
ganisms and eliminates oxygen from the jars. When the jars
cool, an air-tight seal is created. This process prevents air and
germs from entering the jars and causing the food to spoil. The
easiest method of canning simply requires heating the canning
jars in a hot water bath for a specified time and allowing the jars
to cool, thus creating a vacuum seal that will lock air and bac-
teria out. This is the simple process of preserving food through
canning. Perhaps it is the simplicity and sense of tradition that is
attracting many modern home cooks to return to this technique.
Amy O’Brien is a special education teacher who resides in
Mokena, Illinois, with her husband and three children. O’Brien
has been canning for three years and began by taking a class
at The University of Illinois Extension. O’Brien uses canning
to preserve the fruits and vegetables that she grows in her
800-square-foot home garden. “I plant a variety of fruits and veg-
etables, including green beans, peppers, cucumbers, snap peas,
carrots, broccoli, pumpkins, watermelon, and cantaloupes.”
Along with this abundance of produce, O’Brien’s main crop is
tomatoes, of which she grows 25 varieties. It is through her love
of gardening that O’Brien began to investigate canning. “By
canning, I could preserve fruits and vegetables at their peak
freshness. I would not have to buy tasteless vegetables that were
not in season,” she explains.
In these times of factory farming, large scale food production,
and fast food consumption at an all-time high in the devel-
oped world, the Slow Food Movement calls us to take more
By Amani Jabbar, MA
Food Trends
Summer 2014
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