More than moonshine: pressure canning and cooking in Appalachia
The art of Appalachian food preservation is quickly becoming a dying art. The heritage of the Appalachian Mountains of raising, harvesting, preserving and cooking foods that have been handed down through generations of cooks must not be lost.
When it comes to canning and the pressure cooker in rural Carroll County, one cannot help but find stories and memories handed down from one generation to another.
We can't learn enough old recipes and ways of pressure cooking. For us, pressure canning is more than a process. Pressure canning, the way its been done since culture began on these mountaintops, is an art. The mark of the artist (or cook) is that he or she gives away their craft, that culture is passed in this way, without trademarks or copyrights – but as a simple gift.
We've got plenty of pressure cooker incite so we'll start here:
1. Pressure Canning and cooking is economical. This "Kook Kwick" Pressure Cooker Recipes was published in 1910 and explains why (we have quite a collective collection of pressure cooking resources ).
2. Making sure you've got clean jars is key to a good seal and pure taste. Each jar should be washed and rinsed. While you're at it inspect jars for nicks, cracks, and sharp edges that might prevent a sturdy seal. Then it's almost time to get out your old mirro pressure cooker while you get your foods ready to fill up the mason jars.
3. Grandma used to peal her tomatoes hot right out of her presto pressure cooker before cooling them in the blanching process. It was clear she had sincere daily practice. What is blanching? Blanching fruits like tomatoes kills bacteria, eliminates strong tastes, softens the food and makes it easy to peel off the skins. First you place the tomatoes in just-boiling water (about 180 degrees - a hard boil can damage the tomato) for 60 seconds. Transfer the tomatoes into cold water (we use ice water) to stop the cooling process. The skins can then be removed and the core cut out.
Back in the old days, some mountain people said that the pressure cooker should be put on the national flag for they think it's saving the farm folks for America.
Orpha Largen's (remember her from the story of our farm?) last batch of canned pickles:
At Red Hill General Store, we hope to create a connection with the food and families of our region. Selling a good product is nothing unless we can share its real value and provide good instruction to those who buy it.
Agriculture, politics, and the future of rural America is not your grandpa’s game. It's important to be involved in food conversations.
Write and tell us your canning knowledge and experience - we would love to feature you right here on our blog!