A morning to preserve


It would be a fall morning to remember on fall mornings for years to come. Pumpkins and decorative gourds were displayed neatly at the entrance to the Whole Foods store in urban residential Seattle as I climbed out of a taxi onto the sidewalk and into the sunshine with five other Canadian food writers and our American hosts. As a home canner, I was excited and wide open for learning. What awaited us inside was a morning spent canning organic fruit with a Certified Master Food Preserver.

To meet Brook Hurst Stephens is like bumping into an old friend. Her warm, casual teaching style put me right at home as she got us all down to business peeling and chopping apples and pears to preserve some food in jars, or 'put food up' as home canners call it when we want to feel all traditional about it. We started with an aromatic sweet apple preserve, bubbled in a large copper pot until dark and syrupy. As the bright yellow kitchen began to fill with the scent of cinnamon and cloves, I knew pretty quickly that a sticky spoonful of this preserve was going to be added to my morning oatmeal back home. 


Then there were the cherries. Oh, the cherries! We were introduced to Brook's preserved cherries a couple days earlier, served with soft cheese on crisp toasts at an evening get-together in Wenatchee, Washington, where Brook grew up. We were there for an organic orchard tour and Brook sent the cherries to her hometown for us to sample, almost as a little heads up that her class was going to be one of the highlights of our trip to Seattle.

I had never had a preserve quite like this deeply fragrant cherry relish. On a light cracker topped with a piece of creamy brie, it was the kind of preserve that would make anyone want to immediately go out and buy a canning pot.

A gorgeous pear chutney was part of our morning as well. Just look at those big chunks of organic pears simmered in vinegar and sugar with onions, peppers, mustard seeds, raisins and spices. It's a perfect example of just how truly beautiful canned food can be.

Before long, what they say about time and having fun proved true and we were on our way. Then, as if spending the morning with a master food preserver wasn't awesome enough for one day, on the way to lunch at an organic cafe our group walked past this beauty. A preserves food truck! BOOM! Mind blown.


Do you think they'd let me take it for a spin? Or at least let me make some pickles in the back for a bit?

Not surprisingly, I now daydream of what it would be like to be trained as a Master Food Preserver. As far as I can Google it's a certification only offered in the U.S. But, perhaps with the current renaissance of home canning, it might become more commonly available. For now I'll enjoy my fall oatmeal topped with my memories of Seattle and putting food up with a master.

What's your idea of an amazing fall morning spent with food? Orchard tours? The pumpkin patch? Leave a comment and let's daydream together.

12 comments:

  1. I have been thinking about Brook's Sugar Plum recipe for the last few days since you linked to her... I've got the plums, just not 100% sure about the time commitment! Glad you had a great time!

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  2. Oh the memories! I can't get those cherry preserves out of my mind too :) Your enthusiasm for canning is contagious and one of these days, you never know, you might find a jar of jelly or jam in your mailbox.

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  3. WOW. Glad I took the time away from processing Bread & Butter Pickle Slices to catch up on Facebook. Imagine my surprise to click on Amy's Facebook page and see this incredible blog post. Fabulous pics! Super fun text too.
    I am soooo flattered by your words, Amy.

    I had a lovely time with everyone at the preserving class. I have one complaint: I didn't get to spend nearly enough time with your and your group. I sure hope to make it to Victoria soon. I will definitely let you know in advance and hopefully we can meet up.

    Thank you again.
    You made my DAY!!!

    Brook

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  4. P.S. I know my timer on my BWB canner is getting ready to go off soon and I'm typing too fast. Guess I should have read through my previous comment for typos. Oh well...you know what I mean, don't you Amy.

    I think this long weekend of pickling has pickled my brain a bit. Does this ever happen to you?!

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    1. A whole weekend of pickling is bound to brine your brain!
      My brain has felt pickled for about five years now. Coincidentally my oldest son is nearly five. I suspect there's a connection ;)

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  5. that sounds like such an awesome day!!

    I'm dying to get my hands on some cherry preserves this year so that I can top some brie with it. Sounds perfect

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  6. sounds like you had a more than fantastic time! wahoo! also, ummm that preserves food truck is clearly for you. it matches with your kitchen and everything. xo!!

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  7. Amy! Thanks for the memories and the breathtaking photos! Great travelling with you. Hope to see you again soon. xcy

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    1. Yes! I'd love to do another delicious tour with you. Keep me posted on all your adventures :)

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  8. It was such a great morning, I'm really inspired to go and start preserving more.

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    1. I have a feeling you're totally gonna get hooked on it, Ayngelina! It was so much fun to hang out with you in Washington :)

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  9. I have one copper pot....a vintage one from Scott's. need to get it out and style it up! Love that centerpiece you "threw" together moonshine still

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