Celebrating Food Preservation Yesterday and Today
featuring a vintage recipe for Wild Berry Chutney
CHC CANADA 150 FOOD BLOG CHALLENGE SERIES
I am a proud Canadian. When the Culinary Historians of Canada invited food bloggers to participate in the “CHC Canada 150 Food Blog Challenge”, I knew that I wanted in! What a great way to celebrate and honour Canada’s 150th birthday by featuring a different Canadian dish or discussing a topic which reflects on what it means to be Canadian. For the month of August, CHC invited food bloggers to share stories and recipes related to food preserving; for example: canning of jams or pickles, drying, freezing, fermenting, smoking or other methods of food preservation. While I have worked with all of these methods of food preservation, the method that I most enjoy utilizing is the making of confitures (jams), compotes and chutneys. I live in the beautiful Okanagan Valley where fresh produce is readily available. As seasonal produce becomes available, I have the opportunity to make something special. I am Celebrating Food Preservation Yesterday and Today and for the purpose of this post, I share with you a vintage recipe for Wild Berry Chutney, which makes use of any type of berry mixture, wild or cultivated. Chutneys are easy to make and are lovely served with cheese plates and of course, the world renowned Okanagan wines.
My initial experiences in food preservation methods originated with my mother and grandmother. I grew up in a French Canadian household where canning and preserving food was viewed as a necessary life skill. We had special rooms in the basement called the Cold room and the Preserve room. The Cold room was a dark, dry room at the back of our basement. It had a tiny window for ventilation under the large front porch. We stored carrots and other root vegetables in sand-filled bins. My parents had large burlap bags of potatoes leaning against the sturdy handmade wooden shelves that held woven bushel baskets filled with apples, pears and quince. Braided garlic and bundles of herbs hung in bunches from the ceiling to dry. Baskets of yellow and sweet onions air-dried on an open shelf. Tomatoes were lined up on narrow glass shelves and ripened slowly near the window.
Having just returned from a trip to Newfoundland and Labrador, I was fascinated by the heritage root cellars that I spotted along our route (and attempted to photograph them from the bus). Root cellars became common before the days of electricity. They are cavern like structures typically built into the sides of a hill, rock cliff or cave and covered with stones and sod with a door for access. They are an efficient way to store food (mainly root vegetables, but also preserves and dried meat and dried fish) at a low temperature to protect the food from winter temperatures and keep the food cool in the summer months. They are still in use today in many parts of Canada. I captured as many as I could ranging from heritage sites to modern root cellar versions.