[Exene Says] Yes, We Can! (Our Own Food!)
[Editor's Note: Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. Her column, Exene Says..., is her space to basically just write what's on her mind, everything from crazy life stories to political theories and observations about what's going on in this fucked up world of ours. To contact her, send all messages to email@example.com.]
You should always store enough food and water for an emergency. You may not grow enough food to can, but you can preserve produce from friends' gardens or the farmers' markets.
If you don't know someone who knows how to can, you can easily find info online or at the library. Canning is very serious business. The rules and recipes have to be followed exactly. Jars, utensils, lids, rings--everything has to be sterilized.
There is hot-water-bath canning, which works for jams, jellies, pickling and tomatoes, anything with a high acid content.
Then there's canning with a pressure cooker. You need that to can vegetables, meat or anything with a low acid content that needs to be heated to a higher temperature. It has something to do with botulism.
I wanted to get a pressure canner, but I couldn't find one at any stores. And buying one online is weird because of the Boston Marathon bombing thing; it seems buying pressure cookers is now suspect.
For now, we did the hot-water-bath method, which is the best way to start: It's simple, easy, fun. A long time ago, I canned vegetables from my garden in Idaho. My stepmother, Ruby, taught me how; she was from a rural area--like mountains, outhouse rural. But I kinda forgot how, so a few friends and I got together for a home-canning get-together.