canning

Guest Post: “Summer Canning” by Caroline Carrico

It’s summer time in Memphis, which means that my house has seen us buying the air, grabbing a beer, and getting the water bath canner boiling. Four years ago, I decided that I wanted to learn how to make dill pickles. My Mema has always made what I consider to be the gold standard of pickles–salty with a hint of garlic and so vinegary they make your eyes squint. She passed her recipe down to me, and after a few early mistakes, I have at least come close to her perfect pickle. I will also be making dilly beans, pickled jalapeños and rosemary pickled cherry tomatoes.

Lest you think our house has only smelt like vinegar this summer, we’ve also been peeling, hulling, chopping and crushing our way to jam. The half pints of strawberry jam are finished, paving the way for peaches, blueberries and blackberries. With the help of a friend with a raised burner stove, we’ve bust out the pressure canner and put up tomatoes to use this winter.

Living in the Mississippi Delta provides a home food preserver and aspiring gardener with an astounding variety of produce with which to work. My mom, husband, and I grow some of the vegetables that we’ve used at our plot at the Shelby Farms community gardens. I will pick up the fruit from Jones Orchard and Nesbit Blueberry Plantation. There is no shortage of farmers at the local markets who can supply anything I want that I have not grown myself.

Whenever I tell people that I can food, I get asked why I bother. It’s simple really. I like having jam that actually tastes like fruit and pickles that make my eyes water. But most importantly, I like sharing a skill with my grandmother and being able to ask her for advice. It made us closer. The good food is just a bonus.

Thanks to Caroline for this reflection on Southern cooking culture. For more harvesting ideas, subscribe to her blog, “Ideas and Thinks.” 

Take 5: Caroline Carrico

Meet a millennial mom who’s into urban gardening, museums, and ethnographing Memphis’ past and present.

Canning Caroline

With baby in tow, Caroline can can!

Stage name: Caroline Mitchell Carrico

Starring roles: Pink Palace Museum Project Coordinator; Adjunct Professor; and Mother to Noah

Daily script: Caroline researches, plans, and helps launch exhibits at the Pink Palace. “I have a lot of very different interests and I get to explore all of them at work….be it aquifers, dinosaurs, basket weaving, chocolate, and even beer.”

Behind the Scenes? “I’ve been working on the redesign of the permanent Pink Palace exhibit. People can now walk up the grand staircase.” Visitors can learn about the mansion’s former owner, Clarence Saunders, as well as various accounts dating back to 1926.

Favorite part? “I love the people that I work with. You have anthropologists, historians, scientists, and educators all working together. There’s nowhere like it in the city…it embodies the spirit and history of Memphis.”

Canning? “I started three years ago but I was always intimidated by it – afraid I would blow up my kitchen. Canning is something I can share with the ladies in my life. My grandmother was always canning, it gives us something really great in common like trying out her dill pickle recipe.”

Where do you get your vegetables? “The Shelby Farms community garden. Greg and I have a plot next to my mom’s. We plant different things on them and help each other out. We’ve got so many green tomatoes on them just waiting to turn.”

Hobby or hard work? “I love going out there in the morning at 5:30; it’s invigorating. I’m using my body to do something. It’s very productive and we get a lot of food out of the garden.”

And bartering? “We trade with our neighbors. They have chickens so we never buy eggs in exchange for bread.”

Thanks, Caroline! For more on mommying, slow food, and historical tidbits, peruse her writings at “Ideas and Thinks.”