As food epiphanies go, we're not exactly talking about a Proustian madeleine, but there's still something magical about opening up your summer preserves in the dead of winter. Open up a 1-liter jar of your summer tomatoes on a miserable January day and your kitchen suddenly gets filled with the warmth of that Labor Day sun, the vitality of a harvest-season market, if only for a moment, or possibly even a meal. But as reported a few months ago, 2005 was the year we hit upon the idea of canning as we travel, and suddenly the wintertime ritual of making your way through your canned goods took on new meaning. We'd already talked at length with our friend A. about the joys of "fruit tourism," of touring the world in search of truly great fruit--A. has been working on a book on fruit, so he's spent much of the last few years engaged in such trips--but what made such a notion truly appealing to the two of us was the idea of canning-as-you-go. "...An endless banquet" is testament to the fact that we're both a little crazy about canning, so we were more than a little predisposed to falling for such an idea, but canning-as-you-go had the added bonus of speaking to the collector in each of us, because it opened up the possibility of bringing back the most fantastic of souvenirs from one's travels. Our California 2005 trip was our first big experiment along these lines, and the jars of Dapple Dandy pluot preserve, Mirabelle plum preserve, Swanton Farms strawberry-lime preserve gracing our pantry shelves, and the freshly opened jar of Baby Crawford peach preserve in our refrigerator, are all indications of what a success this experiment was. We've since decided to research what fruit will be available when and where before making vacation plans, and we have visions of the most phenomenal trips to Italy in search of Umbrian heirloom pears, the Czech Republic in search of Bohemian black walnuts, and so on.
What, exactly, is the effect of opening up one of these souvenirs? Well, I'll tell you tomorrow what happened when we opened that jar of peach preserve that Michelle made with Andy's Orchard's prize-winning Baby Crawford variety (pictured above).