Lifelong canner from Saskatchewan fields calls about how to make preserves as pandemic wears on
Growing up in rural Saskatchewan, Lexie Spahich has memories of working on an assembly line with her siblings, preserving the food of their garden For winter.Without electricity or running water, it was a real ordeal for the family of 10 living near the small town of Unity, about 130 kilometers southeast of the town of […]

Growing up in rural Saskatchewan, Lexie Spahich has memories of working on an assembly line with her siblings, preserving the food of their garden For winter.

Without electricity or running water, it was a real ordeal for the family of 10 living near the small town of Unity, about 130 kilometers southeast of the town of Lloydminster on the common border with Alberta.

While their father kept the stove on, the eight children were busy helping their mother wash the produce, pack it in jars, add brine and canning it.

They relied on the canned goods they packaged for food throughout the year - and especially during the winter.

“The process of doing it is fun,” Spahich said, reflecting on some of his favorite childhood memories. She said it was satisfying to be able to "support yourself and have good, healthy food."

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Read more: Feed Yourself: 3 Ways To Improve Your Food Security During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Two of Lexie Spahich's children help bake apples for preserves. Lexie Spahich / Supplied

Decades later, Spahich, who now lives just outside of Marwayne, Alta., Keeps hundreds of jars each year to feed his own family of six, continuing the tradition.

After all, her mother, Paulette Lysyshyn - along with Marla Rauser - fought one of canning culture's most famous battles to make sure she could continue.

In the early 2000s, when Bernardin, the company that made the jars they used, wanted to ditch the lids that suited them, the two women successfully led a charge against the move.

Lexie Spahich inherited several of her pots from her mother.
Lexie Spahich inherited several of her pots from her mother. Lexie Spahich / Supplied

Generational cans, like Spahich, inherit their jars, but not the lids. Lids must be replaced in order for them to seal. Keeping them in production is important to the process.

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However, finding them this year has been a bit more difficult, Spahich said, noting that small stores in his community have barely been able to keep their preservatives on the shelves.

Some small stores in her community have struggled to keep them on the shelves, she said.

“People were picking them up so fast they didn't stay on the shelf for long and people were buying a lot,” she said. A new batch would arrive and then it would only take a few customers before the store sold out again, she said.

Spahich's recent experience mirrors what major retailers have said about demand for their preservatives during the coronavirus pandemic.

In an email to Global News, Home Hardware called it “unprecedented” and noted that the company was working with suppliers to maximize uptime as the canning season peaked. Walmart said its shelves were stocked and expected the trend to continue next year.

Spahich also asked people to contact her looking for jars.

“Everyone has grown gardens this year, so they wanted to transform them,” she said.

"People are afraid and wonder where they are going to feed."

While she needed all of her own, she also answered questions from friends and acquaintances curious about canning.

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"It's mostly 'How can I do? Said the experienced curator. “How long do I have to treat? And, "What kind of additives should I add?" "

Sharing recipes that have been passed down, along with some of her own, is something she can't wait to do.

A jar filled with fresh ingredients for making salsa sits on Lexie Spahich's counter.
A jar filled with fresh ingredients for making salsa sits on Lexie Spahich's counter. Lexie Spahich / Supplied

Her house favorites include salsa, apple juice, jams and pickles. But she also makes sauerkraut, pears, soups and seasonings.

“Pretty much anything you can think of I can do,” she said.

She doesn't necessarily need to canned food - like her parents did. She does it because she wants to.

“One of the main reasons I do this is because I know what's in the food. I know what kinds of conservatives are in there, ”Spahich said.

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“The whole process is really grounded in and I think it helps us balance ourselves out in a world that is changing very quickly now.

Read more: Canning jar sales pull struggling maple spread producer out

This is why Spahich is so encouraged by people's new interest in canning.

“It's healthy to know what's in your food, but also for your overall mental health,” she said. "It's really good for the soul."

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Whether you regularly whip up Michelin-worthy meals at the drop of a hat or your cooking skills are best described as “fine, ” you can always benefit from the helpful little tricks of others. Here, 14 of our friends’, families’ and coworkers’ most-used cooking tips. There’s a time and a place to whip out that complicated coq au vin recipe you’ve been dying to try. A dinner party isn’t that time. With a new recipe, you’ll likely be chained to the kitchen the whole time, plus, when you’re trying something for the first time, there’s always the possibility that it could go horribly wrong. When cooking for a group, we always err on the side of tried-and-true crowd-pleasers. You do hours of prep work on an intricate dish, only to be totally disappointed once you taste the terminal product. Bummer. Instead of putting in all that effort only to be disappointed, taste while you cook. That way, you’ll realize sooner that the dish isn’t tasting how you’d like it to, and you can make all kinds of last-ditch exercices to save it. This doesn’t just work for bad-to-OK meals. Tasting midway through and realizing how perfect a dash of cayenne or a squirt of lemon juice would be can take a great dinner to legendary status. Plating pasta means tossing some onto a plate and finishing it with a nice dollop of sauce right on the middle, right ? Wrong. Here’s how to take your carbs to the next level : On the stove there should be two pans, one with pasta and one with sauce. Cook the pasta to al dente and transfer it into the sauce. Then, add a little bit of pasta water ( literally just the starchy water the pasta has been cooking in ), which will help the sauce cling to the pasta while also keeping it the right consistency. Perfection. In the pursuit of the perfect steak, you have to be OK with your kitchen getting a little smoky. That’s because, to get the mouthwatering sear we’re all after, the meat has to be dry and the pan should be pretty damn close to smoking hot. Trust us, it’s worth a few seconds of a blaring alarm. Most foods are ruined by too much salt. Steak is different. When it comes to seasoning your meat ( before you cook it ), more is more. Use a generous amount of coarse Kosher salt—more than you think you need. Since most cuts of steak are pretty thick, even though you’re using a lot of salt, it’s still only covering the surface. This one isn’t too complicated. Whether you’re making avocado toast, pizza, fried rice or a burger, the addition of a fried egg on top will not hurt your feelings. Trust us. This one seems like a no-brainer, but we’ve definitely found ourselves in a situation where we assumed we knew all of the ingredients that went into chocolate chip cookies only to find out that we had about half the required amount of brown sugar. Ugh. to avoid a mid-cooking grocery-store trip, read the recipe from front to back—carefully—before you start. Prepping grains in mass quantities is less about taste than convenience. Rice, quinoa and even oatmeal last about a week in the fridge after being cooked. When we’re prepping any one of those, we double up our measurements and store the leftovers, which are then impossibly easy to use up throughout the week. Too tired to make dinner ? Heat up some leftover rice from the fridge and toss an egg on top ( remember ? ). Couldn’t be simpler. So you fried up a pound of bacon for an indulgent ( read : delicious ) brunch. Great, just make sure you don’t throw out the grease in the pan. Instead, save it in the refrigerator or freezer ( it technically lasts for up to a year, but should be used sooner than that to take full advantage of its flavor ). Then, anytime you’re cooking something you typically prepare in oil, try cooking it in the bacon grease instead. You’ll never want to eat Brussels sprouts the old way again. You’ve probably heard that whenever a dish is lacking a little something-something, the best thing to do is toss in some salt. But, we have it on good authority that salt isn’t always the answer. When you’re tasting a dish at the end and you think it needs a little oomph, often it just needs a splash of acid ( like lemon juice ) to round out the flavor. You know the difference between a paring knife and a fillet knife, but do you know how to take care of them ? Or, more importantly, how to use them ? A set of good knives can be the difference between a stressful cooking experience and a great one. First, practice your knife skills. Look up tutorials on YouTube and practice chopping, slicing and julienne-ing. It’s amazing what you can do with your cook time when your prep time is shortened with solid knife skills. Then, once you’ve got your skills down pat, learn how to take care of your set. No one ever achieved kitchen greatness with a dull chef’s knife. The key to tender, flavorful barbecue and roasts ? Cooking it on a low temperature for a long time. The same doesn’t go for roasting veggies. For crispy, perfectly cooked butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and more, remember the magic number : 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Any lower, and you risk pulling a pan of blah carrots out of the oven. It might seem high, but to get the nice roasted flavor, you need high heat. And while we’re on the subject, stop crowding your veggies in the pan, which will also make them soggy. You know how just about every cookie recipe suggests that you chill your dough in the refrigerator for at least a few hours, but oftentimes you don’t listen because you just want cookies now ? ! ( Same. ) Unfortunately, this step actually does make a difference. In addition to limiting how much the dough spreads while baking, chilling your dough intensifies the flavors and produces that perfect chewy, crispy texture we know and love. It won’t do your breath any favors, but never ( ever ) scrimp on garlic. In fact, we typically double the amount a recipe calls for. Apologies to anyone who was planning on kissing us. SHOP NOW

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