August 20 2010, 6:58 AM
Somewhere in a family photo album there is an image of my two-year-old self elevated on tippy toes in front of a seemingly enormous round stock pot, chubby fingers dangling over the top in an attempt to reach the contents inside. The aluminum container was filled with peeled tomatoes, waiting to be canned for winter. Canning was an annual tradition on my family's small, five-acre farm just outside the city limits of Pueblo on the St. Charles Mesa. My grandmother would retrieve the bright, red glass Ball jars from her outdoor cellar in the colder months for use in various homemade recipes, from salsa and sauces to soups. It was also around this time of year that we would begin making jams and jellies from the fruit trees (mostly peach). Both tasks involved a careful preparation of sanitizing and boiling, making the kitchen windows sweaty with steam. Sadly, we let those traditions wane once my grandmother passed away, but with the rise of urban gardening, there are plenty of opportunities for me to revive them. Over three Saturdays or Wednesdays in September, Elbert County Fair grand champion and reserve grand champion food preservationist Ginger Brinkhaus will teach participants the joys of canning. If you don't have the time and money ($150 for the three-part series includes 12 pints of canned goods to take home), travel to a Fort Morgan farm and immerse yourself in a canning crash course from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. next Saturday, August 28. Both experiences are offered through Denver Urban Homesteading. Visit their website for details and more info.