“I am hoping that each day is like an old-fashioned canning bee, where a group of people get together to help each other out with food preservation.” – Andrea Chesman, speaking about The School of the New American Farmstead
Nothing beats a little kraut on a grilled hotdog in late July, or the familiar “pop!” of a pickle jar opening, with its mouthwatering expectation of its salty, dilly, pucker-sour taste.
This summer, in beautiful and quaint Craftsbury Common, you can learn how to extend, preserve, and savor the harvest with Andrea Chesman by enrolling in “Harvest Preservation: Canning, Drying, Pickling & Salt Curing,” which will run August 15-26 at Sterling College. “When it comes to food,” Andrea explains, “there’s always something new to learn—whether it is a new technique, a new way to make your kitchen work more effectively, a new way to solve your storage problems, or a new recipe to adopt. Once you think you have it all figured out, the size of your household changes, you take on the new challenge of raising fruit, meat, or expanding the garden.” This is a two-week exploration through time, place, and culture in Sterling’s gardens, edible forest, and teaching kitchen.
Andrea is an avid gardener who focuses on cooking and preserving fresh fruits and vegetables. She is the author of many books, including Pickled Pantry, Serving up the Harvest, and Recipes from the Root Cellar, to name just a few. Her work has also appeared in Edible Green Mountains, The Vegetarian Times, and Mother Earth News, among many other titles. “I make my living writing cookbooks,” Andrea says. “It’s a solitary occupation—but one that fits in with a life that includes gardening and preserving foods on my own timetable.” She is looking forward to her time at Sterling, where she will enjoy “being part of a community that shares my passion for learning new techniques and learning from each other.”
The “Harvest Preservation” class will cover many aspects of saving the harvest and prolonging abundance, including explorations of the history, science, culture, and practice of preservation. When asked about the cultural implications of harvest preservation, Andrea posed the question, “If a Vermonter ferments cabbage with some chile peppers mixed in, does that make it kimchi?” She added, “I think a lot about cultural identity and how readily Americans adopt the culinary traditions of others without the slightest appreciation or understanding of how that food fits into the landscape of its cultural origins.” Through discussion, hands-on learning, and course materials, students will be preserving more than just food—will cultivate the knowledge to share, prepare, and test our own creations in our kitchens at home with a deeper ability to ask and share thoughts in our kitchens or around our tables. “America is a melting pot—that is our cultural identity and it usually serves us well.”
She continues, “Do I see harvest preservation as a cultural identity? Not per se, but it certainly can be part of it.” So come, roll up your sleeves, and dive into this historical art of eating from the landscape all year round.