The canning and preserving of foods was widely implemented as a food storage technique in the late 1700s when militaries throughout the world were desperate to find an effective way to stock foods for their campaigns. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, canning foods has become increasingly popular in the home since the 1950s when more information and supplies for food preservation became available to the general public. In the Southern United States, preserving farm fresh produce as jams, jellies or pickles is a particularly important practice that not only meets traditional food storage needs, but also fuels the Southern tradition of passing a skill from generation to generation.
|Photos by Denny Culbert|
“My mom taught me to make pepper jelly and wine jelly a few years ago,” says Emily Bettevy, owner of Green Boot Creations. “I also grew up watching my neighbors in Pineville who were like grandparents to me put away produce that they grew in their large garden every year. When [my neighbor] passed away, her family gave me her pressure canner that she used to put away all of those vegetables. I felt like I was handed a pile of gold coins.”
In 2006, after receiving multiple requests from friends to purchase the pepper jelly she had given as Christmas gifts the year before, Bettevy started Green Boot Creations, an artisanal local foods business that primarily makes jellies and jams. As Bettevy became more proficient and comfortable with preserving foods, she generated her own recipes, like wine, beer and bourbon jellies, with local, farm fresh produce. Her other creations include pickled vegetables and orange marmalades. Now Bettevy sells regularly on Etsy.com, at Arts & Fleas at Downtown Lafayette’s 2nd Saturday Artwalk, and at other markets and local food events throughout Acadiana, such as the monthly Sunday brunch and market at Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro. Bettevy only sources locally grown fruits, herbs, peppers, and vegetables in her products and has found a consumer niche in Acadiana to which she successfully markets her products.
“I buy from Green Boot Creations and other local foods artisans because it not only supports local business, but also supports local farmers,” says Michael Bell, a biologist and slow foods movement supporter. “I like knowing where my food comes from and who is handling it; that adds a level of comfort to the whole buying experience.”
Bettevy shares Bell’s beliefs and purchases produce for Green Boot Creations from farmers she knows at Hub City and Freetown farmer’s markets and other farms throughout Acadiana. She also grows and picks her own citrus, herbs, peppers and more. Bettevy’s newest product is a strawberry basil jam recipe in which she features strawberries from Robin Farms, a family-operated farm located in Church Point, and homegrown basil.
"As a local producer, I want to support local. I know that I can’t compete with big producers, but I also know that I’m putting quality ingredients in my products, as are other local producers,” says Bettevy. “Local means fresh. The whole point of canning and preserving is to preserve the season. With the availability of so many fruits and vegetables in grocery stores year-round, we’ve forgotten about the cycles and seasons of produce. We’ve also forgotten how much better fresh tastes over stuff shipped from another country.”
In addition to continuously working on new recipes that mix local flavors, Green Boot Creations is now exploring vegan and sugar-free products to market to health-conscious local foods consumers with more specific dietary needs.
“This summer I’ll be making a few test runs with a gelatin-substitute made from a sea vegetable called agar-agar kanten,” says Bettevy. “I’m looking forward to being able to serve a wider audience this way.”
Tyler F. Thigpen is a wetland ecologist and president of Acadiana Food Circle (www.AcadianaFoodCircle.org), a community-based nonprofit that connects local food producers to consumers.
Coton de tulear joins Westminster; Paypal splitting from Ebay; first US Ebola diagnosis and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 1, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
A constellation of South Louisiana musical stars descends on Parc Sans Souci to honor an ailing David Egan.
INDStyle Awards 2014 was one for the books; the American Cancer Society took over The Victorian's big tent; and the battle of the sexes was alive and well for Walk a Runway's Christmas fundraiser.
The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra teams up with choreographer Clare Cook for a modern take on a Stravinsky classic.
Local food pantries begin seasonal drives
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Project Front Yard has been launched to help us change our image and our habits.
Alleged victim is a Navy vet with brain trauma resulting from a car accident three decades ago.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Richard Buswell was sentenced Tuesday to more than 10 years in prison for his role in an investment scheme that defrauded his clients of more than $6 million.
The Latin Music Festival returns to Parc International this Saturday, Oct. 4, from noon to 10 p.m.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
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After being forced out by its former landlords last year, the community garden has a new location and a 10-year lease.
The party says it has hit a milestone, reaching 10,000 registered voters in the state.
Defensive captain Junior Galette is disgusted by the Saints' sluggish start.
The use of $60 million in Louisiana's public school financing formula to pay for nearly three dozen charter schools violates the state constitution, a statewide teachers' union claimed Monday in a lawsuit.
Lafayette Regional seeking new leadership after longtime director Greg Roberts’ June resignation.
February trial date indicates parties were unable to negotiate a settlement.
T&T show behind the scenes