Keep your food fresh throughout the winter

WHAT WE MAKE BY MOLLY PRIDDY
Autumn is the season of crisp leaves and air, cider and sweaters, and making sure there’s enough in the cellar and the woodpile to last through the winter.

And while Northwest Montana has been modernized enough that having a storeroom full of canned foods isn’t required for winter survival, canning and preserving food still has its place here, especially during this season.

Kathie Lapcevic, a Columbia Falls writer  who specializes in home and garden topics, teaches canning and preserving classes throughout the valley, including at Flathead Valley Community College.

Canning has become especially popular, Lapcevic said, because people are becoming more conscious about what they are eating.

“Canning in general has really taken off nationwide,” she said. “It has a lot to do with people wanting to control what they eat, how much salt, how much sugar goes into their food.”

Food preservation is an age-old practice, and that is an attractant for students, Lapcevic said, but a major reason her basic canning class at FVCC is often full and has a waiting list is because people want to learn how to can and preserve safely.

Her classes cover the basics, using water bath and pressure canning methods. Students learn to preserve fruit, vegetables and meat – the latter is particularly popular with hunters.

Lapcevic grew up in western Pennsylvania, with a family who cooked and canned together. Having spent 15 years in the Flathead with her husband, Montana has become home, she said.

She teaches other classes, such as the monthly courses at Purple Frog Gardens. She writes frequently on her blog, Homespun Seasonal Living, which is gaining popularity, receiving 26,000 hits in August.

Though the end of fall means the end of the harvest, there’s no need to worry: Lapcevic’s home tips and recipes will stay fresh throughout the winter.

Visit her blog at www.homespunseasonalliving.com.