Donna and Garth were married before their town had electricity, and therefore refrigeration, so bottling was a common practice to preserve foods.
“We always bottled our jam and put parawax on the top to keep it from spoiling," Donna explains. "We had [all kinds] of things preserved. Instead of coming home and cooking a meal, which some days we didn’t have time to do, we’d open up something, probably a bottled moose, and put it on the stove.”
As she mentions, the convenience of preserves goes beyond easy made meals, or preserving their veggies and hunted game. They’d share their preserves with those in need in their community, or with unexpected guests alike. In this way, preserves preserved community spirit and food security alike, leaving fewer people reliant upon store-bought foods.
“See back then, you lived off the land. You didn’t have money because you didn’t need it. There was no light bills, no phone bills, no cars,” Garth explains.
The video shows us how easy bottling is, by walking us through Donna’s recipe for bottled beets. She even reveals her own prized recipe, and when it comes to beets, she don’t like no one’s but her own. As promised, the recipe is as good as it is simple.
Food First NL’s 8-part SCOFF video series celebrates, preserves, and shares a wealth of traditional food skills from seniors in Newfoundland & Labrador.