Monday, October 3, 2011

How to Make Grandma Proud (or, Katie Started Canning)

can-peaches


This summer a couple of my dearest friends and I started a new (to us) hobby: Canning.


Its fun. And time consuming. And stressful. And totally worth it. If my grandma were here, she’d give me a high five.


canning-food Look at my cupboard! Ignore the rest, check out those cans on the top! (Haha, check out those cans :)

Inspired by many things including Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a fear of chemicals in our food, my CSA farm, and overall healthy eating, we decided to try our hand at canning.


None of us really knew what we were doing so we did some research, bought basic supplies, and got going.


make-applesauce


And let me tell you, it takes a lottt longer than we expected :) Probably a combination of being nervous about botulism and having never done it before, but man were we slow!


Today at lunch I had some of our applesauce and it was delicious! I also knew exactly what I was eating, apples from a local farm and a little bit of cinnamon. That’s it.


So far we’ve done freezer jam, pickles, tomato sauce, peaches, and applesauce. Everything turned out well, but we definitely made some mistakes and learned some things the hard way.


broke-jar-during-canning


For example, hot jar in hot water. Not cool jar in hot water :)


The two best resources we’ve found for the canning is www.pickyourown.org and the Ball recipes. We had a magazine but they’re the same on the Ball website. I recommend those two for recipes, information, and a place to go when you start worrying about bacteria :)


The answers to common questions can be found at the links above. However, here are a few tips for newbie canners. Just one tip per food, to keep this post from becoming a novel.


Oh! And I should mention, we did not do all of this in one day. One afternoon we tackles pickles and jam. The next weekend we did peaches and tomatoes. The apples took two days (we did a LOT of applesauce). This includes gossip time as well as canning time.


Applesauce


For us, it was easier to peel and chop the apples, then cook them on the stove and puree them with a hand held blender right in the pot. We also tried a food mill, but that was much slower for us.


peeling-apples
Peaches


We also learned the hard way that you really only need a few seconds to blanche the peaches to get the skin off. Any more than 30 seconds or so and the peaches got mushy.


canning-peaches
Pickles


The longer you wait to eat them, the better they taste. We’re not really sure why (anyone know??), but the longer we wait to eat the pickles, the crunchier and tastier they are. So don’t open the jar the day after! Wait at least 2 weeks, preferably six.


canning-pickles
Tomatoes



This is largely preference, but we did not skin or seed the tomatoes, but pureed the whole thing. It saved a ton of time. It will change the consistency of your tomato sauce a little but we were running out of time. I’ve made spaghetti sauce with my tomatoes and they still taste great.


Freezer Jam


Make a lot! My husband and I were never fans of store bought jam. I think this is where I notice the biggest difference in taste. Homemade jam is sooo much better. We eat it much more, in yogurt, oatmeal, on toast, anything. Yum.
Sorry, I don’t have any more words of wisdom, this one was pretty easy. If you buy the Ball fruit pectin, the recipe is on the can.


freezer-jam


One more generic tip: purchasing a canning kit is worth the dough. I got mine at Freddie’s for $6.99. It had a magnet stick thing to get lids from the bottom of the hot water, a hot jar picker-upper (Real word. Swear.), and a tool to get the bubbles out of the jars.


One thing I’d like to know is, why is it called canning? Why isn’t it jarring? I’m not making a joke. Serious question! Do you know?


Does anyone else preserve food? What is your favorite thing to can/freeze/dry? What is your best tip for newbies like us? Pin It

4 comments:

  1. Good for you!! Those peaches look amazing :)

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  2. Oooh, I'm envious! I don't know how to can, but I've always wanted to try it. Like you, it was something my older relatives did. Maybe I'll give it a try this fall/winter (no way am I heating up the house in the summer!).

    As for why they call it 'canning' - maybe what we call cans now (the metal cans) were a hold-out from glass jar canning before they used metal cans? New material, same use - holding canned food??

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  3. Katie, I started canning this year too! I agree, it's fun, but a lot of work! I'm looking forward to enjoying the goods this winter. I canned a maple strawberry smooch (it's just a strawberry sauce), peach butter, pear butter, salsa, and a peach salsa so far, and am working on applesauce now. I also did freezer strawberry jam and peach jam. Have fun!

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's me Alyssa how is it that I never saw the canning post! I've been waiting for it since August, lol!

    ReplyDelete

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