Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sharing the Canning Fun

We've been doing lots of canning the past few years. I've gotten better at gardening, and at finding local veggies and fruit when they are in season. I've also been gifted boxes of jars regularly which helps immensely. I have bought some too, but I've been amazed at how many jars found their way to me when I started to tell people that I was a canner. Out of basements and attics of people who are passed their canning hey-day. (Thanks Grandma Dee Dee!)

I have to give credit where credit is due. I can't do it all. Dave has stepped up and has helped a lot with the processing and preserving this year. I couldn't do it without him. Between 2 jobs, volunteer work and the garden I just don't have time to salt cucumbers for 3 hours for tasty Bread & Butter pickles, not if I want to sleep too. :-D Asking for help has never been a strong suit, and there are hiccups when we do things differently than the other would, but overall I think we do a pretty good job of working together. Often a job will start with me in the morning, then pass to Dave in the afternoon, then be completed by me in the evening. The drawbacks to this arrangement are obvious, more chances for something to get missed. We've found that lists and lots of notes help with communication. The benefit is that even with the miss-steps, we get a lot more done, things that neither of us could do alone.

I have found the time to teach my canning skills to a friend here. She promised to take me out bow hunting in exchange for a canning lesson or two. (Yay barter!) I invited her over for the whole tomatoes, which are easy because I like to raw pack them, but at the same time we got to go through the pressure canning process which was really intimidating to her. She was pleasantly surprised by how easy things were, and how straightforward the instructions were in the little canning booklet. I told her about the tools I like to have, and which instructions are more important than others. (Spices can be tweaked, PH can not. )

Keeping in touch with experienced canners has helped too. This is a bit of a challenge since I live half a continent away from my grandmothers. I have canned a few times with my mother, and that's always a joy. My neighbor is a canner, and I'm using her salsa recipe right now. But, mostly I rely on the internet to keep me in touch with other canners, to swap recipes and get inspiration.
Food in Jars
Punk Domestics
Local Kitchen

There's always new things to try. New recipes and new tools. It's hard work, but I enjoy most of it. I really enjoy the home canned goodness in the long winters.

Totals so far:
4 pints of sweet corn (there's still a lot left from last year)
5 quarts of applesauce
7 quarts of whole tomatoes
5 pints of garlic dill pickles
6 pints of Bread & Butter pickles

We have a box of tomatoes/peppers and a large bag of green beans waiting patiently for their turn in the canner.

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