Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Home Canning

I’m one to always try something new and while I avoid most trends, the trend of home canning is one I decided to give a try. I grew up with a mother and two grandmothers who did lots of home canning. I can remember the pots of boiling water and the smell of vinegar permeating the entire house. The reaction from most of my friends and family when I told them I was going to try this was “are you kidding, just buy it”.

So, three weeks ago with all my supplies purchased which was no small investment even though I had the jars on hand, I set out to give it a try. Of course it was a hot humid Saturday and turning on the air conditioning would have been no help. I got up early in the morning and headed to the Saint Paul Farmer’s Market for a supply of cucumbers. My goal for the day was bread and butter pickles and spicy dill pickles. After six steamy hours in the kitchen my mission was accomplished and I looked at my kitchen table with admiration with all the jars lined up like soldiers. 72 jars of pickles to be exact – not a bad days work. Since that day, I have also done 38 jars of a personal favorite- spicy green beans.

If my new hobby is any indication of what the winter will be like, prepare for the worst! I’m canning like I will be snowed in all winter – living off pickles and green beans. I still want to give tomatoes a try and at least one more type of pickles. For now that will have to wait until after the State Fair.

Before I stared this adventure I did lots of reading on the subject. That included buying a couple of canning cookbooks and doing some online reading from reputable canning sources. Because you are dealing with food, it’s very important to read and follow all directions. Especially those on cleaning and proper processing of jars to get a seal. In the 100 plus jars that I have done every single jar has sealed – in my opinion a pretty good average.

I found home canning not to be very difficult, it’s just very time consuming. I would recommend having someone help with the process. It would be a great thing to do with a friend or relative. What about saving money doing home canning? I’m not convinced I did. If you have all the necessary supplies on hand and grew everything yourself then you probably would. Since I had to buy everything but the jars, it did add up quickly. Will I continue this for years to come? Most likely I will since I found it to be a great way to spend a Saturday and a few evenings.

For information on canning here is a great site from Ball (the maker of jars and lids).

The University of Minnesota also has a great site that I found to be very helpful.

Make your day a good one.

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