Summer canning

B. and I will be finishing the strawberry jam today.  That should give us 6 more pints for a total of 12 pints of strawberry jam.  It's a good start, but I know there is much more canning to come.

We did pretty well last summer.  I never had to buy jam (and we eat a lot of PB&J sandwiches), nor did I have to buy any pickles.  The bread and butter pickles were pretty popular, though and while we still have some dills, we have run out of these.  We will probably make more of the first type and less of the second this summer.  The applesauce has also run out, so I will just have to take a deep breath and plan on a couple more days with the apples next fall.  It's a lot of work to get everything made and canned, but there is something so satisfying about opening up the pantry and seeing all those jars sitting... not relying on any form of electricity to keep them preserved.  I know where the fruit and vegetables came from, I know what other ingredients are in them, it is immensely satisfying.

As an experiment one of the things B. and I made last year were dilly beans (essentially pickled green beans).  I wasn't sure how they would turn out or if people would like them, so I didn't want to commit too many of B.'s beans to them.  (Pickled food needs to sit for 6 weeks or so before you can eat it, so we didn't know the results until after the beans were done.)  Well, it turned out everyone loved them and two jars  wasn't nearly enough, so we will be making a lot more of these this summer.  Plus, they are incredibly easy to make.  B. has put in quite a few more beans for the purpose.

The other thing I want to try is tomato puree and perhaps catsup.  We use a lot of tomatoes in our cooking and it would be nice to have some homemade stuff to use.  I will do this if I can find a cheap source of tomatoes at the farmer's market.  Our tomato plants only (barely) supply enough eating tomatoes... we don't have nearly enough to process.  So, we'll see if this happens.  Anyone have a good catsup recipe they want to share?

I know this all seems like a lot of work when we have two grocery stores within a block of us.  But while I would have made a perfectly dreadful pioneer, I do have a strong self-sufficiency streak and like knowing I made our food myself.  I also like that my children see how food is made and that they had the experience of picking it themselves.  Food is not just something that comes in a pretty package in a store.  Preserving food also helps with my goal of only eating food in season... it's less expensive, tastes better, and when you have waited all winter for the first strawberry it is so much sweeter for having had to wait for it.


MamatoMany said…
I'm going to a canning party today. A friend is hosting it at a church, and we are doing strawberry jam, too. I need to make jam, probably...25-50 pints of strawberry alone. Mine loooove strawberry jam.
I agree, it's a wonderful feeling seeing all those jars of home preserved food.
thecurryseven said…
Mamatomany -- I have to ask where you get enough fruit to make that many pints of jam!

How does your canning party work? Does each person take home some of the jars? Sounds like fun.

sandwichinwi said…
We froze 6 batches of strawberry jam this year. Normally, we would go and pick twice and come home with 4 or 5 of those cardboard flats of berries, but ours did their own producing this year and we were inundated with strawberries! We froze about 6 gallon bags of whole, tons of mashed, the jam and even had the luxury of wine!

I've made catsup (or ketchup as we say it here) and have not found a recipe I like. Even pureed, the consistency is too thick, or the particles are too big, or something not pleasing. Also it's tricky to get the spices right. I did like the flavor of the one we made last year. Also, we canned it in pint jars, which we did not use fast enough. It spoils very quickly once opened. :( I'd do it in half-pints next time. Mostly I've ended up using it in cooking (like sloppy joes).

My best new canning last year was tomatoes with green chiles. We grow so many green chiles (dh plants all the plants he starts--he can't bear to kill any) and they produce heavily. So I chopped up about 1/4 c. per pint and filled the rest of the jar with diced tomatoes and a little vinegar. These were the first things I used up!

We love the bread and butter pickles, too!

Anonymous said…
If you looking for large quantities to can, ask the vendors at the farmers market. Sometimes you can pre-arrange to get a big batch the next week. Also, they will some times sell slightly damaged stuff for canning at much reduced cost.
asian~treasures said…
Oh...what is your breat & butter pickle recipe?? Could you share? The kids & I made refridgerator pickles last summer & loved them, but ended up giving away cucs because we had more than we could handle.

I found a tomato soup recipe last summer that we made & froze...I want to try to can it this summer. I'm also hopeful that I can can beans this year (if I can keep Adria from eating them off the vine!)
sandwichinwi said…
I have a tomato soup recipe to can that is really good! We also can beans. The key is that they have to be "pickled" in some form because they are a non-acidic vegetable. My husband's recipes results in something like beans from a can, and uses vinegar and salt. We water bath them. This method is not recommended by your local extension office, but we (and his mother and grandmother) have been making them this way for years and years. We do boil them hard for 10 min. before eating them. Not sure how much nutrition is left, but the kids LOVE them!

Sandwich in Wi (from Holt forums)
thecurryseven said…
Asian Treasures... I'll post the bread and butter pickle recipe I use later this week.

And I would love your tomato soup recipe (and yours, too, Sandwich). It never occurred to me to put up tomato soup!

Also, Sandwich, you must have a huge plot of strawberries. Maybe we should come and pick at your place and help you eat them. :-)

LawMommy said…
This reminds me of a story from my childhood. (Stop me if I've told you this story before.) (Well, wait, you can't, cause I'm typing and it doesn't work that way. Forgive me if this is a double.)

When I was growing up, we had an apple tree in our garden, and my mom generally canned lots of apple sauce. The canned apple sauce was not as popular with us kids as storebought apple sauce because of the color. (Perhaps there is a fix for this, but my mom's apple sauce always looked like the brown of apple butter instead of the yellow/white of store bought apple sauce.) In order to get around this color preference, my step-dad would put a lot of cinnamon on our applesauce before we ate it, and told us it was the cinnamon that was responsible for the color of the apple sauce brown...

Anyway, one night my mother was working late, and my step-dad was feeding us, and all six of us were hemming and hawing about the applesauce, even my baby brother, would was probably less than 2 at the time, (and, being the youngest of six, he would pretty much eat anything.) Anyway, we gave him such a hard time about the apple sauce and the way it "tasted terrible" that my step-dad took a big bite - and had to run to the sink to spit it out. As it turned out, he had grabbed the box of cumin instead of cinnamon...

Guess what doesn't take good in applesauce - home made or store bought? Cumin.


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