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Terrasanct

Home Canning

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When I was growing up we canned hundreds of quarts of peaches, pears, cherries, and other fruit we got cheap or sometimes free. Also lots of jams and preserves. When I have a garden I do some canning to make salsa, pepper jelly, and things I can't readily find in the store. But not a lot, and not really anymore, although I still have my canning kettle, just in case.

It can be an expensive hobby, especially if you have to pay full price for fruit instead of picking it from your own trees. If you can, why do you do it? To save money? To make things you can't buy? To give away? Or maybe to preserve an overabundance of things you've grown yourself? I'm interested in the reasons, if anyone still does it.

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I used to can a fair bit but haven't for a while. More recently, it's been because of the heat here. The thought of canning stuff when it's over a 100 degrees outside is scaring me off.

That being said, over the winter, I have been thinking about doing some canning this summer. My canning focuses more on pickles and vegetables than the jams, etc., just because I don't eat much sweet food.

Since I buy more and more produce from the farmer's market rather than the grocery store, it occurs to me that I could preserve some of that goodness for the winter months.

At the height of tomato season, I can buy beautiful Romas from the market for 30 cents/lb. If I canned those, it must be cheaper than buying tins of tomatoes for sauces, etc., don't you think?

So why did I can (and why will I can in the future)? It's not so much to preserve my own harvests but to preserve the foods when they are at their peak.

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I started out canning just to see how it was done, mostly dill pickles and pickled beets, and the occasional fruit preserve. Then I started pickling and preserving a few batches of produce from my friends' gardens and trees, as a way of helping them cope with overabundance -- that year, it was a huge batch of brandied plums, and a batch of pickled serranos and carrots. Last year was a tough year, as we were moving long distance. I did manage a very small batch of tomato-bourbon jam, and my first batch of nocino (green walnut liqueur).

Now I'm hooked: I preserve at home now mostly to get flavors I can't get from retail products. And a lot of what I preserve ends up being holiday presents and hostess gifts.

I just took a marmelade class this past weekend with June Taylor, a local preserving maven -- unfortunately, the citrus season is almost spent, but I may put up a batch of something simple, just so I don't forget what I learned.

And we're about to plant a bunch of fruit-bearing trees and plants with the express intention of preserving and infusing. It was fun coming up with all kinds of different plants, from trees to shrubs to vines to groundcover, that will give us something to eat. Most of our yard will be edible in one form or another.


Anita Crotty travel writer & mexican-food addictwww.marriedwithdinner.com

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i do it to make things i cant buy.

where can you buy good quality raspberry lychee jam? or a pink grapefruit marmalade that isnt toooo sweet and with peel that is cut/shred to _just_ the right size? not to small, not too big...

i buy from the farmers market. yes, it isnt quite as cheap as picking your own, but its not so bad.

i certainly dont do it to save money. i am not sure if i would enjoy it as much if i had to make batches and batches for the family farm.

also, some of my friends seem to appreciate me jam. but i mostly make it to please myself.

typically over a year, ill make and give out anywhere from 40-80 jars of various jams depending on my mood and how low i am.


"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo

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I was growing a big garden and canning everything, then all of my kids grew up. With just two of us, it didn't make sense to spend all of the time gardening and canning. We just don't eat that much of it. I still send things to my kids and give them away, though.

Another thing I really enjoyed was picking wild things to make jam--here in central Montana there aren't that many, but I've made chokecherry jam and wild plum preserves. Also crabapple jelly from my neighbor's tree. I like the idea of preserving the wild fruits. I'd love to get my hands on some huckleberries, but they don't grow in this part of the state. And no one will tell you where to pick them! They're too prized.

The tomato-bourbon jam sounds interesting. Recipe?

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I always wanted to can, but living in So Cal and attending school full-time didnt leave me a lot of time or money.

When I moved to SW Ontario, I was introduced to canning. My spouse's cousin "puts up" pickles every august. I wasnt too crazy about the pickles( I prefer half-sour kosher pickles) but I did get into canning jams. I've also canned peaches and tomatoes( never do that again).

I recently made some fig jam using figs that were massivly marked down at the grocery store because they are just too exotic for this area.

I live right down the road from a "pick your own strawberry" place so its quite economical to make jam. I also make all my jams low-sugar.

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Thanks for the recipe. It doesn't look like anything I've ever seen.

Cali, when you make the low sugar jam do you can it? I make a lot of mine low sugar but I freeze them because the canned ones need a certain amount of sugar or acid to be safe.

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Now I'm hooked: I preserve at home now mostly to get flavors I can't get from retail products. And a lot of what I preserve ends up being holiday presents and hostess gifts.

We did this one year when we were young and broke.

We had a freezer full of salmon (caught by the Spouse) and so did something like 54 jars of salmon. At the time, we lived at the edge of a greenbelt and so I'd head off into the woods once a week or so and pick berries. They'd be frozen and then, when I had enough, I'd make a batch of jam.

Pickled beets are a favourite around here (I even won first place at the local fall fair two years running with my pickled beets...drove all the old ladies nuts!)

Does anyone else keep records of what they canned and when?

This may be a little too esoteric for eGullet but here goes anyway. This is a form of writing called "haibun": a combination of prose and haiku. I never did edit this to a finished form but it's almost there...

Green Tomato Pickles

I’ve just spent a few minutes looking through my recipe box for my grandmother-in-law's recipe for green tomato pickles; I’d offered it to a friend after she complained that her tomatoes might not ripen because of bad weather. It’s a wonderful recipe. The last time I made it, my pickles took second place at the Luxton Fall Fair in the 'Miscellaneous Pickles' category.

Mixed in with my pickle recipes were records of all the canning I had done in years gone by. I liked to record what I canned, when I canned it, how many pounds of fruit or vegetable I used, and how many pints or quarts that amount yielded.

In 1989, I canned 54 jars of salmon. In September of that year, my husband broke his back in a workplace accident. One month later, our daughter was born.

The next year, I made 2 quarts of blackberry cordial. I put it in mason jars and took one quart to 'Welcome to the Family' party my aunt hosted for my sister and her new husband. I had to shake the jar to liquefy the cordial before it could be poured as the pectin in the berries had made the liqueur set up. We all laughed at how ‘hillbilly’ we were for drinking out of a mason jar.

In 1991, I tried my hand at pickled asparagus. My mum had been served a pickled stalk in a cocktail while on holidays and enjoyed it a lot. Since I couldn't find a recipe, I made up my own. When the pickles were ready to eat, my mum came over for dinner and we mixed ourselves Caesars with pickled asparagus ‘stir sticks’. I had used a little bit too much salt in the making and the asparagus came out puckered and wrinkled. Mum and I both agreed that, despite their wizened appearance, they were still crunchy and tasted wonderfully.

In 1992, I canned very little – just one batch of jam and my usual batch of beet pickles. My cousin, Carolyn, died that summer of lung cancer. She was 29.

approaching autumn –

green tomatoes

left on the vine

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I'd never heard of haibun before, but I looked it up. Interesting.

When you can salmon, do you use a pressure canner? That's one thing I've never done; I guess I knew too many people who'd been injured by the old style of pressure cooker.

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I do it, and for several reasons:

better tomato sauce for lasagne

chokecherry and crabapple jam--you just can't find those in the store

pickled pepper relish--best stuff on a hamburger to date

pickled beets--a mouth's awakening

dill pickles--mmm.... can't be beat

mixed fruit jams--just clean out the freezer, see dill pickles

but the number one reason?

therapy--it's cheaper than a headshrink, and you don't get the funny looks (or prison time) when you eat it.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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The tomato-bourbon jam sounds interesting.  Recipe?

Tomato-Bourbon Jam

You'll want to scale this -- 3.5 cups isn't enough. :biggrin:

I'm not denying that would be good stuff. But, it looks like it might be wanting for some citrus. Have you ever tried it with the addition of some lemon zest?

Edit to add: they are peeling the tomatoes the hard way. If you score the skin at the blossom end of the tomato (opposite the stem) you can scald them for 30 seconds and the skins will peel right off after shocking them in ice-water. Alternately, run them through a food mill.


Edited by jsolomon (log)

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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I've done a little of it in the past, and would like to do more. A few years ago, I was making lemon marmalade often, and had many friends who were grateful for the occasional jar. I have lost the recipe, but I think I'll see if my sister still has her copy.

A few years ago, my sister, who lives on a farm and has access to various fruits through friendships and bartering, made a batch of grape jelly that was to die for. It had a more intense, lovely grape flavor than anything that ever came off a grocery store shelf. If I can find grapes for less than $4 a pint, I'll be following in her footsteps this year.

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I'm not denying that would be good stuff.  But, it looks like it might be wanting for some citrus.  Have you ever tried it with the addition of some lemon zest?

Edit to add: they are peeling the tomatoes the hard way.  If you score the skin at the blossom end of the tomato (opposite the stem) you can scald them for 30 seconds and the skins will peel right off after shocking them in ice-water. 

I haven't tried it with citrus, but I like it the way it is. :D I woul dthink the lemon might mess with the bourbon flavor...

And yes, I use the same technique for peeling tomatoes as you do.


Anita Crotty travel writer & mexican-food addictwww.marriedwithdinner.com

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I certainly do lots of canning when I get the chance. But like someone said above, there are only two of us so sometimes it doesnt make a lot of sense.

I bought a book on Small-batch preserving a few years ago so that I could "put up" some stuff and not end upwith 20 jars in the pantry. Most of the recipes make one or two jars at the moment.

Last year I did some jams, marmelade, grape jelly from some wild grapes, pickles, tomato sauce, red pepper jelly and cherries.

Mom used to do hundreds and hundres of jars of pears from our tree. Got us through a lot of lean weeks when fresh fruit was really expensive and the wallet was thin.

She still does some stuff, I have some mustard beans in the fridge from her.

I know Calipoutine and I are planning on getting together this summer to do up a few batches of jams and hopefully pickles too. (

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I make pickles, dill, half sours, bread and butter, malt vinegar pickled onions, green tomato relish, red pepper relish, sauerkraut, hot pepper jelly, blueberry preserves, gooseberry jelly, peach marmalade, Concord grape jelly, pickled beets, pickled eggs, I always have something in the fridge.

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Oh my, I nearly forgot to add that my family also cans beef. Quite wonderful, especially when you're looking for a hurry-up meal.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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In the past I have canned a lot of different things, mostly pickles and fruit. Now I do very little but last summer I made a batch of watermelon pickles that were delicious.

I try to make a batch of wild blackberry jam for my kids and grandkids who love it. The figs on my tree make a wonderful conserve but it has been several years since I made that. I have one jar left and I'm the only one who eats it. The old "Eeeew. Figs! syndrome". :rolleyes:

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I can can. And I do.

I grow a big garden, and can green beans, salsa and a V-8 type of tomato juice.

I get such a feeling of satisfaction when I see those all those jars lined up on the counter. :wub::wub::wub:

I pressure can everything--green beans because they are low acid and can bo-tox you if you don't, and the tomato things because pressure canning is so much quicker than trying to get a big canner to come to a boil.

I have never canned salmon, but I used to can razor clam necks for chowder--absolutely imperative to use a pressure canner for fish or meat.

Unless you have a death wish. And I don't care how grandma did it.

For the real skinny on canning, call your local extension office, and buy the Ball Blue Book on canning. All the latest USDA recommendations.


sparrowgrass

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I always look up the USDA stuff online. Don't want to mess with botulism.

If I had someone here to help, I'd probably can a lot more. Canning by myself, usually in August, leaves something to be desired. Like company, and a second brain in case I forget how to use mine in the heat. My husband is no good in the kitchen. I was making several batches of pepper jelly at the same time one summer and he wandered into the kitchen complaining that he was hungry. I kid you not, while I was pouring hot pepper jelly into canning jars, I had to walk him through the process of making a tuna sandwich.

So...yeah...I don't ask him for help with the canning.

If any of you want to post recipes, that would be great.

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My main reason for canning is to be creative, then enjoy the results for the rest of the year. For example, I grow a large plot of heirloom tomatoes, and last year made a spicy ketchup, tomato chutney (very spicy and soooo delicious), tomato and horseradish salsa, and sundried tomato paste. I try to do different things each year, with ketchup always on the list, but this year I will definately be repeating the chutney. I also can hot peppers using a nage recipe that I got from a cook at Gramercy Tavern. I use these as a garnish in chili and soups, and they are so much better than anything I have ever bought.

When I moved into my house, there was a huge raspberry patch, which became less productive over time and was eventually dug up. My first year here I put up 48 pints of raspberry jam, and ate who-knows how many pounds of raspberries. To buy this many raspberries would have cost major money. After that, I was hooked, and plant my garden with canning possibilities in mind. My friends think this is "quaint." I think it is a way of life.

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We got some 98 cent/lb asparagus last week. My wife made 10 jars of pickled asparagus --great at a party and eye glazing in a bloody bull.


Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

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Thanks for the recipe.  It doesn't look like anything I've ever seen.

Cali, when you make the low sugar jam do you can it?  I make a lot of mine low sugar but I freeze them because the canned ones need a certain amount of sugar or acid to be safe.

Yes, I can them. I use a commerical pectin from Canada that is specifically for low-sugar( or splenda) jam. The instructions say add anywhere from 1-3 cups depending on how you like it. I usually use around 2-3 cups. Its worked out really well for me. I've been giving the jams away for years and knock wood, no one has ever gotten sick.

Here is the stuff I use. clicka

edited to add: The sound of jar's popping is music to my ears!!


Edited by CaliPoutine (log)

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When I was growing up, my parents canned tomatoes. Lots of tomatoes. We lived in New Jersey, where tomatoes are a garden pest, and we had a huge backyard that got sun all day. We kids were so sick and tired of tomatoes by mid-August - if we only knew how lucky we were! Mom made bread and butter fork pickles from all the cucumbers.

We also had raspberry bushes, so Dad would make raspberry jelly. I miss that.

I started jellymaking when I lived in California - people I worked with who owned actual houses often had huge amounts of fruit from their generous trees, and I always needed something to give to my family members for Christmas. Making interestingly flavored preserves solved both problems - Strawberries Romanoff jam, Orange Lemon Brandy Rum jelly, Pear Brandy jam, and my all time favorite, Plum Orange Spice jam.

When we moved to CO, I continued the tradition for awhile, adding a garlicky zucchini relish to the repertoire when I discovered that zucchini was one of the vegetables that would overproduce just as well in this climate as they did when I was growing up in New Jersey.

But I really don't anymore, for a number of reasons:

- gardening is tough here. Tomatoes have to be babied along, and we eat almost all of the ones we grow while they're fresh.

- a family of zucchini-loving neighbors moved in next door, so we no longer have to worry about what to do with overruns

- fruit doesn't ever seem to go on sale for cheap prices anymore, the one store that continued the tradition longest went out of business, and as mentioned above, this is not much of an agricultural area

- our eating plan changed and high sugar foods are no longer large components, which would leave jars and jars of jelly sitting around forever waiting to be eaten because

- postage went up enough to make it no longer cost-effective to send jellies and relishes as gifts to relatives.

I still have all my equipment and a couple cases of unused jars (they were on sale!), and I have been getting the urge to do a batch of plum orange spice jam or cranberry orange jam. But unless life changes drastically again (and I'm not ruling that out - one never knows), I don't foresee doing large scale canning and jellying again.

Marcia.


Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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My mom and grandma always call that sound the "ping". I used to can a lot of green beans and what ever else I could when I didn't have a paying job. Now, I just don't have the time or energy (for clean-up mostly) to do it. When I retire, though...

I have canned Suvir's Tomato Chutney with great success and with much appreciation of one of my spouse's co-workers. It's wonderful.


Stop Family Violence

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