The smell of wet soil fills the morning air as the droplets of rain drip from leaves of trees. The mulberries are formed and will be ready to eat warm off the tree in a few weeks. The peas have flowers that will turn into pods and the potato plants have the prettiest flowers of all. It is lovely snipping leaves of arugula and romaine. The baby ice berg leaves are crisp and delicious. Snips of herbs bring life to salads and soups.
There are more than three dozen tomato plants set out from seed in the gardens. Eggplant and lots of red chilies. We eat fabulously in late spring, summer, and fall, but what about the rest of year? Today we will talk about canning!
Walking downstairs into our “grocery store” is beyond satisfying. Rows of garnet, green, and golden jars of captured summer line shelves. I can a few hundred jars of produce a year. When the kids were home, I canned three times that!
You will need a water bath canner and a pressure canner. Acidic foods, like tomatoes and fruit, only need to be canned in the simple boiling water canner. Foods like green beans, broth, and corn need the pressure canner. Never fear! The pressure canners of today are not your grandmother’s canner (the cause of many a bean explosion across the ceiling). The new ones do not explode. Everything is super easy to use once you get the hang of it.
You will need a canning book. Bell puts out one regularly and there are lots of unique canning books available in book stores and online. I still love my old, old ones. I had a annoying housewife tell me that I would poison myself with it, but I haven’t had any issues, and if it was good enough for the old folks, it’s good enough for me.
You will need canning accessories. They make life amazing! I used to use wooden spoons haphazardly to try and pull jars from the boiling water cause I like to do things the hard way. A funnel, proper jar lifting tongs, and a cool magnetic wand to pick up lids out of boiling water are all included in the box for cheap.
You don’t need to boil the jars. They can come hot out of a dishwasher or simply line them in the sink and pour boiling water over and in them. The idea is to make sure they are clean and hot so the hot liquids and boiling water in the canner doesn’t shock the bottom off the jar. You can reuse jars. Just get a box of new lids. I have noted that the third time I use the jars for canning is usually the time one of the bottoms breaks off.
Try to bring in help. I rarely have help but when I do get a few people together with a stack of corn and a bottle of wine, it all goes super fast and is a lot of fun. Many hands make light work was definitely quoted by a homesteader.
The loveliest part of the whole process is hearing that glorious pop-pop-pop of lids sealing their contents as they sit on a towel after you remove them from the pot. Lining them up on shelves is also fun. Stepping back and watching your own grocery store fill is really great. And not going out in a snow storm because you preserved all of your own (or a nearby farm’s) produce for winter is really nice. It is time to bring back this incredibly important art.
I have zillions of recipes on this blog for canning. I think I have covered everything from pinto beans to beets to corn to broth, tomatoes… Just type in the search “canning ____” and see what pulls up. Happy canning!