Sunday, September 27, 2009

I Can Can, Can You?

Because I have a half-day Kindergartener, I've had to resort to late-night canning so I'm not interrupted halfway through the process. (As if I get enough sleep as it is.) This is part of the reason I've been so behind on my blogging. I can usually blog a little here and there in the evenings, but those have been pretty well filled up lately. I'm glad to have a little time this morning to catch up, so feel free to read here about Maggie's baptism, here about Dixon's blessing, here about Bishop Smith, here for Brady's visit and here for Bridget's preschool attempts. Now back to the canning post!

While my gardening results fell tragically short of my expectations this year, my canning outcomes were thankfully much better! For me, there's just nothing better than a home-bottled peach, so naturally that's where I started this year! Last year we only purchased 1/2 bushel, which resulted in a mere 12 quarts to last our family an entire year. I wised up and bought about 2 1/2 bushels, and paid about 60 cents/pound going through my co-op. I ended up with 62 quarts of halved and sliced peaches, and learned a couple of things along the way.
  1. Use wide-mouthed bottles for halves because my gigantor hand won't fit through the small-mouthed opening to flip the peaches face down, and it's too much time & effort to try to flip the slippery things back over with tongs.
  2. Do the canning in shifts so that the peaches don't get a chance to turn brown while patiently waiting to take their turn in the hot tub. Ready enough for one maybe two batches at a time.
  3. Because I have a "one-butt" kitchen, I don't really have room for pots & pans everywhere. Instead of using up room and making a syrup on the stove, I dissolved sugar & water in a measuring cup, then poured it into each jar. I put them in the canner with warm water, instead of boiling so my jars wouldn't break, then started the timing once it reached a boil. Worked like a charm!
  4. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS use freestone peaches!

Next was time for the tomatoes Uncle Kim brought me from his garden. {That man produces tomatoes like the Kings produce babies!} This time, we only had enough for 7 pints of raw packed, diced tomatoes in their own juice, but I couldn't help but open one the other day and --heaven, I'm in heaven--they were good! I'm eagerly awaiting the next batch he promised to bring me next week. Bridget even got in on the action while the girls were in school, making her "recipe" of tomato skins, water and dish soap. Her favorite place to be is playing in the kitchen sink!
After tomatoes, it was time for the corn! Thankfully I had a couple of eager beavers helping me to shuck all 50 ears. Katie even said, "Hey Mom, this is just like opening presents!" I may have to reconsider Christmas gifts this year...
I ended up only canning 16 pints of the corn since I ran out of jars. That used up half the corn, so with the other half, I broke the cobs in two, blanched them and packed them into dinner-sized portions in ziplocs for the freezer. I'm going to love myself come February.
I still have a bushel of apples sitting on my kitchen floor waiting to be sliced and dehydrated, and possibly made into apple pie filling. Once the harvest is over and I'm finished preserving all my fruits & veggies for the year, I hope to start on canning my meats. Thankfully apples keep for a long time because this canner's starting to run out of steam.

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