Oh Yes We Can Can (But we might not)

8 Mar

Call it canning by increments…or that road paved with good intentions.

filling the jars

filling the jars

I keep planning to can, and then somehow…

Two years ago I jarred Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam, but didn’t go as far as heating and preserving; we just used it all up while it was fresh.

Getting the bubbles out with a spatula

Getting the bubbles out with a spatula

Last year I bought all the equipment — Walmart aka the new Woolworth’s was the only place that actually had it all in one place — and then put it all in the basement and that’s as far as it got. I jarred my jam and froze my tomatoes as usual.

This year’s incremental move towards canning is to do a workshop with Caroline Fanning, one of the growers at the CSA we belong to: Restoration Farm. Basically, Caroline did most of the work sterilizing and prepping and making apple butter, and  me and the other attendees loaded up some jars and put them in the pot, then we all chatted about a range of food issues until the jars were ready to be removed.

Caroline checks for bubbles

Caroline checks for bubbles

We stopped talking long enough to hear the pops from the jars as they told us they were ready, and then we resumed our multitude of rich conversations. It happens with food-obsessed people; we are so happy to find ourselves in the company of similarly loony people that we can’t stop sharing everything we know.

steamy hot from the pot

steamy hot from the pot

My joy was enhanced by the fact that Caroline’s husband and growing partner Dan took my son and his kids to build snow forts elsewhere, so I got to devote my full, uninterrupted grown-up attention to culinary, homestead-y type conversation for almost three hours! Heaven.

little soldier boy jars at attention

little soldier boy jars at attention

So it may take me yet another season to actually do preserves, but then again, it may not. Caroline demystified it very well for us and it is not as horrendous as it seemed in my Little House of the Prairie addled mind.

In the meantime,I offer some pretty pictures of the jars in the afternoon light and a link to my friend and colleague in food writing T.W. Barritt, who actually went home and tried it and can give you a recipe for apple butter, canning instructions and everything!

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12 Responses to “Oh Yes We Can Can (But we might not)”

  1. imarunner2012 March 13, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    Hi, I’ve been canning string beens and home made pasta sauce for a few years. Still learning how to make good sauce. It’s not easy.
    It’s a great hobby.

  2. Bluejellybeans March 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    Yo todavía no me animo… 😉 pero tu lo estas haciendo fenomenal 🙂

  3. twbarritt March 9, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    It sounds like a cocktail party, minus the booze! In fact, maybe you should dub canning “the new cocktail party.” Your version sounds like a lot less work than mine! 🙂

  4. Mad Dog March 8, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

    I met a retired French couple in Normandy about 10 years ago, who grew amazing vegetables and had an entire basement with additional kitchen dedicated to canning tomatoes, anchovies etc. I’m still in awe. On top of that, on the same trip, I met the 82 year old who makes the best home made calvados and a guy who was over 100, gardening an acre of land, with the most astonishing grafted fruit trees!
    You’ll get there and you’ve got more than a few years to prevaricate 😉

  5. Tammy March 8, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    That looks like fun. I don’t can now but I used to and my do it again when I have more time.

  6. Karen March 8, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    I canned loads of plum jam one year but that is the extent of my canning. We give all our apples to friends and in return they usually bless me with applesauce and apple butter. I tend to freeze all the vegetables and herbs that we grow.

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