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