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Reaping the rewards of canning and lessons learned

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Hello, my friends!  After having an almost dizzyingly [yeah…I made that word up…so what? :)] crazy busy August and September, the dust is starting to settle.  Today we will can our last batch of tomatoes in our garden into salsa!  My husband and I are novice canners, but this fall we canned pickles, chili base, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, stewed tomatoes, and a lot of salsa (we love it!).  Last night after work I had burritos for dinner and that delightful canned salsa mixed with the sour cream and warm refried beans.  A.Maz.Ing.  The whole canning thing is definitely work (especially doing tomatoes), but oh, so worth it when it is over!  Seeing all of the beautiful cans of food on the food storage shelves is a great reward for hard work (whether you want to be prepared for some sort of disaster…or maybe the zombie apocalypse?), but eating them is even better.  That said, our initiation into boiling water canning this fall wasn’t without it’s problems, so here are a couple of lessons I learned during our canning adventure.  If you are new to canning, I hope it will help you avoid the same mistakes!

 

 

 

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Here are some tips for you if you are a novice canner:

  • DO NOT think canning is difficult.  It is so not.  It does, however, require you to set aside some undistracted  time.  You can’t really multi-task when you are canning.  If you are focused you can get all of the steps done in smooth flow and then you get finished more quickly and (hopefully) you time everything right.

 

  • DO can things you will eat.  Common sense.  Whether you can from your garden or the farmer’s market, don’t waste your time if it isn’t going to help you in the long run.  For example…we got A TON of cucumbers in our garden this fall.  We canned about 4 or 5 batches of pickles.  We enjoy pickles and will definitely eat them, BUT once I get to the point where I know I have way more pickles than I will eat in a year, that’s when I stop canning them!  If you have surplus veggies, you can always give some to neighbors or friends that maybe weren’t so lucky with their garden this year.

 

  • DO NOT (and this is a BIG DO NOT) think that if you accidentally didn’t preheat enough mason jars for the amount of food that you are going to can that you will get away with running it under hot water for a few minutes and then go ahead and fill it and put it into the boiling water canner.  I preheat my jars in the dishwasher, but with one set of pickles I was one jar shy.  I ran it under hot water, filled it, put it in the boiler canner, and (pop!) THIS happened.  🙁  My poor, wasted pickles.  So sad.

 

 

 

 

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{Glass shards in the pickles…not so good.  That would lead to a gastrointestinal bleed that I don’t even wanna think about.  No, thank you!  PLEASE don’t do that!}

 

 

 

  • DO go easy on yourself.  If you are new at canning (or even if you aren’t), don’t feel like you have to come up with some amazing, made from scratch canning recipe.  First of all, it is more safe to use tested recipes because if the things that you are canning are not acidic enough, you run the risk of food-born illness.  Acidic things (ie. fruits, tomatoes) can be canned in a boiling water canner.  Less acidic things like vegetables and meats have to be done in a pressure-cooker canning device in order to maintain food safety.  Start with the boiling water canner.  It is SO easy.  There are also lots of mixes out there that you can use for canning.  Then you can focus more on the process, less on the actual recipe hunt.  My FAVORITE pre-packaged canning mix is Mrs. Wage’s Salsa Mix.  We did several batches of that, but added a touch of cilantro and some tomatillos, which we chopped up from our garden and a dash (only a dash!) of tobasco sauce to it.  It is sooooo good!

 

 

 

We have a dozen or so jars of the yummy salsa already (and have given a few to friends), but like I said we are doing more today to use up what I think will be the last tomatoes from our garden for this year.  We eat a lot of salsa…hope we have enough to last til next year cuz seriously this stuff is so much better than the store-bought stuff!  I hope these lessons help.  Be brave!  Use the lessons I learned and try something new.  Canning fresh produce from your garden IS easy.  You can do this!

 

See ya soon!

Deb

 

P.S.   If you are looking for an easy way to can all of those tomatoes from your garden, click through to my post about the easy way to can salsa.  It tastes amazing and is easy enough for a beginner!

 

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Wednesday 17th of June 2015

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Tuesday 16th of June 2015

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