Friday, August 31, 2007

Canning

Not many people seem to can any longer, now that there are fully stocked grocery stores not far from most home. I honestly don't know many people even my own age who can, never mind a 30 or 20something. It's turning into a lost art, which is rather a sad statement about American self reliance........

I had no conception what canning really was just ten years ago. My ex's family (many moons ago) had a family garden in the county, and they split the harvest and canned for days. As a young wife, I was relegated to the chopping, cleaning, washing, and all round dogs' body for the project every year. I did not actually can, but I did enjoy the results.

I learned to can at the urging of my husband, and bought a book (Putting Food By) and just got started. I discovered that two people I knew did do some canning, and I asked questions. Lots of questions! That and courage got me going.

The first thing I canned was salsa as I recall......now, here I am, a decade down the road, and I have a room devoted to pressure canning which includes a slop sink, a dishwasher, and a gas stove that's been converted to propane. I have two pressure canners, and literally hundreds of jars (one can never ever have too many jars!!) and I am seriously thinking about having a cabinet built to hold the harvest put up each year. From this grew the smoked salmon so admired that we built a 4 x 3 x 6 foot cold smoker, with shelves that will take about 80 pounds of salmon at a whack. I get so many requests for my Atomic beans, that I spend a rather stupid amount of time and effort to make sure I have some every year. I'll can up everything I can get my hands on, if it can be safely canned, lol Heck I even can potatoes, which are actually pretty darned good. And if a legal moose should happen to wander through at the right time, you can bet a large portion would end up in pint jars too!

Come fall time, you will not find me at home often as I am out picking this and that....berries mostly. I already have 20 some pounds of high bush cranberries, plus about 14 cups of wild currants in the freezer, plus blueberries. Come October, I will be busy making jams and jellies.....and that's the time we make my hub's barbecue sauce...an impossible combination of sweet/tart/spice that defies accurate description and is his recipe alone-I just provide the 30 something ingredients.

Next month I will be busy canning spuds and smoked salmon. I envision putting up at least another 250, 300 jars. Tonight I did up another 14 quarts of my Atomic pickled green beans, and tomorrow I will start pressure canning beans, and some cabbage. By the time I am I done, I am thoroughly sick of canning, but it's wonderful to see the rows of jars, just waiting for inspiration and appetite to prompt a hearty meal.

3 comments:

forthefutureofthebreed said...

Now this is interesting stuff. :) Congratulations. It's great to be self-sufficient.

Em said...

Yum! However, dare I ask, what makes the beans "atomic"? Snicker
Em

suvalley said...

Oh dear, I am abashed to discover I did not realize anyone had actually *read* this blog, let alone replied!

Eeks!

FTFOTB, I enjoy the results completely, honestly. I share with family and friends who are in need, and when I get on a roll canning, boy you better not drop over to visit, I will put you to work! LOL, this evening I got some potatoes from the farm up the road, and will be doing so most evenings...only 150 pounds more to go, then the canning starts *wink*


em: My "Atomic" beans are pickled green beans. Now keeping in mind I don't even like picked things, I seem to have a knack for making rather spicy hot ones, similar to what you'd use in a Bloody Mary. My hub adores them, and a some of his buddies beg for them every winter. The beans are home grown, the carrots too, and the cauliflower is from my own garden as well. To that I add dill (yes the stuff I grew) plus garlic and the zingers....hot peppers.

Habenero's, serrano's, jalapeno's, New Mexican, etc...whatever I can scrounge up from the store, or from someone I know who grows them. Usually I grow peppers myself, but wasn't able to do so this year, due to growing umpteen hundreds of veggies starts for the neighborhood, lol

I think the real trick to this is timing how long I heat the pickling liquid, and what I put in it ;) That's the secret I won't share, hehe