Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Love Canning

Boy it's been a busy few weeks! We had a great trip to visit Shawn's brother, Gaelan, in Atlanta and we had a relaxing weekend in Chincoteague with his mom. We have been planting and babying our fall crops. We still have our three markets each week and we are also teaching some classes. Plus, as our summer crops phase out, we are preserving. Freezing, storing, canning - you name it, we're trying it.
Canning, it turns out, is my favorite. I have a lot of fun hunkering down in the kitchen for a few hours (or a few days) and making my way through the process. Sterilizing the jars, preparing the food, filling the jars, boiling them for their final bath, and of course waiting for that little "plink" you hear as the jars cool and the lids seal. I will generally can anything. I'll can left over pasta sauce, tomato seconds ("seconds" refers to the ones with spots, bugs, or any other undesirable, or unsellable condition), soup, watermelon rinds, turnips...well, you get the idea.
Earlier in the season we had a bumper crop of cucumbers and beets...I made pickles. Traditional dill spears, bread and butter, and pickled beets.

These are the bread and butter pickles, I cut them with the crinkle cut blade on a mandolin slicer.
They had to drain after soaking for a few hours and then I heated them through in their canning liquid.

We recently scored almost a bushel of peaches at the Crossroads market. They were seconds...perfect for canning! I canned them in a honey syrup because they weren't quite juicy enough to use their own juices. They turned out great!
Here I am peeling, pitting and slicing them. I dropped them into a water bath with 2 tablespoons each of salt and vinegar. This keeps them from turning brown. I peeled them with a vegetable peeler...you can also blanch them to peel them but I don't enjoy that as much.
They are drained and then brought to a boil in the honey syrup. You can can them raw, but these were slightly under-ripe so heating them through brought them to just the right texture.
I ended up with 20 jars!
I like to can with pint jars because I can never finish a quart of something after I open it. Most people use quarts because it saves time and you use less jars, which probably makes more sense. I guess it really depends on what you are canning and how much of it you will need at once!
Our busy fall will continue, I hope much of it includes canning.