I was out shopping with the hubby a while ago and came across a canning set for half price. Oh that little pink sticker caught my eye and dragged me in. There it was in all it’s discounted glory; black enameled pot, rack, funnel, lid lifter, spacer, fancy Mason jars, and a DVD. That’s it. I was hooked. Put that baby in the cart and lets see what else I can get on sale. Yeah, I’m also addicted to discounts but that’s a story for another time.
Preserving wasn’t ever something I gave much thought to. Of course growing up my mom made her own pickles and jams. She bottled ptarmigan and caribou that my dad hunted. So canning wasn’t something I was a stranger to, I just didn’t really think about doing it for myself…until now. Now I’d can anything. I do find it funny that it’s called “canning” but you use bottles. Oh well. I still love it.
The first thing I did this season was plum jam. We got amazing plums from our local farmers market and of course I bought too much so before they could go bad Little Miss helped cut them up and I made a nice little batch of jam and into the new pot they went. I was so excited when I took them out and heard that lovely POP of the lids. SUCCESS. I let them cool overnight and put them in the pantry the next day with a smile but my high was already wearing off. What else could I do?!
Beets happened to go on sale right around the same time so I asked “the Google machine” about pickling beets. Man I love pickled beets and Momma happened to give me several cases of pint jars so I figured I better start using them (for more than storing dry goods in the pantry). A few hours later I had a bunch of jars of beets sitting on the kitchen island. It’s funny how happy that little POP makes me. And it makes me even happier to sit down to dinner with a jar of my own pickles on the table along with our own chicken for the family to eat.
I was so proud doing it all by myself too. I’m no stranger to the kitchen, but aside from watching my mom spend hours canning stuff when I was a kid, this was a totally new thing for me to do. Along with pride I was somewhat surprised at how easy it actually was. Sure it’s time consuming but super easy.
That brings me back to the farmers market and the amazing produce. This time it was cranberries. Two huge bags and I had no plan! I know what to do when God gives me lemons…but cranberries…I guess I make cranberry sauce and I had two awesome helpers for that. Little Miss had a friend over for the day and they both love being in the kitchen. Out came the measuring cups, bowls, spoons, and a ton of cranberries. Before we knew it there was a huge pot of cranberry sauce ready for the jars and by the time Miss C was ready to go home there was a jar with her name on it ready to take home. that only took care of 1/4 of the cranberries we had so I found a jelly recipe to use up another 1/4 and to see which we liked more. Again, it was super easy and now we’ve got enough cranberry sauce/jelly for the year. Well, maybe not an entire year. I seem to be putting it on everything. I feel like the lady in the Franks Red Hot commercial. ” I put that *#$& on everything.” I even notice the kids eating it and liking it a whole lot more than store bought cranberry sauce.
Pressure canning is my next conquest. I have an electric pressure cooker and there were instructions for pressure canning, but the first time I tried it I didn’t have much success. I’ll have to revisit that soon. Maybe if we get any more deer I’ll try canning it. Caribou is good so I figure deer will be too. And who knows, maybe I’ll invest in a proper pressure canner one of these days.
I’m just happy there are lots of resources out there for canning and preserving. Since we started raising our own animals I find myself wanting more ways to store meat than just putting it in the freezer. If our power is gone for more than a few days it’s all gone and all of our hard work with it. I’ve been able to download several books from Mason and Ball and there are tons of Facebook pages and web sites dedicated to canning. One of these days I’ll put together all of my favorite food sites in a post.
Have a beautiful day everyone and if you get the chance, try canning for yourself.