Saturday, July 19, 2014

Foodie Non-Friday: Of Course I Can!

So…perhaps I have been bitten by the canning bug.

Or maybe I am simply a nerd who enjoys learning new things.

Or possibly I am preparing us to live totally off-grid and will most-assuredly need to know all sorts of skills in order to do this (I'm just kidding, Big Brother, because I am certain I am totally on your radar).

I am going to go with option B. Or 2. Or however it is you are choosing to refer to these, because you probably noticed that I did not number them.

The middle one. That choice. I am just a nerd.

And as you may or may not have read last week, my friend CM was so kind and gracious to teaching me about canning. The water-bath method.

You can read it here if you missed it on the first go-round.

As I said at the end of that post, Christine asked for my help in canning some green beans. But she uses a pressure cooker.

Which scares the tar out of me and that makes her laugh…I’m so glad I amuse her. I’m not really sure that anything frightens her, which is admirable and also scary to me: yes, someone who doesn't scare easily is scary to someone who scares easily.

Don’t judge.

Anyway…I went over to her house on Wednesday and canning efforts were already in full-swing. Her children had picked lots of beans and they were all in the process of washing ans anpping them. As she sat perched on a barstool, she was directing each one of us on what to do. And of course was snapping beans herself.

She's not a slacker.

And I was, of course, thankful that she was directing the operation, b/c I was clueless.

I was not at all surprised at how fabulously her children jumped in to help and didn’t utter a single complaint. They’re awesome like that. Which also means the parents are awesome.

Can you tell I love this family?

I have digressed.

So…I won’t go into all the ins and out of this process because there were many things about it which were similar to the water-bath method. Only we didn’t have to make a brine (b/c we weren’t pickling anything) so that made things easier.

Christine showed me how to do the first jar and I took it over from there. My only issue was that I kept taking the funnel out of the jar too soon. Other than that, I think I got the hang of it.

And, because I am clearly a licensed professional, all the jars sealed on the first try.

All of them.

And with a pressure cooker, there's only one try.

I assumed it was beginner’s luck…because we had 3 (I think…it’s been a week so my details are a bit hazy) which didn’t seal when we made our pickles. But since they were not in a pressure cooker, we could try them again. Which we did. And they sealed.

Here are a few photos of the process. I kept my phone in my back pocket where she couldn’t reach it, lest she take a picture of me. I assured her that I did not take one of her either, except her hand.

The fruits of out labor (or veggies, as it were)
As payment (which she didn’t need to pay me…she’d given me an insight into her veritable fount of canning knowledge! It's what a nerd loves most!), she sent me away with 2 large zucchini (and when I say “large zucchini” I am not playing around…one of them was enough for 6 loaves of zucchini bread, as well as diced cubes from the middle of the squash…you know, with the seeds…to use in soup this winter), 2 dozen eggs, a loaf of zucchini bread (yum-o!) and a bag of freshly-picked green beans.

This is only SOME of the zucchini haul from her garden
She told her son to pick some green beans for me to take. He asked how many and she replied with “go pick green beans for 15 minutes and however many you pick is however many.”

And being the good and dutiful son, he picked for 15 minutes and I took home a haul of green beans.

So then, I started to get cocky about the whole “canning business”.

And instead of trying my hand at green beans or pickles (you know...things I had made under the supervision of others), I opted to try blueberry jam.


Have you noticed me mention anywhere thus far in my canning experience about making a jam…you know, with someone who knows how to make jam?

No, no you didn’t notice it because it had not happened.

But because you can find the answer to anything on the Internet, I forged ahead. And actually, I believe it was Kristi, who had previously shared a website with me which has all sorts of canning advice, tips, and recipes.

It was the top one to come up in my search, in fact.

Here it is in case you are interested. Or even if you’re not interested, it is still right there.

I will spare you the details, but I will say this: it only took me 2 hours to do my canning. CM asked how long it took my pot to boil and this time is was a much shorter time…but I was using a smaller pot. Smaller jars means smaller pots = less time waiting for water to boil.

I even bought all the equipment. (As you may recall, I bought my jars from Goodwill for a Quarter apiece.)

Except the magnet on a stick…it is this fabulous little tool which allows you to remove the lids and rings from boiling hot water without having to finagle them out using tongs. You can kind of see the tip of it in the above photo from Christine's. It's not large but is well-worth the 2 bucks.

It wasn’t even that I was being cheap (insert your shocked face here)…I actually forgot about it. Until I went to get my rings out of the water and realized my error.

Anyway…here are some photos of my process.

According to the recipe, this should have been enough jars...still not sure how I got so much more.
Certainly not "operator error"...
Mashing blueberries...sorry it's not an action shot. I couldn't mash and photograph simultaneously.
Boiling my jars...I just don't trust the sanitize cycle on my dishwasher.
Boiling jam

I don’t know for sure how this will be, or if we will all die from botulism. But CM assures me the possibility of botulism being in the jam is slim to none due to all the sugar.  CM knows a lot so I’m willing to trust her.

Finished's hard to see but I even remembered to write the date on the lids
As a total aside, I wanted to share with you my (once again) delve into my 1940’s Alter Ego, with some WWII Propaganda posters…encouraging people to can.

Oh yes.

Now, I’m not fully there yet, because these posters make the assumption that people were also planting and harvesting their own gardens. They were called “Victory gardens”. Just in case you were unaware. I am here to educate my people.

I don’t garden…yet…I am waiting for Mr. AR to give me the green light to move where I can have chickens and he can have his rusty manure spreader in the front yard. And I will then have a garden.

Maybe. It seems like a lot of work. And time which I don’t seem to have.

But I digress.

I wanted to share these with you. And if anyone happens to have one lying around they’d like to send to me, let me know. I’ll gladly send you my address.

Follow me on Facebook! Or on Instagram (look for "mrsalwaysrandom")

1 comment:

  1. Wow that looks amazing- the green beans do to and the jam great mom will be canning tomatoes for sauce soon and she is a sneak her and my dad do this job on a weekday...i can't get there on a weekday I work. I get a a couple of cases and it is so good to have. I would love to do more ...nice job:)