I Can, You Can, We All Can Can!
Last winter, when I looked into my empty pantry, I cursed myself for not becoming a locavore during the lush, bountiful summer. I promised that by next winter I would have a pantry full of canned vegetables and a freezer full of perfectly-ripened, frozen fruits and vegetables. The frozen part is working just fine. That is, unless you take in to consider the complete lack of room in my freezer, but that is a whole different problem. (Involving getting a freezer for the garage big enough to put a body, and by “body” I mean a cow- or pig-shaped body. And possibly some smaller chicken-shaped bodies. Nothing human. Probably. You never know.)
Until last weekend, the canning portion of my winter dream had gone nowhere. I kept thinking I should take a class or do it with someone who, you know, had canned something, anything at least once before. But, I am lazy and neither of those things happened without me going through a lot of extra effort. Luckily, there are books and books based on canning and just flipping through them at Powell’s was enough to quell my anxieties. I CAN can!
I bought these two books: Canning for Dummies and Well Preserved: Small-Batch Canning for the New Cook and made a trip to this hippie store to buy canning supplies. (Although, I am sure you can find them at a store that uses a little less incense.) Both of my new books mention the all-important safety concerns and how new canners should always follow recipes directly, which, considering my healthy fear of killing my loved ones with botulism, will be no problem for me. (This is also why I am not going to put up these canning recipes until I get a little more comfortable in my canning knowledge. Sorry, but you will thank me when you don’t get sick or end up dead in my garage freezer.)
So, I had a fellow newbie canner over, my friend Rebecca (hi!), and we decided to make two small batches.
The first was a scrumptious raspberry jam.
The only ingredients in the recipe were fresh raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice. I am serious when I say it is better than store bought. Serious!
The next thing we made was pickled beets.
And if you have ever been to dinner with me, you know I never pass up anything with beets. If anything would convince me to get into canning, it will be pickled beets. The smell of the beets cooking in an allspice/clove/cinnamon infused vinegar was enough to make my tummy rumble. I couldn’t wait to taste them and was a little sad when I learned we had to let them cool for 12 to 24 hours before testing the seals. Luckily, the last bit wasn’t enough to fill the jar, so Rebecca and I got to take some half-filled jars home to store in the fridge.
It is still considered “stored in the fridge” if it only sits in there two minutes, right?