I took an interest in canning last summer. My mom used to can all sorts of things when I was a kid, ranging from homemade pickles, to jams, to canned vegetables, to soups.
I started last year with jelly. My first ever attempt at canning was making nanking cherry jelly, which turned out so well I hopped right into more jellies and jams. Last year, the total cups of jelly/jam canned was roughly 60. Some in pints, some in jam jars that hold one cup. By this summer, about 10 cups remained, mostly of strawberry jam, which seems to be the least favourite at our house. Or maybe I just made the most of that kind last year.
Last year, Tony got into making pickles: he made regular dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, and curry pickles, which were killer. Those curry pickles were so amazing on burgers I can’t even explain it. He also made some pickled beets, and I made about 24 quarts of salsa.
This year, the running total is getting to be ridiculous: I have done 8 cups of strawberry jam, 18 cups of saskatoon jelly, 18 cups of cherry jelly, and nearly 30 cups of raspberry jam, the boys’ favourite. All of the berries are local, all of which were picked by our family. I also made some cherry bbq sauce (5 cups). We have apples waiting to be processed, too. They are good for eating fresh, but there is no way we can go through all those apples! Jelly-time is looming.
Now, jam and jelly time is almost over and we are heading into regular pickling and canning. We picked about 10 lbs of string beans from our garden last night. That’s right, 10 lbs. That was from approximately half our plants, and this was not the first picking. I picked nearly as many last weekend! I am not one for canned beans, so I am trying to flash freeze them, and Tony wants to make some dilly beans. I have also got into pressure canning, which opens up so many possibilities, like soups. I have done beef barley soup and a mexican-inspired meatball soup.
All this canning is fantastic, but I am quickly realizing that I need more space to store my canned goods. I have no cold storage room, and piling jars all around my basement is not ideal. We also have to store our potatoes at my mom’s house in the winter because she has a cold room that will preserve them, whereas if we kept them in our house, they would spoil by November, I am sure.
I never thought I would ever be so domestic, but I am loving all the home-grown and homemade foods so much. It takes time and dedication to make all these goodies, time which could otherwise be spent knitting or relaxing, but we reap the rewards all year on our toast and at the dinner table, so it’s definitely worth it.
Especially when Sashimi tasted some store-bought jam and said “What’s wrong with this jam? It’s no good.”