Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Adventures in Canning

I've always been intimidated by canning but decided to give it a whirl last fall when I made apple butter. I found out it was much easier than I thought it was and everyone at Christmas enjoyed the homemade gift. In fact, I've had family bringing me empty jars so that I can make more this year. Knowing that I tackled one recipe and survived, I decided I would try more this year as fresh produce from the garden starts taking over.

Friday night, my in laws gave me a bag of very ripe peaches. By Saturday night, it was obvious I had to do something with them or they would wind up in the trash within a day or so. My husband said he didn't want a cobbler and I didn't want to just freeze them as I did that once before and he wouldn't eat them when I thawed them because the color was off (yes, he is picky). I searched the internet and found what seemed a super easy recipe for peach jam. I set out to make it and hours later, it still wasn't coming together. After burning my hand for the third time from boiling peach stuff I decided I was done. I wound up with some pretty yummy peach syrup which will be used on ice cream and pancakes but nothing I can give at Christmas.

While stirring the mixture all that kept going through my head was a post on "Lessons I Learned While Canning". So, without further ado, here are the lessons:

1. I need bigger pots: If I want to can a decent amount of anything, I need atleast one more large stockpot or a larger saucepan. I overflowed one pot with the jam mixture and just about overflowed the next size up after I moved the mixture to it. I didn't have anything else besides the huge stockpot which had the canning jars in it.

2. Canning tongs would make life easier: I figured this out quickly last year when making apple butter but forgot about it until this latest adventure.

3. Simple syrup stinks when it burns: Yep, that would be from the overflowing pot of peach jam.

4. Only attempt a new recipe when the kids are gone: The baby kept needing to be fed while I was destroying my kitchen and it was never good timing. Luckily, the toddler was not home.

5. Double the time you think it will take: With both experiences it took much longer than I thought it would simply because I was doing something that was new to me. I think it will get quicker with more experience.

6. It is all worth it and I look forward to my next canning experience. I have no idea what I will be trying next but I'm pretty sure it will not be peach jam.


Tracy said...

It's great that you are doing some canning. I love canning the "fuits of my labor" to speak. This year I splurged and bought myself a pressure canner and I love it! I am now able to can anything. I make my own canned pasta sauce, beans, soups, etc. The canners on the market today are so much better (and safer) than those of "yesteryear". I also cook in it. It works great!

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