Wednesday, 24 October 2012

cutting my canning teeth

So I decided that this would be the year I would teach myself to preserve food. I'm not ready to invest in a dehydrator or vacuum sealing machine yet- i just don't have the space for the equipment or the food frankly, but a little bit of canning to get my feet wet and put a little of the summer harvest by, that I could handle. 
The biggest batch I made of anything was five jars of raspberry jam. I also did four jars of roasted tomatoes (down to one already!), two jars of vanilla pear butter, and one jar of roasted garlic. The tomatoes were done using the water bath canning method. The pears and jam were cooked so I just canned them right into sterilized jars and that was that. The garlic had to be frozen. 
I made lots of mistakes and got to try a couple of different methods- but everything tasted yummy! It was all way easier than I had worked myself up to believe, actually. I used pretty simple recipes- the pear butter was the most complicated but I'm told it worked out well (I gave it all away before I had a chance to taste any). 
Over the winter I'm planning to keep track of what I buy the most of, in terms of things that I could can next year. I know right off the bat that all things tomato will be top of the list. Pasta sauce, salsa, and lots of straight up roasted whole tomatoes. My garden tomatoes did well this year, although they were slow to start as my yard is pretty shady. I didn't preserve any, though. We couldn't resist eating them all fresh and straight off the vine. I had six plants that grew to about 6 feet tall, and next year I think I'll aim to triple that. 
Pickling is something I didn't get into this year; I missed the farmer's harvest and our plants produced them too slowly to keep them fresh until there were enough to pickle. So we just enjoyed those fresh, too. Lots of cucumber, basil and tomato salads were enjoyed! 
I don't have the yard space or the house space really, to put up a winter's-worth of preserved food right now, so the time we spend in this place is a time of learning for me. Learning how to grow and how to preserve, so I am a little better prepared when we eventually find the place we're meant to be and I can earnestly dig into my dream of food independence. I do so long for the day when I can have all my family over for Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner, and give thanks for every single thing on the table being raised, grown, and harvested from our own land with our own hands. 
But for now, I have five very pretty jars left sitting in my cupboard that have no labels, logos or ingredient lists on them, and that's enough to make me smile. 

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