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Here's a chronicle of life on a plot of land right smack in the suburbs in Minnesota, whose owners would much prefer to be in the middle of nowhere.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Planning canning

Last year I decided to fling myself back into canning. A few years ago, I canned some salsa and pickles, but moving into an apartment, and then into a new house, took me off that track. This is what I canned last year, in no particular order:

  • Bread and butter pickles
  • Dill pickles (a whole day's work with my friend Amy)
  • Orange marmalade
  • Grapefruit marmalade
  • Grape jelly
  • Plum jam
  • Pickled beets
  • Corn relish
  • Sweet pickle relish

    The corn relish wasn't like I remembered; I have very distinct memories of the corn relish I enjoyed as a child (my mom did a lot of canning back in the day), and this didn't measure up, and didn't get eaten. The orange marmalade was fantastic, but I admit I haven't even tried the grapefruit. I just made that because I had grapefruit that was going to go bad otherwise! I haven't tried the plum jam, either, as I made it for my mom. The grape jelly is fantastic, made out of non-concord grapes stolen from a friend's neighboring then-vacant house. The pickled beets are mostly for me, and I will probably hold off on making more this year since I have a few jars left over. We still have some jars of pickles left, but those will be gone soon, and the sweet pickle relish was gone in a flash. I need to make at least double that amount this year.

    I'd like to try some new things this year, like tomato jam. I traded some of my canned goods and received some tomato jam in that exchange, and OH GOODNESS is it good. I'd also like to can fruit, like peaches, pears, and applesauce. We can't get locally grown peaches this far north, but I am going to channel my great-grandma and do what they did way back when and get a case (or more!) while they're in season and can away. My dad tells me that the women of Alma would go down to the train when it came up bringing peaches, and would drag crates back home and can them together.

    This year, two other ladies will be joining me for periodic can-stravaganzas to take advantage of our joint efforts and equipment. I will be hugely pregnant during most of the summer, and have volunteered to be the one who does the bulk of the (sitting-down!) prep work. That's actually my favorite part, anyway. I'm not a fan of slaving over hot stoves, even if they're set up outside. We might do some prepwork for freezing together, as well, since some things, like strawberries and green beans, take quite a bit of effort. For now, the lineup includes processing strawberries (for freezing and jamming), cucumber pickles, tomatoes, peaches, pears, and, come fall, applesauce.

    My stomach is growling just thinking of it all.

    1. My grandpa mentioned that one of his former boy scouts had a bunch of peach trees in Ham Lake, but they died over the winter :( It was their 4th or 5th season and would have been producing well this year.

      I'd like to obsessively weigh my produce as I harvest it this year, but I don't think enough strawberries and peas and cherry tomatoes will make it indoors to the scale.

    2. My most successful thing I canned last summer was spicy dill beans.

      I would like to try to make mint chutney this year.

    3. Uh-oh. What kind of prep are you supposed to do before freezing green beans? I've always just rinsed them, thrown them in a freezer bag, and tossed them in the freezer. :x

    4. Mamacritter: How does that end up working for you? That's a lot easier than my method! I trim and cut them, then blanch them, freeze in a single layer, and then bag them.

    5. Oh, you replied! That's one thing I dislike about blogger, the lack of ability to reply directly to another comment.

      Anyway, yeah, I do trim and cut them first, but then just throw them in a freezer bag. I haven't had any problems with it, I usually steam them to cook them after they've been frozen.



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