Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Yes I CAN!

When I make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I use whole wheat bread (hopefully I'll soon be able to make my own,) organic crunchy peanut butter and my mother's homemade jam. Ah, jam. Mom's is better than anything I could buy and I know EXACTLY what's in it. I guarantee there won't be any high fructose corn syrup or icky preservatives. Fruit and sugar. Sweet and simple.

My Mom canned a lot when I was growing up. Jams and jellies were her forte, but she canned veggies too on occasion. I always associated canning with peeling, pitting, chopping and sweating and as soon as I was done with my job I hightailed out of the kitchen, thereby missing how to actually do the canning. Looking back, I realize I should have hung around. Our garden will soon be abundantly overflowing and since we've worked so hard to grow it, we want to preserve the fruit of our labors (no pun intended). We'll freeze some, we'll dry some, but eventually we're going to have to can some.

So....we bought books. That's what my husband and I do. If we want to learn about something, we buy lots and lots of books. Amazon looooves us.

We read them. We got confused. Low acidity, high acidity, pressure canning, open bath canning, headspace, hot pack, cold pack, raw pack....what? Overwhelmed, I knew it was important to learn how to can properly so I didn't inadvertently poison my family with tainted food. But, I figured I'd just put it off until the freezer was full and the dehydrator pooped out from working overtime.

No such luck. At our local natural food store we discovered that asparagus was on sale for a $1 a pound. My husband began loading the cart, insisting the only way we were going to learn to can was to do it, and that we needed a little practice before we actually had pounds of vegetables waiting to be preserved. I was of course terrified, but my hubby assured me if our Mom's could do it, so could we. 

We found a recipe for pickled asparagus on the internet and set to work. There was still a significant amount of confusion as to whether we needed to pressure can or use an open water canner. We decided to go with the latter. The recipe said to process the asparagus for 10 minutes but upon inspection, we realized the jars weren't sealed yet so we left them in for 12. The jars made weird squealing sounds when we took them out of the water (my husband said it was the asparagus crying) but everything looked good. And now, I have five jars of canned asparagus pickling in my pantry. I know exactly what's in it, I know how it was made and that, my friends, makes me very, very happy.


  1. Good post, Steph. I to wish I would have paid more attention to the process growing up. My mom canned a lot and I was like you..helped but was clueless. So I am curious..were any of the canning books you bought any help? Or do you just suggest searching the internet!

  2. The lids won't be sealed when you take them out of the water bath. They seal as they cool and you will hear a popping sound and the lid will be sucked down so when you push on it, it won't move. Did you add garlic to the pickling juice? I think that would be very tasty!

  3. Headspace is the gap between the projectile and the chamber. Oh... Wait... Different headspace :)