|From left to right--TOP row: blueberry lemon jelly, applesauce, grape juice, salsa verde, strawberry jelly, raspberry jelly, grape jelly. Bottom row: apricot jam, pickles, peaches, salsa, pears, diced tomatoes.|
Sorry for the LONG post. Because this is essentially my only journal I write a lot of details. Skip over the text to the fun pictures if you'd like.
This is the first year that I really became addicted to canning. Canning has always been a little intimidating and daunting to me. I remember my mother canning a few times growing up in Colorado. And then again for a student service project while at BYU. I was determined to learn how once I lived somewhere that produced something that I could practice on. So when we moved into the Hart home in Provo that had grapevines, I had some neighbors who encouraged me. I started canning in 2009 with grape jelly. I had some success and not so successful times setting the jelly. And I was doing it alone, mainly without help of a mentor or Pinterest. But I figured it out.
Then, when we moved to Grandma Knell's I knew we could start our own garden. A friend, Dara Jakins introduced us to her salsa and I decided to try it out. We grew the peppers, tomatoes and jalapenos ourselves. This was 2010 and we've been using the same recipe ever since. Each year making it thicker and adding more spicy peppers. We have it dialed in, I think.
Between 2010 and now I canned a few other things like freezer strawberry jam and peaches Remember this? http://stoehrs.blogspot.com/2010/09/peaches.html
Fast forward to 2016. We haven't had a garden since 2010. Though I've made salsa each year, I haven't been able to use our own harvest. So, it was really exciting this year to be able to have a completely organic batch of salsa made of almost everything from our own garden. This year I was also able to teach Steph, Emily and Rose how to can too! I think it's more fun to do it with someone else and you can typically get more done with a group. Plus, I've learned so much from this process! I only recently (like two weeks ago) learned that you no longer have to boil/heat lids before sealing. I just read on the Ball/Kerr website that in 2015 they disproved that you need to do this. They did studies and discovered that the seal will still take if the lids are at room temp. I love this...one less step, time saving too. So yeah, still learning things.
The only picture we took--canning applesauce. I was so impressed with these women. They drove up here and stuck it out for hours, while pregnant and nursing a baby and handling a toddler! Way to go! We also canned salsa (with just Emily) and peaches together.
|Emily preparing to be a mom by multi-tasking. Pregnant, holding a baby and canning at the same time, and in a dress (she was headed to a wedding that night)!|
From July through now I have canned pretty much non-stop, it feels like. Particularly in September and October. I didn't Instagram many of these things because I didn't want to seem boastful. But I am going to here for documentation. Overall, I canned 13 different things. Froze countless green beans, marinara sauce, and zucchini from our garden! I also ground up a bunch of red chili's into powder. I've made fruit leather, dehydrated fruit, jellies, jams, sauces and many desserts and meals from our harvest or our neighbors bounty!
Overall, after counting I learned that I canned 213 jars of stuff! 107 quarts, 60 pints and 46 smaller jars. This doesn't include the preserved foods. Or the other quarts of stuff helping others. Phew, no wonder I'm burned out. Last week was my last week to can, I told myself. Even though I was offered more free apples, grapes and have more tomatoes, I am DONE for the season! But it feels good to know that our food storage has a healthy supply of food and it's so pretty to look. That's my excuse for letting it sit on the counters for weeks.
Starting in July I canned jellies. Three of which I had never canned before including strawberry, raspberry and blueberry lemon jelly. The texture is a little goopy, so I feel I need to practice more with that. Our fruit trees are just babies still and we grew one apricot successfully. So when my friend Jessica Slade offered to let anyone pick apricots from her trees I drove up there and took a ton. I made two batches of apricot jam (one with Joc and my favorite, lavender). Then, this fall I made raspberry freezer jelly made with secret ingredients (green tomatoes and raspberry jello).
Below are a bunch of photos of the process!
|Pears for days from the Swenson's three trees next door. They just kept on coming.|
|French pear tart with almond franginpane. Courtesy of neighbors pears.|
|First time canning pears. It was difficult cutting around all the worms, bruises, etc. But again, canned pears are better than store bought canned pears!|
|I am so sick of looking at cucumbers. I will change my mind when I have to buy them in the winter.|
|First time canning pickles. Of course, I cut myself on the mandolin. I had to can these suckers three separate times because they just kept coming. That's the problem of planting 6 plants!|
|Peaches. We had to buy these but they were tasty. Still ended up being $2/quart. Store bought is that price, on sale, and not nearly as tasty.|
|Grapes from Jessica's home garden. Wahoo! Filled a whole cooler full. And I only took about 25% of what she grew.|
|Apples from Jessica's yard too. I canned about 4 of these boxes, half were from her yard. The other half from Carol Peterson's in my neighborhood.|
|Colin, my helper, and his buddy George.|
|Failed fruit leather. A little overcooked. Grape with some pears and banana added. Great flavors. And grateful that I scored a basic dehydrator at a garage sale in Colorado.|
|For some reason we thought cutting off ends of beans was quicker than breaking them off. I think we were wrong. We were able to blanche and freezer, with our food saver, tons and tons of beans for the winter. We prefer frozen to canned.|
Overall, I feel so blessed for this abundance. For wonderful neighbors who are so willing to give of their time and services. I borrowed two juicers, a Victorio Strainer (a life save for making the applesauce), and an extra canner. Plus, an older lady from my ward, who is no longer canning, gave me four boxes of quart sized and pint sized jars. That saved me about $40 right there.
I hope I will be able to keep up this trend for many years to come. Especially as our fruit is ready to can. It just ended up being a habit. "What would I can this week?" It was exhausting at times and I ended up ordering take-out or pizza to feed the children for dinner as I was still canning or cleaning up from that day's project. And the kitchen, particularly the floors, sink and stove, were a constant mess. But it has been immensely fulfilling harvest this year! I look forward to eating our goods all year long!