Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Boy and His Green Beans: Canning Paradigms

Dear folks who love the adorable, as well as the vegetable,

The little mister had a good time helping me snap green beans this summer.

He actually did snap it in half, but then he got bored and I had to finish them all on my own!  Watch Ball Canning's video on pressure-canning green beans at home.

Changing the Canning Paradigm
This year, canning was a bit different for us; instead of canning large quantities at a time like we have done previously (although we did do a little of that), I canned items as they trickled in, both from the food auction, the CSA, the market, generous gifts from friends and neighbors with overflowing abundance, and anywhere else I could glean food.

The other afternoon, for instance, I processed a pressure-canner load with three quarts of diced turnip, two quarts of green beans, one quart of chopped bell peppers, two quarts of diced banana peppers, and two half-pints of habaneros and one half-pint of cayenne peppers.  I just kept unloading things from my fridge and preparing them for canning and adding them to the load until I had a full canner, then screwed the lid on and processed for the amount of time specified for turnips - the longest-cooking of all the items listed here.

Over the course of the summer and this fall, canning has been like that; a few times a week, I will put a few jars through the canner.  Occasionally there will be a Big Day with Lots of Food, but generally it's just me, the baby, and a few jars at a time.  This is different for me, but it works; we're still getting a pantry stuffed with food.

I started off the season going through my list of Regular Stuff to Can thinking, who can I buy my green beans from?  Where will I get my tomatoes?  I ended the season just welcoming with open arms any and all produce I could find for a good price (or for free!) and get into jars or the freezer in time.  Instead of seeking specific items I knew how to use, I just hunted down whatever I could find locally and learned how to use it after the fact (I don't normally hunt down okra, cherry tomatoes, turnip greens, basil by the bucketload, bananas, beets and habanero peppers).  We got what we got, and in the end we have shelves filled with vegetables and fruit for the winter.

Using Juliet Tomatoes for Tomato Jam (Or Amish Paste, Sweet Million, or any other small paste or cherry tomato)

The Mysterious Mrs S turned me on this this recipe by the talented canner Marisa McClellan, a blogger I've been following ever since my mom first showed me her site.  Make this heavenly Tomato Jam - no peeling, no seeding!  You can use any tomato, really; but I found it the perfect way to use ten pounds of cherry tomatoes that I wasn't too keen on peeling.  The jam is a sweet, hovering taste of heaven.  Delicate, fragrant tastes, with deep, ambient undertones; just sweet enough, just warm enough.  Can't. Stop. Eating.

Still. Eating.

Mrs H

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