Thursday, November 5, 2009

Home-Canned Goodness

So…I'm on a bit of a food kick. Not just food, but good food. Yummy stuff, made with good ingredients. Even whole grains, fresh local produce, that sort of thing.

My dad's mom used to make pickles; she also had a wonderful garden, so she froze home-grown veggies, too. I remember how wonderful her butter beans were; I never associated them with the overly-mealy, mostly nasty things called lima beans! It was years before I learned that butter beans are lima beans!

Her sister and mother used to make mayhaw jelly. Once a staple of special occasion meals, the mayhaw is so rare now that it's very hard to find the jelly…and very expensive when you do find it. (But so worth it: I bought two jars at a small store near Unicoi back in September. One is for my mom; I'm opening my jar for Christmas, when the family comes over!)

Anyway, Dorkelf and I have been wanting to try canning for the last two summers, but with two moves in just over a year–including buying a house–it just never happened.

I decided I had to can something. I joined the forums at I Dig My Garden, which is hosted by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Motivated by their suggestions and a post I found for crock pot apple butter, I bought a box of Ball canning jars (half pint, with the new platinum lids) and two three-pound bags of apples.

It went great, and smelled awesome. Three pounds of Granny Smith, cored, peeled, and sliced, one cup of water, half a cup of starthistle honey, half a cup of Splenda, and three cups of sugar. I added a spice bundle, which contained two sticks of cinnamon, 3/4 tsp whole allspice, and 1 1/4 tsp whole cloves.

Otherwise, I followed her directions. My stockpot only held seven half-pint jars, so I ended up with an extra half pint, plus a bit extra. The leftover went directly into the fridge; the extra half pint I filled like all the rest, then inverted on a kitchen towel on the counter while it was still hot. (This is called the inversion method, and it is not safe, so don't use it.) Once it was cool, I checked the seal (yay! It sealed!), but then I put it in the fridge. Bacteria can still grow in it, so I'll use it up as soon as I'm through with the leftovers. Really, I don't want botulism…

I also made a quart jar plus a half pint of pickled okra and a quart jar of sliced cucumber pickles. Both types were made as quick refrigerator pickles, so I have about three weeks to use them up. (Vinegar, a bit of sugar, pickling spice, dill seed, a dried pepper, and garlic. I made it up as I went along.)

All in all, I'm very happy with my experiment.


Roswenth said...

*has thoroughly enjoyed the 'food kick'*

Mirawyn said...

You're just saying that because you got a jar of the apple butter and the cranberry orange marmalade. :)

Jami@ An Oregon Cottage said...

I make refrigerator pickles every year (I like them better than canned- they're crisper) and they last a year (sometimes a little more). In fact, we don't start eating them until a month after making so they have time to "pickle." So you don't have to eat your pickles up in three weeks- unless you want to!