I’ve created something of a monster in finally plucking up the courage to try canning. I didn’t get into the trend a few years ago when it took off. My first attempt was pickles (which I’ve never liked with few exceptions). I forced myself into pickling and canning by buying six pickling cucumbers at the farmers market. I knew if I didn’t make myself try, I might never get to it. This summer, I bought an inexpensive canning set, mostly for the special jar tongs and good funnel, thinking maybe eventually, I’d can something.
Since my first canning experience, the ping of a successful seal has become a prized sound in my kitchen. Among the canned things now in our pantry: lemon curd, pickles, pickled pears and green beans (different recipes), stewed tomatoes (I bought 25 pounds of Roma tomatoes…), applesauce and jam. It’s a freezer jam recipe, for the reduced sugar, but I canned it. My understanding is that as long as you have enough acidity, sterile jars and a good seal, all should be well. I feel sort of unstoppable. We will, naturally, smell test everything before eating it.
I’ve stuffed all these jars onto a cramped cupboard shelf and am surprised at how compactly all this food can be stored. The jars contain very little air and have small footprints. If you wanted to put up enough food for the winter, you wouldn’t need a ton of space (more than we have to spare, but not a ton). Of course, historically, that’s what people did before you could get strawberries from Chile in January. Produce is nothing short of overly available in the high season and sadly, much of it goes to waste. Why not hang on to some of it? Or a lot of it? The fruit preserved from the high season tastes so much better than off-season options.
I don’t foresee myself buying beans by the bushel to can, but I did take advantage of low prices to squirrel away enough summer flavors to brighten up some dreary winter days. Also, I’d rate our preparedness for the zombie apocalypse better than before. Or we won’t go hungry if the city gets snowed in for two weeks this year…that seems well within the realm of possibility. Nor will we have to buy mealy, crunchy, pink tomatoes from the grocery store. This week, they’re from Mexico and Canada, of all places (I don’t get it either). There are still a few local tomatoes to be had at the farmers market, but they’ll soon be gone and we’ll switch to the juicy, perfect canned ones.