I know you're thinking, "What kind of caption is that?!"
Well, it just felt fun to say..."you can, I can, we all can can."
I guess at this point I need to write a reminder that I am a stay at home mom of seven. That usually earns me a free pass in the slightly crazy/lost-her-mind category, am I right?
But If you've ever wanted to can some fresh veggies for your family, but were afraid to try it, please know that if I can do it--you absolutely can...can. (I couldn't resist.)
A love for canning was passed down to me from my Grandmother. I remember it like it was only yesterday, the summers I spent with her and Grandpa helping them put up their garden. Snapping beans under the apple tree in the backyard while Grandpa sang a hearty old hymn all out of tune and wide-smiling. Leaning over scalding pots of pickled okra and sweet baby dills in Grandma's hot kitchen. Grandma's years of canning and honing her recipes had won her fame for the best pickles in Mayes County, Oklahoma. My favorite of all, though, was her tomato juice. I could drink an entire quart in one day, after which she would scold me and hide the rest of the jars to pull out every so often as a special treat.
An entire room of their house was devoted to their home canned goods. A rainbow of fruits and vegetables lined on floor-to-ceiling shelves. There's just something so intrinsically good, so visually and physically satisfying about food you've grown, harvested, prepared, labored over and stored away for the nourishment of your family and friends. I now understand why she gave her canned food away as a gift for every occasion and church gathering, why she brought baskets of it to friends recovering at home after hospital visits, why she secretly loved that my brother and I would sneak jars of her tomato juice out of her cupboards.
This was her labor of love.
My grandmother passed away over two years ago, at the well-lived and well-earned age of 92. And I wish she could see the jars that are filling my pantry now. I'm pretty sure she'd smile and share her secrets with me all anew.
I'm following in my Grandma's footsteps in more ways than one; I'm married to a gardening man. We married young and we've grown up together and at the time, neither one of us knew how much we would love to be connected to the soil, to our family's food source--as much as we do.
He plants and harvests and I preserve and prepare it. And we do it all with our children alongside us, being sustained by the soil, the sun, and the goodness of it all.
Canning does take time.
It will take preparation and planning. But it's much, much simpler than most people believe. All you really need is a large stock pot, canning jars and lids, a canning grabber (a device used to lift the jars out of the scalding water), a glass measuring cup, and your recipe. A pressure canner is only necessary for very low-acid canning. Most of the recipes I use require only water bath canning.
We are harvesting baskets and baskets of tomatoes right now. I have tomatoes on every windowsill, in boxes in my fridge and on every other available surface. And our family's very favorite thing to eat around here is salsa. We practically drink it like water. So, I've been a salsa canning fool lately.
Here's my favorite recipe so far:
Makes 10 1-Pint Jars
- About 24 whole tomatoes, peeled
- 2 cups small Juliet Roma tomatoes (You don't have to add these, I only added them because I'm harvesting so many right now from our garden)
- 2 medium white onions
- 5 jalepenos
- 2 large Poblano* peppers
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 T lime juice
- 1/4 c. lemon juice
- 1 1/2 c. 5% acidity white vinegar (or cider vinegar)
- 1 1/4 T. sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tsp cumin
- Fill a large stockpot with as many pint jars as will fit. Fill the pot with water, covering the jars. Bring them to a boil to sterilize them.
- Fill a small saucepan with water and place your jar lids in it to simmer (not boil). This is to soften the sealant for a proper seal.
- Score the top of your tomatoes in the shape of a shallow X with a knife. Fill another stock pot with boiling water and add your whole tomatoes to the boiling water for 3 minutes. Then remove them from the pot and place in a bowl of ice water. The skins should peel right off.
- Chop or blend all your ingredients and add to a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes depending on how watery you want your salsa.
- Stir in chopped cilantro.
- Remove your jars from the water bath, pouring the water back into the stockpot.
- Fill the jars with the hot salsa, leaving 1/2 inch space from the top of the jar.
- Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings
- Return the jars to the hot water bath for 15 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.
- Remove from the pot and allow to cool before handling.
- Check the top of the lid, if the middle indentation is smooth, the jar is sealed. If you can still pop the indentation in and out, then you will need to refrigerate that jar and eat it within 5 days.
And there you have it!
Be proud of it and share it with the world.
Enjoy the fruit of your labor!
I plan on sharing more canning recipes soon!
I made spicy dill pickles last week and I can't wait to put up some dilly beans. I'm also experimenting with a thai pickling recipe.
Happy Canning, Friends!
p.s. Miji, this post is for you with my many thanks for the book you gifted me on your last visit, "Food in Jars" by Marisa McClellan, it's been a great companion!