Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Home Canning

I can't imagine ever being bored as a stay-at-home mom. Even when the kids get bigger. Then I will do things like home-made bread and pasta. There's so much I want to learn and make. So my nice friend Wendy had us over last week to show me the ropes of home canning. I've been too scared up to now, worried I'd give us botulism or something. Jam/jelly seems to be the easiest, thank goodness. Processing (boiling), after the jars are filled isn't even necessary, like with fresh fruit.

Sadly I didn't get a picture of Wendy or the buckets of concord grapes she brought from her mom's garden, but here's the juice coming out of the steamer. Then it was cooked with sugar and pectin and went into hot jars. I halfed the sugar, despite warnings on the box, and it set up perfectly with a little extra boiling. I was happy to learn on something that didn't require the post-processing or a pressure cooker, needed for vegetables and such. I have scary visions of sealed jars exploding. Yikes. Baby steps.

Eli gasped when he saw Wendy's garden. It was cute. I've been trying to get him excited about growing vegetables.  I gasped when I saw how much basil, lemongrass, and heirloom tomatoes she sent us home with. We've been eating plenty of caprese, pesto, and even some Thai chicken soup.  Wendy also told me about a book by a woman that only ate what she grew or got from the local farmer's market for 1 year. Not sure if I could ever do that. It's a lot of work, self sufficiency. I knew that, but realized a little better that you can't be wimpy. While plucking grapes I squeeled a few times when I found earwigs making their way up my hand.

I'm hoping to do lots of homework on gardening so things will go as smoothly as possible when the time comes.  Natural pest control, where to plant what, what grows well here, best way to water, etc.  So I'm grateful for Wendy's advice.

So today I'm excited to have canned by myself for the first time.  Making my own batch of grape jelly. Each pop of the lids going down was a relief.  It worked! Now I definitely sound crazy to experienced canners and those with  no interest, which probably represents everyone.


Kristyn said...

Is there anything you don't do?! Jack of all trades, my dear.

And I read that book - well, listened to it on tape while we did a LOT of painting in our house. It's excellent. You will love it.

Kristyn said...

BTW, in the book she talks about making her own cheese. One day, if we ever come up to Utah, or if you ever come down here, we should get together and make cheese together. It got me kind of excited to try!