I made salsa. A very small batch for my first go, and it didn't quite fill the second jar. But a success (I think) nonetheless. Made with CSA basket tomatoes and green pepper, parsley from my windowsill, and the most beautiful organic red vinegar. Yay!
Although I've made freezer jam for the past several years, making 'real' jam or other preserves has somehow always seemed beyond what I'm willing to try. I know! I'll try making just about anything, but I think I have a somewhat irrational fear of jarring pure botulism and poisoning everyone I love.
This may stem from two incidents in particular: a freshly opened jar of pickles on a table whose contents, as I watched, started to rise up and climb out of the jar. The second was getting unpleasantly ill after having homemade pickles at a friend's house once. Not cool. My mother and I, as I've probably mentioned before, are at polar opposite ends of the domesticity continuum, so I never had the chance to watch her, or anyone else, do any canning. This probably adds to my insecurity. But this year, since we have our CSA subscription and freezer space is (as usual) at a premium, I've determined that I am a) going to try making proper cooked jam and b) make salsa. And possibly tomato sauce, if those go well. All of these things I usually make fresh, but since we have lots of pantry cupboard space, it would be really nice to have some things put away up there.
Part of my inspiration is The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving. I borrowed it from the library, and it is fantastic. Everything (including details on botulism prevention, of course) are in it, as well as recipes for every kind of preserve, pickle, chutney, conserve, and relish imaginable.
Canning central - the behemoth canning pot (yard sale!) for those two little jars of salsa seems a bit excessive, I know - but it's the only pot I have which is tall enough to get them covered with the right amount of water.
The salsa, cooking. It smelled amazing. Really amazing.
Now that everyone's canning and preserving, Bernardin must be doing very well. My only issue with this kit is with the magnetized lid-picker-upper - the magnet fell out in the pot! Tongs to the rescue. Otherwise, the jar lifter is perfect, as are the head-space measurer-thing and the funnel.
I'm feeling confident in my canning abilities and can't wait to make some ground cherry jam from our CSA haul, and something with plums. A chutney, perhaps?
My next victims...