8.23.2010

preserving

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...

5 comments:

  1. I am also a canning virgin, but I'm hoping to change that this summer.

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  2. Don't be afraid, Sherrie! I made my first batches of jam last year. It's easy (albeit, messy) and so much fun. And how lovely to hear those little pops of the tops as the jars start to cool and the lids set. Each pop brings a little more joy. Last year I made strawberry-rhubarb jam and apple butter. I picked up that same book from the library and was thrilled with all the delicious-sounding recipes. I think there was a peach and lavender jam that sounded lovely (now, only to find organic lavender safe for consuming!). Good luck. May all your lids pop! :)

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  3. Your salsa looks amazing! I think you'll be fine with canning. You'll see warning signs that something's not right if you're careful: lid's not sucked in, odd colors, etc.

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  4. I made some delicious blueberry jam this summer. I made it with agave nectar and no-sugar pectin. It was amazing!! I want to do another batch actually so that we can put them in Christmas baskets:)
    Happy canning!

    Carolyn
    www.project21days.blogspot.org

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  5. I love canning - isn't it amazing? But that bit about the pickles climbing out of the jar? Oh. My. Goodness. Things that like scare me so much! (But I admit - I laughed.) :)

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