Canning!

Growing up I watched my grandmother can. She typically only canned peaches and pears each year and sometimes applesauce. My mother and aunt don’t can and have never even talked about it to my knowledge. I on the other hand can and I love it. Last year I only canned raspberry pie filling. This year I have done tomatoes sauce, raspberry pie filling, raspberry sauce, blackberry pie filling, blackberry sauce, blackberry syrup, pear butter, apple pie filling, apple butter, and applesauce.

Canning does take time and has some expensive start up costs; the jars aren’t cheap usually. I paid $8 for 12 jars at Bi-Mart and they were on sale. Then there are the costs for the water bather and if you do pressure canning the pressure cooker that is large enough to hold your jars. Right now I only can acidic foods because I don’t have a pressure cooker. There is also the cost of electricity or gas and water to make is all happen. I believe it’s all worth it though. At the end of each session you have yummy products that you worked hard to make. Sure I’ve stayed up till 3:30 am one night because I was on a roll and didn’t want to stop; Mr. B kissed me goodnight and said see you in the morning. Even he knew I was on a roll and wasn’t going to give up.

The produce that I have used so far this year has been locally grown for the most part; the pears I bought at Safeway. My apples came from a small orchard an hour south of me, the raspberries I picked from a field an hour west of me, the blackberries I picked from my Aunts house an hour north of me, and the tomatoes I got from my CSA; I like local foods better then commercial, can you tell? My main motivation isn’t cost. It’s not necessarily cheaper to go to a local grower to get some produce and it probable never will be. I am motivated by taste. I love the taste of fresh produce from a local source. I also like picking berries; I know I’m weird! A small portion of my motivation is I like to keep money local.

When I canned by berry pie fillings I did not add any thickener to them. I did the same thing last year and just add it when I go to place it in my pie shell. Those pies have turned out very well! This year when I did my apple pie filling I used cornstarch. The USDA right now is recommending a product called ClearJel for all home canned pie fillings. ClearJel is a modified cornstarch that many commercial bakers use. Unlike cornstarch though it doesn’t start to thicken until the liquid begins to cool down. This allows for even heat distribution, which is why it’s being recommended. I did go looking for it in my area and could not find it; not even my local co-ops had it. Next I turned online and, of course, found it online for purchase. The cheapest I found it without shipping was $6.50 for one pound at KitchenKrafts.com. The catch was that shipping it to my house was going to cost me more then the cost of the product. Given that it is only a safety concern (helps the jars no blow up) and talking with a few other people I know I decided to not use clearjel and to stick with cornstarch. I am not saying the USDA is wrong on their recommendation and when ClearJel becomes more readily available to me I will probable switch over because it does cool to a clearer substance then cornstarch.

All but my pear butter was done the “old fashion” way. That means I didn’t use my crock-pot as the main cooking source. I am not even sure I will ever do it again. The apple butter on the stove was a cinch. You only have to stir it once in a while and while it is taking that hour-long time to thicken up I cleaned up a good chunk of my kitchen. Most of the recipes I used can be found in the book The Art of Preserving (2010). My apple pie recipe came from my father-in-law and is his recipe. I have done a few other things out of this book that aren’t canning like flavored butter and flavored vinegar. I love this book and wish I had gotten it earlier in the canning/preserving season.

What are some of your favorite things to can or preserve?

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About Tara B.
Hi, I am Tara B. and its great to meet you!! I am an outgoing person with introvert tendencies. I have two amazing dogs that I love and adore! You will hear about them and their adventures a lot :D I also have the most amazing husband! Together he and I have Miss Go Go (you'll also see her referred to as Baby B) that was born in the spring of 2015. She is smart, quick learner, and loves to mimic everything she sees. I love to cook, bake, try to stay healthy, and read. I love to explore my area (and the world when life allows), and seek out fun things to do. You want more information just ask! I am horrible at writing "About You" sections...:) If you have any questions, comments, ect I can be reached at CraftsByTaraB@gmail.com.

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