I Can, Can You?

I love to can food. It’s one of those things that makes me feel all domestic and competent and old-timey. I first tried it two years ago, when my friend and I attempted crushed tomatoes. At first I was seriously apprehensive at the prospect of preparing the jars and processing the finished product. I read and re-read the instructions, including dire warnings about botulism and acidity and how you can kill yourself and your family if you’re not careful. And then I decided that if I wanted to do it, the best thing was to just jump right in.

Since my first foray into crushed tomatoes I have also canned pears, applesauce, pickles and lots and lots of jam. I have canned with a friend, by myself, and with screaming children for company. I have opened each jar with trepidation. Would it be good? Would I poison my friends and family? I am thankful to say that no illness or death has occurred as a result of my canning, and that in general the food I’ve canned has been delicious. I totally rock the food preservation, yo!

A week and a half ago I returned to crushed tomatoes. While our daughters were at preschool my friend and I and our two babies put away 40 pounds of canning tomatoes. Although, truth be told the babies didn’t exactly pull their weight. But we managed, and we got 42 pints of tomatoes as a reward. Look at how impressive they are, all lined up on my kitchen counter:

42 pints of crushed tomatoes

If you are interested in canning, or food preservation of any kind, I highly recommend the USDA Publications. Read them, get your bearings, and give it a try. It’s not as hard as it looks, I promise. And there are few things quite as satisfying as a shelf in your garage, full of food you made. It fulfills all of my natural impulses to prepare for the winter, and it makes me smile when I eat the food many months later. Because it’s mine, you know?

2009 Canning

I like taking responsibility for my own food like this. I know exactly what is in it. There’s nothing genetically modified in my tomatoes. No BPA lining the jars. And while it’s kind of a shift in thinking for someone like me who’s used to buying my food in neat little containers at the grocery store, it’s a good kind of shift. A shift towards understanding what I’m eating and where it came from. And I like it.

Do you can, or preserve food in other ways? If so, what’s your favourite thing to squirrel away for later?

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  1. I always say I’m going to can, but I never do. My grandma used to can everything when I was little, it was always so neat to watch her work. I’ve always got some excuse not to now: I need a bigger kitchen, I need more time, I can’t afford the equipment, blah, blah, blah.

  2. Wow that is impressive!

  3. Impressive! We do can. This year we did a batch of Tomato salsa due to an overproduction of cherry tomatoes from our plants. 🙂 We put away Applesauce every year (unsweetened), and last year we did pears, peaches and nectarines.

    Being that we are just three, we alternate what we put away each year, since we still have some cans from last year to finish, but did finish the applesauce. We do one batch and it lasts us well!

    I would love to have more time to do more, but alas, I never seem to get the time to do jams or fruit spreads, or pie fillings.

    I make lotions and creams from herbs, we dry and put away culinary herbs each year, we freeze pesto for Christmas gifts. We also put away quite a few apple pies for serving at dinners, impromptu hostess gifts, that sort of thing, make zucchini bread to freeze, and have reams and reams of blanched, frozen vegetables from our garden in our chest freezer. Ziploc freezerbags are the best, fyi.

    the Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving has WONDERFUL recipes out the Wazoo, and simple directions for canning both pressure and boiling techniques.

    I may echo your post today or tomorrow on how we can, its inspired me. Would that be ok?
    .-= caroline´s last post ..Feeling Good About Composting =-.

  4. Jasie VanGesen says:

    I love that you can! It’s something I want to do wholeheartedly once I’ve got my garden set up and can start growing my own food. The thing I’m looking forward to the most is making ym own pesto, marinara sauce, and enchilada sauce! 😀

  5. Love that picture – just look at the bounty! So far this year, I have done peach salsa, peach jam, no-sugar peach jam and applesauce. I missed the boat on beets (which went soft) and zucchini (which I just ate). I love canning. Started last year, and every year I get more adventurous. Next year, I’d love to do crushed tomatoes, though I’d like to can tomatoes that I grow myself, and I’m not good at growing tomatoes.
    .-= kgirl´s last post ..Tummy Troubles =-.

  6. Just opened my last jar of strawberry jelly! I’ll have to make a mental note to make WAY more next year. I can applesauce (unsweetened), apple butter, peach jelly, strawberry jelly, tomatoes (though my plants didn’t cooperate this year) and for the first time this year I made apple cider jelly. I really want to can apple pie filling this year, and I have what I would consider to be a “butt load” of apples sitting on my counter waiting to go into it 🙂
    .-= abbie´s last post ..Louder Than Words =-.

  7. I started making jam a couple of years ago but I also open each jar with fear! I would love to start canning vegetables. Awesome!

  8. I used to can more than I do now. I find myself freezing a lot more these days. But next fall, when I am on mat leave, I may try the canning thing again. I have all the tools and I have a new BBQ with an element on the side. I figure I can do the boiling outside and not overheat the house. August if often the hottest month of the year here and also the time when everything is ready to can.
    .-= Chantal´s last post ..work, work and more work =-.

  9. You just can’t beat home-canned tomatoes, they are just so much better.

    I canned apple butter and apple sauce this year thanks to being given a huge quantity of apples that I found out were a very very perishable variety! (not pantry keepers, but great for apple sauce)

    It was my first canning project in nearly a decade, and it went so smoothly that I had to wonder why I didn’t do it more often! (Of course having the entire kitchen really hot and over-run with food-mess and cooling jars was a bit of a hassle, I admit)

    I LOVE Chantal’s idea of doing the boiling outside! I will have to try that next year.
    .-= *pol´s last post ..Caught in the Act =-.

  10. I love canning!
    This year (with some help from MIL for some things) I canned tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, salsa, pears, chili sauce, and hot pickle mix. She canned beets for my husband too. Most years we make hot dog relish, but we still had lots left from last year. I still had jam left from last year too.
    Our tomatoes didn’t so well this year, so I wasn’t able to can as much as I would have liked. Hopefully next year will be a better year and I’ll be able to can as many as you!

  11. I started canning four years ago…two weeks after Emma was born….silly me. My first attempt was tomatoes too. I have now expanded to pickles, peaches, pears and antipasto and salsa and jams. My mom canned pretty much everything..inlcuding salmon (somthing I don’t do out here on the praries). I love it. I love saving money when we shop. I love eating somthing I have done myself. I love that the girls think I am magic when I am in the kitchen!
    .-= Heather´s last post ..Thanksgiving =-.

  12. I always loved canning jam… strawberry to be exact. Another thought for my retirement wish list – back to canning jam for that sweet tooth of mine!

  13. Wow, Amber! That looks amazing. I want one of those pickels- LOL! Didn’t get to can anything this year. 🙁 So sad- Darn it! Sooo jealous of your canned goods! Good for you. I did dehydrate a lot tho’ if that counts for anything? lol! Eating your own goodness is definitely the best way to go. 🙂
    .-= Leslie- La Mama Naturale´s last post ..Meatless Monday: Faken Bacon =-.

  14. I can too:)! But I don’t have a garage, and so I mainly preserve jam, and only can our overproduce tomatoes.
    .-= Francesca´s last post ..Garden planning & issues =-.

  15. Wow, they look gorgeous. And ‘no illness or death’ – bonus! I love the concept of canning, but haven’t gathered courage.
    .-= Lady M´s last post ..This Time, the Roller Coaster =-.

  16. wow!!! so impressed.

  17. Yes you can!

  18. I started canning this year too, for the same reasons you did – it’s mine, I know what it’s it, no nasty chemicals lining the can, or additive. I got into it when we started getting weekly veggie baskets, and sometimes couldn’t get through all the veggies… also, the market down the street sells all organic, and those won’t be around come February!!

    I love it!! It really isn’t all that hard. A bit of prep, and some boiling time, but once whatever you are doing is cooked, it’s just a waiting game. I mostly do high acidic food for now, and I don’t yet have a pressure canner – but it’s on my wish list!!

    And it is oh so satisfying to see your shelf full of home-made food 😀
    I’ve also often used them as gifts!

  19. Love, love, love canning. We are always canning around here. At least during the summer and early fall. Makes for wonderful eatings during the winter and also great for bartering!

    Thanks for stopping by.
    T Rex Mom’s last post … This is Me – Eight Questions – 300th posting!!!My Profile

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  1. […] hope that soon I will have shelves that look close to Amber’s. Jar upon jar of goodness ready to be […]

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