Canning Season

I am pleased to announce, after a few year hiatus (due to bad kitchens and life crises), canning season has officially begun in the Levy/Dill household.

I wish I had learned to can at my mother’s knee (or elbow), but this is not the case.  My mother attempted home canning once.  Ithink it was supposed to be plum jam, it never jelled, her seals weren’t good, and rather take the chance of poisoning her family, the whole thing, jars, jam, etc., went into the trash.  That was the end of her career as a home canner.

In 2001, Tim and I and our downstairs neighbors, planted a veggie garden that should have kept the 4 of us in veggies for the summer.  They were transferred, mid-season, out of  state and we were left with an incredibly abundant garden.  After 10 days of cucumber salad, the question arose, “what to do?”  The solution was simple.  Pickles!

For those of you who have not been following our adventure, when we came to NY from Florida, we had no jobs.  We had a little money put away and we thought Tech Valley would provide a job for a seasoned Help Desk tech.  Well….we were wrong.  We lived on Florida Unemployment Insurance, varied and sundry consulting jobs that Tim
found, and the barest beginning of a massage therapy practice.  In essence, we were broke.

We bought the Ball Blue Book, canning jars, cut down a dollar store cake rack, bought a jar lifter
and used my Lobster Pot.  That season I made pickles and canned tomatoes, pasta sauce and pickle relish.  We ran out of things to can, but not out of desire to be canning.

A run to the orchard got us  some peaches and we learned how to make preserves.  I have been making the same preserves every year.  I’ve been told enter them in the local county fair, but never get around to doing it in time.

Yesterday, as we made our leisurely way down to my Dad’s house for an afternoon that was supposed to include poolside relaxation (but didn’t), we stopped at Golden Harvest Farms to get some peaches.

We bought 2 half-bushels of peaches and set off.

This morning, I woke up to find Tim in a frenzy of kitchen cleaning.  While my kitchen is usually reasonably clean, when I’m canning, it is sanitized.  Tim unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, filled it with canning jars and ran it again.  He
wiped down every surface, then again with a mild bleach solution, then again with a clean, wet cloth.  He washed the canner, filled it and we both lifted it to the stove (he’s still limited in his use of his recently repaired left shoulder).

We started with our signature Peach Preserves.

A few months ago I finally bought a digital, electronic, kitchen scale.  Because I’ve never known exactly how many of what fruit equals the amounts called for in my recipes, this year, I’m converting everything to weights, not necessarily liquid measure.

Using to old adage (works for liquid measure only…and not all the time at that), “A pint’s a pound the world around,” and my recipe calls for 2 quarts of peaches, I weighed off 4 lbs.

Blanched:

Shocked:

Peeled:

Pit:

and diced:

I ended up with 1 peach shy of 4 quarts.    Perhaps other people knew this, but since I’m a self-taught home canner, I
never did.

Of course, in the process I received the first wound of the season:

Fortunately, when you cut yourself with a sharp knife, the cut is quick and clean.

While I was prepping peaches, Tim took off for the food co-op tostock up on new spices, and then the market for more sugar, pectin and other stuff.

Then you cook and cook and cook, stirring to prevent sticking until it reaches the gel point:

Then set up the actual canning station:

And then, after the preserves are put into jars, given a 10 minutes boiling water bath, you end up with this:

So who wants to be on my Yule, Chanukah, Christmas gift exchange list this year?

Tomorrow….the Rhubarb.

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