One of the really interesting things I’ve learned how to do since I arrived here is how to can. To be fair, I am only beginning to learn how to can, since one could rightly say that it is definitely a ‘home art’ and not something one masters in a couple of sessions.
The absolutely amazing thing about all of it is that you take fresh stuff, cut it up, do stuff to it and it will last. Certainly, when you open the jar it won’t be quite as fresh tasting as it would if you were eating it right off the tree, but it will be nearly so. There is something magical about it and it probably seem so because they are so beautiful when they’re finished. The little jars make the fruit look like big gems, sparkling and colorful.The woman who taught me how to can last year has a jar of some sort of purple peaches. They are old…very old…though she says they are probably still good since the lid is still sealed. But she would never eat them because she believes they are too beautiful.
These days, we can go to the store and buy fresh produce in the dead of winter because of shipping from the tropical areas in some cases and forced growing in others, and that is great. I’m not knocking that at all. But there is something really nice about opening a jar of fruits or vegetables that you prepared yourself….that you set aside yourself…for this later day in the dark, grey winter. One can only imagine how satisfying it must have been for people, before our current days of plenty and abundance, to fill the cabinet with jars of beautiful and truly needed food for the winter.
At any rate, last year a parishioner taught me how to can pimentos and so, after a second learning session this year, I was ready to try it on my own!
Here’s my great big pot I got from WalMart. It’s what is called a water bath canner. What I learned to use first was a pressure canner, but those are both expensive and, frankly, an little unnearving to use on your own. They could, after all, explode!
Basically, you cut up the fruit, do stuff to it, super clean the jars by putting them in boiling water, put the fruit and juice-y type stuff on top, put on the two part lid, immerse them in the hot water in this giant pot, and boil it for however long the chart tells you. After you take them out and they sit in the air for a bit, you get this nice, loud popping sound. That’s your affirmation! Your applause! The food says: ‘well done! Pop!’ It means that little metal lid has sealed properly.
First, I did spiced peaches. They smelled soooo good!
And looked so pretty, too! One of the most amazing things to me about all of it is the fact that the food is boiling inside the jars and keeps boiling even after you take it out of the water bath.
Then I tried some plums and pluots. This made plum pluot preserves which is also a lot of fun to say really fast. They had to cook a very long time.
All together I’ve canned these peaches, plum pluot preserves, plum blackberry jam, and last but certainly not least, red hot cinnamon apples.
These were a lot of fun because it used red hot candies in the cooking part. Looking forward to sharing these at the holidays and eating some over the winter!