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A Taste of Summer

August 21, 2012

I had a small canning emergency yesterday and today. My freezer was bursting at the seams and something had to give. So I took out bags and bags of recently-purchased lima beans and blackberries that we had gotten from local farms, and decided to can them to free up freezer space. Prior to that there were raspberry jam, green tomato relish, a little bit of tomato sauce, and hamburger relish. So this is what my shelf looks like right now.

As you can probably tell, the hamburger relish, bottom shelf next to the dill pickles, has ordinary jar lids instead of proper canning lids. When I use those I make sure they are used on something that is high acid and processed in a water bath. If the lid still has that characteristic “pop” when it cools, I know I’ve achieved a good seal.

I love canning because it’s so aesthetically pleasing. Frozen produce just sits there in the cold and dark of the freezer, disappearing from memory.

Some things don’t can well, like okra from my garden. I just pop the whole pods in plastic bags and freeze them until I’m ready to use them. For gumbo and vegetable soups, they’re easy to slice when partially frozen. I also love okra fried, though I try to limit that to times when we really want a treat. I don’t can the eggplant either. I simply slice and freeze it.

Hot peppers were taking up a lot of freezer space as well, so I’m dehydrating those for future use. I’ve had a bumper crop of really hot ones this year. I think the rule is the hotter the weather, the hotter the peppers!

Every time I can something, this song goes through my head. I love Greg Brown.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    August 21, 2012 4:31 pm

    Your art of canning is just beautiful. I don’t can any more – just jams and some times pickels, since my husband has been gone. But, there is such pleasure in the process; and it also brings memoires of when my children were little and memories of my grandmother’s :”fruit room” where all the canning jars were filled with beans, peaches and all in such beautiful colors. Thanks for bringing back memories. Lovely

    • August 22, 2012 7:15 am

      Thanks, Anonymous. I’m glad it brought back a nice memory for you. It does for me. My mother canned a little something every year, even when she didn’t have a garden. She was an artist too, so I think she loved looking at all the colorful jars of jam, fruit, and pickles.

  2. August 21, 2012 8:22 pm

    This is just another chapter in your life as an artist! Beautiful and home grown! Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

    • August 22, 2012 7:16 am

      Thank you, Mary Helen! You know, I don’t differentiate between creating “fine” art and more earthy ones, especially the art of food. It’s all seamless for me.

  3. Sue Cole permalink
    August 21, 2012 11:08 pm

    I made a lot of pickles and pickle relish when I lived in Maine for awhile. My pickle relish is the green kind however. It’s half cucumber and half zucchini, then onions and sweet red peppers. I can the relish and the jam the lazy way by putting the jars in a dishwasher to sterilize them, then leave them in there until I am ready for them. I use them still hot and boil the lids. I wipe the jar rims, put on the lids, then immediately turn them upside down on a towel on the table until cool enough to handle, then turn them right side up. You can hear them pinging away as they seal. I don’t remember where I learned this, but have never had a problem with it. I wouldn’t trust it for things like vegetables though. The relish and jam are boiling hot, so I think that’s why it works.

    • August 22, 2012 7:21 am

      Great idea, Sue. I actually don’t always process jams and jelly in a water bath. Sometimes I do something like what you do, and let them seal on their own. I set the dishwasher on sanitize to do the jars and the lids. It seems to work beautifully. I do process pickles and relish in a water bath, but I seriously am not worried about harmful organisms in a vinegar-based relish or pickles. The only thing that’s going to happen to them is mold and you’d see it if it were to develop. Highly unlikely.

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