Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Never say never

I was always vehement. I will NEVER can, I just can't. It's too much work, it's too hot and I just don't have any patience for it. Well, as you've noticed - I am getting a little geeked about all the changes happening these days.

On my search for a dehydrator, I found myself in an Ace Hardware store (thanks, Chile!) wandering up and down aisles loaded with canners, blanchers, food savers and food processors. Happily not a single cotton candy maker in sight. They happened to be sold out of dehydrators, but offered to have one sent from their warehouse to their store, free of charge. Yippee, I will be the proud owner of a dehydrator late next week. Problem solved!

However, while perusing the aisles I saw a canner and stacks of jars and accessories. I looked at the canner, "not for glass top stoves" it says. See, it wasn't meant to be, I think. I pass it again and think, that pot really isn't much larger than my largest soup pot, which is suitable for my stove. Nah, I didn't want to can anyway. Well, look at that, those cute little jars all packaged and ready to go would be just great for jam. Uh-uh, I don't even have anything to can. Oh, but I did see buckets of the cutest cucumbers at the Farmer's Market and it is just right across the street from where I am now. And, I have always wanted to learn to make jam.

So, never say never. Here is the first look at my first experience with canning. Eight 16 oz. jars of bread and butter pickles. Every single can sealed. Though, I missed the pinging, darn it. I was vacuuming and by the time I was done, every single jar was sealed. Rats. For some reason, that would have really made my day. So, what's next on my list? Jam, of course. Maybe some peach halves. Oh, yes and some homemade pasta sauce. And more pickles, I still have enough cukes for at least 6 more jars. Can you believe it? I am a canner. Sheesh, don't tell my mother, she'll just say, "I told you so."


Joyce said...

I keep thinking, as we all hang our laundry, garden, and can, WE'RE TURNING INTO OUR MOTHERS!!

But hey, that worked better in a lot of ways, right? The pickles look beautiful!

Heather @ SGF said...

Uh oh! You've caught the bug. Addictive and fun, isn't it!?

eco 'burban mom said...

joyce - that is SO funny, I was just telling someone that I am turning into my grandmother and that if I start wearing gingham dresses and take up square dancing lessons someone call a doctor! Though, while my grandmother's life was hard work, I think that being able to see what you accomplished at the end of the day must have been fulfilling.

heather - yep, the bug has bit! Funny how that happens! I loved seeing your tomato sauce the other day, that's on my list too!

Bobbi said...

I may not like to cook, but I love canning! There is just something very relaxing about filling those pretty glass jars with cucumbers or tomatoes or fruit and having them turn into something yummy! I love making dill pickles, tomato juice, salsa and all types of jams and jellies.

Yep - I turned into my mother years ago!

Chile said...

Yippee! I'm so proud of you, especially since you jumped right in and canned pickles immediately. Wow, girl, no fear and hesitation for you.

Bring on the gingham!

Green Bean said...

That is beyond awesome!! Congratulations. :) Don't forget about chutney too. I canned only a few jars of that last year and missed it all spring and summer long. And apple butter. There is a recipe for all day apple butter that you make in your slow cooker (on All Recipes, I think). It was awesome. The list is endless.

Good for you!!! I can't wait to see what you can next . . . and what your boys think of mom's homemade pickles (when they are ready to eat) and all the other delectable stuff you'll make.

Jena said...

Ahhhh... I just love the sounds of the little "pop,pop, pop!" as the jar seal. My Mom was just saying last time we made jam how it is just a pleasing, soothing little sound. I hope you get to hear it next time! Oh & congrats on finding a dehydrator.

Karen said...

I just found your blog and I love it! I bookmarked it and will be checking back frequently. Sorry to say, but I have not tried canning. I've thought about it plenty of times but I haven't gotten up enough nerve yet I guess. Congratulations on taking the plunge!

Greener Grass Notes, Inc. said...

What a fun thing to learn to do! I have great memories of my parents canning tomatos from their garden. I would love to learn to can stuff from my garden!

ib mommy said...

Hi! I was afraid of canning and I didn't know anyone who would help me learn. So, I bought a pressure canner and just did it! So far I've broken one jar and steam burned the crap out of my thumb.... but still alive to talk about it.

I'm totally a geek-- I stand there and stare at the jars until they pop:)

Heather @ SGF said...

IB Mommy - I do the same thing. I sit there and wait for them to pop. I love it!

Chile said...

It's interesting that several of ya'll mention waiting for the ping. Most of the time, my jar lids ping as I'm carrying them from the canner to the resting place. If they don't, they'll ping in the next minute or so while I'm getting the next jar.

Are you all having to wait a long time for the ping? I wonder if this has anything to do with elevation.

Heather @ SGF said...

Chile - some of them happen within a min. They all ping within 5 minutes, easy. That's with the hot water bath. Are you using a pressure canner or hot water bath?

ib mommy said...

Uh.... you mean my Vulcan mind/jar/ping staring thing isn't making them pop??

Mine usually start popping about the time I get them all out and sitting on the counter. It's a ping fest.

eco 'burban mom said...

bobbi - It is sort fun, strange that it was my excitement of the day!

Chile - aw, shucks. You're proud of me. ;o) Still not wearing the gingham. I swear. Though, wasn't this post "never say never"? hmmm

GB - do you have a kid friendly chutney? The word "chutney" scares them, but if I tell them it's a "topping" sometimes they're gung-ho. A couple of my kids like pickles, so they were excited. The biggest excitement was from the dad, he wanted to eat them right away. He was bummed when I told him 4-6 weeks.

Jena - thanks again for the offer of borrowing yours, that was sweet. I wish I could have heard the ping! I missed it!!!

Karen - thanks, glad you like the blog! Hope to see you around!

Greener Grass - Actually, there doesn't seem to be too much "learning" with canning. Got a giant pot with lid? Buy some jars, follow the directions and BAM! Canned food! I am geeked!

ibmommy - Funny you say that about the burn. I didn't burn myself (though was worried about it) but ended up pinching the hell out of a finger squeezing tongs so tight to get the jar out of the water. I think I will invest in the jar squeezer tong thingys.

Chile - I think I was so nervous that they wouldn't seal. I just assumed it would take more time, so when I came back to the jars (about 10 minutes later) they had all sealed! I just wanted to experience seeing success happen right in front of my eyes and ears I think. Maybe next time!

Heather - when you wrote about the pinging a few posts back, that stuck in my head and I wanted to hear it too!!

Joan said...

I so wish my maternal grandmother was still alive. She lived on a farm and could have taught me so much. See those canning jars brings back memories. I loved staying with her during the summers. I was an adult when she passed away but not domesticated yet.

Wendy said...

Yay! And how much fun was that?!?

My first foray into canning was with apple pie filling and apple butter. Several years later, I've canned just about everything you could imagine using the boil water bath method, and I'm going to hedge into pressure canning, hopefully, this year ;).

Oh, and pickled eggs ... that's what I'll be canning today.

eco 'burban mom said...

Joan - my grandmother was the same! She had a stroke years back and lives in a nursing home now, but still has the same bright humor.

Wendy - uuummmm, I live in a house full of men and boys. NO PICKLED EGGS HERE! Phew!

Robj98168 said...

WHAT!?! NO COTTON CANDY MAKERS AT ACE!?! Well *&^%$ why shop there then.
Always one to enjoy a good kitchen gadget myself, I would also look at the evil walmart, and target. I understand the ronco dehydrators are going there for I believe, $29.99. I love my ronco. I am the pocket fisherman!

jennconspiracy said...

Great looking pickles! I adore bread & butter pickles, and my latest passion is spicy dilly beans -- plenty of recipes online but basically buy a bunch of green beans, fresh dill (heads if you got 'em), put dill, garlic cloves, peppercorns, a cayenne pepper into the wide mouth pint jar, trim beans to fit, pour hot brine and seal. Super yummy.

Did you know you don't need to hot water bath can the jelly & jam? Keep the clean jars in the oven on a cookie sheet at 150 (or 250 if that's your oven's lowest setting like mine). When the jelly is ready, use tongs to remove them from the oven (or the whole sheet) and fill, wile the rims, and put on the lids and bands. Be careful when you are handling them because that jelly is over 250 degrees or so and VERY hot. Set aside to cool and listen for the symphony of plink.

I'm going to be building a solar dehydrator -- my friend cut up the wood for me in an hour, and the lumber cost $109 (I still have to get paint and spar varnish) but I think it is going to be a lot better than the little plastic dehydrator I have here at home.