I have spent nearly every Saturday at one of the local Farmer’s Markets. I absolutely love going there…it is probably the highlight of my week. So far this season I have gotten garlic, tomatoes, green beans, blueberries, sweet corn, bratwursts, honey, raw milk cheese, soap, salt scrub, lip balm, bread, cookies, cupcakes, peaches, jalapenos, onions…and the list could probably go on and on. It is a wonderful feeling to come home with tons of fresh, organic, locally grown produce. I decided that I didn’t want to simply enjoy these goodies in the Spring and Summer, but all throughout the year. So, I started looking into canning. I am definitely not a pro, but it is an amazing feeling to go back to my pantry and see what we have accomplished thus far. I am very lucky to have a supportive husband who not only think canning is a great idea, he helps me do it too. Together we have made a variety of pickles: kosher dill, gerkins, bread and butter, and a knock-off of Claussens. We canned peach jam and some tasty peach barbecue sauce, and also some cucumber relish. I look forward to things we can make in the Fall. I already have apple butter and applesauce on the list. It should definitely be exciting.
We currently do not do any pressure canning. Since we are new to this craft we thought we would start learning the basics before we moved on to anything bigger. So, we do the water bath canning method. When doing this we prepare our jars and lids in boiling water to sanitize them. While this is occurring we make whatever it is we will be canning. Take the jars out of the boiling water, fill them, put lids on them, and then cover them in boiling water and leave them for about 15 minutes. This will help the jars form a seal. Once we take them out, we wait to hear the pops from the kitchen which lets us know that the jars are sealed. It is pretty simple and every recipe we have worked with has had these directions written out, so there is no worry of doing it wrong. There are certain things, however, that can not be canned by this method…so make sure to read your recipes before starting.
We started our canning adventure off by making peach jam. It was relatively easy, but required lots of sugar. You can never go wrong with a lot of sugar, in my opinion.
We moved on to pickles. We had so many cucumbers this year (from our garden, the Farmer’s Market, and also my dad’s garden) that we were able to make a variety of pickles. It should be interesting this winter since my husband is the only person in our house that eats pickles. I believe he has 21 pints to go through 🙂
I will leave you with our favorite recipe thus far…it is for Zesty Peach Barbeque Sauce. It was amazing! We have had it on grilled chicken already and it was delicious. I recommend everyone try this one!
Zesty peach Barbeque Sauce:
Makes about eight 8-ounce jars (I did not find this to be true…ours made 2 1/2, 16 oz jars)
6 cups finely chopped pitted peeled peaches
1 cup finelychopped seeded red bell pepper
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 1/4 cups liquid honey
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp hot pepper flakes
2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp salt
1. Prepare canner, jars, and lids
2. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine peaches, red pepper, onion, garlic, honey, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper flakes, mustard, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture is thickened to the consistency of a thin commercial bbq sauce, about 25 minutes. (hint: after about 30 minutes our hadn’t boiled down enough, so we stuck it in the food processor and it came out perfectly.)
3. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot sauce. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
4. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
(Recipe from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, 2006)