Sunday, July 30, 2006

I think I can, I think I can

Last week I decided that it was time to try canning some veggies. My parents always put up tomatoes and tomato sauces, so in the perfect world residing in my head, I pictured me and dad (mom is out of town) in his kitchen, preparing tomatoes together while trading memories of us kids growing up, preserving nature's bounty, and maybe sharing a laugh or two.


In reality, dad had tickets to see Cirque du Soleil and I was left with his ancient copy of Stocking Up, some old Ball jars and rings, a jar-grabber-thingie, and assurance that I would have no problems. Oh, and did I mention that it's like, 90 degrees with 80 percent humidity here? And we have no air conditioning? Yeah. Good times.

I wanted to jar some tomatoes this weekend, not because we had a bounty of them, but because I've never preserved vegetables or fruits. I thought it'd be a good idea to experience the learning curve before I had 20 pounds of tomatoes taking over the kitchen. Turns out, this was a good idea. My learning curve was an hour of researching and a steaming hot two hours of jarring.

In addition to Stocking Up, my resources were, an Ohio State University Extension fact sheet, and a blurb in the back of From Asparagus to Zucchini. Once I thought I had my head around the process, I gathered my supplies and hit the (already hot) kitchen.

Step One
Gather the gear, start water boiling, and hope to goodness that you don't mess up. Oh, and notice how hot it is already in the kitchen.

Step Two
Prepare the tomatoes by boiling them for a minute or two, then dropping into ice water to split skins. Peel and core tomatoes. And save skin for the compost pile :)

I used a combination of Blooming Glen tomatoes which were a variety of yellow, orange, and red colors, and some early roma tomatoes from our home garden.

Step Three
Place mixture into a jar, clean the rim, put on the lid, screw on the ring. Put jar into pot of boiling water, making sure that two inches of water cover the jar. Cover pot and boil for ten minutes. Note the elevating temperature of the kitchen, and fear that you might melt.

Step Four

Remove jar, and wait for lid to pop, insuring that it's sealed. Upon hearing the popping sound, jump up and down and clap hands. Call boyfriend into kitchen to look at sealed jar. Call dad to tell him that, it worked! It really, really worked! And that you heard it pop!

Overall, the experience was... hot. Very, very, very hot. But, totally worth it :) At one point, I actually started to heat the tomatoes in the jar in a pot of boiling water. I thought I read that one should heat the jar and its contents to 170 degrees, then lid and boil it. Turns out, I was reading canning directions. So, I lost about 30 minutes there, but hey, that's why I put up the tomatoes this weekend - to learn what to do and not to do.

I definitely want to make some sauces and salsas to jar. Any favorite recipes? More importantly, any jarring advice? Please, do tell :)


Laura said...

You rock! I've been thinking of trying to make guacamole and selling it at the farmer's market. That would require me learning to jar things...

Look, next time you do it, just come down here where there's A/C. :)

Brooke*elizabeth said...

I am super jealous...definitely have jarring on my list of things to do. Maybe you'll start a craze of preservation. Ooh, maybe we could trade sauces and stuff - yum!

Did you just stick the jars in the bottom of a normal pot or did you use something special?

Jenn said...

I remember doing this (watching really) when Mrs.Boyer spent hours jarring pickles,peaches & zucchini... mmmm peaches ;)

And for the record ladies,
I don't think it's legal to have A/C on while canning/jarring - it's part of the process -

blood sweat and tears !

JAM*tacular said...

Brookie, there is a cage that you can use, but I didn't have one. I just put a cotton rag at the bottom of the pot, and I also read that you can use the metal jar rings. The idea is to prevent the glass jar from directly touching the bottom of the pot (and shattering). Now, go gather some gear and make me some salsa. I like it hot and spicy, just like you :D

L, let's ignore Jen and put up veggies together while enjoying your A/C! :P

Anonymous said...

Hi Mikaela,

Wow! That is amazing, my mom used to put tomatoes up to make her sauce. I never got to ask her how she did it before she past so thanks for the information:) Hope you are doing well and I also like the recipe:)


LadyRachelLynn said...

Not that this has anything to do with Jam Mikaela, but I posted a response to your question on my blog. Thought I'd let you know.


Anonymous said...

You never cease to amaze me! You are truly the QUEEN of all things natural and mystical (that includes jarring, of course!).


Anonymous said...

It sounds like you had an awesome experience. With age comes! Too old for all that sweaty work. The pop is the key. Without that pop you can die from all your hard work. Good job!! What's even better I may even get to taste the fruits of all your labor...hee hee.

Dori said...

Hi. I noticed you post on another blog and as a fellow food blogger (and canner) I thought I'd drop a comment to say all the food looks good. I can relate to the HOT kitchen too! I'm really looking forward to my tomatoes turing red... I have a few really close, then I'll be making salsa and sauces.

JAM*tacular said...

Great to meet you Dori - and I can't wait to read about your salsas and sauces :)

Anonymous said...

Proud of you... for growing things and for canning them! You're practically Amish!
Love ya, Amy

JAM*tacular said...

You make me laugh, Miss Amy :D