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My Ode to Canning

Last March, I decided to can a tiny bit of rhubarb rosemary jam. Just as an experiment. I had spent the last five or six years studying for professional exams and I suddenly had time on my hands and needed a hobby. The jam itself was a failure, because it stayed syrupy (but it makes great cocktails), but I was hooked! I canned like a crazy person. We bought 90 pounds of tomatoes. The hardware store changed their stocking patterns to accommodate the freakishly large number of jars I purchased. There were a few times Erik had to talk me down from doing another round of peaches or another type of jam.

But, man, canning is SATISFYING! You spend a few hours in the kitchen…follow a few easy rules…and poof! You fill a bookshelf with delicious, local, BPA- and additive-free delights. When I make a bunch of cookies or a salad, I eat it all up in a few hours (or minutes, if it’s cookies). But the jars sit there waiting to be opened at just the right moment saying, “Hey, Linds. Nice job this weekend. I can’t wait to dress up your pasta/toast/spoon this winter. Pat on the back!” You can sit on the couch with that same feeling that follows a good workout. Yeah! I just put in some work and did something good for myself! Kudos!

And then, in the bleak midwinter, there are peaches for dessert (sprinkled with brown sugar and broiled for a few minutes) and pizza sauce to cover in gooey cheese and yogurt with strawberry jam. There’s butternut squash chutney for topping lentils. There are Bloody Marys at brunch. No trekking to the grocery store. No scrutinizing labels. No worrying that you’re creating excess waste or eating too much sodium. Just a quick walk to the bookshelf and a second to admire the line-up.

Yes, canning takes some time and costs some money. But here are ways that my canning “habit” has saved us both later on:

  • We made chili from canned stewed tomatoes with about 5 minutes of hands-on work on Monday. (Thanks for the recipe, Aunt Lonnie!!)
  • Any time we need a little gift for someone, we grab a jar of jam off the shelf and tie a bow on it. Canned goods are always appreciated as gifts.
  • After dinner cravings for sweets are easily satisfied with a canned peach and a little cream or some homemade applesauce.
  • Homemade Bloody Marys make brunch at home just like over-priced, sometimes mediocre restaurant brunches.
  • Pizza sauce + homemade crust + 30 minutes = better and faster than delivery.
  • Homemade jam + spoon (need I say more?)

Over the summer, we’ll do several posts on canning. Some on technique and some on recipes. If you’re not already a canner, just give it a thought. Noodle on it for awhile. It’s the major reason that we only occasionally need to go to the grocery store and it’s not all that hard. If you are a canner, chime in and let me know if I’ve missed something or (*gasp!*) said something wrong.

2 comments to My Ode to Canning

  • I think you got the jist of it. I do small batch preserving myself – learned from my mother. Later on I inherited all the canning “stuff” from both my grandmothers. ( I LOVE my old Ball Canning jars).

    Come visit me: Preserved and Pickled

    I have a great recipe for Sherried Strawberry Jam

  • Lindsay

    That strawberry jam recipe looks amazing! We tried to get strawberries at the market on Saturday, but couldn’t find any. I’m hoping we’re just in a lull and not the total end of strawberry season!

    How lucky of you to get all the old canning stuff! I bought mine at the start and it wasn’t too expensive, but it was still kind of generic, y’know? No history or nice weathering from years of use.

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