This is a re-post from a previous year.
A few weeks ago, I posted a step-by-step guide to canning peaches for beginners. I was all set to follow it with several more basic canning tutorials. Next up, tomatoes! However, as I was pulling out of the Growers Outlet parking lot last week with 400 pounds* of tomatoes in the back of my van, it hit me: This is not normal behavior. In fact, the guy who loaded all 18 boxes even tried to intervene. “Uh, ma’am, have you ever canned before? Because… this is a lot of tomatoes. Are you sure you’re up for it?” I assured him that I was splitting the order and the work with 2 other people. He still laughed at me as he closed the gate, “Good luck [crazy lady]!”
I can’t explain it. This time of year, I lose grasp on reality. I forget that I have two small children who like to eat twenty times a day and a husband who enjoys wearing clean clothes to work. I forget about the long line of emails waiting for replies in my inbox and the car that is in serious need of a vacuum cleaner. My kitchen countertops are littered with canning equipment, and the dining room table holds a random assortment of ripening produce. I love stuffing food into jars. Plain and simple. As September starts to wind down, I feel such a deep sense of satisfaction when I see row after row of jars lining the shelves. Jars that hold food that I picked and washed and chopped and simmered. Food that will get us through the long winter in the big woods. Or at least a rainy January in the Portland area.
If you prefer couponing to canning, you may still wonder where the attraction lies. However, we are really two sides of the same coin. I use fewer coupons these days, but I am still using my resources (time, skills, money) to provide my family with the best food possible on a budget. I like making chili from my own tomatoes and not buying peaches in cans. I like knowing what ingredients are in my pickles and having enough applesauce in my pantry to last us an entire year. It is really no different from those of you who are skilled with coupons or online deals or consignment sales. Everyone’s stockpiles just look a little different. I figure the more of you who join me, the more normal I will seem.
If you are new to this game, don’t be intimidated. You really can do this. I have only been canning food for five years now. I just decided I was going to start learning the ropes, and I did. Think back to when you first started figuring out Rite-Aid deals or Safeway doubles or consignment tags. Getting started is the hardest part. Are you ready?
- Canning for Beginners FAQ’s
- Collecting the right equipment
- Water Bath Canning Guide
- Water Bath Canning Equipment
- How to can blackberry syrup
- How to can peach vanilla bean jam
- How to can tomatoes
- How to can pears
- How to can peaches
- How to can applesauce
- How to can apple pie filling
- How to can sweet cherries
[* You don’t have to purchase ridiculous amounts of produce in order to can food. I have a friend who just cans what her garden produces. 3 quarts of this, 7 pints of that. It’s called self-control, and I wish I had more of it.]
Leave a comment! Do you enjoy preserving food? Are you a motivated beginner? Do you think 18 boxes of tomatoes is excessive? (Because, honestly, I would like to do more next year…)
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