While I love to find deals on food, I don’t do much to preserve it beyond freezing. There was one attempt at homemade jam in 2014 and while it came out fine, it’s not something I’d do regularly. And if jamming was overwhelming, canning wasn’t even on my radar, as evidence by these excuses:
- Nobody will eat it (mushy texture, bad taste, etc.)
- Lack of equipment (no pressure canner, glass jars/special lids)
- Lack of knowledge/time
- Not worth the trouble
But mostly, I think it was a lack of motivation. Luckily, I have a friend who is a back-to-the-land type. Just as she encouraged me to give camping a try, she taught me the basics of canning.
To call her a canning pro is justified. She grew up on a farm in Northern Vermont and has been doing it since her teens (she also makes all her own bread and raises chickens, but that’s another story for another day). A bushel of fruit doesn’t make her blink an eye, unlike yours truly!
We decided to use her kitchen since I was mostly observing. When I arrived, clean, sterile jars were already assembled and the fruit had been washed. It hadn’t, however, been cut, and there seemed to be a small mountain of Bartletts.
Like any job, two can do it more efficiently than one and we slowly worked through them, adding the cut slices to a resting bowl of cold water and lemon juice. As we sliced and talked, a huge storm was raging outside. With the power flickering, we were gambling but the fruit was ready and we pressed on.
I don’t want to bore anyone with canning minutia, but the condensed version includes making a sugar syrup, boiling the pears, filling the jars, and then processing each one until it pops. Oh, and did I mention that my dear friend doesn’t need a recipe, never seems to get tired, and was simultaneously making a pot roast for dinner? Amazing!
The picture above shows some of our handiwork. As a whole, I found the process fun and educational, but I attribute that to an excellent teacher. Will I be doing this again by myself? It’s doubtful, but I’d help her anytime. I rate my adventure in canning an A+.
Have you ever canned anything? Why or why not?