Going Old School on My Fruits and Veggies
Let me start by saying that I am glad I am not Old Order Amish. After one day of canning, I really respect the work they do...and all without electricity! As idyllic as it sometimes sounds to live in the Amish way--living and working on a farm, traveling by horse and buggy, and coming together as a community to can, quilt, and build barns, I would really miss my modern conveniences. I guess I am a city girl with a farm girl's heart.
Well, back to my saga of canning. We have been getting a good bit of produce from our family garden this year, and although we have given some away, we still have plenty. So, I thought I would try my hand this year at canning. I first made some Triple Berry Jam, which is a freezer jam and doesn't need processing. I thought, "Wow! That was easy!" It tasted great and whet my appetite for putting up more stuff. My next attempt was pickled jalapeños and salsa. They were umm...not so easy. I think the neighbors two doors down could hear me coughing from the fumes of the boiling vinegar to go over the peppers. The hardest part was finding out a few minutes before I started that you can't use the canning pot on a glass surface stovetop, which is what I have. I truly had a moment of panic--then my inner Girl Scout kicked in. I could use our gas grill! It is pretty much like a gas stove, only outside. So, I placed the canner on the grill top and lit 'er up. To my surprise, it worked! The only problem was that I had to make about 431 trips from the inside stove to the grill to bring jars back and forth, and I probably used half a tank of propane. These are probably some expensive jars of salsa and peppers, but hopefully they will be good!
I just want to say that, despite the labor, the problems, and the hours of time it took, I will probably can some more. It is extremely satisfying to see the rows of my neatly labeled jars in my pantry and to know that we grew those and canned them ourselves. Maybe I will wait until David is home to help me--I'm sure he would love it! At the risk of sound overly "green", between our garden, the chickens (which will hopefully give us eggs this fall), and the canning, I feel "closer" to our food. There is something to be said for knowing where at least some of your food is coming from and also teaching your children the value of hard work and showing them that food doesn't just appear magically at the grocery store. We are quite happy with our little "Hardgrave Farm." As they say at McDonald's, "We're loving it!"