glitterandbreadcrumbs

Canning

In Making Food on August 8, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Week 24
Canning

Canning’s something I’ve been meaning to do for, oh, a million years. Once upon a birthday — so long ago I can’t remember which one — my oldest sister gave me an Amazon gift card; I used to it purchase an intro-to-canning tool kit and the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. The unopened canning kit has moved from apartment to apartment, from state to state with me; it’s been a part of my household longer than The Husband.

And while I did read the Ball canning book recently, I can tell you from firsthand experience that raptly reading a canning/preserving book will garner you some very strange looks on the express commuter train (or, probably, anywhere outside of the kitchen).

Canning’s back in a big way — as in, all of the cool kids are doing it (prompting my friend Andy to ask me in a recent email: “When did all this old-school redneck stuff like banjo-pickin’ and chicken-coop-havin’ become de rigeur in the more well-off, highly educated urban areas?”). Google “increased interest in home canning” and the top three results will be from July 2010. Canning workshops and classes are popping up all over the city, but somehow, even though I was dying to get started, I just couldn’t quite bring myself to pony up $65. I mean, who pays for a kick in the pants?

But then a friend of mine who also teaches cooking classes invited a bunch of us to a canning/pickling party at her place. She’s one of those people who’s not really afraid of anything in the genre of uber-complicated hands-on domestic projects. When we were building the raised beds for our communal backyard garden, she mentioned off-handedly that she owned her own circular saw — from when she re-did her hardwood floors. She decorates ridiculously beautiful cakes, teaches classes on things like cracker- and pierogi-making, and always has a jar of homemade pickles at every gathering; I figured if anyone was going to light a canning fire under my ass, it’d be her.

And you know what? Canning is ridiculously, ridiculously easy. In the space of a single (albeit long) evening, seven of us knocked out close to 50 jars of stuff: tomatoes, salsa, cardamom-peach jam, pickled beets, pickled carrots, pickled green beans, eggplant, peppers, and cucumbers.

We took most of our recipes and cues from Linda Ziedrich’s The Joy of Pickling, and relied on our resident canning expert for advice and reassurance; you too can benefit from her expertise by taking her canning/preserving class later this month.

The jars are all lined up on our counter, and I get this ridiculously simple sense of self-satisfaction staring at them, like a little kid staring at a finger-painting on the fridge. And you know what? It’s about as simple as fingerpainting, and less messy.

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  1. Why is it still referred to as “canning” when it’s really “jarring”? Regardless, jarring is a lot like running with scissors: easy to do but potentially dangerous! Heed the need for sterility! (Maybe dads shouldn’t intrude on their daughters’ blog sites, huh?)

    • Sanitation was of the utmost concern. We wore biohazard suits. No pictures, though; we couldn’t allow the dirty liberal media to contaminate the scene.

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