Learning to Can
For several years now I’ve seen fellow bloggers post lovely jeweled jars of their garden-grown produce on social media and been a little envious…
And I admit….a little intimidated.
I follow my friend Kelly on Instagram and she’s always posting gorgeous photos of her home-canned garden produce so one day I tweeted to her that I’d love to learn. Within hours, she had graciously posted an invite to a “Canning 101” party at her house. l
I was beyond thrilled.
This past Saturday was the day,and Kelly, Rose and I sat around her kitchen table talking about our experiences with canning.
I had none. Nothing
Rose had Grandma memories ..not of canning with her Grandma, but retrieving the lovely jars from her Grandma’s basement. While I’m sure my Grandma and Grandpa canned, I was the youngest grandchild, so I’m not sure if I just don’t remember. One thing Rose & I had in common was we wanted to pass down warm canned good memories to our kids and granddaughters as well so we were both excited to learn.
Kelly grew up in a family that farmed, so canning was a way of life for her family. However, she mentioned that her friend told her how when she got older and she wanted to make sure she was a good teacher for us as well.
She was perfect.
She took the intimidation away and we came away a little fearless and really proud of what we accomplished that day.
I now know that I can can up some jars of goodness when faced with too many leftover vegetables from my garden instead of them going to waste, and that it won’t take me all day.
We started with pickles. Mr. Roserock wanted pickles brought home!
This was SO easy! I think Rose & I were both a little surprised at just HOW easy….
First Rose took these glorious organic small pickles.
Then they really packed them into the pint-sized jars. (We had already pre-sterilized the jars in the hot dishwasher).
Next they stuffed in some dill seeds. They just snipped the top right off some plants Kelly pulled up from her garden.
On the stove they’d set to boil equal parts of water and vinegar which they poured over top. You do so with a wide-mouthed funnel that comes with a canning kit.
Rose was our resident jar wiper. The jar mouths had to be wiped thoroughly to prevent anything from keeping the lids from vacuum sealing.
And then we put the screw lids on the jar lids and put them into a hot water bath and brought it to a boil.
You can see the color change on these pickles in progress. The color is changing from bright cucumber green to the more avocado green of pickles.
I think they simmered the pickles for 10 minutes then removed them with a pair of jar grabbers thingies.
Jar grabber thingies is probably not the real name for this tool. I totally made that up.
I learned that all you really need are the jar grabber thingies and the wide mouth funnel. All the other stuff in the kit is probably unnecessary.
It took awhile, but as the pickles cooled, the jar tops made sweet little “popping” noises. The ping meant that the jar had vacuum sealed properly. You have no idea what a fulfilling sound that is!
It’s right up there with getting a diploma, birthing a child, and seeing a flower seed grow.
Well, maybe not as good as the first two things I mentioned but it was super exciting!
We moved on to jams and made peach, peach jalapeno (DELICIOUS), and Kelly had even run to Blanchard and picked some Oklahoma grapes at Berry Creek Farms.
She picked each jeweled grape off the stems right into her juicer.
And we made homemade canned Grape Jelly!
That night after I got home, I ventured out on my own and made some Sweet N Spicy Bread and Butter Pickles.
Thank you Kelly for educating us on the finer art of canning. Thanks Rose for literally “getting into a pickle” with me and ruining your pretty white shirt!
What I took away with me besides a new found knowledge of canning, was that our Grandmas knew what they were doing getting together and canning together.
It wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable without the camaraderie us three ladies had in the kitchen with our multiple recipes, chatting, assembly lines, taste testing leftovers and sharing our brilliantly finished jars with each other.
If you decide to take on canning, I encourage you to do with friends. It’s a great ladies day full of laughter and rewards.
And P.S….expect mistakes and laugh and learn from them. Splattered shirts, burned fingers, and jam made by (accidentally) using Fruit Fresh instead of Pectin are fun memories to take with us through the years.
I loved every moment.
(You can read Rose’s blog post about our experience here.)