Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Canning through the seasons

    Canning season is slowly... slowly coming to an end. This year has been a crazy canning year from June till now. When a "blessing becomes a weight" should be the title of this years canning season.... yes I will feel differently this winter when I am enjoying it all. It is hard to say no to free food but it is hard to deal with when it all needs to be eaten or preserved in a short amount of time. Um, especially with a toddler helping! Freezing wasn't an option this year as our freezers are full of the extra chicken we raised. So now on the other side of the canning season I can look back to evaluate how things went and give you my tips and recipes.
    Anytime you are spending time preserving the harvest or preparing larger quantities of food it is best to make a plan. I write a list of supplies, make sure I have a meal in the crock pot and make sure my area/tools are all clean. It is also good to evaluate whether you have enough supplies like jars, lids or freezer bags/containers before you start. Once everything is ready we start the process of turning abundant produce into lovely little treats/meals to enjoy over the winter or to give as gifts.
    As a family that is trying to lessen our dependency on certain items like sugar and thickeners I tend to choose the simplest recipes. Sometimes though we will pick a tried and true recipe that contains a lot of sugar with the knowledge that we will only be eating small amounts of it. It is a balancing act. Example- we make homemade yogurt with no sweetener but then when we eat it we add a little of our fruit preserves to the top for flavor and sweetness. It is also good on unsweetened oatmeal. Trying to be completely sugar free is hard when you preserve items through canning. I found some things like tomato sauce and apple sauce do not need sugar so I never add it. I just make sure I have a mix of different kinds to get a balance of flavor. No matter what; I control what goes into all the things I make homemade so I also control the quality of the ingredients.

A seasonal calendar would be helpful.

Some recipes to inspire you:
Forsythia Dandelion Jelly!
Pickled asparagus
Honey sweetened strawberry limeade
Blueberry Maple Pecan Conserve... our favorite!
Pickled garlic scapes(tops of garlic plants)
Pickled green beans
Candied jalapenos aka cowboy candy
Easy grape juice canning
Banana Foster butter is to die for over yogurt or ice cream
Foraged Autumn Olive made into jam
A healthier apple pie filling
Applesauce blends with other fruits!
Using up those green tomatoes
We canned a lot more then this like tomato sauce, pepper relish, fruits, apple butter, salsas and more. We learned how to pressure can to add carrots, green beans, broths, dried beans and ready made meals.

Best canning shelf I have seen
One of the best canning dvds I have watched with both pressure canning and water bath canning

Next posts I will share stocking the pantry with jar mixes for easier home cooking and ferments through the seasons!