Monday, August 20, 2007

To Can or Not to Can

This past week my mom visited me from Connecticut. And as you loyal blog readers probably know, I have inherited my love of cooking/food from her. I decided that as one of our mother/daughter activities, we would can the peaches that I had picked up at the farm stand (see previous post). Canning is an excellent activity! It is also decreasing in its popularity, which really is a shame. NPR just had a really interesting editorial on canning that you should check out called Preserving Our Past, One Jar at a Time. As I have read more on the benefits (both nutritionally and economically) of eating locally grown foods, it seems that I also have had to address whether I want to rely on fruits and veggies shipped from warmer climates in the winter. So, to combat this, I have decided to try to can some local produce to eat in the winter (I will readily admit that I will probably still get stuff from the local grocery store in the winter, but hey, its a small step!)

The peaches turned out great, we used a really simple recipe that was on the back of the pectin box (Pectin is a jelling agent used in jams and jellies). We blanched the peaches to make the skin come off easily and then peeled and cut them up into small chunks. The three types of jam that we made were Peach, Ginger-Peach and Blackberry Peach. I didn't use sugar, but rather organic peach and apple juice for the sugar substitute. I'm not going to go into too much detail about the canning process. There is a recipe in the pectin box for all types of fruit jams and jellies. Also, this website is very informative.

Peach Jam
makes approximately 5 pints

Ingredients
8 cups fruit, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 packages pectin
2 cups juice (we used a combo of peach/apple)

Directions
1) Chop fruit and mix in lemon juice to preserve color.
2) Set fruit on stove in large sauce pan. Mix in juice and slowly mix in pectin.
3) Bring to a boil. When the jam is thick (you can spoon a small amount onto a plate and if it gets "jammy" it is ready) pour into your sterilized jars.


We also went to the Amish Country and bought a peck of cucumbers and 1/2 a peck of beans for a total of $6!

Dill Beans and Cucumbers
This recipe is for one pint, so adjust for your needs

Ingredients

1 clove garlic, chopped
Salt
Alum
Dill weed
Canning jar
Sm. pickling cucumbers
Vinegar
Black whole peppercorns (we used a pickling spice mix)

Directions

Wash cucumbers and remove stems. Fill jar with cucumbers. Add 2 sprigs of dill weed and 2 tablespoons black peppercorns. Add a sprinkle of alum. Add chopped garlic. Add 1/4 cup vinegar. Mix 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to 1 cup water and fill jar to 1/2 inch from the top. Seal and place jar in a dark place for 2-3 weeks or more.

Make sure you don't have a drafty space, this could crack your jars. Don't get overwhelmed, the rewards are worth the effort!

5 comments:

Randi said...

mmmcanning. I feel very lucky to be the new roomate of someone with many many MANY jars of jam and pickled goods in the cabinet.

AlliXT said...

Beautiful! I want to learn how to do this :(--especially since a friend of mine can only eat canned and not fresh peaches--would be such a treat for him to eat something "real" and not all tinny and processed.
Congrats :)--PS--you and momma look fantastic in your pictures ;)

Carolyn said...

The peach ginger jam was so good on my french toast. In fact, I think I used more jam than toast. Yum!

the ol' booger said...

Hows come wes only gots one Jar of Peach Jam? Georgia's mom can't eat fresh fruit or tofu (Sorry Ali) either. By the way, Georgia's Mom always looks fantastic!

E said...

Blackberry Peach jam sounds delicious!

The only canning my mother did was Dill Beans, I love them so much and haven't had them in years. This post has got me craving them.

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