Saturday, November 19, 2011

Canning Adventures

the fruits of my labors

I've wanted to try my hand at canning for quite awhile but, honestly I was just too intimidated. Too me it seemed complicated and I was sure my efforts would end in disaster. My Aunt Kathy is a fabulous southern cook. Growing up she'd always have something tasty cooking for us kids. We even got to enjoy her somewhat exotic muscadine jelly and pear honey. I'll have to ask her someday for her tips and recipes.
With my pears threatening to go bad I finally decided to take the plunge and try this canning thing out. I searched for recipes & tips on the internet. I eventually settled on two recipes. Ginger Pear Jam from Vegetarian Times and Spiced Pear Chutney from Canning & Preserving with Ashley English. 

Here's a quick review on Canning & Preserving. Ashley English is a contributor for Design*Sponge so, I had high hopes. I also have Keeping Bees from this author (courtesy of Ms. Molly over at A Foothill Home Companion, thanks again!).  I really love the Homemade Living series -great layouts, beautiful photographs and they truly are educational. I picked this book up at the library and I'm so glad I did. If you are a canning newbie this book will be indispensable.  In addition to recipes this book was filled with step by step pictures, detailed instructions, and all the info you need to quell your fears about poisoning your loved ones with botulism. (Srsly, I am really paranoid about this.) I really learned a lot from this book. Now I'm much more confident.
I did have to buy a few supplies. I bought a utensil set from Ball at the supermarket. I also purchased a large stockpot since I didn't have anything large enough. It's also really important to buy top notch ingredients like pure cane sugar. If any of your ingredients especially your main veggie or fruit are below par you will taste it.

From the cooking to the sterilizing to the processing I spent the better half of a day on my jars of deliciousness. But, once I heard the lids popping (letting me know they were properly sealed) it was all worth it. I found the whole process to be so satisfying. From picking my own pears, purchasing organic/fair trade ingredients, cooking, and finally eating the results -wow, such a good feeling. Success!

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