Can[‘t] fight this feeling anymore

I can’t hide it any longer. I’ve broken through a culinary barrier that I thought would wait at least until I had a gigantic non-city kitchen. I’ve started canning. You know, putting things into jars (not cans, which we’ve had a lot of confusion over in my house), putting the jars in boiling water for a certain period of time, so that the lids eventually seal once removed from the water, and then you can keep the jars unopened on your shelf like store-bought goods.

First jars of spicy pickled okra, right out of the canner

It was only a matter of time really. My love of all things pickled had already filled our fridge beyond its capacity with assorted jars at various stages of pickling. We would give some away, but the problem remained. We had just too many jars in the fridge at once. Sometimes several of the same thing, depending on how big the batch I made was.¬†I really needed to find a way to make the second and third jars of a batch shelf stable, so they wouldn’t stay in the fridge while we ate through them, getting more and more fermented as time went on.

Family of hot pepper jam jars, not sealed.

I also couldn’t help but envy the beautiful standardized jars that I kept seeing in certain Flickr pools. Those Ball/Mason/Kerr jars are just so pretty when they’ve been filled with colorful tasty things, lined up in a row. I also liked the idea of having smaller jars of various pickles and preserves so we could switch them out for some variety and not be stuck with a huge open jar of something we eat sparingly.

Pickled green beans, and some carrots.

I avoided this hobby for as long as I could – thinking that it might be too complicated, or involve to many tools that would sit around my small apartment, taking up space and collecting dust. But when my mom called me to say she saw a good price on wide-mouthed pint jars, I decided that I couldn’t wait any longer. Into the canner I went.

My bread and butter pickles, cooled and sealed

I was eased into the idea of canning for the last year or so, following Marisa at Food in Jars, and a slew of other blogs that occasionally mentioned lids and rings and jar lifters. Food in Jars taught me that I could can small amounts (3 pints) and explained all the ways I could set up my own canning rig without much specialized equipment. I’m using a big stock pot, a great little trivet that Marisa mentioned to keep the jars off the bottom, a jar lifter (specialized tongs), and kitchen towels.

I’m not sure how much more I’ll be talking about canning here, because I’m still new to it and there are “experts” out there that I’d rather you trust on the subject instead of me in this case. Following recipes is very important in order to keep food safe to consume after it has been on a shelf for weeks/months. But if this is something you’re interested in, here are some of the recipes and resources I started with:

Food Safety

Recipes

I have tried the following recipes. They are good bases, though not always the most exciting in flavor. I am planning on adjusting the spices, while leaving the amounts of acid the same to keep them safe.

Equipment

Please note that I have bought the following linked items myself, and am recommending their use because I have found them to be useful. The links are affiliate links.


About this author:  I'm a New Yorker who would rather cook than go out to restaurants. Sometimes I think I may be in the wrong city for that. Then I remember the exotic ingredients I'd be hard-pressed to find if I lived somewhere else. My cooking style is an eclectic range of everyday-American, Italian, middle-eastern, with extensive forays into Japanese cuisine, and some pit-stops into Indian and African cuisines. I love to try my hand at recreating dishes I taste. While I enjoy most anything with a flavor, from high cuisine to instant junk food, I have a soft spot in my belly for home-style cooking no matter the geographic or ethnic origin. Read more from this author...


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