Friday, August 14, 2009

A Great Deal of Canning

It's become an obsession. For every fruit and vegetable at the farmers' market, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preservinghas a dozen recipes for pickles, juice, and pie filling, and I want to try them all. So what if I've never had an interest in pickled three bean salad? The beans are there, overflowing their baskets, and I have a recipe. I can, therefore I must.

For Pete's sake, lima beans. I've gone off the deep end.

I always buy too much at the farmers' market. The bright, fragrant vegetables and herbs are intoxicating, and the farmer's pipe smells pretty good, too. Inevitably, I'm drawn in like a moth to the light, like a fly to honey, like a vegan to organic fava beans.

These bread and butter pickles couldn't have been easier—three pounds of sliced cucumber and onion sit in brine for two hours, then simmer briefly in vinegar and seasoning before they're canned and sealed. For old times' sake, I'll also make an English version, with cider vinegar and brown sugar. We can eat twelve pints of pickles this winter if we set our minds to it.

Homemade preserves are handy to have around. Do me an unexpected favor, and I'll probably give you jam. Or pickled lima beans. Depends on your age, and the quality of the favor.

Twenty cups wild blueberries + Two cups sugar + Time + Heat = One hell of an ice cream topping.

When I see my shelves of multicolored jars, I gloat a little. I'm cheating the seasons, storing away summer food. I like self-sufficiency; I would've made a good pioneer. I may not be able to build a barn or drive a Conestoga wagon, but I can pick strawberries and eat them in December. So who needs the grocery store? I've got a farmer and a great big pot of boiling water.


  1. I get over-excited at the market as well. I mostly just freeze my own bell peppers and berries, but I'll have to look into this canning thing. It looks like a lot of fun even if it is a lot of work!

  2. WOW, this makes me want to start canning, but most of all, I want some bread & butter pickles.

  3. I've been meaning to try canning for the longest time... The idea of having delicious summer preserves all year round is so tempting! Gotta go read up on it quickly before all the best produce is gone...

  4. That is so cool.I found the jam jars here under the name Mason jars. Is 15 usd for 6 of these jars expensive? I think so.Those preserved vegetables are great and u are lucky to have so much fruit and veg

  5. Wow, you just put the blueberries and sugar in the jar and it does its thing on its own? cool!

    also, this reminds me of the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barabara Kingsolver where they eat local for a year. They're also obsessed with canning!

  6. Oooh, I really want to try canning, that ice cream topping looks crazy good!

  7. caribbeanvegan,
    $15 for 6 jars does sound expensive. I pay around $10 for 12 pint jars. It sounds like a lot of things are expensive where you are! It might be less expensive to buy freezer bags and freeze your produce.

    You combine the blueberries and sugar and let them sit for 2 hours. Then you simmer them for a bit, then put them in jars, then process the sealed jars in boiling water for 15 minutes. Pretty simple! I'll have to read that book, it sounds interesting.

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  9. Another excellent book on canning, etc is called "Preserving the Harvest" - a small paperback put out in the 70's. We'd heard of it, and then luckily found it at the used book store on Vinalhaven. It has been our food preservation bible ever since. I bet you could find a copy floating around with minimal effort.


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