Friday, August 19, 2011

My First Canning Experiences

I've secretly always wanted to live on a farm with lots of land for vegetable gardens, an orchard, chickens, and fields of wildflowers.  Maybe I'm living in the wrong era, but going out everyday with my basket and apron to collect eggs and pick the latest produce from the vine, sounds wonderful!  My older sister used to tease me about this saying I would end up 'making my own baby food, having a garden, homeschooling my kids, and wearing Keds and jean jumpers'.  Well, I do make my own baby food and I have a garden,  we're still debating about homeschooling our children one day (I think this same sister is contemplating the same!) but the Keds and jean jumpers have not and will not enter my wardrobe!

When we planted our garden this spring I was so excited thinking about all of the tomatoes, beans and other items I could can.  Well, our beans were attacked by bugs and all died; the tomatoes are growing like crazy with tons of flowers, but only a handful of tomatoes, and our cucumbers were mostly bitter.  So much for my great ideas of learning how to can!

I did have just enough cucumbers to make one batch of Bread and Butter Pickles.  My Grandmother always had pickles and relish at her house, from my Grandfather's garden, and to this day these are the only ones I like!  She graciously gave me her recipe (sorry I'm not sharing it here) and I've already eaten a whole jar!

Because our garden isn't producing enough this year, I decided against purchasing canning equipment right now.  But, I have learned that it's possible to can some things with just a stockpot.  My freezer is running out of space for freezer jam (check out the strawberry freezer jam recipe), so I decided to buy some peaches and make some cooked peach jam.

In order to set the stage here, I have to explain that our windows were open on this particular day of canning. The morning temperatures had gotten down to the 60's, so we decided to open up and save a little money on our electric bill.  This is a big mistake on the day when you plan to can something!  Our house was almost 90F when I started the process and it didn't cool down one bit!  We closed our windows the next day.

Everything went pretty smoothly until the jam that I was cooking spilled over the pot onto my cooktop.  Now, there is sugary jam caked onto my favorite burner.  Any suggestions for how to get it off?  I've tried warm soapy water and baking soda.  

Next time, I'll be sure to use a bigger pot.

We now have six jars of homemade peach jam in the pantry and I can't wait to try it!  

I used the recipe inside of a box of Sure Jell fruit pectin for cooked peach jam.

My first experiences canning went fairly well and I'm looking forward to maybe finding some tomatoes somewhere to work on trying spaghetti sauce and salsa.  

Have you canned anything this year?  


  1. Don't give up! I taught myself how to can last year and I actually enjoy it. Our squash and melons got hit by bugs this year, but we've got lots of green beans and lots of tomatoes. Our tomatoes got hit some by the drought, but we still have a lot because we planted a whole lot. My romas are just now ripening.

  2. Lauren these are beautiful! For your future jamming, check out Pomona Universal Pectin as you can use it for more than one batch and you have complete control over the type of sweetener you use (juice concentrate, honey, sugar, or no added sweetener!) as well as the amount. Apples are coming up soon, too. Applesauce, apple butter...yum!
    BTW, we also had a lot of trouble in the garden this year. Not much to preserve.

  3. This looks great! Peach jam sounds yummy to me right now. Have you tried 409 on your stovetop? That's what I always use to clean mine and about 80% of the time something overflows out of my pots so I always have lots to clean up. And I love that you shared what Kristin always said! so funny!

  4. This is making me chuckle because I keep telling Chris that I want to sell our house and move to a house with more land! Do you have a flat top? I know this may sound crazy, but I have spilled jam on my flat top many times and I actually use a razor blade to gently scrape off the burned jam and then you can usually wipe the rest off with soapy water or 409.

  5. Hey, just this week I saw this little beauty online, thanks to Our Best Bites! It's a small home canning kit for under $15 from Ball.

    I definitely want to try it, just cause for now I know I'll only be canning a little at a time.

    I canned some applesauce last winter... It's so satisfying! But I do wish I'd had the little green basket from the kit at least. It was hot and dangerous my way! : )

  6. I canned a bunch the past few year but haven't this year. The summer got away from me:( But you made my FAVORITE bread and butter pickles!! I LOVE, LOVE them.

  7. Looks like fun! I've never tried canning anything, but I do like to EAT anything pickled :)

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