Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Nightmare Before Canning

Last winter, I hit a close-out sale and picked up a canning kit that included a jar lifter and funnel, and thought to my self I am going to can this summer. My mum and I had canned peaches and apricots and made jam almost every summer, and since moving away for University, I haven't had the chance to keep up this summer ritual.

This year, with my own kitchen, I finally had the chance. Wouldn't you know that everybody else seems to have had the same idea as me. Five stores later and I finally found some mason jars bigger than a half pint (that's only 250 ml), and scurried home, only to find that both the jar lifter and my biggest pot were too small.

Today I again chased all over town trying to find a pot big enough to hold my quart jars; I made two trips out and ended up with two pots, the first of which only fits pint jars. ARGH! I'd have taken the jars back, but I thought I'd be smart and wash them in advance, ergo I was stuck trying to find a stock pot tall and wide enough to fit my larger jar lifter and cover the tops of the jars.

All the hunting almost made the whole idea not worth trying. Note to all you first time canners, find out which Canadian Tire has both a canning pot and all the tools in stock before you go, AND make sure you buy the jars that will fit the pot at the same time!!!

At least I'm fully equipped for next year!

Nevertheless, the nightmare ended when I finally got started blanching and processing the beans. The tiny ping of lids popping as the jars cooled made me dance a little victory dance; at least the frustration of the last two days had resulted in success at this most important point!

I canned a batch of beans following my grandmother's recipe, as follows:

2 lbs. green beans, trimmed and washed.
1 cup vinegar
2 tbsp pickling salt
2 tsp (or a small bunch) dill weed
2 cloves garlic
3 cups water
2 tsp cayenne

Blanch the beans in boiling, salted water for about three minutes, or until bright green. Drain and douse beans in icy water to stop cooking. Pack length-wise into clean, sterilized jars, up to the shoulder (that's just below the mouth), leaving about 1/2 inch at the top.

Combine the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover the beans, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Put on processed lids and hand tighten rings.

Process in using water bath method for 10 minutes.
(Water Bath: submerge jars in boiling water, with at least one inch of water above lids for specified time.)

Beautiful! Its peaches and apricots tomorrow! I may even try to do a batch of tomato sauce!