For years I have been interested in jarring and canning to preserve foods, but the process always intimidated me. All that boiling water…and fears of botulism contamination if the process wasn’t done exactly right…and what a waste of time and money if the jars didn’t seal…I was getting myself worked up about something I had never tried!
So, after much consideration and research I decided to finally give it a try. I bought The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving – what many people consider to be the authority on home food preservation. It contains step-by-step how-to’s as well as 400 recipes for preserving nature’s bounty. If you are interested in jarring, I would encourage you to pick up a copy as I learned everything I needed to know from it like Rule #1: Highly acidic foods like fruits and tomatoes can be processed in a large pot with boiling water, while low acid foods like vegetables and meats must be processed using a high pressure canner. So, I decided to start simple and jar some beautiful organic tomatoes from the farmers market.
I learned Rule #2 the hard way: don’t stray from a proven recipe as successful food preservation demands specific acid levels and cooking times in order to prevent contamination and spoilage. This is still hard for me to accept because I like making up my own riffs on favorite dishes. The first time I jarred tomatoes I added basil leaves and a crushed clove of garlic to a few of the jars, but after a conversation with a contact at my farmers market I realized that those small additions may have thrown off acid levels and therefore welcomed bacteria. My hard work in the trash!
I have jarred tomatoes twice now. As I already had a big pot all I needed were some pint jars, a jar lifter to pull jars out of hot water and a wide mouth funnel to neatly pour hot tomatoes into hot jars. The first time took a LONG time and the resulting mess took over my kitchen. The second time was neater and much quicker. On both occasions Evelyn was very interested in what I was up to in the kitchen. I caught her cooking her toy tomatoes in her toy pot using water she gathered from our bathroom sink. It is so sweet when she keeps busy with me.
I am now hooked on the process. While I save a little money preserving fresh foods, the real benefits are for our health and the planet. No random additives like high fructose corn syrup are in the food, and the containers aren’t lined with BPA like most cans you buy at the grocery store. Plus, doing things on my own really cut down on the waste our household creates. I pick up food from the farmers market using my own bags, and the jars can be reused. Its a win for my family and a win for Mother Nature!
Today while the kids nap I am going to jar homemade applesauce using apples we picked last weekend. Should be a good treat for little Mack as he tries more solid foods!
© Copyright 2013 Homemade Mothering | A Back to Basics Approach to Mothering and Homekeeping