September 11, 2011

Summer Canning...

Edit: Someone asked if you should store the jars with the rings on or off. My mom and I always take the rings (bands) off once the jars have sealed. We usually wait 24 hours, take them off and then wipe the jars shiny clean. I've never had any problems with the jars unsealing, etc. Calling all experienced canners, what's your opinion?

Hi there folks. Hope you're having a most relaxing Sunday. After spending 7 hours at Josey's volleyball tournament yesterday, my little family is ready to chill out. We have no plans for today and it might just stay that way. :)

I thought I would show you a little bit of my summer canning. Each summer my counter tops are cluttered with garden goodies such as zucchini, jalapenos, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. This summer I scored this old, green wagon that I have in the corner of my dining room. It was perfect for all my giant zucchini.
I don't mind the cluttery counter tops one bit though because it means I get to create some wonderful concoctions like my homemade jellies. Making jelly is a complete mess, I have to tell you. With the sweltering 105 temperatures we had daily this summer, there were times that heating up the stove to make jelly was not top on my list. But I love it so much that I just had to. The key to making great jellies is to have everything organized and ready to go. The timing has to be just perfect. Aside from one bad jelly making session, my jellies turn out nearly perfect every time. I've got it all down to one smooth process....just stay out of the kitchen for 2-3 hours and I'll do just fine in there by myself. Although the girls do like to help out sometimes and Eric is a great jalapeno slicer. ;)

So here I am with a batch of fresh jelly. I've got all my sterilized jars filled and ready to be water bathed.
I carefully transfer jelly to the jars using a wide funnel.
My lids have been heating up in a little water bath and they're ready to top off the jelly jars.
My favorite tools of all time for canning.....the beat up metal funnel from my mom....the green jar retriever thing from my mom and a new, handy dandy magnetic lid picker upper that my mom recently learned about. I can't do without these items when canning.
And this. Oh my beloved, enamel canning cooker. My brother got it from Mrs. Staley, the neighbor down the road years ago. We used to mow her yard and take care of stuff for her. I treasure this pot because of it's sentimental meaning. It was a little rusty on the bottom and this summer the rust spots wore through. I had water leaking everywhere onto my hot stove when I discovered the leak. My mom said there was actually a sealer made for enamel pots but I think more leaks will be coming as it's wearing pretty thin. I'm on the lookout for a new canning pot but this little baby won't be going too far. I'll use it as my compost bucket or perhaps it will have a new job like carrying picked veggies from the garden.
One of the best things about making jelly is the little bit of leftover jelly at the bottom of the pan.
I transfer this to a bowl and I love it for two reasons. One is that it's obviously fun to taste your creations before you can them up. Two is that I can tell within about ten minutes if my jelly is going to set up in my jars. You can tell by the jelly sticking to the spoon that this batch was killer. It got thick really quick which means that the jelly will most likely do the same in the jars.
Here the little jars of jelly are sitting out on a folded tea towel. I always have a fresh, clean towel waiting for the little jars to rest on. My most absolute favorite part about canning is to hear the little *pop* that happens when a jar lid has sealed. My mom has a special way of tapping on the lids to hear if they've sealed. I have to turn the jars this way and that way to see if the center seal has sucked down. But when you hear that pop you know the jar has sealed. Every time I hear the *pop* I suck in a breath....just imagine a little kid hearing Santa's sleigh bells at night. That's the excitement that the *pop* brings to me. And I've got a good ear for the *pop*. I can hear it clear in the basement.
Once the jars are cooled, I take the rings off and wipe the jars down with a clean washcloth. Now they're all ready to be stored away for the winter down in the basement. Some of the little jars will be fancied up and decorated for gift giving too.
Here's some more pretty jars of peach jam just waiting to be fancied up. I particularly love these new embossed jars from Better Homes and Gardens, available at Walmart. Now if they'd just come out with NEW, BLUE canning jars I'd be in hog heaven.
My family has been canning since as far back as I can remember. My grandmothers too. I am so delighted to see all the young people today that are getting into canning. It's a family tradition for us and I hope it becomes one for some of you too. Recently, the girls at Our Best Bites did a great blog post called Introduction to Home Canning and Preserving. It's a great resource for getting started. Plus their website has some really great recipes.......annnnd they have a new cookbook out....which I need purchase still. Hope you give them a visit.

And that's it for today. I'm busy getting projects completed for this month's Papertrey release + I am eagerly awaiting some brand new packaging items to arrive for my Etsy shop. Come back soon as I have something special planned for a few of my jelly jars. ;)

18 comments:

nuts4levibutts said...

I love canning too and love that lil wagon!!!!

cjgusloff57 said...

Enjoyed reading "Summer Canning" It brought back memories of the days when I used to can. I have an old beat up funnel similar to yours and I still do use it. Never did have a jar lifter and the new magnetic lid thing sure would have been great. I had to "fish" the lids out of the warm water with a fork! Your jellies all look yummy!

Anne said...

Ah what a lovely post. A lovely end to the summer and something to enjoy over the winter... I can almost smell and taste the jelly.

Cindy said...

Last year I believe you made "candied jalapenos". Can you please share the recipe again? Thanks!

Eveline said...

My mom had this big canning pan but gave it away :(
I love the pictures of the canning proces.
Eveline.

Anonymous said...

I have been wanting to learn more about canning and actually start canning but I am confused about one thing, some info I have come across says to store the jars without the ring on them and others saying to have the ring on. What is the best way to store the jars?

Cindy said...

I love to hear that "pop" too, one of my favorite summer sounds!

Rachel said...

Love your summer canning story...it brings back alot of my childhood memories of my mom canning and me helping...she always loved her pretty filled jars all sparkling on the counter.

Meredith MacRitchie said...

I made jam for the first time this summer, and I am HOOKED. I loved how easy it was, but how gratifying when it actually worked! I love home made jam and jellies - my mum used to make them all the time - and I can't wait to expand my canning horizons! And I developed a pretty quick ear for those pops - then I know I did it right! :)

Connie said...

Hi Michelle. Your metal funnel looks just like mine....dented and dinged up but a staple in my canning aresenal, and I love my magnetic "retriever thing", too. I used it last when I canned pears during the most hot and humid day of the year. But you are right...those little "pops" from the lids sealing is one of the most satisfying sounds ever!

Teresa said...

Our garden wasn't that good this year. I've been to busy to can for a few years now. I miss it. I've never been good at jelly or jam. I miss canning.

Elizabeth V. said...

Your post makes me smile...I share your love of the "ping"! It is so rewarding to know that we have preserved summer's goodness to enjoy all winter long. Before we moved south I had a large garden and did much more canning but I can't give up the jellies and jams. They are just so much better than anything from the store...sunshine in jar! I am going to have to be on the hunt for your magnetic lid catcher. It looks like a genius addition to the tool collection!

Laura C said...

I have been canning all my life too and I'm in my 50s. It has been a tradition passed along through the generations here too. Now that my children have flown the nest, it's not necessary to do so much these days though. I think I'm going to try some jalapeno jelly this year though

Laura C said...

Oh and always store the rings separate. You don't want rust to build up on any of the rims.

ashjoy said...

I always store with the rings off as well. The rings can rust easily and become hard to take off. I also keep a few lids on hand from one of my favorite amish relishes and reuse to replace the cannin lids when I open a jar.

I love that magnetic wand, I remember seeing it somewhere and didn't pick it up, then when I'm fishing the lids out of hot water with a fork I wish I had!

We are a family of preserves as well. We do jellies, jams, beets, green beens, corn, zucchini, peaches, pears and peppers every year.

My father has 3 huge gardens, and we both have small orchards.

Diana F. said...

I loved reading this post. It just makes me happy seeing all these canned jars! I will not be canning for the holidays, but will be using the same jars to make homemade hot fudge sauce for some holiday gifts. I just love anything in a jar.
Thank you for sharing this slice of your life with us.

Tonya said...

You have inspired me to "try" canning! I did and it turned out wonderfully! It brought back many childhood memories (watching my mom can). Thank you for such a wonderful blog.

Gaylyn said...

Such a great link, thank you. Of course, your simple instructions make it look easy enough to try. Now I know what that green thing is for (my mom has one). When she said it was for jars , I thought it was a lid opener! Any chance you'll tell us how you grew the giant zucchini? Love your blog-been following for years!

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