Saturday, August 9, 2014

Canning Club - The Work of Our Hands

Canning is hard work, and much more fun when done with others.

Luckily, I have friends who agree, and we've been canning together.  I call it Canning Club, but Will thinks Little House on the Prairie Club is a better name (although I told him I don't remember reading about Carolyn Ingalls using a pressure cooker.)

So far this year, Club meetings have been held on strawberry jam day, raspberry jam day, frozen corn day and blackberry jam day.  Next week, it's green bean day.  5 bushels of green beans day.

To practice for green bean day, Clay and I did up 17 quarts last weekend.  We were proud of ourselves, but that's a pretty measly accomplishment compared to my mom's 100-quarts-a-year habit.

On Monday, Jenny and I went to visit Margaret, who was a dear friend of my mom and dad.  Jenny had told her about our canning aspirations, and since she doesn't can anymore, Margaret offered us all her jars.  We came home with a car full of jars, so I was inspired, got out my Ball Blue Book and put up a few more jars.

Dilly beans were always #1 on my mom's canning hit list, so I thought I would try them.   My first batch looked very wrinkly (Maggie says, "Think witch fingers") so I looked to Google for some answers.  Turns out you need to use very fresh green beans for dilly beans.  I tried again with very fresh beans from my neighbor, Mike, down the road.  Still a few wrinkly ones in there, but I was happier.  My first 5 pints have already been given to friends and family, and I have 7 from the second batch -- one is earmarked for Laura, a CC member and dilly bean lover.

We love to cook Indian food, and I love chutneys.  I think I am the only one here who loves chutneys, so the 7 half-pints of peach chutney will probably last quite a while.  Would you like one?

I'm thinking of putting Chicken Masala on the menu this week just to pop open a jar, but I'd eat this chutney with just a nice plate of brown rice or quinoa.  

Will approves of this corn relish -- it's sweet and snappy, kind of like him.  I used 15 ears of corn, an onion, 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper and lots of sugar and vinegar to get 6 pints.  I'll probably be gifting most of these jars, too, or Googling "What to eat with corn relish."  

Finally, ketchup.  Once, many years ago, we were at a restaurant in Indianapolis where they served homemade ketchup with their fries.  It was so good and so much like my mom's, it made me cry.  

Making ketchup was such a big deal in our family, I've blogged about it before.  

I wish I knew my mom's recipe, but since she used the Ball Blue Book, I'm guessing this is close.  I've given a jar to each of my sisters, and am awaiting their assessment before I make more.  And I will be making more, as there are about a billion green tomatoes out in the garden.  

The 6 little half pints of ketchup took 4 quarts of tomatoes and about 4 hours of messy boiling and simmering (you reduce it by half twice!)  Clay, my kitchen cleaner, said he was glad he knew I made ketchup or he would have thought there had been a knife fight around the stove.  

As Carrie Newcomer wrote in her song, Work of Our Hands,

Twenty jars of dill beans canned
From an old recipe that my mother gave to me,
Because it's good to put a little bit by,
For when the late snow flies,
All that love so neatly canned,
By the work of our hands.

Peace.  In the world, and in jars.  

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