Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First Canning Experience

We embarked on our first canning experience, N and I, and it was sort of fun while at the same time sort of challenging. It didn't help that it's been scorching hot and we had to toil over a hot boiling pot, but with greater challenge comes greater reward, right? We had a bumper crop of green beans, and rather than give them all away or let them go to waste, we tried out hand at canning them. N wanted to help, so it was bonus activity that engaged him while getting things done around the house. As a SAHD, you live for these sort of activities.

Now the beans were fairly big, and would have fit better in the large jars, but they are so big and sometimes seem like too much stuff. So I went with medium ones, which I like better and are a better serving size. This, however, meant that I had to cut the beans to size. After the beans were washed and ready, I boiled the jars and let them dry, then got the ingredients ready to make it easier for N to just add them accordingly. You realize how much food goes into canning because we started off with a ton of beans and actually ran out of them before we used up the jars. I ended up splitting up one of the bottles into the others because there wasn't enough.

I fudged the seasoning a little. We didn't have fresh dill, and a trip to Price Chopper proved to be fruitless. I didn't use canning salt but used some kosher salt that had no additives in it, which I believe is what canning salt is. Again, when I inquired at Price Chopper, they didn't really know what they were talking about. The recipe called for making them spicy with red pepper, which I omitted, and added peppercorns, instead. Also, I seem to see little round things in pickle jars which I take to be mustard seed, so I added some of that. Then the garlic.

Or rather, I should N added them to the jars, then stuffed in the green beans. He did a great job and takes these tasks very seriously. Once they were done, the protocol says to heat the jars so that they don't crack when you add the hot liquid, but I think this was overkill. And it made the job harder because you had to do it in the boiler, which is a pain, especially when it's hot outside. One jar fell over and water got in, which bummed me out, but such is life. I had to pour off the excess water.

We got the jars done, they boiled for 10 minutes, and of course my mentor showed up at that time and threw a wrench into things, but you can't keep your mentor waiting. The beans turned out nicely, though they say not to eat them for at least two weeks, even though I'm itching to try them now. Maybe when we get back from our vacation.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

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