Under pressure (think a crooning Freddy Mercury)
It has been cool. This is a good thing, as I have been doing a lot of canning lately.
I have learned one thing: I should only can the things that we enjoy eating. The logic of this amazingly obvious statement escapes me when I see the myriad fruits and cheap veggies at the local farm stand or –eeps– in my garden. It’ll be January and I realize I am the only person in the household who will eat canned beet greens.
I’ve learned something else, too. I tend to treat that which is rare as something that is really precious, and thus, not for eating. When I was a city gardener, I remember well my first crop of eggplant. I waited and waited for some sign that dang, I should pick and cook those things, and when that sign finally showed itself the eggplant was seedy and gross. I do this with some canned items, too. There are dilly beans down there from 2005. Eat them, I tell myself. And we have been. When things start getting going in the garden in May and June, it is also the Season For Emptying The Larder, whereby I cook everything in the freezer and pantry.
So! The kitchen is full of glass jars and big kettles at this time of year. We have a pressure canner, too. I have been putting away dried beans in it: making them cooked beans first, or soups. Oh, and vegetable stock. Can’t have enough of that. I am rather fortunate in that I work from home most days, so in between phone calls, emails and drawings, I am banging pots on the stove. The convenience of pulling a can of tomatoes and a can of beans and making a quick chili or pasta in the middle of winter makes it worthwhile. And, probably most importantly, I know where the food came from, and how it was prepared. And it’s quick, or at least it’s quick when they’re finished!
I wish I could work from home sometimes. I feel silly taking off work to can things, even though I’ve done it every year. Things are piling up and I need to get the hot water bath going. Probably this weekend and several more. I’ve never used a pressure canner. They seem scary. What I really need is a big old chest freezer. We don’t have near enough room in our normal one.
Surprisingly, chest freezers are fairly cheap, and cheap to run (the fact that the cold air stays in there, in the bottom, and doesn’t dump out like it does in an upright seems to serve them the Energy Star ratings). Look into it, M.
My pressure canner is a monster, but it isn’t scary. There’s lots of hardware to keep the lid on. And the things you are able to can make it worthwhile, like the vegetable stock I am making right now…you can also do meat soups, fish stock, and lots of different low-acid veggies… It’s actually a simpler process than the hot-water baths, frankly!
We’ll be getting a chest freezer this year. I have a little freezer which is attached to my fridge (and I mean ‘little’ because I live in Holland!) It’s enough to freeze just a normal quantity of stuff, but it’s not enough to freeze 10 kilos of plums. Or a tree-full of apples, or all the blackcurrants and redcurrants I wanted to freeze. I’ve made jam and I’ve canned plums (not under pressure, but in the oven), but next year … a freezer!
Canned beet greens? Oh, El. That is above and beyond. Bless you.