Monday, September 16, 2013

Who Wants To Join My Canning Club?

Right around Maizeys first birthday, Brians grandma called and asked how many pounds of peaches I would like for canning. I'm sure the question was met with complete silence. Then his parents called and said the same thing, and since they are of the teach a man to fish philosophy, they said they would help us (*me) so we could see how easy it is, this canning stuff.
We did 20 lbs of peaches that year. It was so fun.
The next year, with the help of my mom, I did raspberry jam. Jam? So effing easy. No processing needed, boil, stir, add, pour, POP! there goes the little seal on the jar, which the sweet sound of can only be compared to that of a babies first cry.
It was so fun.
Then, both sets of parents left me to my own devices. It's easy, they said. You can do it no problem, they said.
So I tried my hand at peach butter last fall. All on my own. I cleared my schedule. I got rid of my kids. I emptied my kitchen counters in preparation. It went ok. I mean, I had nothing else to think about and it actually was really easy to follow step by step detailed instructions. It would have been super hard to mess it up.
It was kind of fun, and most definitely something to be a wee bit proud of.
Then this year came along.
Ang and I discussed, at length, what we were going to do.
She was going to do 80 lbs of peaches (!!!!) ..... Me.... not so much. I was going to do 20lbs of butter again, and then 20 lbs of canned peaches.
Again, I cleared my counters, and my schedule, but this year, there was no getting rid of my kids. It was Ang's first year unsupervised from start to finish as well, so we had it mapped out, talked out, laid out. We were going to be fine. And we were. I mean, except I only processed for 10 minutes and it should have been 20, and no matter how many different ways I googled what happens when you don't process peaches for long enough I couldn't find an answer. So after much humming and hawwing, I re-filled the canner, re-boiled and processed for 10 more minutes. Do I know if this was necessary? Nope. Do I know if it made a lick of difference? Nope. Did it give me piece of mind? You betcha.
Which brings us to today. Yesterday, on a bit of a whim, I bought 75 lbs of tomatoes.
What the hell, I thought. We eat a lot of canned tomatoes. Now I can make salsa too. Yay me, look at me go.
You guys.
Canning tomatoes is not for sissies.
In fact, I actually suck at it. And in hindsight, I was kinda shitty at the peaches and the peach butter as well.
Hot glass jars are hard to get out of the canner. If there is some secret way to do it, so the boiling water doesn't run down your hand/arm while you are dumping it out, I would love to know it.
I am almost embarrased to admit this, but, when I stuck the tongs in to grab a lid, I totally misjudged the depth of the water and plunged almost my whole hand into the boiling water. I wish I could say it only happened once.
Canning tools are needed very few days of the year right? So, incidentally, my kids sometimes play with them. The funnel, the tongs. Peach day, do you think I could find the funnel anywhere? No. It showed up about a week later in the kids bedroom closet. Today, the tongs, which are totally necessary and without I would have been in a real pickle, were located, in all the places possible, the sandbox in the backyard. Seriously.
I used quart and a half size jars today, so only four could fit in the pot to be sterilized at one time. One was creeping it's way back upright, so I shoved it down with my tongs. As the air bubble inside escaped it splashed a huge bubble right out of the pot onto my face. My eye brow totally got a burn on it. 
The mess. Oh my god, the mess. It took a number of spills before I moved the jar closer to the pot. Come on, Amy, that one should have been easy.
I am 70% sure I put the tsp of salt into the bottom of 60% of the jars. I think.
Every time my kids came close to me, I would scream maniacally at them get out of here, this is a giant pot of boiling water.  The windows were open and it might have confirmed, in case anyone was wondering, that I am in fact a lunatic.
I burnt the pot of tomatoes as they were coming to a boil. I didn't know that though, so I gave them a really good stir and scraped them all off the bottom. I then spent 15 minutes scooping out burnt pieces. Obvs I couldn't get  them all. I think it will just add flavor. But if you eat spaghetti at our house and there's a hint of burnt taste, just keep it to yourself, ok?
25lbs gave me six and a half of the big jars. I'm not going to lie, it doesn't seem like enough for how much work I did. (and how many burns I got). I still have another 50 lbs to go. Rumour has it that you don't have to process salsa, so I am thinking that sounds like a better bet, more like making jam, only with chopping and jalapenos and stuff. Less boiling water though, so yay.
You know what pickling salt is? It's course salt. You know when I found that out? When I got to the grocery store and my sister in law ran me out a box so I didn't have to unload the kids for the 10th time today. What I am saying is, I made an unnecessary trip to the grocery store to buy something that I already had. But I didn't want to, you know, waste her time or anything, so I bought it anyways.

I don't know, I think I should start a shitty canners club. Like, for all of us that can't make it look easy and get a little bit freaky outy when pots are boiling, kids are crying, shit is burning, and there is clearly not enough alcohol being consumed. And by not enough, I mean none. I feel confident my Grannie would have had a martini beside her as she cruised along effortlessly and that is someone I should totally aspire to be like. Ok, salsa and martinis are on the schedule for tomorrow.
Shitty canners unite!


  1. lol awesome....

  2. Ah tomato canning. Prob my least favorite way to totally trash my kitchen and fry my nerves. Loved your writing and humor in this post (my first time visiting your blog!).