What’s all this?
Well now that it’s Fall… it’s harvest time here at the Fogelquist household. And part of harvest season for me this year, is the new canning operation.
No idea why but this year I had an absolute bumper crop of tomatoes. I took at least 118 lbs. of fruit off of eight plants… after I started counting.
But what was I gonna do with all these tomatoes?! Last year, when the tomato eating got behind the tomato production, I tried making tomato chips with our dehydrator… But that was kind of a bust. The idea sounded good and I made a pretty fair amount. But I was the only one who ate them… they’re really not like potato chips like I thought they would be… that is you can’t eat very many before you’re kinda puckered up. How ’bout canning? I had never canned before. Seemed kinda scary. Only saw my mother do it back when I was a little kid. She would mostly can strawberry jam after we came back from a berry picking expedition… and it always seemed like a major production. The jam was awesome though. So I never wanted to discourage her from doing this. Her strawberry jam was a wonderful childhood memory and still hasn’t been beaten by the store-bought varieties. But I had no idea how she did it. These tomatoes were totally out of control though. I just had to do something in self-defense.
My early attempts at canning were in the kitchen. There I was, the “Canning for Dummies” book in one hand and all this canning crap in the other. Donna would come zipping by on one mission or another; see me all sweaty and frantic… then say something scary like, “I used to see MY mom do that and decided that it wasn’t something I would ever want to do”, then she’d dash off. Donna is a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen so having her throw her hands up was kinda scary. What was I getting myself into? Oy! And after the first experimental batch of salsa (a raging success I might add), I saw that any past mess that I had ever made in the kitchen absolutely paled in comparison to what I had on my hands right now. There was fruit stickiness all over the floor, all over the cabinets and all over the stove… the dirty pots and pans piled up everywhere… and that’s not to mention all the heat in the house during the hot time of the year… and I was tying up the kitchen for hours. It became clear that I wasn’t gonna win any popularity contests here at home with this new canning program. OH! and then there was the endless cleanup afterward. Donna has X-ray vision for mess in the kitchen and I had no idea how I was gonna get it from the disaster area it had become, to something that might come close to passing her scrutiny.
Oh and one other thing I learned… the kitchen burners were completely inadequate for heating all those large volumes of water. One batch of tomatoes would take pretty much all day to process, and it consumed I don’t know how much electricity. This whole canning idea was not going well at all.
Not sure how it happened, but outta nowhere, I got this idea… Asked the question, How do the beer makers do it? They have to heat large volumes of water routinely. There MUST be some kind of propane burner available. I checked it out on Amazon… turns out that not only do these exist, but they’re plentiful. There are lots of different types and sizes… AND… they’re not expensive. So I shopped a little and then pressed the “Buy now with 1-click” button for my selection…. and two days later, the box arrived. After that… I was able to take the whole operation outside… and as a result, my canning life turned completely upside down. Canning actually became almost, well kinda, …sorta fun. Well if not “fun” then at least not like a root canal.
And I can do large volumes… quickly… and cleanup consists of hosing the table and patio area down… then hose out the pots and bowls… oh and the new burner heats large volumes of water within minutes… Yesterday, I canned 46 lbs of tomatoes and four pounds of beans into 52 pints of Ball Jars… all using the pressure canning method. Yes… not gonna lie, it took me most of the day to do this… and I was kinda tired when I was done. But cleanup wasn’t what took up most of the time. And… it was pleasant working outside instead of in a hot kitchen. And no one was mad at me.
SO… if you’re a canner… and you currently do it in your kitchen… think about moving the program outdoors. Not sure if I will ever can indoors again.
Next… Orange Marmalade… made just the way I like it.