Monday, August 22, 2011

Fall's Around the Corner!! Bring out the Canner & the Jars!!

Well there is a nip in the morning air now which means Fall isn't far behind even though our days are in the 90's here North of Nowhere.  I discovered a Food Coop was coming to my area (yes even to almost 60 miles of North of Nowhere!) and I joined.  It's called Bountiful Baskets and I picked up my first order this past Saturday.  All sorts of Yummy!! Goodies and I will definitely be putting in a order every time.  They have a website so you can see if they are in your area.  Click HERE

My Bountiful Basket from August 20th
For 15 Dollar-reenies I got everything in these two baskets!! Amazing -- here's the list:
  1. 2 cantaloupes (the best I've had in a LONG time - very ripe & sweet).
  2. 1 lb of strawberries
  3. 2 bunches of bananas
  4. 2 lb of black seedless grapes
  5. some plums - about 8 of them
  6. some peaches - about five of them
  7. 1 head of bib lettuce
  8. 5 large tomatoes
  9. 2 large heads of broccoli
  10. 3 ears of very good corn
You get one fruit basket and one vegetable basket.  I also got 30 pounds of Hatch Chiles -- and my #1 DIL helped me roast and freeze them.  24 pounds of plums (10 varieties they said) was also in order.  I saved some for fresh eating and canned the rest.

My Plums
There is NOTHING like home-canned plums.  We ate one jar tonight that had not sealed properly and the Hubby raved about them!  They were definitely worth the effort.

I come by my home-canning genes through my paternal grandmother.  By the time I was born my paternal grandfather had passed away so I never knew him.  My grandmother had a huge garden out back of her small two bedroom home.  Her basement opened up into the garden and her clothesline.  She was an Iowa farm girl through and through.  Her washing machine was an old old Magtag wringer washer and she had the old galvanized double tub to rinse in.  She made her own lye soap until she died at the age of 83.  And the basement of her small home had shelves all around which was LINED every year with every imaginable thing you could think of to eat, most of it from her own garden.  Spiced Crabapples, Peaches, Plums, Bing Cherries, Apples, Jams, Jellies, Rhubarb, Corn, Green Beans, Peas, even some canned meats.  My grandma did not buy much from a grocery store, just the basics.

In her spare time, she quilted.  All of her grandkids and family received several of her quilts.  One of mine had patches from the same fabric my mother had used to make my clothes.  Very precious today!  She watched Ed Sullivan on the television, the local news and weather and that was it.

I used to have a huge garden when we lived in the Big Horn Basin and could get canning fruit easily.  Now stores don't carry it, I cannot raise a garden at North of Nowhere due to high sulfate well water that will kill the plants.  I've felt GUILTY for several years because I haven't canned!!  Once, when a cousin was visiting Wyoming from Minnesota, I mentioned to her that I felt guilty because I had only put up jam that year.  She giggled and said she canned too and felt guilty if the walls weren't lined.  We had a great time reminiscing about Grandma's basement and naming everything we would see on her shelves.  Apparently, my cousin got those canning genes too.  As far as I know we were the only 2 granddaughters who did.

I was delighted to find out I could get bulk boxes of some things when they were in season from Bountiful Baskets.

But my grandmother didn't teach me how to can.  That I learned from the Best Mother-in-Law on earth. She was a big home canner and she showed me how to can one summer.  I took off and canned for YEARS after that.  Home canning is a dying art.  But there is NOTHING you can buy as flavorful as food you put up yourself. YOU control the quality of your food when you home can. #1 DIL has expressed an interest in home canning so I hope I can pass on the gift my grandmother and mother-in-law gave me.

One year when I visited my grandmother with #1 Son and Hubby, I asked her for her Catsup recipe.  She told me it was in the recipe book in the left hand drawer.  When I went to get it, I noticed the copyright on the recipe book was 1918, the year my grandmother and grandfather were married!  Now I wonder if it was a wedding gift but I did not think to ask her then.

This is my grandmother's recipe for Catsup:
  • 1 gallon of ripe tomatoes
  • 1 pint of vinegar
  • 1 /2 T of red pepper
  • 2 T of salt
  • 1/2 T of cloves
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 t. mustard
  • 1 onion
Take the tomatoes and onion and chop very fine. Cook enough to press through a strainer. Remove seeds and skins left behind.  Add to the tomato/onions after straining the vinegar and sugar.  Place spices in a muslin bag (I usually just add them and don't use the muslin) then boil the pulp down to a good thickness.  At this point I put the catsup in pint jars and water bath can them for 20-25 minutes.  This has a flavor unlike any catsup you've ever eaten.  It's full of flavor from the spices and I really cannot describe it.  Hubby loves it but it's rare I have enough tomatoes to spare to make it.  You could just make a single batch and freeze it also.

My grandmother on her Wedding Day in 1918
She lived her whole life by the creed of Recycle, Reuse, Reduce, and Redo
long before anyone knew we needed to do this to help lower our impact on our earth.

If you think you want to home-can, try the Jarden website HERE, it is loaded with great canning information and receipes that will tell you everything you need to know. I'm lucky enough to have both a copy of the old Kerr canning recipe book and the old Ball Canning recipe book. Jarden is the only current manufacturer of home canning jars.  Home Extension offices usually have a wealth of canning information also.   Or drop by 60 Miles North of Nowhere and I'll give you a Lesson! Canning jars can often be found at yard sales along with water bath canners (for acid foods and fruit and jams, jellies, pickled foods), jar lifts, etc.  Sometimes you can get lucky and score a pressure canner (meats and vegetables), which are very expensive to buy new.

Happy Home Canning Everyone!

PS - don't you think it's totally Wasteful we don't recycle our tin cans??  I know they used to during World War II.  Tin is from the earth so there has to be a limited amount available.  Why don't we recycle all those gazillion tin cans????????????


  1. Canners of the world unite...!!
    I've been canning like crazy every weekend...


  2. Enjoyed the post -- but now I feel guilty AGAIN. I live in the middle of LDS country and everyone around me is doing such a good job and I just trot down to the store every couple of days.