Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Plan to Can

Pretty Jars!

Whew, the last year went by fast! Now that I've come full circle since first starting my foray into canning, I decided to make a list of what I want to do again and what I'd like to try in 2013. For posterity's sake, I'll aslo list what I won't be making again.

Make Again 
Apple peel jelly - The more I taste this stuff, the more I love it. AC likes it too! It's currently his most requested jelly! Plus, you really can't beat the fact that this is basically a bonus from canning applesauce! Great everyday jelly, could easily replace strawberry. 

Applesauce - so good, and relatively simple once you're done chopping those dang apples. 

Spiced Blueberry Jam - oh lawdy, this stuff is amazing! Absolutely dreamy on toast or pancakes.

Maybe Make
Apple butter - This stuff is really good, but I don't see much need for it if I'm making applesauce and jelly.

Apple slices in syrup - Since I just made this, i have no idea what my usage will be. I'm not ruling it out until I know for sure.

Balsamic Blackberry Basil Jelly - Really a gourmet treat! But I only need so many preserves.

Balsamic Pickled Asparagus - This is probably the only non-sweet pickle I've ever enjoyed, but that last jar sat on the shelf for months.

Strawberry Jam - Always a classic, but again, a gal only needs so many jars of preserves.

Not Making Again
Blackberry syrup - I am still up to my ears in syrup. It makes a nice soda, but we don't use more than a small batch per year. I'm set for a long time!

Cranberry Grapefruit Marmalade - It's not that it was bad, I just didn't use it. I haven't opened a single jar. While I know what to do with cranberries, I don't know what to do with cranberries that taste predominantly of grapefruit.

Honey Lemon Marmalade - Again, I never used a jar. I finally opened one recently, but found it slightly bitter. IF I try this again, It will be as a jelly and not a marmalade. I just can't get used to tough bits of rind.

New to Try
Beets - I've discovered a deep love of beets, and since it's an easy crop to grow I figured it would be a no-brainer to try and can. I'll probably start with pickled beets, and if I can find someone to loan me a pressure canner I'll move on to plain sliced beets. Yum.

Beans - We also discovered that green beans no longer upset Hubby's Crohns like it used to. I am beyond THRILLED to add a new veggie into our diets, especially since it's another one that's easy to grow. I'll probably only can this if I find a pressure canner, but I'm not ruling out Dilly Beans!

Carrots- Again, this depends on a pressure canner. I may not grow the carrots myself, considering I can buy organic carrots for a reasonable price. I like having shelf stable veggies, but am leery of metal cans.

Cranberry sauce - I've been stashing cranberries in my freezer since Thanksgiving, and when I find the time I want to make some plain-Jane cranberry sauce. I love the stuff in pork dishes, but store bought sauce always has HFCS.

Tomato sauce - Yes, I know, it's absurd that i didn't try sauce this past year, but between that dang blight and complete disorganization at harvest season, I didn't. In fact, I had originally wanted to make salsa. Sauce, however, would be much simpler, and therefore more likely to be put up.

Herb jellies or syrups - I made violet syrup last spring and found it fascinating. I'd love to try it as jelly! I also want to try dandelion jelly/syrup, which is supposed to taste like honey. I'm sure there are more wild plants I can play with, but I'll start with these in spring.

Hmmm... I think that's everything. Did I miss anything awesome? Especially something that can be used as a side dish in a meal. That would certainly do more for our food budget than a lifetime supply of jelly. I'll have to modify this list as I refine my plans for the year. Still planning that garden.

Oh! Something I also want to experiment with this year is Pomona's pectin. I've heard lots of good things about this, most notably that you can use little to no sugar and still have perfectly set jelly. Many times I've made jelly and absolutely HATED putting the last 3-4 cups of sugar in! Sometimes, nature did it right the first time 'round! What really convinced me to try Pomona's was when I learned that it lasts indefinitely. That's right, NO expiration! The traditional SureJell or Certo stuff only lasts a few months. I like keeping a few boxes of pectin on had for impromptu jellin', but there's nothing more frustrating than preparing to can only to realize your pectin is past due! Also, Pomona's can make larger batches and more batches per box. This not only makes the price comparable to other brands, but I no longer have to work some kitchen gymnastics in order to can more than 6 jars of jelly at a go! Definitely on my 2013 Must Try List!

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