Because We Can, Can, Can*

ww2-home-canning-350Last year, I canned pickles. Just pickles. Maybe six quarts of bread and butters, which didn’t turn out great, and about seven quarts of garlic dills, which really, really did.

Pickles are reasonable. Pickles are pretty normal. Were I to have just done pickles again this year, I think I would’ve been fine. I would’ve been happy.

Instead, I got bit by the canning bug. Hard. Blinded by delusions of my own domesticity, I expanded my canning horizons fairly significantly this year. And now, I have a raging case of canning fatigue. Thank goodness the growing season for things amenable to hot water bath canning is pretty much over. Stop looking at me that way, Brussels sprouts. YOU JUST STOP.

Somewhere around midsummer, canning was such a romantic thing. My sister-in-law and I gleefully planned a pickling and canning party one Sunday afternoon while we seriously overindulged in Pimm’s Cups on the deck (sidebar: She and I cannot be trusted with alcohol in each other’s company. We require chaperones. We often end up crying. It’s a blast.). I felt such a sense of anticipation putting in the order with Harmony Valley Farm for their “produce plus” offerings for our party. We got together on the planned Saturday, had a lovely breakfast at The Old Fashioned on the Capitol Square and then went and picked up the thirty pounds of veggies: 10 pounds each of baby red and gold beets, and 10 pounds of pickling cucumbers.

Wait, we bought THIRTY POUNDS of produce to can in one afternoon?

Oh yes. We damn skippy did.

And then, because we’re apparently masochists of the highest order, we decided to add eight pounds of carrots and, oh, I don’t know, somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 to 20 jalapenos to the mix to make a curried and pickled garnish for Bloody Marys.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the 24 ears of corn that we got that morning, too. You know, for blanching and freezing. Yes, we’re insane. Stop looking at us that way, or we’ll pinch you with our canning tongs.

Our efforts that Saturday yielded about 36 various jars of canned items, and several freezer packs of blanched corn. It also yielded an awful lot of empty beer bottles, sweat and exhaustion. We’d started the canning efforts around 11:30 or noon. We didn’t finish until 8:30 that night. And we looked at the jars and thought, “Really? Thirty-six jars? Shouldn’t it be more like 360?”

That could have been the end of it. It really could. But see, we’re a member of a fruit CSA, and I realized I had some pears and pluots from our last week’s box that weren’t going to be good too much longer. The next day — yes, the NEXT DAY — I decided I needed to make gingered pear-pluot jam. Who’s never made jam before? THIS GIRL. But, there I was, heating up the canner again, like a frigging preservation junkie. Nine half-pints later, I thought, “Okay, I’m done now for a while.”

And I was. For a while.

But then I realized I didn’t really have enough of those yummy garlic dills, and then Andrea, one of the Harmony Valley Farm owners, told me about this amazing salsa verde recipe with roasted poblanos, and they happened to have all the required veggies on the market stand that day I was working and, well, there was more fruit in a recent fruit box that needed to be used, and, you know, I’d really wanted to make tomato salsa, and gosh, that salsa verde recipe didn’t really make that much, so I should probably do some more and…

Oh hell, here’s the final list of things that found their way into my hot water bath canner this year:

  • Pickled golden beets with ginger and star anise (~4 pints, 4 quarts)
  • Spiced red beets (~4 pints, 4 quarts)
  • Garlic dill pickles (~ 8 quarts)
  • “Curry Power” carrot and jalapeno Bloody Mary garnish (~4 pints, 1 quart)
  • Gingered pear-pluot jam (~9 half-pints)
  • Peach-pear jalapeno jam (~3 half-pints, 2 pints)
  • Harmony Valley Farm salsa verde (~8 pints, 1 quart)
  • Roasted tomato salsa (~6 pints, 2 quarts)

I also have corn and roasted tomato sauce in the chest freezer. If there is a zombie apocalypse, at least we’ll eat well.

But I’m done for this year. Really, I am. Unless, of course, I can’t resist those Brussels sprouts the next time I work the market. There’s always room on the cocktail pick in that Bloody Mary for a nice pickled Brussels sprout, right?

Please send help.

* Extra credit if you picked up on the Moulin Rouge reference.

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