Thursday, July 19, 2012

strawberry rhubarb everything

start with fresh ingredients

The only way to learn canning is to do it yourself. It is terrifying and complicated the first time you try it. There is boiling water and detailed instructions (I am bad at instructions) and rubber gloves and special tongs and, of course, the risk of death.

jam is not good for you

On the other hand, there is EXTREME REWARD. You wouldn't believe the high-fiving we were up to in this kitchen when we heard the can pop, meaning it sealed, meaning we'd conquered canning. 

we baked our fruit for two hours to release the juices, bitches

Anyway, I 'm posting this blog to document my experience with canning, but I'm not going to even think about trying to explain how to do it. 

You'll have to figure that out yourself.
Here is a fabulous book to get you started: Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods, by Eugenia Bone.  

checking in on the progress

The main recommendation I have: find one recipe and stick to it. We had our fingers in so many pots (literally and figuratively). We were reading out of a book, a magazine from the grocery store, two online recipes, watching a video and checking the box the jars came in—too much. 

the nice thing about jam is that if you chicken out, you can still use your hot fruit for a pie or a compote that doesn't get preserved (just eaten right away!)

By the time we'd moved onto our second canning venture, it was pie. Well, it was pickled cauliflower, but you see my point.
you don't need much to get started: new cans and lids...

rubber gloves, and a good pair of tongs,
we cut costs by not investing in a "rack." jars can boil easily by placing upside-down lids at the bottom of the pot, as pictured.

It's important to follow the instructions, but, for example, this jam has a huge bubble in it. Bubbles are a no-no, but we ate it all and are still very much alive.

Rudi's Gluten-Free bread, toasted with butter and our homemade jam. So. So. So. Good.

I saved all the juices from the cooked fruit. It is very sweet.

And later, we made strawberry-rhubarb margaritas. See how the little lime juicer perfectly fits the glass? I dipped the rims in lime juice to get the salt to stick. Tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and the frozen strawberry rhubarb syrup. And salt.

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