Without even realizing it, and due to my little urban farm, I have adopted the age old farmer’s routine. Spring and Summer are the planting and growing season and late Summer/early Fall mark the time for harvesting and preserving. Fortunately for me, I like this kind of structure and dependable repetition, so it suits me just fine.
I preserve food mostly by freezing or canning it. I freeze soups, sauces, and berries and can pickled things and jams and jellies. I like to can things that are fun to give away… or hoard (sometimes it’s hard to share)!
Apparently I only can things that are red or green.
I’m not going to give a tutorial on canning here, because I am not a certified “master preserver” or anything and there are some things you need to know so you don’t poison yourself or others. That said, I would definitely recommend taking a class AND getting some good books.
I took a canning class several years ago through the WSU Extension program. I didn’t see any class listings currently though.
Luckily with this whole resurgence in interest in food preservation, there are some great new books out there.
Canning & Preserving Your Own Harvest– This one you should buy because not only are there great, unique recipes in it like Roasted Peppers and Eggplant In Garlic Oil, but the co-author, Lorene Edward Forkner is from Seattle! I use the Garlic Dill Pickles recipe from this book and made the Hot Peppers in Vodka one year as well.
Big Book of Preserving the Harvest– This book is cool because it goes over all methods of food preservation; freezing, drying, canning AND root cellaring (which I want to get more into). It seems very geared towards the home gardener too (most of the other books seem to assume you are buying produce for the recipe), which I like because it talks about harvesting, when to do it (for best preservation) and how to handle the food, etc..
Put ’em Up!– This is my newest acquisition. I bought this book because I had heard about it and was looking for a good pickled carrot recipe. This one is cool because it is organized by vegetable. There are lots of recipes in this book I want to make! I also love a preserving book that includes boozy infusions as a form or preservation, and this book has a bunch!
Ball Blue Book of Preserving– While the recipes in this book may be heavy on the salt and sugar, they are tried and true, so I still use the recipes in this book a lot. It’s instruction are really great for referencing things like the temperatures and head space needed and there is a section of low sugar and low sodium recipes. I think I picked this one up at Mclendon’s where I also buy all my canning supplies.
There is also a newer more comprehensive version of this book out now too called the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, but I haven’t checked that one out yet. I’m kind of at my limit on books!
My well used pressure canner. A gift from Matt.
Part of why I will plant such a large crop of a something, is because I know I want to perserve it some how. This year, I planted a lot of beets, carrots and jalapeños, with the intention of canning them. I knew I wanted to can the beets plain (I like them that way for quick salads later) and make jalapeño pepper jelly, but I didn’t have any concrete plans for the carrots.
When my cucumbers that I planted (in hopes of making pickles), never germinated (not sure why), I decided to pickle carrots instead!
Put ’em Up! not only has a great Dilled Carrot recipe, but I has a Spicy Carrot recipe too! Since I also have jalapeños growing and have enough to make jelly and this, I decided to make Spicy Carrots.
6 pounds of "Purple Haze" Carrots waiting to be canned!
home grown garlic
Again with the red food! The purple carrots stained the vinegar!*
*Oh and a little note on color and canning. I purposely picked the purple carrots for this recipe, because I thought it might look cool, but it is hard to know what color something is going to turn after you can it. Sometimes, it just bleaches the color out, especially if you are pressure canning. Or it bleeds, like in this case. I canned some Chiogga beets one year and thought the stripes would look so cool in the jar, but they just bleached out from the heat I guess!