Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday Cookbook Series -- Canning and Preserving

Every spring I have grand dreams of planting a beautiful garden and reaping a bountiful harvest that I can store away to feed my family for the winter. It's a silly dream, for someone who gardens in a 3x10 patch in a tiny suburban backyard. I chalk it up to some latent pioneering gene. It is rumored that my family has an ancestor who arrived on the Mayflower, and others who lived in the wild west (or at least the wild midwest of Nebraska).

In any case, most of my canning produce comes from the supermarket after my garden falters (or becomes a bunny buffet). Canning, at least the "water-bath" method is really pretty easy--you put hot food into jars, put on lids, and then boil the jars. Follow the times on the recipes, and that's really it. So far, I've done apple sauce, apple butter, apple pie filling, pickles, a variety of fruit jams, and some really yummy roasted red pepper spread.

If you're not up for all the boiling, then both the Ball Blue Book of Preserving and the Canning & Preserving for Dummies books have sections about drying and freezing foods, as well as pressure canning. I haven't gotten into the pressure canning yet, mostly because it involves buying a pressure cooker, and I"m already out of room for storing kitchen gadgets. But, it's on my list of things to try. Right after I find the secret to producing a bumper crop of tomatoes in a veggie patch the size of a postage stamp....

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