side projects

jams at the market, originally uploaded by ciaosamin.

i've been indulging my obsession with canning lately: 18 gallons of tomato sauce, 2 gallons of frog hollow suncrest peach compote, 3 1/2 gallons of yellow wax and romano dilly beans, and a bazillion gallons of nocino made with green walnuts we found in someone's front yard. i made some yogurt today, and hopefully it'll be set when i go back in the morning.

i just want to preserve everything. i don't want anything to go bad. ever.

i am totally freakish about the sterilization process, and have a heart attack whenever anyone even waves his hands over my canning space. botulism is my biggest enemy these days.

here are some canning tips, in case you want to make some of your own. i've learned a lot in just one year, and i still have a lot more to figure out.

--keep a diary (i learned this from june taylor). right after you process, open up a jar and taste to make sure that everything worked. take some notes. do it again in the winter. that way, next year you can make some changes for the better.

--wash everything you are going to use in the dishwasher. then, just to be sure, sterilize it all in boiling water for at least five minutes (except for pop tops--i just do them for 30 seconds). make sure you have clean towels laid out on your workspace to drain everything onto.

--make sure that everything you are working with is HOT--jars, sauce/jam/pickling liquid/sugar syrup/whatever

--i now skip the hot water process and go straight into a low oven--150-200 degrees F for about 20 minutes for pint jars, 30 for quarts, and 40 for half-gallons. it's so much easier, cleaner, and safer than boiling all of those jars. plus, it's much, much gentler on the stuff inside the jars.

i'll have to take some photos of the jars soon. it's getting out of hand.