As I have mentioned before, I am a nurse. But before I became a nurse, my degree was Home Economics. I know, what a switch, right? But, the truth is I LOVE all of the art, science and crafting which is a part of Home Economics and Homemaking.
Sometimes, it’s even harder than it looks. For example, the past few weekends I have been trying to master decipher the art and science of canning.
I have had an abundance of lemon cucumbers and peppers. I HATE to waste food and especially produce from my garden. But, sadly I have from time to time. So, I decided THIS year, I would can some of my bounty.
Martha Stewart is right when she says you must have the right tool for the job. This is especially true in canning. So I trecked over to my local Walmart and bought a 21 qt. canner with jar lifter like this one, wide mouth funnel, a magnetic wand here (this is maybe the most important tool I purchased) a case of 12 pint size jars with lids and rings, and extra lids and rings because that’s how I am.
I also bought this book
which is wonderful. It is very informative, has amazing recipes, gives step-by-step instructions and even has a section to help you figure out where you screwed up. Invaluable. More on that later.
My first attempt was to make spiced peach preserves. The peaches I used were not from my garden, but purchased from a local orchard.
I did everything , I thought, correctly. But, my preserves didn’t jell. Evidently, I didn’t cook the fruit/syrup long enough (per Ms. Costenbader). I used a thermometer, thinking this would be the most accurate method, but next time I will use the freezer test, also. As you can see, they didn’t jell.
Sad. However, they are a delicious spiced peach syrup which is excellent on pancakes and ice cream! And isn’t the color gorgeous?
The next attempt was to make bread and butter pickles from a recipe in the book using my lemon cucumbers.
Well. Evidently, I should have used more of the lemon cucumbers than a regular pickling cucumber because I ended up with way more of the liquid than cukes.
Rats. Next time, I will use 6-8 quarts of lemon cucumbers instead of 4 per the recipe. I am also going to cut them in chunks instead of 1/8 inch slices.
Yet another foray into canning produced these pickled peppers. Can you identify the problem?
Yep, floaters. Not too big of a problem, I should have just packed them tighter. For this recipe, there was no processing needed. Simply, prepare your jars, cook your vinegar solution and pour over your peppers. I used David Lebovitz’s recipe here. I substituted hatch chile peppers and pepperoncini peppers. They are supposed to cure for a week, so I’ll get back to you on how they taste. Because, other than being free of botulism, taste is the most important part. Don’t you think?