In our garden, September is a busy harvesting time.  We stroll out to the garden with our picking crate (made of wood from the Cardington Barn), only to find out that we have fill it up 3 or 4 times to pick everything that is ready.  In fact, it was so full each time that it took both Jim and I to carry it.  This was exactly what we were hoping for and what a beautiful sight…..but now what?

An early picking
A small portion of our crop

After giving our friends and neighbors some of our crop, and even after putting the pile of veggies in the break room at work with a ‘FREE’ sign, we still had plenty of ready-to-can tomatoes and peppers.  Both Jim and I had been exposed to our parents canning process as we were growing up, and although I am sure we helped out at the time, a lot of things have changed since then.  For instance, Pressure Canning was taboo. We often hear comments such as, “I would like to can but I am afraid I am going to blow up the kitchen”, or “I would love to can but I don’t want botulism”.    By following a few safe techniques canning is not only a great way to preserve your crops, but also a great way to know exactly what you are eating all while saving money at the grocery store.  There are several great resources out there that can give you step by step instructions on the canning process.  The biggest thing that we learned is that you can’t be afraid to try.  Yes, even we had a disaster with adding too much salt where we had to pitch a batch of what was supposed to be homemade salsa that ended up as a glorified salt block.    Each year we can hundreds of quarts of tomato juice with our extended family, making it an annual event.  Then on our own we can everything from salsa, picante sauce, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, hot pepper mustard, apple butter, jalapenos rings, banana pepper rings, etc…

The cooking process for canning salsa
Make sure you label your cans, I guarantee you will need it months later

I can’t wait until the thought of a busy winter day when I don’t have time to make a homemade dinner, when I can just pull out a jar of spaghetti sauce and make a hearty homemade meal within 15 minutes.  Oh, and don’t forget pulling out the salsa on Superbowl Sunday!!!   Our hot pepper mustard has become such a huge hit with our family and friends that it has even been shipped several states away upon request.   We are beginning to realize that canning is a dying kitchen art where we live.  However, with the focus coming back to buying local and using less chemicals/preservatives, Jim and I are confident that canning will make a resurgence. We hope to help educate people to live a more simple, healthy and fulfilling life, one jar at a time.

Canning — no, you are not going to blow up your kitchen!
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