Friday, September 17, 2010

Grocery Gal Gets Canny

I never thought I would “can” anything. I mean, isn’t that something grandmothers do? But, after a magnificent trip to Quillisascut farm school, I learned how to preserve. Suddenly canning was cool.

With the local food movement in full swing, preserving is becoming important to sustainability and eating local. Rather than buy peaches from Australia in the winter that taste like how you feel after a cross continental plane ride, why not capture them in the peak of their freshness and flavor and preserve them for the long winter months to come? That way we can enjoy nutritious and delicious foods that came from our local farms year round! It’s economical, healthy, sustainable, and an important part of our food culture…brilliant!

After a wonderful week at farm school, learning about honeybees, milking goats, making cheese, fabricating ducks, baking bread, and harvesting and preserving fruits and vegetables I was truly inspired! On the way home, I visited a neighboring organic orchard and purchased 20 pounds of peaches and nectarines. I arrived home late that night, stumbled into my apartment, exhausted from the long week of hard work and plopped the box of fruit on my kitchen table and went to bed. The next morning I woke up, opened the box and began to cry. “What was I thinking?!”

Trying to keep my cool, I rounded up jars and lids from the Goodwill (great place for inexpensive canning jars!) and my neighbor and recruited her to help me begin the process. We chopped 12 cups of nectarines and made a delicious jam. I couldn’t be happier, 2 hours of chatting with a friend, some sticky hands, and I have delicious jam that is lightly sweetened, naturally with honey.

Due to the significant dent the jam made in my stone fruit surplus and the amount that I have eaten fresh over the past 3 days, I now have just short of 30 peaches remaining. My mother-in-law and I are baking pies tomorrow and I plan on freezing the rest for smoothies.

I highly recommend giving canning and preserving a try, if you don’t already. It’s easy, fun, and an important skill to learn and pass down for future generations. Ball and Kerr jars are good choices and their rings and caps are interchangeable. Make sure that you follow a recipe and correct procedures for food safety!

What do you like to preserve? What are your favorite recipes and resources?


  1. I just received a bucketful of concord grapes and was contemplating jam or jelly. It would be my first attempt with this fruit but have had success with applesauce and pickles in past years.
    I just bought a freezer for the section of beef we bought last week so I am filling the remaining space with plum tomatoes and peaches! Yum.

  2. I definitely went WAY overboard and got 40 lbs of peaches and nectarines. Two days of making jam and canning was enough for me. My favorite jam was blackberry peach. Mmmm. I can't wait to eat it all!

  3. We've done all sorts of canning over the years. This year it's been two batches of blackberry jam (one small with Himalayan blackberries picked at our P-Patch, the second larger batch with farmers market blackberries), raspberry jam, strawberry jam, refrigerator pickles and yesterday, about 18 quarts of tomatoes (along with 5 or 6 quarts of tomato juice, and another 10-15 pound of tomatoes to can once they ripen).

    I grew up with my mom doing some canning (pickles and some tomatoes mostly). My mother-in-law was a can-a-holic. I agree, it's a great skill to have and pass along.

    I love your mother-in-law's suggestion. I'll bet your husband really appreciates that suggestion!

  4. Oh wife reminded me that we also did peaches and apricots this year!