Monday, June 20, 2011

Canning for Dummies 101

As you all know by now I am so excited about my garden this year. First of all, my squash plants are like way extra huge and they are throwing out some serious squash on a daily basis. So far, I have 4 super huge squash plants, 1 zuchinni plant, 7 okra plants, 6 tomato plants, 2 cherry tomato plants, 3 butter lettuce (heads? idea what you call them when they are just leafy…) and several very serious, swirly cucumber vines which are everywhere (and they are so precious when they are tiny little wanna be pickles just basking there in the sun). Isn’t that exciting? It gives me such pleasure to pull out weeds and actually make something grow that is useful. I cannot help loving a finished product especially when it is tasty. Here are some photos from my recent pickin’ of said vegetables………
Can't you see that widdle baby pickle just waitin' for his vinegar and water spa day?

See that ginormous leaf hanging over those babies' head?

This is some really tasty butter lettuce which is expensive in the store. Seed packet cost me .50 cent. So far, I've probably saved $10 from buying bagged salad. CHA-CHING. More money for mani's and pedi's :)

In order to keep all those things tasty through the fall and winter months one must have a storage plan. DING DING DING….and so we have Canning for Dummies 101. Our local Cooperative Extension office (another one of NC State’s most magical blessings) recently hosted a class “From the Garden to the Pantry.” I must say this was quite an interesting class. It was made up of a very diverse group of individuals. You know, the organic-tree-hugger,-free-spirited type, the random grandma with nothing else to do, and then there is me and my friend Stephanie who are just craving the down home canning skills all the women in our family have. Side Note: Stephanie Brown is one of the most amazing, beautiful, and fun people I know…See here for her awesomeness... Geez she is photographer!

During this class we learned about gardening, canning, freezing, pickling, making jams and preserves (which I have already done here) and so much more good stuff. Some of the major things I learned were how to use a pressure canner, a pressure cooker, and what to can and what NOT to can. I learned that many things I have been taught over the years are not exactly safe. My grandmother is probably turning over in her grave. So, because we all want to be safe, I am going to share a few of the highlights with you…I know you are just thrilled!  

1.       1. First, Can you believe that new guidelines say NOT to can squash? Apparently, the squash never gets hot enough on the inside to kill the bacteria that can cause botulism …so better off to freeze squash.   
2.       2. When using a pressure canner- the steam created under  10 pounds of pressure must reach 240 degrees to kill all the harmful bacteria when canning.
3.       3. Add lemon juice to your tomatoes when canning, this kills some bacteria and is much safer. Tomatoes will also keep their color better. 1 TBS per pint, 2 TBS for a quart.
4.       4. For high acid foods use a boiling water bath for canning.  Your jars (with lids tightly sealed) will be completely covered with water for this purpose.
5.       5. Vent your pressure canner for 10 minutes and let steam escape before building pressure. Always use a pressure canner and not a pressure cooker when sealing your non-acid foods.

Finally, if you want to do it right and you are still learning like I am you must invest in this…..
So, here are some photos from our very fun, interesting night. My girl Stephanie and I should be pros by the end of summer. Look out farmers market and State Fair entries! Blue Ribbon for Ber and Steph? I think ..YES!
Stephanie bravely faces her childhood fear of the evil pressure canner. I was so proud.

me canning green beans :)

note to self....take Weight Watchers more seriously.  

 I will let you know how it goes!


  1. That is so cool Amber. I'm super impressed with your garden.I wonder if we could get squash to grow on our balcony? Happy gardening and thanks for sharing - I learned something this morning!


  2. I have dreaded this blog!!! LOL thx for only showing waist up!! hahaha

    I had a ball with you (and mitzi and mimi) LOL


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