Canning and pickling are getting a rebound of attention . . . finally. If you didn't grow up in a house with a canning maven you may think it's an utterly laborious process and maybe even dangerous. Well, it's not. It's pretty simple and very safe as long as you follow some simple rules such as keeping things clean and sanitizing your jars. The reason I canned this year was because it happened that I had a precious regular weekend at home. I was not at the farm harvesting potatoes or cleaning up from the tornado. I wasn't hosting an event at The Dining Studio or catering to the culinary needs of a client off-site. So, I thought what do normal people with normal schedules do on a perfect Saturday in September?
I found inspiration from local author/canner Ana Micka, who wrote Fresh Girl's Guide to Easy Canning and Preserving and was a great guest on my weekly Foodie Thursdays radio show on Cities97. This book is really hip, a fun read, and the step-by-step DVD is super helpful. Plus, she has a bunch of recipes and ideas in the back for interesting canning projects, from sauerkraut to tikka masala!
This year has been so bountiful; the produce is beautiful and remarkably cheap! Since all of my tomato plants where destroyed in the great Wadena Tornado of 2010, I was forced to purchase them at the market, and I scored about 40 pounds of perfect Roma tomatoes for $20! Once canned, they turned into roughly 14 quarts of tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, and ranchero sauce/salsa. I also picked up 10 pounds of pickling cucumbers for $3 and put those to good use as half-sour dills, which will be ready in six weeks.
The initial investment for canning equipment is pretty simple: one large canning pot with lid and jar rack, jars, lids, and rings. The jars are reusable, as are the rings, but the lids are one-time use. My total investment with produce was about $80. But next year all I will need to buy is more lids, as hopefully I will have my own produce!