Canning 101

standard September 3, 2014 Leave a response

Pineapple. Tomatoes. Mushrooms. Tuna. Pinto beans. Cheeseburgers. What do these have in common, besides Stormy finding them delicious? They are all canned. Yes, even cheeseburgers. People give me strange looks when I tell them I make my own salsa, tomato sauce, etc., and can it at home. Old ladies can stuff, not 28-year-olds who still play in the rain.  Why do I can?

  • Love of Cooking: I love cooking, but I hate throwing away leftovers. Since it’s only the Boyfriend Unit and I, I don’t make large quantities of food because I don’t want it to go to waste. With canning, I stick it in a jar, boil it, then shove it in a closet until I want it!
  • Cost: It’s cheaper. This past weekend, I made 304 oz. of salsa for approximately $20. That’s 6¢/oz., compared to Newman’s Own Medium Salsa, at 21¢/oz.. Since the Boyfriend Unit can go through a pint a week, it really adds up!
  • Together Time: Instead of sitting on the couch watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Boyfriend Unit and I talk and joke around while peeling and coring tomatoes, chopping onions, squishing everything up with the immersion blender. We dance around each other, grabbing cutting boards, knives, gloves and more knives. We play “don’t let the dog eat that!” and “is it boiling yet?”
  • Quality Control: I like knowing what goes into my stomach. I’m not talking about preservatives, GMOs, etc., but the food itself. I can control the chunkiness of salsa, the ratio of tomatoes vs. onions, or the sweetness of apple butter.
  • Local Farmers: I try to shop at locally whenever I can (don’t get me started on Walmart). The money stays in the community, the environmental impact is less (since the food travels 20 miles to my tummy, instead of 1,200), less advertising, and I get to know who grows my food.
  • Satisfaction: I’ll admit, I like it when people tell me things like, “Your salsa is amazing!” or “No wonder Boyfriend Unit likes your cooking!” Gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside.
  • Freshness: When I open that jar of salsa, I know it was canned at the peak of freshness, instead of ripening en route to the grocery store. This preserves the taste and nutrients of my food.

Before you begin canning, please read the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning. It covers everything from canning types (in greater detail), approved recipes, tips and guidelines, and more. I still refer to it on a regular basis, and you should too.

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Tomato Sauce

standard July 28, 2014 Leave a response
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I was 13 years old when I found out lasagna didn’t have to be burnt and crispy. It was an amazing experience.

Growing up, my mom hated cheese, all cheese, so cheesy pasta was out of the question. If my mom wanted a quick meal for my sister and I, she would microwave an individual portion of frozen lasagna for us. And she would overcook it. Badly.

Maybe she just burned mine, I don’t recall my sister trying that blackened lasagna flavor.

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