Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer in a Jar

Canning at home was one of the first country living skills I ever learned, and I learned it long before I ever trimmed a goat's foot (note to self: trim goat feet today) or herded sheep with my Border Collie. I learned it first because you don't need the country to do it, savor it, and reap the rewards of it. Anyone can get a hold of fresh fruit now—be it from the garden, forest, friends, farm stand or what is on sale at the grocery store—and start "putting up." And please do not forget that last mention either. I know in the homesteading community we all love to grow, barter, share and support small farmers but for some people their location or budget does not allow for the time or gas money to travel to the kind of stands and agriculture. There is nothing wrong with learning to can with store bought fruit right from the supermarket! We all know peaches, strawberries, and such taste a lot better now than they will in February and they cost half as much, too. So keep that in mind urban or new homesteaders out there; you don't need a garden, farm, or sunset looking over a mountain vista of berry fields to can.

You just need to want to can! So, you want to can?!

The fine people at Mountain Feed, a wonderful small homesteading company (and Cold Antler Sponsor, for which I thank them!) sent me the Big Daddy of all beginner canning sets. They sent me the Ball Fresh Preserving Canning Kit and some jars! I was so thrilled!  I have a canner but it has been used more for soaking chickens for de-feathering during butchering and I was pretty happy to have a new one just for preserving. And seeing that new canner and all the shiny new gear really is what inspired me to get out there and start picking those berries. It didn't take long to collect enough to start getting ready to make jam. I'm including their short intro video with this post as well because it really is a well shot and easy to understand overview of fresh preserving high acid goodies like jams, jellies, pickles and pasta sauce. Enjoy it!

Mountain Feed Learn'Ems: Water Bath Canning from Mountain Feed & Farm Supply on Vimeo.

So I spent a little time this week canning up some of this summer's harvest. I put up a large supply of berry jam and water bath canned it and I turned those three big cucumbers you saw in the produced basket a few days ago into fridge pickles. I have been enjoying both already! Since one of the can's lids didn't seal that jam went straight into the fridge. I spread some over a slice of toast and wondered why I ever bought jam before in my life? The berries on this farm are ripe and gorgeous, and when turned into a hot, red, stew over the stovetop with some added strawberry goodness it was such a delight. My little house was filled with such amazing smells

Oh? What's a fridge pickle? Well, thank you for asking. It's the world's easiest pickle recipe when you have just enough cucs to warrant five minutes of work, I highly recommend it. And if this post has you a little excited about putting up food and you are nervous about being a new canner - this is a grand way to start. Adjust the technique as you see fit (there are also many recipes online if you search for fridge pickles). As a general rule the more sweet - the more sugar, and the more vinegar - the more tart. I like a nice balance and they don't last long in my fridge. Most of these are now gone, and only the picture delayed their inevitable demise!

How to Make Easy Fridge Pickles.

1. Cut up your Cucumbers into spears or slices.
2. Place in large bowl or glass baking dish.
3. Cover all the pickles with sugar, plain sugar.
4. Pour canning vinegar over the sweet slices.
5. Add pickling spices to taste (comes in spice jar at your grocer).
6. Put in fridge for a few hours to get to know itself better.
7. Place in jar and enjoy right out of fridge!
(Good for a week or so, then get soggy like)

So What are YOU putting up where you live?


Blogger Laylah said...

So far this year all I've done is a batch of strawberry jam, but now it's blackberry season up here in the pacific northwest! I'm hoping to go out foraging with a friend or two this weekend and bring home enough berries to put some up.

About the fridge pickles - you can make them the same way with other sturdy vegetables, too. Last year I had way too many radishes ready to harvest at once, and they turned out to make delicious pickles after a day or two of brining.

July 17, 2014 at 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I am the very definition of a wannabe urban homesteader (live in a 3 story townhouse with naught but a patio to call my own for outdoor space), this is great to see, and as I LOVE pickles, I'll be making myself some fridge pickles this weekend! THANK YOU!

July 17, 2014 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Last year I canned some vanilla peach jam with store bought peaches because I had the canning fever- but it started after peach season. I plan on canning pasta sauces, jellies (including red pepper jelly which is great over a block of cream cheese and eaten with crackers and is very Christmasy looking and makes a nice gift), pickles and beans. I'm branching out to trying to can potatoes if mine grow and produce and I'm going to pickle zucchini.

July 17, 2014 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

We live on 2 acres in suburban Houston. I buy strawberries and make jam. Go to a u pick farm for blueberries to freeze. So far this summer I have canned whole tomatoes, salsa, cucumber pickles, and jalapeno jelly from our garden. Also made and froze tomato basil soup and spaghetti sauce.In December we get tons of citrus, lemons, oranges, grapefruit, and kumquats. I make and can orange and kumquat marmalade. The lemons we juice and then freeze enough to last all year. We also give citrus to food pantries. And if the mockingbirds had given us a break I could have made grape jelly from our vines but they got the grapes.

July 17, 2014 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger Anke said...

I canned our first batch of salsa yesterday and currently have my first ever batch of beets going. I love being able to put up our homegrown food!

July 17, 2014 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger treebeardshollow said...

putting your cukes in and ice water bath for a hour or so with a few generous tbls of kosher salt helps keep the crunch!

July 17, 2014 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I love canning or doing fridge pickles. I'm getting ready to start making fermented pickles, that will be fun!

July 17, 2014 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger sandalfoot said...


Every summer, my canner is busy putting up Old South Sweet Lime Pickles. I discovered the recipe out of desperation. My mothers recipe for bread and butter pickles required a few ingredients I didn't have. Driving to the grocery store was prohibitive on a summer day, here in our summer tourist destination.(NC Outer Banks) Too many people on the beach (we must drive on the beach, no roads) and too many tourists in the store. So....I saw the recipe for these pickles on the back of Mrs. Wagner's Pickling Lime. And what a fortuitous situation this turned out to be!!! Since that day four summers ago, I have been putting by jars and jars of sweet lime pickles for my family, for Christmas gifts, for pot lucks, and on and on. They are out of this world! I add whole cloves to the recipe for a kick. When the quantity of cucumber is beyond my endurance, I do exactly what you did, make refrigerator pickles dilly dilly ones). YUM !!!

Also, I have an abundance of mint, so I a do up mint jelly. Its very good with jalapeno poppers!!! And of course you know its good with lamb. Which my husband does not eat. It's also good on toast! Might try it with cream cheese, as per the suggestion of one of your readers comments. It would look b nice next to the red pepper jelly on cream cheese. At Christmas.

In the past I had an outdoor wood stove and EVERYTHING that came out my garden (then we had more land) was on that stove in the canner.

Happy Canning, everyone!

July 17, 2014 at 7:43 PM  
Blogger Cris said...

I'm putting up a little bit of everything right now--and waiting eagerly for the bulk of the harvest to come out the garden. Today, I made a batch of sweet fridge pickles with new carrots and French Breakfast radishes. They are wonderful, you haven't lived until you've tried a pickled carrot. :)

July 17, 2014 at 9:04 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

3 cases of raspberry jam, (so far) its still early. I have people already asking for jam, and never have enough. Once year I made 12 cases and still ran out. Its the best gift ever!

July 17, 2014 at 11:11 PM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

already put up: jam jam and more jam of every flavour (some with booze, yay plum & rum jam! and ground cherry included) . maple surop, beets (so many beets, i dont know what i was thinking).

on the way: tomatoes! lots and lots of tomatoes, apple jelly and apple sauce, beans of all kinds (pees don't make it into the house because my 3 year old eats them all...) pumpkin and corn. and cabbage to freeze.

to hang in the cellar: leeks, garlic, onions and more beens to dry. carrots and potatoes in boxes of sand.

1 doz nice home grown meat chickens are frozen in the big freezer (yay! i know its not canning but i am still proud that i did it from day old chicks to freezer all by my self)

the pork is still on the hoof, but will be frozen by september.

and the best of it all? for the first time it all came from my 5 acres!

July 17, 2014 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger daisy g said...

Thank you for the encouragement. I do hope to have berries on our acreage when we move, so that I can enjoy putting them up as jam.
For now, in Central Florida, not much grows in summer. We do have tons of okra and I'm happy to say that I made a most delicious jar of refrigerator okra. It's the only way I'll eat okra. Man, is it refreshing. Enjoy your weekend, Jenna!

July 18, 2014 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Canning is the best! I got a basic water bath canning kit at the local hardware store a few years ago for $40, and it has been worth every penny! Since I started canning, I've made strawberry and raspberry jam from berries I picked myself, mustard beans, pickles, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, pickled beets, and canned peaches. So worth the effort! I just wish I had a bigger pantry to keep all my goodies!

July 18, 2014 at 9:04 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

Canning is the best! I got a basic water bath canning kit at the local hardware store a few years ago for $40, and it has been worth every penny! Since I started canning, I've made strawberry and raspberry jam from berries I picked myself, mustard beans, pickles, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, pickled beets, and canned peaches. So worth the effort! I just wish I had a bigger pantry to keep all my goodies!

July 18, 2014 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

So far I've got strawberry chipotle jam, plain strawberry jam, sour cherry preserves and sweet 'n hot pickles.
On the docket for this weekend-english beets, blueberry jam and blueberry BBQ sauce. It's high time for canning around these parts!

July 18, 2014 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

*waves* Hello from over here in Greenwich (just found your blog :) MaryAnn (our landlord) let us put in organic raised beds. Not sure I'll have a whole lot to can except spaghetti sauce/tomatoes in the later summer. If I could find some local wild blackberries, I'll probably put up some jam. I know there are some in Schuylerville, just not sure about the legality of picking in the location I found other than to stand by the bushes and graze that is.

July 18, 2014 at 12:25 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

July 18, 2014 at 1:43 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for this video. I plan on pickling zucchini, beans and tomatoes this year.

July 18, 2014 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

I used to make jam and you're right. There is no comparison to store bought! I've heard jam referred to "melted jewels in jars". I see you mentioned spreading it on toast. Are you baking bread again?

July 18, 2014 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Does anyone have a recipe for old fashioned spiced canned peaches?
Also, I have a tree full of small yellow plums ready for harvest, would like to make jam with them...any good ideas for spices to add besides sugar?

July 19, 2014 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger annet said...

I'm currently going through my second box of mangos, which have appeared on sale two weeks running at one of local grocers -- lovely salsa (great in stir-fry or with corn chips!) and fruit cocktail with some local cherries and my own gooseberries. Already preserved a bunch of rhubarb. Will be doing pickles of all sorts (green bean, cukes, zucchini, hot peppers) and of course tomato sauce and tomato stock (for soups).

July 19, 2014 at 6:50 PM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

nori: i use this

but with half a pkg of pictin and way more rum (2cups...) that i add after the plums are cooked...

as it ages it ferments more....
great on your morning toast ;-)

July 20, 2014 at 5:32 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wonderful! I'll try it!

July 22, 2014 at 11:45 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home