I pick a bit of mainstream, some modern, a bit of crunchy hippy and some old fashioned. I guess my life would make a really snazzy Venn Diagram.
Last year I made a huge ton of applesauce in my crockpot and each time there was a race to finish it before it went bad. I considered freezing it but when I put things into my freezer it's a bit like jettisoning them out of an airlock in space. Near a black hole. A big one.
So this year I decided to learn to preserve applesauce. People refer to this process using alot of terms... putting up preserves, preserving, home canning (which doesn't actually involve cans, just in case you were curious) are just a few of my favorites. According to the USDA National Center for Home Food Preservation there are many ways to preserve food. Depending on the food, your needs and your equipment you can freeze, dry, cure & smoke or can your food. Canning refers to using glass jars (remember mason jars) with a two piece lid and either a boiling water canner or a pressure canner. Another informative site is the Ball Canning Supplies homepage.
I don't pretend to be an expert and mistakes in canning can be very dangerous so I'm not going to tell you how to can here. If you are interested in canning, do your research first. BEFORE you pick your fruit and get ready to can....
- Buy or borrow one of the Ball books on canning (the Ball Blue Book and the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving) and read it cover to cover.
- Assess what equipment you need and look it over. Understand what each piece does and how to use it.
- Buy a dozen quality jars with lids and rings to begin with. Many people buy used jars from flea markets and thrift shops ... and that is FANTASTIC. But until you understand what a flawed jar looks like, starting with a fresh dozen is a good plan.
- Understand that you can't wing it. Canning recipes are a balance of physics and chemistry - it's vital to follow directions precisely.
- Start small. Many people begin by saying, I'm going to can all 40lbs of my apples this afternoon. Honey, that is alot of apples, alot of steps and alot of room for human error. Begin with one batch per day, work out the kinks.
- Never, ever can when exhausted or when small children or infant are at your feet. Bad things can happen.
- Create a Burn First Aid kit and keep it in a cabinet next to your stove, right at the front. It should contain burn pads (I like 2nd skin), rolled gauze and first aid tape. No creams, no goop. When you spill that apple sauce or boiling water down your arm, get it under cold water. Rinse it off, apply a burn pad as directed, wrap in gauze and tape up. Do not remove for at least a few hours (for a large burn, overnight). For severe burns, burns on face or abdomen or very large burns, get immediate emergency medical care.
I was really intimidated by canning, honestly. I chose one single fruit (anyone remember my post about Simpling?) and one single recipe and I gave it a go. And it was so COOL! It felt alot like when I learned to make rustic bread. I could NOT believe I did this all by myself.
Projects like this comfort me. They give me something to immerse myself in, to have a small success. I'm so happy that even tho we can't have a garden, we can handpick local produce and put it by for the winter. I feel like I am preserving something for my children. Knowledge of traditional ways, sure, but also preserving their faith in the truth that differently-abled people can still do small, quietly amazing things.