Tuesday, September 15, 2009

If You Think You Can, You Can!

My sister and I decided that we wanted to can most of what we grew in our garden. Both of us had watched our mom can, but had never really canned ourselves. (Well, that's not exactly true. My sister did a little water bath canning last year, but neither of us had pressure canned before.) So when our mom was out here last May, we asked our mom to buy us canning supplies for early birthday presents. (My birthday is in August, and my sister's is in September.) So she did.

Here is our lovely new pressure canner.

And then we grew stuff - tomatoes and green beans mostly. We had decided to plant roma tomatoes so that we could do tomato sauce. Well, as you might recall, our tomato situation was mixed. We planted one row of 12 plants in May, but we didn't have many cages, so we lost quite a bit to rot from being on the ground. But we still harvested about 500 tomatoes. In late June, we planted another 10 tomato plants. And then we proceeded to have the coolest summer ever. So we have only harvested a few tomatoes off the second batch, and who knows how many we will get before the frost. We used this squeeze/de-seed/de-skin contraption (It is a Back To Basics Food Strainer. It is AWESOME!) and put them in gallon bags, and then we stored them in our awesome friends' freezer. (Thanks Joy!)

We ended up with about 16 bags of tomato stuff, but it wasn't sauce yet. Because you have to boil the tomatoes and reduce them by 1/2 before canning it. It was a little disheartening to see half of our hard work just evaporating away . . . .

After boiling it down, we put it in quart jars and then put it in the pressure canner. We thought it would be complicated, but it really was easy to use. Each of us ended up with 6 jars. We may end up with a few more if the second batch of tomatoes ever turns red.

Some of our tomato sauce before we put it in the pressure canner

Then the green beans. We planted the beans early on, like back in the middle/end of May. Along with Peas. And they never really grew. So we tilled again, and tried the beans again. The second batch of green beans grew much better. I don't know how many green beans we've picked. We did a hot pack of the green beans, and then pressure canned them for 25 minutes. We have canned 14 jars (7 jars each) green and should have at least 6 more. So each of us will end up with 10 quarts.

Our green beans

It doesn't sound like we harvested much, and part of that is the boiling down that you have to do for tomato sauce, and part of it is that we are dividing the jars between our two families.

But the important thing about this year is not how much we are canning. It is that we are learning how to can.


Stacey said...

Impressive-I don't have the first clue how to can-I am jealous. Your tomato sauce and green beans look beautiful!!!

Beth Dargis said...

I do mainly freezing, but always am at a loss for what to do with tomatoes. Those tomatoes look great. I think I'll have to try that.

AndieF said...


I did mostly freezing too, but my family uses a LOT of tomato sauce (for spaghetti, lasagna, etc.) I really could have used about 20 jars! LOL It is really easy. We just ran them through the food strainer, put them in a gallon bag in the freezer until we got enough to can, defrosted them, boiled them down to reduce by half, and then put them in the canner. We just used the directions that came with the canner. A little time-consuming, but Simple!