We’re about halfway through the months when canned food is most appreciated – a supplement to sparse local foods available, a taste of the past harvest and market purchase. As I’ve written previously, B. and I did an awful lot of canning last summer and fall – about 250 pounds worth of produce in total, much of it picked up in Keremeos during the height of cheap fruit and veggie season. And if I was to guess – I think we’re around a third through the stuff we put by. Some inventory and pleasure notes follow:
Applesauce: I always make a lot of applesauce, and this year we put by 24 half-litre jars of the stuff, most of which is still in the pantry. Even though I think it’s an important staple (it’s pure fruit in case there’s a disruption in fresh fruit during the winter months), unless its packaged in smaller 250-ml jars, it doesn’t tend to get eaten. A smaller jar is a single serving portable for lunches – in the future my applesauce is going only in small jars. I don’t think we’ll be making applesauce this fall in any case.
Apple-Maple Jam: B. went on a bit of a kick with this stuff and now we’ve got a glut of 500-ml jars. It’s awesome in plain yogurt and on ice cream though – and we gave a lot away as gifts. We’ll see where we’re at with it in August before making more.
Barbeque Sauce: We have twelve 250-ml jars of this in the basement and have used none of it so far. Once it’s BBQ season again (for us, that’s as early as a dry day in February) I’m sure we’ll use at least half of it. We’ll determine in the summer whether or not we’re making more next year.
Stewed Rhubarb: I had no idea when I put of 8 250-ml jars of this if I would eat it… but the end of the summer rhubarb in the garden had to go somewhere and I cooked it up with some honey and raisins. This has made for an excellent yogurt flavour – and I’m definitely doing more next year.
Raspberries and Rhubarb: Market raspberries, garden rhubarb and honey – this is probably the best thing I canned last summer. It works on pancakes, in yogurt, on ice cream and in oatmeal – and because there was very little sweetner added, the raspberry flavour is like fresh. This will be on the canning list for next year – definitely.
Beet Pickles: I only made six 500-ml jars of these and we have two left. Worst part is that these were the awesomest beet pickles I’ve ever made and I could have had a jar a week! Next year I’m doubling the amount of beet pickles.
Peaches: We didnt’ put up too many peaches this year – eight half-litre jars – which is a good thing because as much as we all love peaches, none of us goes to tinned fruit as a snack very often. I’m much more partial these days to turning fruit into compotes for additional to plain yogurt.
Peach Salsa: B. made several jars of this and it’s a popular addition to otherwise boring-ish meals. This is a definite keeper for next year’s lineup.
Tomatoes: We put up a litre of tomatoes per week of the autumn and winter – about thirty jars in total. Since we’re about halfway through these now I’d say that’s about right. Home canned tomatoes are an essential since they tend to pick up a lot of leachate in the industrial canning process.
Tomato Salsa: B. made about 12 250-ml jars which is probably exactly right. We can use a lot of salsa – I cook black beans in it and add it to chili when we have enough to go around. When we’re having a party, we just open up a can and serve with chips!
Tomato Sauce: We only made twelve half-litre jars which we only have two of left. Tomato sauce requires a huge volume of tomatoes cooked down for hours but is totally worth it. Next year I would double the amount of tomato sauce.
Tomato Chutney: I don’t know how many jars of this I ended up with – ten half-litre jars sounds about right. While I love this stuff, there’s only so many things that chutney goes on and I’m pretty sure this batch is going to last two seasons.
Dill Pickles: My dill pickles turned out edible for once – so the ten half-litre jars are getting eaten. Definitely will put pickles on the roster for next year, and am making a note to try processing them for a shorter time in order to keep them from mushing up.
Pickled Onions: I pickled some pearlette onions which was a total nightmare of onion fumes – and we haven’t opened the two jars I made yet, though I’ve noticed we eat the perlettes out of the dill pickles all the time. I think more mixed pickle is the answer.
Bread and Butter (Sweet) Pickles: I love these on cheese sandwiches and would stick with making 6-10 half-litre jars of these next summer.
Cherry Jam & Cherry Marmalade: We only made a few jars of these and they go great with yogurt (that’s about all we use jam for in our house). A few jars are fine, otherwise I’m thinking a compote might be the better way to go.
Apple-Ginger Chutney: Like the Tomato Chutney, we have a *lot* of this and I’m pretty sure it will last us into next summer. I love the stuff, but we don’t eat curries that often and this pretty much only goes well with curries and meats.
I think that’s pretty much the inventory as it stands right now – and I know that next year I also want experiment with garlic pickles and tomato paste as well as some more low-sugar fruit compote blends because they go in and on everything. Sauerkraut as well. Also, I’m hoping to get the pressure canner on the stove this year to experiment with what canning fish and other low-acid items might look like for adding to our food security and winter meals.
Although a lot of people regard canning as too much work – I never, ever regret having put the time in when I’m eating fresh-tasting raspberries in the winter, and when I know that our food quality is significantly higher for having done so.