Family Magazine

Summer Preserving

By Sherwoods
I would never call myself a hard-core canner.  I don't like canned vegetables and would prefer to just have beans only they're available in the summer instead of eating canned or frozen ones in the winter.  I never eat salsa, and don't really like canned fruit either.  So there's not much reason for me to can.
But, there are a few things that I do like to can and freeze for the winter.  I grew up with homemade strawberry jam, so I always make my own jam.  I don't really like store-bought jam with it's sticky, syrupy consistency and jam is ridiculously easy to make.  Fruit in Uzbekistan is amazingly cheap and delicious, so in addition to strawberry jam, I also make raspberry and blackberry jam.  We only eat jam once or twice a week (I'm not a big fan of PB&J), so I don't have to make very much.  This year I made 32 pints of jam, which is probably more than we'll use.
I also freeze fruit, mostly to use for pancakes and other breakfast foods.  I didn't freeze strawberries this year because I find defrosted strawberries to be kind of gross and slimy - and also they're a pain to slice before freezing.  So this year I only froze raspberries, as a friend gifted me all her frozen blackberries when she moved.
In addition to freezing blackberries, I also can a few quarts of them too (this year it was only six) because I like to eat blackberry cobbler.  It's very easy to make when you have canned fruit on hand, and blackberry cobbler is my favorite kind of cobbler.  Also, canning blackberries is ridiculously easy, too.  You simply have to wash the berries, put in sugar syrup, and can.  It's doesn't get any easier than that.
I sometimes can applesauce, but I haven't done applesauce in several years.  The children love homemade applesauce (store-bough applesauce is gross) and they beg me to make it every year.  But making applesauce is a lot of work and usually results in a kitchen that is trashed with applesauce-covered sticky floors.  Maybe next year I'll make applesauce.
The only vegetable I ever can is tomatoes (although I guess tomato can also count as a fruit).  The tomatoes here are both delicious and cheap in the summer, so it makes sense to can them as they're expensive and not so good in the winter.  I also can pizza sauce because it's easier to make a whole bunch at once than make a new batch every time I make pizza.
This year I decided to try a new method for canning tomatoes.  I never use whole canned tomatoes, so I figured that there was no point in carefully peeling tomatoes before canning them.  Instead, I had the children help me chop and blend up the tomatoes before bringing the sauce to a boil and canning.  The whole process worked marvelously, especially with three children doing the chopping.
I only ran into problems when I realized that I had seriously overestimated how many tomatoes I would need.  I had bought five boxes of tomatoes and by the time we had made it through four boxes I couldn't handle the thought of processing one more box and just gave the extra tomatoes to my housekeeper.  I didn't feel too bad, however, as we ended up with 19 quarts of pizza sauce and 47 quarts of tomato sauce, all for thirty-two dollars (including the box of tomatoes we didn't use).
I'm very happy to be done with my summer preserving.  I don't think that I would make a very good homesteader as canning food definitely doesn't spark any joy for me.  I only preserve when the food I make is significantly better than something that I can buy at the grocery store, and that's generally not most things.  If we lived in America where tomatoes don't cost eighteen cents a pound, I definitely wouldn't be canning my own tomatoes unless I had the space and inclination to grow tomatoes myself (which is a definite maybe).  But I guess I'll enjoy what I've got for now!

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