June 18th, 2012

Conquering My Fear of Canning

food in jars cookbook coverThere are 20 pounds of zucchini lurking in my freezer. I try to pretend they’re not there, but deep down I know they are, waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. I love to grow vegetables but I never know what to DO with them all.

You can only eat, give away, or force on strangers so much produce before people start avoiding you.  I hear people talk about canning but to be honest, canning has always scared me.  When I first considered canning, I worried about botulism and exploding jars and scraping jam off my kitchen ceiling (with good reason–just ask my mom about cleaning exploded eggs off her ceiling one Easter).

For many of my generation, canning is something our grandparents did. But with the renewed interest in homesteading, eating locally grown food and with everyone trying to save money wherever they can, “putting up” food is coming back in a big way.

In this 1929 cartoon, a wife assures her husband that due to the breakthrough technique of canning, they can save their extra food for later.

In this 1929 cartoon, a wife assures her husband that they can save their extra food by using the breakthrough technique of canning. Once considered a lost art, interest in canning has surged in recent years.

Philadelphia-based writer Marisa McClellan, whose blog foodinjars.com talks about well, putting food in jars, just published her first cookbook (also called Food In Jars) and will be coming to the Rising Sun Branch Library on June 28 to answer questions about canning, preserving, and putting up food. With the help of her fantastic book, I think I have conquered my fear of canning. This weekend I made Spicy Honey Mustard, Grainy White Wine Mustard and a Blueberry Butter that is beyond delicious.  As I write this my house is filling with the heavenly smell of roasting almonds drizzled with maple syrup for some Maple Almond Butter.

Food in Jars has step-by-step instructions on how to process with boiling water and how to tell if your jam has set (with pictures!), which is wonderful for a novice like me. However, the book also includes a wide range of recipes for more experienced cooks. From classics like Strawberry Jam and basic Marinara Sauce to more adventurous flavor combinations like Vanilla-Rhubarb Jam with Earl Grey Tea, there is truly something for everyone.

Marisa McClellan, food blogger and author of the cookbook Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round will be at the Rising Sun Branch Library, Thursday June 28th at 7pm. Call 410-658-4025 or click here to register. Cecil County Public Library also carries several copies of the book, which you can place on hold by clicking here.

What do you think of the renewed interest in canning and “homesteading”?




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