So this year we have been super blessed with a great producing garden. I am really excited to make some changes for next year to get even more harvest and maybe have a little more organization going on. Right now, my sweet potato vines seem to have traveled the 50 feet around the garden to mingle with my squash. The cucumbers are hanging out in the tomato trellises and my corn well...it just didnt do too great--but it couldnt considering I planted like 9000 seeds in a 4x4 box. Oops, my bad. :)
But there are a couple of things that the books and the professionals don't tell you when you ask about preserving your greatness to enjoy in the upcoming winter months.
1. You dont have to have 2700 tomatoes to can. You can preserve as you go. You can do a few jars or fifty at a time. Growing up I dont recall having a garden, but I know when my mom canned it was a weekend affair. The kitchen was closed and there was a huge processing thing going on. So I was always gun shy. Did I really want to devote an entire weekend to making salsa? So if you have 30 cucumbers that need to have a home...can them. Sure you'll have just as many next week, but there is no reason to kill yourself trying to prepare enough for the army all at once. During canning season I keep my supplies handy so it is not such a big deal to pull it out and do a few jars.
2. Do not...I mean NOT touch the jars once you bring them out of the cooker/water bath. I know it will be tough cause you want to touch and feel your handy work. You want to see exactly if they sealed. You want to ogle at the greatness. DO NOT! This can cause a false seal. Where they look sealed, sound sealed but then weeks or even days down the road your pantry takes on a putrid smell and you realize that your jars of green beans are popping open and you have started to cultivate botulism. You do not realize that it is indeed your precious jars until you notice the bread below is wet from something LEAKING all over it. NOT that I know this first hand---Ive heard. Hahahha--ok, yeah it was me. So then you are faced with 3 bad things. One, a huge mess in your storage area and two botulism is a serious bacteria. I am sure you can clean it out of the jars with lots of disinfecting but I didnt want to chance it, so I had to throw away jars. Three--your hard work and precious food is gone. TRUST ME, learn from MY mistake. Plus hearing the popping of the jars sealing in the next few hours is music!
3. Do NOT reuse lids. If you are the slightest bit uncertain if the lid you have has been used or not, don't chance it. I am pretty sure this was a contributing factor to my above mentioned green bean fiasco. Seriously you can buy lids, 12 for like $1.49. It is worth it knowing that the seal will be tight.
4. Pressure cookers are not as scary as they sound. I guess I was a little nervous. Afterall 2 men used pressure cookers in the Boston Marathon Massacre, I didnt want to be responsible for blowing up my home and my family. So after 35 videos on YouTube I finally felt confident enough to try it. It was so easy!! No threat whatsoever!!
5. Hoard jars. You think you have enough. But I am telling you, you do not. Jars will become sacred and you will have a complete come apart if you catch someone even walking towards the trash can with one of the precious jewels. If you see some at a garage sale, buy them. I promise, if your garden is done right you will need them. Besides, cucumbers multiply like bunnies. No- really Im serious! I have made pickles until I am blue. Are we really going to be able to EAT this many?
Enjoy canning. You can do it, I promise.