Canning – worth the effort?



It’s that season again, where I start to plan the trips to the farmers markets, and figure out what I am going to can this year.  I had a great salsa recipe from the Bernardin site a few years back, but they have since started using the Fiesta Mix, and the recipe is gone. I have searched high and low, and my next step is to find an old Bernardin book and see if it was published.

In the meantime, I have been trying out some new recipes. I made the Zesty Salsa from the Ball preserving site. The recipe calls for cider vinegar instead of regular vinegar, and end result was a little too sweet.  I think I will try the Fresh Vegetable Salsa  from the Bernardin site, and see how that one turns out.

I also tried Dilly Beans, with beans from the farmers market, and peaches. The peaches were fine, but the next morning when I got up, all the peaches had shrunk in the jars! After much research, I discovered that this was a result of ‘cold packing’ the peaches. They are still safe to eat (which was my main concern), but they just wont look as nice. I did heat them up as per the directions in the recipe, which said to bring to a boil and then take off the heat. But it seems they have to be boiled for a few minutes in order to ‘cook down’ and release the air bubbles in the peaches. Skipping this step means that during processing, the air is released from the peach, and it shrinks up in the jar.

I bought two big containers of pears that were on sale at Metro. I set to work canning those, which took about 1.5 hours in total. I ended up with three 500ml jars. Three jars!! That seems like a LOT of work for three jars of pears.

Which begs the question – when is it really worth it to can something? When you factor in the cost, time and energy required, in some cases it costs more than what you could just buy the same product for at the store.  We aren’t living in an era where you need to can your fruits and vegetables out of necessity, in order to sustain your family through the winter. I don’t have an abundance of crops that would otherwise go to really, this is just a hobby.  I like the idea that I can go to the basement, and pick out a jar of something I made myself.  Maybe the right idea is to can things that I can’t readily buy, like the Dilly Beans, or Pickled Beets.

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