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Are you preserving, canning or putting food by?

So about ten weeks ago I posted a query about preserving and canning, here:

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/416702

I had a bit of a lapse in my preserving regimen when we moved from SoCal to NorCal but I just started up again. Just wanted to see how everyone else was doing. Whether or not you posted before, have you been canning/drying/preserving/infusing/putting food up? What have you been making? Where are you getting your produce? Care to share any recipes or tips? Got any questions?

I posted on strawberry jam on my blog, http://omnivoreherbivorecarnivore.blo....

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  1. I've been canning a lot for the past few weeks (well, a lot for someone who has never done it before), and I've found it a lot of fun. So far, I have 11 pints and 5 quarts of tomatoes, 6 4 ounce jars of raspberry jam, 5 4 ounce jars of blackberry jam, and 4 quarts of bourbon peaches. I'm planning on more raspberry jam tonight (the raspberry jam that I made is a little too firm, it was my first time ever making jam, but the blackberry was great, so I have hope for the jam making). All of my tomatoes are San Marzanos, which I've got from local farmers, and all of the other fruit I've gotten from farmers markets. After making the raspberry jam tonight, I'm not sure what else I'm going to make, but I hope this thread will give me some more great ideas! I might check out your strawberry jam, my nephew wants me to make him some.

    8 Replies
    1. re: JasmineG

      I have mixed feelings about putting up tomatoes because the canned versions we can get are so good. On the other hand the tomatoes that are turning up at farmer's markets are unbelievable. What kind of tomato canning did you do? And did you pressure can or hot water bath?

      1. re: piedsdesanges

        I know what you mean about that, but there was something very satisfying about canning tomatoes (which is why I've done it three weeks straight, and all in all, ended up canning probably about 22 or so pounds of tomatoes). I did hot water bath, and basically just slipped off the skins, packed them whole into jars, and processed in a water bath for 40 minutes (for pints, 45 for quarts). Once you get on a roll, it's easy to do a lot of them, they're packed in their own juice (with a little bottled lemon juice and salt, because that's what the instructions said), and it's fun to have so many home canned tomatoes on hand. I was originally thinking about canning sauce, but it's so easy to do the tomatoes, and now they're a lot more useful, because I can use them for so many different things.

        1. re: JasmineG

          Very cool. You're changing my mind. Have you thought about adding spices or doing salsa?

          1. re: piedsdesanges

            I thought about adding spices, but I feel like it's easier to just can the tomatoes whole, and then I can use them in any way that I want to when I open the jars, without having to worry about what spices got added to which jars. I used these instructions, by the way: http://www.kitchengardeners.org/2006/... which were very helpful, and after the first time doing it, you know the drill. I've been thinking a lot about doing salsa, but I'm a little nervous about it because of the strict levels of acid that need to be in a jar for canning -- if I find a recipe that looks good to me, and is canning tested, I will definitely can salsa, because oh man, the dry farmed tomatoes are so good, I'm going to miss them for salsa in the winter!

        2. re: piedsdesanges

          A great thing to do with too many tomatoes other than canning them is to make fresh tomato paste -- simply skin and seed the tomatoes, then cook the pulp at a simmer until concentrated. Freeze the paste in ice cube trays, then store the cubes them in a ziplock baggie in the freezer. The intense flavor of the ripe tomatoes is preserved, and it's so convenient to simply pop a tomato "ice cube" into soups, sauces or wherever you want a blast of tomato flavor.

          1. re: DanaB

            That is an awesome idea. I was also thinking of doing a pear butter this weekend if the pears are starting to look good. Unfortunately the raccoons ate all of our pears but I'll see what's what at the Santa Cruz farmer's market this weekend.

            1. re: piedsdesanges

              Do make the Pear Butter! You will not regret it! I made some last year and it came out so good! Also, I do the same thing with tomatoes as Dana. But I just chop the tomatoes and throw them into the pot with some olive oil, garlic, salt (be careful since it condenses so much, and it can come out over-salted) and pepper. I cook it for about 3 hours and then freeze in baggies. I know I should peel them, but I have been lazy.
              Also, I am participating in a church boutique in November and selling my jams, so last night I made 2 batches of Hot Pepper Jam and one batch of Peach Rosemary (which came out fantastic). I have also made some brandied figs, fresh fig jam and fig syrup just needs to be jarred. I will be making more of the Peach Rosemary.
              I have some Meyer Lemon Marmalade already done. I know I have more, but cannot remember at this moment. However, I will be a jam-making fool until the boutique!! ;-)

              1. re: piedsdesanges

                I love doing fruit butters. Peach, apple and pear butters work particularly well. Plum rings in the changes too, but needs more sugar. I think I want to experiment with cherries, too.

        3. Olive season hits in 14 days! Then I'll be picking, curing and canning loads and loads of Queen Sevillanos...

          In the meantime, we're drying tons of herbs and canning prickly pear chutneys and jellies. But everything else stops when the olives come off the trees...

          3 Replies
          1. re: tsfirefly

            Really? Are you in California? Where do you get your olives? And how do you pickle and cure them?

            Also, care to share your recipe for prickly pear chutney?

            1. re: piedsdesanges

              some of the smaller growers near Visalia will sell fresh olives. check the calif olive growers council for leads or
              http://www.greatolives.com/fresholive...

            2. re: tsfirefly

              Hurray for Olive Season! We're doing our second crop this year...last year we only had about 2 gallons, and we ate them fast! This year, I want to preserve them longer, and everything I've read says to pressure can for 60 minutes, due to low acid of olives. Have you done this? Results? Or can you share a better method for preserving? Thanks!

            3. We canned this summer for the very first time! We were so nervous, but it's very easy really. We went blueberry picking in July and made about 8 pints of blueberry jam. We canned bread and butter pickles and just finished a big batch of tomato chutney from our garden tomatoes. Next up is fig jam since a friend has a giant fig tree and he hates figs (go figure), and then we're thinking of going pear or apple picking this weekend and making some butter. It's been so fun! We are quite hooked.
              We slow-roasted a ton of our romas as well, but I'm not sure what to do with them. I'm thinking of just freezing them, but worry about how they'll hold up in the thaw. Any thoughts?

              Great topic and I got a lot of advice on your original post. Thanks!

              3 Replies
              1. re: ScarletB

                Scarlet B - I have slow roasted the romas with a bit of olive oil and salt, and then frozen them...they are wonderful! I usually add to stews, sauces, roasts, for extra flavor. I layered them between plastic wrap so I could easily take out a few at a time.

                1. re: kmr

                  Great tip, thanks kmr! I think I'm going to make a pizza with them tonight with eggplant from the garden as well. We'll see if I wind up with enough to freeze.

                  1. re: ScarletB

                    I made a pizza with slow roasted tomatoes last night! With some mozzerella and basil, it was just a wonderful dinner!

              2. We make and freeze tomato sauce (just tomatoes--nothing added) every year. Also oven dry tomatoes--no olive oil or salt, just halve the tomatoes and squeeze out the guts then bake them in a low oven until partly dry, then freeze and bag. We use these on pizza, in soup, in pasta sauce, etc. all year long. We also did some roasted salsa (tomatoes, serranos, onion roasted until slightly blackened, then blended) to freeze this year. We'll add garlic, lime juice and cilantro before using.

                In the jam department we've done strawberry, strawberry/rose geranium, cherry, and plum. We have about 25# of blackberries in the freezer waiting to be jammed.

                1. I never buy produce to can, I just can when my trees are screaming at me. Last night we canned applesauce from our golden delicious tree. Last month we canned prune plum conserve with walnuts and oranges (prune plums are boring on their own.) It's actually my husband that's the canner, he saus it's a Wisconsin thing.