We harvested several food crops this year. Strawberries, blueberries, carrots and tomatoes. We also grow rosemary, thyme, oregano and sage, which I guess are considered herbs and not food, but since I eat them and ‘food crop’ sounds more impressive I have declared them food crops for my garden. Onions were a dismal failure, but I’m pretty sure that was my fault and, well, brussel sprouts and brocolli were pathetic this year. Again, pretty sure that was my fault.
So what is a gardener to do with all of that abundance? Okay, all of those tomatoes. Canning! I tried canning once, back when I lived in a dwelling with no land of my own in which to plant things. I trekked out to a farm, dragging Matt with me, and picked several pounds of roma tomatoes. I canned them (halved and hot packed with citric acid) and they sat in my cabinet for weeks on end. Staring at me balefully. Eventually I popped open a jar and cooked the life out of them, ate them, and went to bed convinced that I would die at some point during the night of botulism. The next day I promptly opened and emptied the other nine jars. Really, I don’t do anxiety as a side dish. Much to stressful. Oh and the citric acid really overwhelmed the taste of the tomatoes.
Not this year.
Here is what I learned from my first and subsequent canning experiences.
- When canning tomatoes, lemon juice is so much better than citric acid.
- Smaller batches are easier to manage for one person and more fun to do.
- Pickles are ridiculously easy.
- Pickled beets turn your hands red.
- Everyone loves strawberry jam.
- Pressure canners make a lot of noise, but their quick and you can pretend you are driving a train.
- My dining room table can hold one layer of approximately 300 tomatoes of various sizes!
I’m proud to say that of the jars in the picture above, two of the stewed tomato jars are history. Yup, I ate them and fed them to Matt.