Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Grandma Did It -- So Why Does It Seem So Scary?!?

Home canning is enjoying new popularity these days. Maybe it's the economy. Maybe it's a by-product of the locavore and foodie movements. Maybe it's just some primal need to go back to simpler times. I don't know.

What I do know is that when I hear stories like David Sommerstein's visit to a canning swap in upstate New York, I want to learn how to can!

But I'm scared.

Scared I might invest a lot of money in equipment and only use it once.

Scared I might do something wrong and cause a jar to explode, sending shards of glass flying all over the kitchen.

Scared I might not get the right "pop" from the lid and accidentally kill my family with botulism.

Grandma canned (and without detailed instructions from the
National Center for Home Food Preservation) ... so why does it seem so scary?

Food blogger Cathy Barrow makes it sound so easy in her interview with NPR's Linda Wertheimer. And her recipe for Fig, Lemon And Thyme Confiture sounds divine! Maybe even I could do it?!?

Do you can? What tips do you have for a canning virgin? What's your favorite recipe? Your favorite memory of canning, maybe with your own grandmother? Do share!

(fruit photo credit: GoodNCrazy from Flickr Creative Commons)


  1. Our bible is Putting Food By but last year we got Put 'em Up, which is more contemporary and much more interesting. If canning is too scary, consider the myriad options in freezing and drying (both books include these). Also, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Barbara Kingsolver's book)has lots of practical, do-able advice mixed up in all the over-the-top home-growing...

    We were just patting ourselves on the back last weekend for such a successful preservation effort last summer--we're almost out now, but that means we're just now buying veggies at the store.

  2. Amy (if this is the Amy I think it is) -- I was thinking of you the whole time I wrote this post! I even contemplated referencing you in it.

    I ... l-o-v-e ... Animal, Vegetable, Miracle! When I was reading it Jason had to hold me back from spending hours online looking for "a great little plot of land in the middle of nowhere" (Fairbanks, anyone?!?)

    I"ll have to check the library for the other two you suggest. I think I'm going to try this! (well, if I can get my garden in ... and producing).

  3. Although you may not realize it you come from a family with a long tradition of canning on both sides. It was originally done during the spring and summer when the crops were being harvested. Unfortunately, no relatives passed down their secrets and I only got brave enough to do jelly (which was very easy). Tried making homemade sauerkraut. what a dissaster!!

  4. Oh, I remember the cans at Grandma and Grandpa Ross's house... and it makes sense the Otts would can too. I wish some of 'em were around to teach us how to do it!

    And too bad the sauerkraut didn't work. I luvs me some sauerkraut!

  5. Canning is surprisingly easy... and yes you just have to get past your 'fear'... I lose one or two bottles each time that don't 'seal'... and we all say YAY! And eat the pears right away.. :)

    Do it!!

  6. Thanks for the encouragement! We still haven't tried it, but now that we've planted a garden and it's going like gangbusters we might just have to buck up and give it a go.