Many predicted it would happen, but I didn’t believe it. Now, I realize I should have seen it coming.
I am now canning everything.
A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. For years I was afraid of canning, but a Restoration Farm workshop last winter gave me the confidence I needed to start canning at home. After that, it was a casual hobby – some apple butter, some blueberry jam. I was proud of the results. I even designed my own labels. (Note to self – designing your own labels for anything is the first sign of a problem)
Then, I started shopping in order to can. I would scour the farmers market for anything that might look good in a jar. The Peach Preserves were silky, and the Cinnamon Pear Jam heavenly. A fresh herb jelly using basil and parsley from my own garden was perhaps the zenith of sustainability.
Canning is a big project. Even if you let the canner air dry after you are done, it’s a big time investment. I finally decided I would take a Sunday off – a little canning “time out.”
But, green peppers and guilt did me in. Restoration Farm has produced a bumper crop of bell peppers, jalapeños and other specialty peppers this season. I kept staring at that mountain of peppers. Guilt is a huge emotion when you’re a member of a CSA. I could not let one more green pepper rot in the crisper. So, I reached for the canning cookbook.
Green pepper jelly looks like something served for brunch in the wonderful Land of Oz. A heap of bell peppers are pulverized along with two jalapeños in the food processor. Then, you let the pepper juice strain from the puree, and cook the juice along with sugar, vinegar and pectin.
Guilt averted. I’m thinking a little green pepper jelly with a bagel and cream cheese will really jump start breakfast.
The head grower at Restoration Farm, Caroline Fanning was very understanding when I confessed my obsession to her.
“Hold the phone,” she said. “Have you made chutney? If you haven’t made chutney, you haven’t canned everything.” She’s very kind, but I can see the writing on the wall.
A short while back, I met another obsessive canner at a community dinner. Heather was perfectly charming, but all the signs were there. She let drop that she owns a pressure canner and several people at the dinner were raving about her Carrot Cake Jam. She actually sells her preserves at the farmers market.
The subtext was clear. Boiling-water canning is for amateurs. Pressure canning is the big time. Heather casually mentioned, with a tempting gleam in her eye, that this is a good time of year to buy a pressure canner because they are often on sale.
Well, I don’t need much encouragement to make a purchase. I’ve already started comparison-shopping. No doubt canning my own tuna – and a whole lot of therapy – is in my future.
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