Wrangell has taught me to become very self-sufficient, and canning is one of the things I've picked up along the way. While growing up, canning wasn't a thing, so I've learned from books, practice, failure and (I hate to admit it) my husband. Over time it has gone from a chore to a joyous time of year (it's actually how I spent my 25th birthday) . I take pride in filling my pantry with healthy food; I look forward to the day spent in the kitchen with my family and I enjoy the tasty benefits of this labor of love well into the long Wrangell winter. When Tom was diagnosed with high blood pressure, canning took on a new meaning as I learned how to can not only for taste, but health and dove into low sodium, no sugar alternatives. It wasn't easy, and there's been a lot of "oops" moments, but I've learned a lot over the years! This year with the baby coming, it means more than ever for me to have food on hand for when she's finally here. I've been reading up on "first foods" and what that'll look like come January when it's harder to come by. If there's anything you or your kiddos really enjoyed, I'd love some extra tips!
It's that time of year again, when the summer favorites are in full swing and easy on the pocket book. Here in the Roland household, we are pulling out boxes and boxes of canning jars, lids, bands, 3 canners and our small library of recipes and books. From the end of June through early fall and sometimes into winter, our kitchen will be a cluttered mess, often with steam rolling out of one or more canners as we stock our pantry for the year to come.
Our canning season almost always starts the same way. "Hey! Check it out! Peaches went on sale." As one of the first fruits of summer to into full swing, peaches are usually our first big effort each year. Next usually comes nectarines, plums, apricots, and other random fruits that sound like they'll be good in the long winters. While not canned, kiwi, pineapple, and banana are great frozen to add into smoothies or make into jams later in the year. After fruits, I tend to focus on vegetables, and am really excited to try summer squashes, mushrooms, and green peas. Last year was my first experience canning fish, and while it's not my favorite (helpful hint I learned a little late, take the scales off before canning!), it's great to have on hand for easy dinners and lunches.
Some of our favorite canning books for recipes and guidance are:
Ball Blue Book - Guide to Preservice
Putting Food By - Janet Greene
Better Homes and Gardens Home Canning Cookbook
A Guide to Canning, Freezing, Curing, & Smoking Meat, Fish and Game - Wilbur F Eastman Jr.
Here is a list of some of our annual favorites, order sizes and approximate results:
Peaches (no sugar added) - 1 case (40#) - 14 to 16 quarts
Nectarines (no sugar added) - 1 case (40#) - 14 to 16 quarts
Pears - 1 case (24#) - 12 to 13 quarts
Plums - 28# - 21 quarts
Apricots - 28# - 14 quarts
Applesauce - 50# - about 15 -16 quarts
Green Beans - 1 case (~15#) - 14 pints
Corn, Whole Kernel - 1 case (~48 ears) - 30 pints
Tomatoes, Roma - 25# - 20 pints (Diced and Mexican Style)
Asparagus (pickled) - 20# - 10 pints
Jalapenos (pickled) - Varies
Cherry pie filling - 8 cups - 4 pints
Jams and Jellies, usually 3 to 4 varieties (our personal favorite is blueberry lime spruce tip and kiwi rhubarb)
Salmon (fresh and smoked)
Bone broth, vegetable broth and seafood broth
Beans: Black, Kidney, Pinto, Garbanzo
I love chatting with new and experienced canners to swap tips, lessons learned, and "potions" that have been created in kitchens and cabins. Let me know if you'd like to add to your stash!
A bit of our pantry
A sampling of what's in the pantry
Canned fruits (left to right): White peaches, red d'anjou pears, nectarines, and apricots
Pickled vegetables (left to right): radishes, bell peppers, asparagus, ginger