Saturday, April 21, 2018

My Favorite Hobby Is Canning

My 2 pressure canners doing their thing

My favorite hobby is canning my own food to use through out the year. The very first food I learned to can was grape jelly, jam and juice. The person who taught me how to do it was my Daddy. He grew the grapes and canned them every year. When I moved back to New York state from St. Petersburg, FL, I became interested in modern homesteading. I was living in an apartment in the country in Vestal, NY, and was reading about gardening and canning. Well the perfect teacher I had for that was my own father! He was an awesome gardener and his plants were always big and beautiful and produced a lot of food. When he was still working, he would load his car with excess vegetables and take them to work. His fellow workers would fight over who got what, even though there was more than enough for them all. You know how people are. One guy would try to take it all, of course. So he was the perfect teacher and another activity we shared as father and daughter. He had taught me how to fish, as well as garden.

Our home in Crescent City, FL 

I remember when we lived in Crescent City, FL, all the times he took me and my friend, Debra fishing in the St. John's River which was just down the road from our house. I will always remember Debra catching a big eel on her line and when she brought it up on the dock (in Welaka that time) we both screamed and ran and then both of us accidentally stepped on it. It was a fun day for us and my father enjoyed laughing at us. After that he always teased us about going to catch an eel instead of going fishing.

Preparing dried beans for canning.

Canning for me became a way of life soon. I loved doing it and was always canning something. I have found having the food in my cupboard ready to eat was handy and convenient. It still is. No matter how much work it is, when you are actually in the process, later on when you grab a jar out of the cupboard for a quick meal, you forget the work it was when you did it. Now you savor the taste of your home canned food. Want stew or chili for supper? Ready in about ten minutes. Open the jar and just pour it in a pan and heat. Want to add some more vegetables to it? Just open a jar and pour it in. So easy!

Canned green beans

Now I have become entranced by Cajun cooking in the last few years. I think it came from reading southern novels that take place in Cajun country. One of my favorite cooking tips was the way they use the Cajun Holy Trinity to season their foods. I took it to another level by canning the celery and peppers together, omitting the onions (because my husband will not eat anything with onions). Now I am going to can it again, but with the onions. He can have something else when I cook this. Many of the foods I favor have to include onions, not only the Cajun food, but my heritage foods of Poland and Germany. Onions are essential for the recipes. So most of the time I do not create meals like this. Mainly just meat and a vegetable or salad. I consider those meals quite boring. Not much else I can do at this time. 

Canned blueberries without sugar

Those little jars I canned of the celery, peppers and onions can be the difference between average and awesome. I was impressed with them and will be doing more of them every year. I put them in the pints or even the smaller jelly jars, the quilted ones. They will need to be pressure canned, of course. I will be coming up with other mixes of vegetables to can this way too. Maybe something including mushrooms. I buy these at the local produce market and bring them home and can them immediately. Always good to have in your cupboard of canned foods. Especially when making a soup, stew, chili or sauce that is lacking flavor. This will liven it up immediately. Try it!

Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2018 Kathleen G. Lupole

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