How Can I Tell If A Canning Recipe Is Safe To Use?

“Aren’t you worried about poisoning yourself?”

Whenever I talk about canning with people who don’t do it, it never takes long before they ask this question.

I always say, “No, safe canning is easy, don’t be scared.”

But the fact is, I’m definitely concerned about poisoning myself and others. That’s why I follow safe practices. Improper canning procedure can result in ruined food, sickness, and in some extreme cases, death. (We all remember those green beans from East of Eden, right?)

1940s woman holding arm full of mason jars filled with food, text: "Am I proud! I'm fighting famine by canning food at home" She probably wasn't using safe home canning practices.

So how do we know if a recipe is safe? It’s not hard, but you do need a little know-how.

Continue reading “How Can I Tell If A Canning Recipe Is Safe To Use?”

There are too many jam puns to choose from…

This year, I’ve had the great fun of participating in the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge. Each month, I undertake a themed food preservation project with the goal of learning something new. We’re already halfway through! Here’s what I’ve made so far:

  • January: Citrus–Cara Cara Orange and Meyer Lemon Marmalade
  • February: Fermentation–Failed Fermented Carrots (oh, so bad!) and Amish Friendship Bread (oh, so good!)
  • March: Herbs–Compound butters (sage and smoked salt, rosemary and shallot)
  • April: Use Up Preserves–Barbeque sauce, raspberry jam bars, various tomato dishes (I also took a canned goods inventory, and discovered that we need to be more diligent about eating tomatoes, because at that point I wasn’t through the 2017 ones).
  • May: Berries–Strawberry Balsamic Jam
  • June: Jam–Strawberry Jam, Strawberry Rhubarb Jam (I then went into July with Rhubarb Rosemary, Strawberry Peach, Brown Sugar Peach, and Strawberry Maple Butter)
  • July: Stonefruit–Aforementioned peachy jams, canned cherries, cherries in bourbon
Two jars of jam on a potholder
Small batch strawberry balsamic. Yowza.

The Highlights

Other than learning new things, the most enjoyable part of the challenge is seeing what people all over the world do with it. The themes are pretty broad, so people are creative. I never would have thought to do compound butters without other people doing it, for instance, and now I’m in love.

Favorite recipes so far include:
Strawberry Balsamic Jam (I made this twice. One small batch was not enough).
Sour Cherry Preserves with Bourbon
Rosemary Shallot Compound Butter (There is no recipe. Mince about a tablespoon of shallot. Crush about the same amount of dried rosemary. Beat it into maybe a quarter cup of softened butter. Store in the freezer. Use to saute sugar snap peas, lose your composure.)

In the coming months, I’ll tackle: Tomatoes, Pickles, Relishes, Chow Chows, or Piccalili, an October Wild Card, Apples, Pears, Quince or Persimmons, and Holiday Giving. Some of these will be easier to do something new (what have I ever done with quince?) than others (what else can I do with a tomato, at this point?).

The only problem is I’m running out of jam jars.

Retrofitting Vintage Summer Playlist

With the passing of Memorial Day Weekend here in the US, unofficial summer has begun. That means it’s time for the songs of summer.

Behold! A playlist! Equal parts sultry voices and sunny optimism, with a little sprinkle of silly. Classics, and artists who take inspiration from them. I’m digging it, give it a listen.

Things I Learned While Compiling Retrofitting Summer 2019

  • Apparently, it’s “Dog Ziggity”, not “Dog Diggity.” Go know!
  • It’s not fair that both Sharon Jones and Nancy Wilson are dead.
  • I have been listening to The Cricket’s Orchestra for TEN YEARS.
  • This whole list is very 40s-50s sounding, which means there’s a whole 60s-70s summer playlist to make.

What are you listening to these days?

Spring Cleaning: The Update

I started spring cleaning, and almost immediately got the flu.

I very much enjoyed my sparkling bathroom as I moved from bathtub to bed on repeat while battling the good old influenza. One could draw the conclusion that deep cleaning is a health hazard, but my cousin got it at the same time, and as far as I know, he didn’t have any major cleaning projects going on.

However, the flu took me out of action for two Fridays, and then I left town, so spring cleaning is officially extending into May.

Oh well. It seems like spring itself is also going back and forth, so May definitely still has that, “Spring is here!” feel.