When I was growing up in Kent, Ohio my mother and grandmother canned tomatoes every Labor day. I hated it, I just wanted to be normal and buy tomatoes from the store in a real can not a jar that we said was a can. I didn’t want the bees swarming our hot house and I wanted to tell my friends of some fun activity that we did- not can tomatoes!
I smile when I think of that young girl that so desperately wanted to fit in and be cool. Now I have given up and embraced the country world I am in and love to can. I love the freedom I have when I pull a jar off the shelf and don’t need to read the fine print or call the company to make sure it won’t harm my family. I also love that I can look at recipes in canning cookbooks and not have to make any real dietary changes.
In our family, allergy awareness is always a focus. My daughter has several severe food allergies, including wheat, milk and nuts. But when I’m canning, I don’t worry! Wheat and milk can’t be safely canned, so for my allergy world that is a blessing. I also like to know everything that is going into the product; I know the fields where the veggies come from and the kids that pick them. I also love that I can make something real out of things I collect from my own garden and the many stands around the area.
Every year I put up a little more. Last year I added faux pineapple from sbcanning.com to my list- it is zucchini that is canned in a pineapple juice mixture which will taste like pineapple with the texture of mango, and it’s in the picture above. It’s a great use for the HUGE zucchini. This year I have added juice drink concentrates. I usually make jam and jelly from all kinds of fruit. We eat those jams and jellies on our allergy-safe pancakes and give as gifts but you can only use so much in a year. The juices give us more options when canning seasonal fruit.
Not wanting to miss out on the fresh strawberries from our garden this spring and early summer, I found the recipe in my Ball Blue Book for strawberry lemonade concentrate. We love it so much!
Tonight I just finished up Black Cherry Limeade and Black Cherry Lemon-Limeade which is also heavenly. So I think it’s time to ask for my hubster to build me some more shelves because at this rate I won’t have room for home-canned salsa and spaghetti sauce. I guess canning has helped me find a new normal and helped me create a new comfort zone.
I am thankful for our food allergies and limitations because without them I don’t think I would have such a need to can. I love that I can put up some safe soup that I can open on a busy school night.
Yes, prepping and organizing can be a bit more work, but I am in control and I know my daughter will not get sick from the food I put on her plate. No matter what we put up at home, I am able to use so recipe as written with no tweaking or exceptions for my family’s food limitations. It is very freeing.
I encourage you to try it out, take a class or get a great book, phone a friend for company and can away. What are some interesting things you have found to extend your summer bounty throughout the year?