I love learning new things, don’t you? Somehow I found myself in charge of a canning workshop coming up at church, in order to can things for our christmas boutique in November. I guess I forgot for a moment that I have never canned before. Well, not since…no actually, I never have, not even with grandma. But how hard can it be? (ahem..)
I have several women that are looking forward to coming. They actually asked me “so, you know how to can?” I thought that was kind of nervy of them, I mean, would I be in charge of a canning workshop if I did not know how to can. “Well, I have a book. It doesn’t look too hard”. The real canner in our group up and left town. I wonder if she will be back by Saturday. Never mind, I have this week to practice. Let me tell you what I have been up to so far.
First, about a week ago, my better half needed to go to Lowes for something or other. He wanted to drag me along and, with an ulterior motive up my sleeve, I went with him. “Oh look, its right next door to Wal-mart” What my kids call ‘lord waldamort’. Whaddyaknow. “Hon,” says I, “I am going to run in and price canning supplies. Someone told me I could find them there.”
“Well wait and I’ll go with you. I haven’t been in a Wal-Mart in ages.” So he came in with me to price canning supplies. Price them.
Thirty minutes later, we came rolling out with a big blue speckled canning pot with rack, book, supplies, jars and all. (mamas not stupid). It did not cost near what I thought it would.I was happy. He seemed happy enough. At least he wasn’t unhappy. He just wants to make sure I can us some tomatoes this year from the garden. No worries, mate!
Then a few days go by. I have a large bowl brimming with home-grown tomatoes so sweet you would think I fertilized them with sugar. Lets make sauce. There are several ways to do it, I start with the old-fashioned way. Blanche the tomatoes to skin them. Cut them up. Press out the greenish seed stuff. (bleck) Then cook them down into a kind of crushed tomato texture. Now they were not plum tomatoes, so that may have made a difference. It did seem to cook down to nothing. In the end I had a delicious sauce that we ate all up at dinner. None left to can. Oops.
Now more time goes by. This time a neighbor brings me 2 gallons of organic sliced peaches and nectarines. Or was it just peaches. Or just nectarines. Whatever, they are sliced with some organic sugar sprinkled in, and bagged up and froze, for now. I just took a bag out tonight to thaw for tomorrow. “Adventure is out there!”
Oh, and she apparently has bag loads of organic grapes in her freezer. She brought over 2 bags and they are huge! picture a bread bag, not filled with bread, but filled with big purple and greenish grapes. They are seedless and frozen solid. So I left them to thaw in a bowl.
But guess what I just read. I need to make the juice the day before (I am planning on making jelly) and then let the juice sit for 12-24 hours then strain it. So, here I am at night, boiling and mashing about a gallon of grapes. Boil more. Mash more.Some of them bob around like elusive floating marbles. They just wont smoosh! I try to be patient, then give up. I got out the big guns, the immersion blender! Ah-ha!
Now its looking grape juicy. I ladled it into a large bowl, passing it first through a fine sieve. That took a while, crushing it more as I went.
It will sit. It will settle. And tomorrow, I will drain it through cheesecloth and I will have grape juice worthy of making into jelly!
I will try a no pectin recipe and one with pectin. There is even a recipe with no sugar. I kind of feel like a scientist in her laboratory. Dr. Linda in her lab. If you see plumes of black smoke, sweet smelling smoke, in my general vicinity, I know nothing!
I will let you know how it turns out.