The late days of summer are upon us. So if you’re a gardener like me, it means your fridge and counters are full of boxes filled with tomatoes and peppers, pickling cukes and zucchini, peaches and plums.
I can’t say no to free fruit or pass on a good deal so I inevitably end up drowning in produce.
This time of year, I stay up way too late figuring out new and creative ways to preserve the harvest. In fact, I’ve been doing so much late night canning, I forgot to even write this article the first time around.
My canning obsession started about six years ago when my husband and I first moved to the Okanagan.
We became inspired by books like The 100 Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating, By Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver.
We wanted to have a big garden of our own, grow our own produce, and save as much as possible for the winter months. I bought every canning jar I could find at the thrift shop and invested in a canning pot and supplies.
We even went to Kelowna to help a friend’s mom can pickles so we could learn some techniques.
I think the first year we canned close to 60 jars of tomatoes, and 40 jars of pickles, 20 jars of various fruit jams, peaches, pears and salsas. six years and two kids later, I still can a lot but in slightly smaller quantities, plus I like to freeze and dry some of our harvest too.
I get a lot of recipes from books of course. My favourite canning book and blog is Food in Jars, by Marissa McClellan. Her book really helped me get beyond the jam recipes in the pectin box.
Some of my favourites include her vanilla-rhubarb jam with earl grey tea, strawberry and vanilla bean jam and apricot honey jam.
She also has a lot of great standards like classic dill pickles and tomato sauce. A big plus, her recipes don’t use loads of sugar like some of the older canning books.
I also love Put ‘Em Up: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook from Drying to Freezing to Canning and Pickling, by Sherri Brooks Vinton.
This year I’m really looking forward to making some new recipes from the book, Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry, by Liana Krissoff.
We of course have all of these books down at the library so come by, pick them up and get canning.
Crystal Fletcher is an auxiliary Assistant Community Librarian, mother of two and gardener extraordinaire.