Friday, August 30, 2013

The Can Can

I decided to start canning!! It sounds really exciting right? But really it is. I came up with this great idea (actually it was not my idea) to fill mason jars with goodies for people for Christmas. (Sorry friends and family I spoiled the surprise.) My older sister Michelle has been cleaning out a bunch of J U N K from the storage space at my parents restaurant. She found a ton of really cool mason jars (I know they are in now, so aren't they all cool?) Anyway, she offered them to me and I graciously accepted. (It was her idea). So there are so many cool ways to fill these jars and give them away as gifts, not only for Christmas but something nice to give to someone hosting a party etcetera. So the jars that I was gifted are very stylish with glass lids and are perfect for a muffin mix, or granola, or other surprises I can come up with to give to my family and friends. This got me thinking about how there are so many different things you can put in cans. My favorite so far is I Spy. (Spoiler alert to those who will receive Christmas gifts). I think this idea is genius. Put rice in a mason jar and add little objects. Attach to the jar a list of objects to find inside the jar!

So I really like this idea, but I was also pondering how I could make it my own, instead of just layering beans, lentils, and spices in a jar. My mom is very into the soup mix idea but my culinary mind cannot stop thinking about how impractical it is. All of the ingredients in a soup cook at different speeds and are added to the pot at a different time. Now although I could write instructions explaining this- I think that if I received a gift of soup mix in a jar, I would just want to pour it all into the pot at once, and not have to weed out the different colored legumes. Practicality. So this brought me to canning. I am no pro, in fact the only time I have canned something was at school in my garde manger class, and I am pretty sure I was not a pro at it. Brenton can confirm this. Also, how do you judge if you are a good canner or not. I mean, you make the pickling liquid, add the cucumbers, seal it in the jar, and pray they come out good. (Kinda reminds me of baking). But I am up for the adventure.

I set out for Walmart in search of the canning section, and they have a pretty good selection. They are equipped with all of the tools, jars, seals, lids, and spice packs that you could possible need, and for a good price I might add. I skipped the spice packs because I thought I would give myself a challenge and experiment. Chris wanted a pressure cooker for his birthday and I am kicking myself for not getting it for him, but I am starting out the old boiling water route. I have (with the help of Christopher) successfully sterilized all of the jars that I will not be sealing, just because they have been sitting in a garage for at least twenty years. I have checked out two books from the library on preservation. And my kitchen is completely taken over by this whole adventure. Send some canning thoughts my way, and if you are interested or have any questions in regards to my excursion, let me know. I think this is a really thrifty, fun way to let someone know that you care about them.

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