Saturday, September 21, 2013

Preservation Station

I am smack dab in the middle of canning season. I have finished two projects and I am ready to start the next. Applesauce was my first canning attempt. Actually I did can one jar of pickles, but I do not like pickles so how am I to know if they are good or not? Would anyone like a jar of pickles? No guarantee they are great, but I will pay for postage!

 Back to applesauce. Kind of:
 I was able to gather some fresh from the tree apples when I was visiting a very good friend a couple of weeks ago. We actually had a fun filled day packed with apple gathering and cider pressing.. THE MOST FUN. If you have an apple tree and want to invest in something wonderful, a cider press is the thing to go for. I was told that this press was small compared to some of the bigger presses farmers have, but it seemed like just the perfect size. It's amazing how the process works. You insert the whole apple (or half if they are big) into the grinder and  turn the handle to crush the apples. After crushing a batch of apples you then turn the screw which presses a board down and releases the juices through a mesh sheet and into a bucket you have places under the spout. After this step, you can run the cider through cheese cloth to catch any of the remaining sediment and then drink away! Fresh cider will last a little over a week but not much longer because it is unpasteurized. Hands down the best cider I have ever tasted.

So I was able to collect some extra apples to make my apple sauce. I then read up on making apple sauce and canning apple sauce etcetera but really went with my own recipe based off of a few recipes. But I made sure to include lemon juice because acid is important when it comes to canning. After creating my mixture I warmed my jars and started the process. I crossed my fingers and hoped that I would hear the joyful sound of that "ping!" when the top seals onto the glass jar and everything you have done is proven to be successful! one ping. two pings...........and three- a sigh of relief. Mission one- a success. 

The next was a tomato sauce. Now I researched tomato sauce and found a few interesting facts. Although we assume that tomatoes are high in acid, they do not have enough acid to stay good in a jar without the addition of citric acid. Tomatoes used to be of high acidity, but because humans are now desiring a sweeter taste, tomatoes are being bred for less acid and a higher sugar content. Interesting. When reading about the sauce itself, sources claimed that most people make the mistake of just using tomatoes in their pasta sauces. At school, we of course learned to start with onions, carrots, and celery like any good sauce so that is how I start all of my recipes. But this specific source claimed that pureeing carrots into the sauce make it sweeter. Instead of carrots, I decided that since I had some summer squash and zucchini laying around from the farmer's market that I would incorporate that into my sauce. It worked out and got the Christopher stamp of approval! Make sure to add lemon juice to the bottom of your jar before filling it with sauce in order to properly preserve the tomatoes. 

My next mission will be a salsa canning. I have collected the last tomatoes before the weather turns, and will be formulating my own recipe. But the coolest part of all of this canning is that I get to decorate the jars after I am finished. I think I made the years best purchase at a resale store when I bought a ziplock bag full of random lace ribbons for seventy five cents. It's grand. I'll keep you up to date on the jar to jar basics. Until next time. 

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