I have been yacking all Summer about how busy I have been. I have actually been swamped if you want to know the truth! It really has been the busiest Summer I can remember. I know I certainly did not have enough time to sit back, relax and enjoy some of these! I can’t say that I am looking forward to cold weather, but I think things will quiet down for me in the Fall, so I will be thankful for that.
As you may know, much of the busy time has been from helping to plan and coordinate Food Blog Forum Atlanta (it starts this Friday! Yay!). We have also been doing some travel for On the Road with Bunkycooks articles. The other very time consuming project has been canning!
You may have seen my posts on Strawberry Freezer Jam and How to Make Freezer Jams. Those are pretty simple to do, but do take a bit of time, although preserving foods by freezing is definitely the easiest method. They are sooo worth making! If you haven’t tried to do it yet, you definitely should.
The other way of preserving foods is not quite so easy. I will have a few posts on canning in the coming weeks. Let me just say, that me and the little Blue Book of Preserving from Ball have gotten to know each other quite well in the past couple of months. Mr. Bunkycooks and I have been canning maniacs!
I have learned a great deal about canning that I never knew before. I also think that canning is making a comeback as more and more people are concerned about where their foods are coming from and how they make it from the farm to their dinner table. I know I am.
I have certainly gained a new appreciation for my food after visiting the farms that we have this Summer. I really have become fussier than usual about what I eat and where it comes from. I am trying to stash as much wonderful local produce away as I can so that I can rely on many of our own canned goods in the coming months. Realistically, I know that I will have to purchase some items that are not local, but I am certainly going to be more thoughtful about it.
If you have never canned, let me suggest a few things to you. 1. Two sets of hands are better than one. 2. An assembly line works well if you are organized. 3. Do not start this process if you are in a bad mood, on edge or already fussing with your hubby or partner. It will only get worse!
When you first begin, it is a bit stressful when you are trying to keep the jars sterile, the ingredients at the right temperature, the lids sterile and the water boiling all at the same time, especially in a small space. In fact, as a friend said to me, it can look a bit like this…remember I Love Lucy and the Chocolate Factory?! I promise it will get easier the more you do it (and I have now canned enough to vouch for that!).
However, I know that the fruits of our labors will be well worth it come the Fall and Winter when I can head down to the basement and grab a jar of my own bread and butter pickles!
I thought I would share this recipe with you first. It is from the Ball Blue Book and it is one of the easiest preserved foods to make, especially if you are a beginner. This is a fresh pack version of Bread and Butter Pickles and takes much less time than the regular version. Since canning is really a bit of a science and needs to all work together to be successful, I don’t stray much from the tried and true recipes.
Bread and Butter Pickles are prepared in a boiling water canner, which I find to be the easier method. Anything with a high acidic level (such as pickles, tomatoes) can be prepared in the boiling water canner. Anything that is not acidic (like green beans) needs to be prepared in a pressure cooker canner. You will also need these nifty little gadgets to help you with canning no matter which method you are using.
Initially, the pressure canner is a little frightening to use (think blowing up your kitchen!). Of course, pressure cookers have always made me nervous. My mom used them all the time when I was a kid. We have one now that we cook certain foods in. I let Mr. Bunkycooks deal with it along with the pressure canner.
It is also necessary, as I have found, to make adjustments for cooking in higher altitudes. You will need to increase the cooking times for the boiling water canner or increase the amount of pressure on the gauge of the pressure cooker canner. Since much of my canning took place in the mountains this Summer, I had to make these adjustments. This little Ball Blue Book (the ones I have are not blue, they are yellow!) will tell you all about it! You can also refer to the Ball website for more information on preserving foods.
Since this whole canning business is very precise, I thought that I would give away this essential canning book to two of my readers! I thought that you might want to get in on the fun while there are still some goodies left to can (and of course, there are all sorts of Fall and Winter goodies to can, too!). I bought these (this is not sponsored by Ball) and will ship them to whoever wins in either the United States or Canada.
Here is how you enter:
Leave a comment on this post telling me what you would like to can this Fall! Be sure to have your email/blog somewhere on the comment so that I can contact you if you are a winner.
Here are four additional ways that you can enter.
1. Follow @bunkycooks on Twitter. Leave a comment here indicating that you are now a follower. If you are already a follower, you can leave a comment saying you are.
2. Tweet about this giveaway. Leave a comment here and tell me that you tweeted.
3. Become a fan of Bunkycooks on Facebook. Leave a comment here indicating you are now a fan. If you are already a fan, you can leave a comment saying you are.
4. Subscribe to Bunkycooks by RSS feed or email. Leave a comment saying you are now a subscriber. If you are already a subscriber, you can leave a comment saying you are.
*** Please be sure to leave separate comments as they are easier to count! Thanks!
The more times you leave a comment, the more chances you have to win! That would be 5 chances total (but, who’s counting?!). I will be using random.org to pick the 2 winners. The contest is only open to those of you in the US or Canada. (I apologize to all of my readers anywhere else in the world).
This giveaway ends at 5 pm EST on Monday, September 13th.
I will notify the winners by email. Please get back to me with your shipping information within 48 hours.
GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY CANNING!
WE HAVE 2 WINNERS BY RANDOM GENERATOR! THEY ARE:
Julie – I would love to try to can tomato sauce and salsa. I have never canned before! And I can’t wait to meet you this weekend…can’t believe it’s almost here! @thelittlekitchn
Val - I just made my first batch of jam (peach-rosemary) last week and i am now addicted! I didn’t “can” the jam because i don’t have the equipment or the know how, but i would love get started with this kit.
Please send me your addresses so that I can send you your Ball book! Thank you!
Bread and Butter Pickles
From the Ball Blue Book – Guide to Preserving
Makes about 7 pints
4 pounds 4- to 6-inch cucumbers (Kirby cucumbers), cut into 1/4″ slices
2 pounds onions, thinly sliced (about 8 small)
1/3 cup canning salt
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons tumeric
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon peppercorns
3 cups white vinegar
Combine cucumber and onion slices in a large bowl, layering with salt; cover with ice cubes. Let stand 1 1/2 hours. Drain; rinse; drain again. Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepot; bring to a boil. Add drained cucumbers and onions and return to a boil. Pack hot pickles and liquid into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Make adjustments for altitude, if necessary.
* These fresh pack pickles need to sit for at least 4 to 6 weeks to cure and develop a true bread and butter pickle flavor.