I plan to keep canning chicken broth as we eat chickens and I bought an extra canner rack so I'll be able to can 4 lbs of dry beans at once throughout the winter. The tomatoes are still coming now and then so there might be one last round of those too. But for the most part, canning season is done here. My jars are stored in my basement where the lighting is terrible and they're spread all over, but I wanted to show off what I've done, so I took one jar from each batch I canned outside. Overall, I canned 317 jars this season, which I think is just behind my 2009 total. I lacked a crawling-then-walking baby then, so I'm pretty happy with what I've got stored. I'll also be going to a friend's canning swap this weekend and hope to trade grape jelly, apricot jam, and dill pickles for other intriguing canned goods.
Photo 1: Most of the berry-type jams
Grape jelly (20 jars various sizes totalling 33 half-pints); Blueberry butter (6.5 half-pints); Rhubarb-blueberry jam (3 half-pints); Blueberry-raspberry jam (5.5 half-pints).
Photo 2: Stone Fruits
Peach jam (6 half-pints), Peaches in light sugar syrup (15.5 quarts), Pear butter (8 half-pints), Pears in light syrup (21 quarts), Apricot jam (6 half-pints, 7 pints). I also made 5 half-pints of apricot-raspberry jam and 7.5 half-pints of rhubarb-strawberry-orange jam that got forgotten when I took pictures. The internet told me that the blueberry and pear butters were amazing but I probably won't bother with them again. I'll stick with the smooth taste of apple butter and leave the blueberries for the freezer (although the jams were pretty tasty) and pears in slices.
Photo 3: Apple Products
The three in the back are all applesauce from Paula Red seconds. I'm hoping to go get another half-bushel of maybe Haralsons this week because I can't stop myself. And is there ever really too much applesauce? I don't add any sugar, just a little cinnamon sometimes. I like varieties that make pink sauce. I bought a bushel myself and made 26 pints of applesauce and 8 half-pints of apple butter. Then some friends and I went in together on two bushels of apples and spent the better part of two days processing them. My portion was 10 pints and 10 quarts.
Photo 4: Straight Tomatoes
I've tried a variety of techniques over the years resulting in whole, crushed, and quartered tomatoes. This year, my preferred approach was to blanch, peel, and core them, then to squeeze them whole and room-temperature into hot jars until the jars filled with their own juices. It takes 85 minutes in the canner that way, but it was less putzy then the crushed tomato method used in one batch, shown at the right, where I cooked them before jarring them. It seemed like a lot of juice was lost that way and it wasn't really faster overall, but required more hands-on time. Total tomato count: 6 pints crushed, 29 quarts, 5 pints, and 1 half-pint whole.
Photo 5: Tomatoes Sauced/Chopped
Thanks to Pick-Your-Own, I found a better way to cook down tomatoes into sauce this year. After peeling and coring them, I'd squeeze out the juice and seeds (not perfectly), leaving more pulpiness and less liquid. I haven't been happy with the super-thin liquid my KitchenAid attachment produces (although I adore it for applesauce) although that would eliminate the need to blanch and peel. I still end up cooking things down for hours but I like thicker sauce and this is the first year I feel like I accomplished that. I did two rounds each of pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce. The kids don't like the second pizza sauce batch because it's more peppery. I used separate recipes for teach batch of spaghetti sauce. The boys don't usually eat spaghetti sauce on noodles (how is that possible?!?) or I'd make a lot more of it.
In the middle is salsa that I made with friends. I make salsa but refuse to eat it. Dan likes it and that's enough for me. On top is ketchup. Very easy (but slow) in the crockpot. It took overnight and into the next day, but requires little watching and is SO GOOD. I was nervous that I wouldn't like it but I will definitely make it again.
Totals: 15 pints salsa, 8 pints pizza sauce, 15.5 pints spaghetti sauce, and 5.5 half-pints ketchup.
Photo 6: Ugly-colored jars
I've made chicken broth from leftover carcasses for awhile, but have always frozen instead of canning it. Freezing is easier, but I tend to misplace them at the bottom of the freezer and just lose track of whether I have any or not. I never thaw them ahead of time and it's one more thing to do to prep for dinner. So this year I've canned two batches of chicken broth. It's awfully handy to just grab a jar off the shelf. Making broth feels like the best bargain since it's made from stuff that would have gone into the trash.
Next to the broth jars is my rhubarb ketchup. People raved about it online and I'm always interested in new uses for rhubarb. This one is not my cup of tea. It's okay, but I feel like I sneak it into things like sloppy joes and don't want to bother adding it to burgers. I'll stick to tomato ketchup now.
I have 6 quarts and 4 pints of chicken broth and 5 half-pints of rhubarb ketchup.
Photo 7: The Leftovers
3 years ago, I made a half-bushel of dill pickles (first attempt) and they were amazing. We ate all of them between October and January. So in 2009 I was more ambitious and went for the full bushel. Unfortunately I waited until September and farmers' market cukes were expensive and rare. I lined up dozens of rows of pickles, waited weeks until they were ready, and then they were softer than we liked. They weren't completely mushy but they weren't great. So they sat there. I've given a few away to use chopped as relish but slowly I've been dumping them to use the jars. It's depressing. This year, I made sure to make pickles in August and stuck to half a bushel. They aren't as good as 2008's batch, but we're eating them. Which is good because we have 16 pints and 11 quarts.
A few months ago I started buying dry beans instead of canned because I realized they cost maybe 1/3 as much that way. It's not hard to cook dry beans but you have to start the night before you want them. Without my extra canning rack, I could fit 8 wide-mouth pint jars in the canner which translated to 2 pounds of beans. I tried doing 3 pounds at once the first time and had to finish cooking some separately and then freeze them. The time spent canning them is pretty close to the time they'd need to finish cooking anyway. But once I can do 4 pounds, it'll really be efficient. I now have 8 pints each of kidney and black beans.
My garden didn't start producing pole beans until August, which is really, really late for us. For about a month we got enough beans to eat them for dinner a few times a week. I never quite got enough to save so I bought 5 pounds from the farmer's market as the season was ending and got 10 pints out of that. At $1.00 per jar it's probably not cheaper than buying canned at the grocery store. Once again, I need to buy in August if I go the farmer's market route.
I've also put 5 quarts rhubarb, 4 gallons of strawberries, 1 gallon of apricot slices, and 4 gallons of blueberries into the freezer.