Thursday, August 6, 2009

Adventures in Canning

I made up my mind that this year would be the banner year- the year that we grew a garden, harvested the produce and stored up for the winter! I had grand schemes and great illusions (delusions?) of subsisting and existing mainly- if not entirely- on food that was home grown. However, our novice roots began to show when we planted too early and many of our little seeds and seedlings succumbed to the frost. Last year we were too late to plant much of anything except potatoes so in our rush to not make the same mistake twice, we erred on the side of the early bird getting frostbite.
Thankfully after replanting a few starters we had success and have been able to enjoy some seriously bountiful produce. (Read: In addition to two lemon cucumber starts, Mike discovered some seeds left in the packet from our earlier frost-bitten attempts and planted the seeds as well. We now have a minimum of 8 lemon cucumber plants that produce a huge basketful of lemon cukes about every other day).
As I embrace my role as homemaker/housewife/stay-at-home mom one of the things I have been eager to do is canning. Of course I originally assumed I would be canning produce from the backyard farm I saw in my mind's eye but having a limited amount of space effectively changed that vision. From our garden I'll be able to can tomatoes and next year green beans while I get peaches from a local farmer's market. In discovering a few Monster Zucchini I had somehow missed after several days of 100+ degree weather I realized I had a great opportunity to bake and can zucchini bread. My mom has done so for as long as I can remember and seeing as how the actual process is simple although labor-intensive I thought I would give it a go. It was with this decision that my adventure began.
Canning zucchini bread requires very special canning jars that are tapered in shape, no longer manufactured, and extremely hard to find. I couldn't believe my good fortune when I found a recently posted ad on Craigslist selling these very jars locally for a decent price. I called the seller who stopped my questions with a few of his own. He informed me that he doesn't sell these particular jars to just anybody and wanted to know what I would be using them for. Thinking I had the best use in the world for said jars I hurriedly assured him that I would, in fact, be using the jars to can the most wonderful zucchini bread. I 'bout dropped the phone as he hollered that was ILLEGAL and DANGEROUS as they should never be heated in the oven; that's what Pyrex is for and why don't I just use that?! Click. Apparently he was not impressed by the thought of being able to store zucchini bread year-round and I was rather offended on many different levels. To wind this story down a close friend of the family was able to buy a limited amount of jars (although he was selling quite a few more than he would "let" her have) and the seller closed the transaction with an affectionate, obsessive comment regarding jars, to "hold them close to your bosom". So I certainly will, every time I pry the lid off for some zucchini bread!!!
Yesterday with Mike's help to shred zucchini and help with the jars I made four batches of two different kinds of zucchini bread (pina colada and chocolate chip), one zucchini cobbler, chicken chile enchiladas for dinner and four loaves of Ezekiel bread- homemade honey whole wheat bread. I dropped into bed exhausted and happy- what an adventure!!!


DoubleVentiLatte said...

Very impressive! You have some serious domestic skills. I am currently drawn to the idea of getting wheat grinder/mill thing.

How is the home made laundry soap working for you? You use it on your diapers...right? I still need to tackle that project.
What a crazy canning jar guy!

Jenae said...

Yep, I use the laundry soap on my diapers as well as the rest of the laundry! I love it- it's so low suds-ing. I haven't put a scent into it yet although I think I might try an essential oil at some point since Mike seems to think your clothes have to have a certain smell to be clean!! :) The best part about the soap is that it is SOOO cheap! I'm only on my second batch and so this supply has literally lasted me months- so worth it when you add up the cost of laundry soap!! And yes, that canning jar was certifiable!! :)

Love, Burkhart & Tschiegg said...

oh my word, i can't believe that craigslist whackjob!