I mentioned as how I was going to start pressure canning this year. (Can it really have been more than a month ago? Where did August go?) I said planned on canning tomato sauce, borscht soup, and salsa. Well, I gotta tell you, I've had very mixed results.
The pressure canning itself is pretty straightforward and less nerve wracking than I had feared. Nothing's exploded in my kitchen yet, anyhow. But my very first foray into pressure canning left me feeling mightily depressed. After a deal of work making a large batch of borscht from garden vegetables that included our beets, tomatoes and savoy cabbage, as well as some carrots donated by another gardener, then canning it all in quart jars...well, the results looked just godawful. This is a picture of the one jar that didn't seal, probably because it was overfilled. All the others popped themselves shut. But the color was horrid in every case, and the cabbage looked like it had been boiled to death in there. Given that the jars were under 10 pounds of pressure for 45 minutes, I guess that's a pretty accurate description.
I was so dispirited. I couldn't even persuade my normally brave husband to try my experimental first run; it was that bad. Looks like we'll chalk this one up to learning the ropes. Unless someone who sounds like they know their business comes along and offers a canning-proof borscht recipe, (please?) I'm sticking my borscht in the freezer from now on, just as I did last year. Humph!
Happily, the tomato sauce went much better. The tomatoes have been coming in slowly this year. And I don't have enough equipment to make very large batches of sauce at one time. But still I've gotten 8 quarts of roasted tomato sauce put away. My intentions of making salsa have been forestalled by the sluggish production of the tomato plants. But I may well get around to that before tomato season winds down. I would guess we still have a few weeks of good beefsteak tomatoes left to us, if the weather kindly cooperates.
So, yes. Baby steps in the canning department this year. I hope to get more proficient and braver with the process as time goes on. I also plan to can some apple butter in the fall when our apples ripen up. I'm almost at the point of being ready to say, "I'm ready for fall and all the apple chores."
Got any good canning recipes you want to share? Please, please do so in the comments!