Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fourth of July Canning II

I spent my 4th of July in tears.  

Sappy commercials? Scary fireworks?  Overwhelming patriotism?  Nope.  Five pounds of baby red onions.  Somehow I forgot about the extremely tearful reaction I have to onions when I was dumping these into my grocery bag.  But the sight of all those onions just made me want to preserve them!

Just like last year, I spent this 4th of July canning.

I knew I needed to can about 4 lbs. of green beans from the garden today, but I started off the day at the St. Paul Farmer's Market to see what else was lookin' good.  My best find was those 5 lbs. of little red onions just begging to be pickled.

But when I consulted my recipe, I realized that I needed to soak them in salty water for 12 hours to draw out their juices and get them ready for their pickling brine.  So I packed them in salt in my favorite pickling crock and looked for something else to can.

Dilly Beans were an obvious choice for my green beans.  I'm obsessed with them.  I canned 28 pints last year and I still ran out.  We ate about 2 lbs. for dinners last week and I'm guessing there are more waiting to be picked right now! One note about these, though.  You can decrease the salt in the recipe by 1/2 and they're still plenty salty.  The salt is just for flavor, not preservation.  I love how pretty the dried chilies look in the jars!

After canning the beans, I still wasn't satisfied.  I mean, 7 pints of Dilly Beans does not an ExtravaCANza make.  So I started browsing through my favorite canning book.

I can't say enough good things about The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  The Ball Blue Book is a great starting book for new canners and it's super cheap.  But the Complete Book is that book's mama.  It has everything from the Blue Book, plus tons more.  I don't want to be a blatant Mississippi Market advertisement (subtle is better), but you should go buy this book there during July.  It's only $19.99 right now and the usual price is $22.95!

Anyways, I was perusing this book and the Split Pea Soup caught my eye.  I know, I know.  It's hot as heck today, so why in the world did I want to make soup?  Because I could eat soup every day, that's why.  And because I didn't have all the ingredients to make anything else in the book and had already been to the co-op once today.  So I put some yellow split peas in my pressure cooker to cook them up quickly.

Quick note about this: My pressure cooker warns me not to cook split peas in it because they foam too much and will overflow out of the vent hole.  I can now attest to the truth in this warning.  Don't do this.  It's really messy.

Luckily, after an emergency shut-off of the cooker, the peas happened to be perfectly done and soupy.  So I added a bit of bouillon cube, carrots, onions, salt and pepper.  And then I loaded up my pressure canner.

Another quick note: A pressure canner and a pressure cooker are different. Usually.  My pressure canner can also be a pressure cooker.  But my pressure cooker cannot be a pressure canner.  Got it?  To pressure can you need to be able to control the amount of pressure in your canner.  So unless the lid has a weighted gauge or a dial gauge to choose the pressure, you've got a pressure cooker.

Now I'm camped out in my kitchen, listening to the canner bubble away.  It's a full 75 minutes in the canner for these 9 pints of soup, but it's going to be so awesome to have this soup ready to heat up anytime... Like on super hot summer days when I'm craving homemade soup and don't want to heat up the kitchen.

So that's my 4th of July so far.  Later this evening I'll probably wander down the alley to watch the ridiculously extravagant fireworks show that our neighbors put on every year.  How are you spending your 4th of July?


Jenni (aka Vegyogini) said...

I really wish we lived near each other so I could taste the wonderful fruits of your canning (not the onions because onions and I aren't friends, but pretty much everything else)! You're so inspiring!

Crystal said...

That book rocks. I borrowed it from the library and kept renewing it for so long that I figured I should buy my own copy :)

By the way...made your wine slushies yesterday (the strawberry ones) and I am in love!!

Anonymous said...

I am so jealous of your garden and your dilly green beans--I love dill and green beans and the recipe sounds amazing!

I hope you had a happy 4th :-)


Jessica said...

Your canned beans do look so pretty! I don't know much about canning - does leaving them out on display harm them? I would want a shelf full in my kitchen! I wish I had learned canning from my grandmother, but maybe one day I will explore on my own with that book.