The one store bought grocery item that can always be found in my pantry is roasted red peppers. I absolutely love them. I love them in quesadillas, pizza, omelettes, frittata, risotto, you name it. So this year I thought, "okay that's another staple that I'm going to eliminate my dependency on the grocery store for and do it myself"! Roasting them is super easy, and canning them is as well. All you need is a pressure cooker.
Because my peppers from my garden seem to be struggling to ripen, I decided I didn't want to risk not being able to can any by waiting. So I hit up the farmer's market in the next town and purchased 11.5 pounds of various colored peppers and got the party started.
I don't know if there is another vegetable that is as versatile when it comes to canning as the homely tomato (it will always be a veggie to me!). This year I planted seven varieties, and am well on my way to preserving them in more than that many ways. My Nana is the one who taught me how to make sauce several years ago, and to this day I still do it the way she taught me. Like pretty much everything else in my life, I have taken the foundations I was taught and expanded upon them. This has led me to new varieties of tomatoes as well as new preparations for me to preserve.
I preserve different tomato types in different ways depending on which they are best suited for. Some make better sauce, others hold their shape better for diced, whole peeled, etc. I love finding new varieties and new ways to preserve the bounty of the summer, especially with pantry staples. It is a ton of work to say the least, but having shelves full of every type of tomato style you need in the dead of winter cannot be beat!
Wow it's been forever since I made a blog post! My life since we closed on our house on July 15th has been absolute, non-stop, balls to the wall madness. So many things have been going on, been done, and after the fact I think "wow that would be a great blog post" but by the time I sit down at 9-10 o'clock after working all day, and then working around the house, I just don't have the energy to get it on the site. But, fall is upon us, winter is just around the corner, and although the to-do list hasn't gotten any shorter, the fact that it's dark at 6:30pm gives the illusion I have more time. My dad used to make grape juice when I was a kid and I loved it. I grew up in Northwest PA, where grapes grow quite well thanks to the climate the Great Lakes create. So, when I moved into my house in July I was quite excited to see that there were multiple Concord grape vines loaded! Now there are different ways to make grape juice whether you use an actual juicer, boil them in water, etc. But I prefer the old fashioned way which is just whole grapes with some sugar hot pressed in jars. Albiet there is a waiting period with this method, but for me it only builds the anticipation!
There are two schools of thought when it comes to preserving food: canning and freezing. Some only can, others only freeze, I prefer a combination. I will freeze certain vegetables (corn, broccoli), but for a majority of my preserving I prefer canning. Although it is a little more time consuming, I like being able to grab something off of the shelf that I need, rather than worrying about having to plan ahead and thaw it out. For me the upfront work is worth the added convenience later.
The canning process will be the same no matter what you're preserving until you reach the end and have to use a pressure canner, or can get away with a water bath. Simple rule of thumb: if the food is acidic (i.e tomatoes, pickled veggies, sweets) then you can get away with a water bath (or nothing at all). The acidity in the food itself will ward off bacteria. If the food is alkaline (i.e potatoes, meat, stock, beans), processing in a pressure canner is required. In this case beef stock, or any kind of stock for that matter is alkaline, so I will be using a pressure canner to ensure a proper seal.
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