Foodbuzz 24×24: Preserving the Seasons

As you know, I have been working on preserving local, in-season produce so that I can enjoy them all year while still eating locally.  Plus, buying the fruit or veggies at the peak of the season for canning has the potential to save a lot of money in the long run!

Since recently studying the science of canning and gaining confidence in my ability to can safely, I wanted to share my newfound knowledge and passion with some blends (blog friends). Happily, Foodbuzz chose my proposal to host a canning party for September’s 24x24x24 series!

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I was especially excited to take part in this particular 24x24x24 series, as Foodbuzz is partnering with Electrolux to help raise money for Ovarian Cancer Research. For each event in the 24x24x24 series, they are donating $250 towards research. Why is this important?

  • According to the CDC, ovarian cancer is the 8th most common cancer.
  • In 2006, almost 20,000 women in the U.S. alone learned they had ovarian cancer.
  • If caught early enough, ovarian cancer can often be effectively treated.

The Blends

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I invited some of my long-distance blends, Heather and Cynthia, who were excited enough about the event to make the 3+ hour trek to Ithaca.

Mae recently started her freshman year at Cornell, so I was excited to be able to finally meet her in person.

Thanks to the Healthy Living Blogs Database, I also discovered and invited a new Ithaca friend, Emma. Woohoo for local blends!

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The Canning Knowledge

I utilized my newfound canning knowledge and safety information to teach our guests about canning. Cynthia and Emma has previous canning experience, but I was still able to answer some of their questions about the different ways to process jars while I taught Mae and Heather about canning. We cleared up a few things:

  • The purpose of the rack in the canning pot is to allow boiling water to surround the jars on all sides, including the bottom. For this same reason, your jars shouldn’t be too close to each other (ie: they shouldn’t be touching). If you don’t have a rack, you can use a few dish towels as a substitute.
  • It is no longer considered safe to process jars in the oven instead of a boiling water bath!

Everyone got a chance to take jars in and out of the canner, as well as filling and capping the jars.

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The Recipes

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Since prep work takes no time at all when you have 5 bloggers washing and chopping, we made three recipes in just a few hours. We made:

The bruschetta looked and smelled delicious, but the amounts called for in the recipe were all off. We had WAY too many tomatoes, and not nearly enough liquid to top off the jars. No worries though, I turned the extra tomatoes into Caprese salad later. 😉

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The Snacks

The bruschetta took the longest to process, so we took a snack break while the cans were in the boiling water bath. I set out some sungold tomatoes from the Savvy Garden, as well as some sharp cheddar, sourdough bread and Tomato Cinnamon Clove Preserves that the people at A Perfect Pear were gracious enough to send me. These preserves have an excellent spicy little kick from the cloves that I just love. Again, if you haven’t had tomato preserves with cheese and sourdough, you are missing out!

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We also partook of some Chocolate Banana Nut muffins that Heather brought to celebrate our blogiversaries. Yum!

The Goods

Instead of a goody bag, I topped each jar with a cute label and sent everyone home with some preserves. The final count was:

  • 6 half-pint jars of pear preserves
  • 7 half-pint jars of pickles
  • 7 half-pint jars of bruschetta

In the end, everyone walked away with 3 or 4 jars of pears, pickles and bruschetta to enjoy in the coming months.

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Want to Do Some Canning Yourself?

If you are interested in trying your hand at canning but don’t know where to start, check out these posts:

All in all, everyone had a great time playing in the kitchen and learning about canning while chatting with new blog friends. Thanks again, Foodbuzz!

Summer Squash Pickles

I’m not really a fan of pickles. Whenever I receive one alongside a restaurant sandwich, I pass it on to my dining companions. There is something about the salty vinegar flavor that makes them completely unappetizing to me.

But as Heather pointed out, maybe I’ve just been eating the wrong pickles. I decided to depart from tradition by making pickles using squash instead of cucumbers and white wine vinegar + wine instead of white vinegar. As it turns out, I have been eating the wrong pickles, because I sampled these and liked them!

Pickles

Summer Squash Pickles

Slightly adapted from “The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving”

Makes 5 to 6 half-pints

1 ¾ lb summer squash

1 1/3 c sliced onion

2 ½ c water

1 2/3 c sugar

1 ¼ c white wine vinegar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp mustard seeds

½ tsp allspice

1 tsp ground ginger

Prepare for canning. Wash the jars and flat lids with hot, soapy water. Put the jars in the canning pot and fill the pot with hot water. Heat over medium-high heat to keep the jars hot. Place the lids in a heat-proof bowl.

Peel the squash and chop in ½” cubes. Slice the onion. Mix the squash and onion in a large bowl and set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring the water, sugar, vinegar, salt and spices to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add the squash and onions, then bring back up to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, until the squash is heated through and tender.

Pack squash and liquid into hot jars, up to ½” below the rim. Use a chopstick to remove the air bubbles. Use a clean towel to wipe off the rims, and top each jar with a lid and a tightened ring. Place the jars back in the canning pot and make sure they are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Place the jars on a folded towel and let cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check the seals of the lids after 1 hour. If a seal has not formed, refrigerate the jar immediately.

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