Home Canning is all at once an amazingly rewarding experience and a big pain in the rear. I spent a significant amount of time creating canned or preserved vegetables and fruit this summer. Consequently, I have a cupboard and freezer-full of food that I grew...saving me money and reducing my paranoia about what methods were used to grow the food I eat.
This was the first summer that I intentionally grew, harvested and preserved garden goodness. In the past, I just grew what I thought looked good, in quantities that were based on no real planning process. I might have a large bounty, which I then might freeze. But this year, I decided to stop relying on my fave farmer's markets as much, and really focus on growing my own.
So, here's what I have learned, in sum...
Pickling: Preserves the harvest, creates yummy condiments, makes beautiful gifts, is a very creative process, is a great storage process for certain vegetables
Canning: extends your tomato celebration into the winter, allows you to take full advantage of veggies and fruits that are harvested once a year, makes diving fruit spreads that bring back summer memories, is a solid storage method, if you follow directions exactly, canning is relatively easy
Pickling: veggies aren't as crisp, harder to know what will be a tasty combination, some vegetables lose color and some change the color of everything else in the jar, the amount of salt in the recipe is huge, not as easy as I thought it would be
Canning: I now have 800 jars of raspberry jam, the amount of sugar in the oringal preserving method is huge, the harvesting, cleaning and preserving can be tiring and tedious
First of All: Look at my kitchen...this is typical of my kitchen when I am canning
Pickling: some vegetables just should not be pickled and sometimes you don't know that until it's too late, veggies may look tightly packed, but after canning process, veggies float
Canning: Cool summers=less flavorful tomatoes harder to make tasty sauce, fruit jams sometimes don't set up and you have fruit sauce, you can something and give it to a friend, only to discover it tasted awful...
All in all, I was pleased enough with the outcome that I will definitely try it again next summer. I think I will restrict it to tomatoes and jams, though. It is just too easy to blanch, use the vaccuum sealer and freeze the rest of the harvest.