Adventures of Large Scale Canning

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Hound dog, Sep 1, 2012.

  1. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I'm sure for those of you with long term experience, this post is going to be nothing. But to 3 women doing this large scale for the first time......WOW is all I gotta say! 20 minutes to go until the last batch of tomatoes are done. Yup. That's what I said. omg lol Well. done for tonight. We simply ran out of time to finish, so will finish tomorrow afternoon.

    Last week easy child and I'd picked up a bushel of green beans at great prices. The tomatoes we picked up went bad almost right away and we made up our minds we weren't going to buy from that particular farmer's market unless prepared and able to can the produce that day because the worker was too rough with it causing bruising ect that made them go bad in a flash. Nichole came down today because she wants to learn how to do it too. So we start off by hitting our farmers market. Only thing they had at a good price were a half bushel of green beans for 8 bucks.....I'm beginning to really love the Amish lady that comes each week while I'm sure her competitors are not thrilled with her, she under prices them terribly and her selection of goods (not just produce) is far better. So, wanting more to can than that.......and all of us wanted to do tomatoes as we use them for so many things.......we head off over and yonder to another farmer's market that is quite a drive. Turned out to be well worth it because we arrived when they had very ripe tomatoes and peaches they wanted to move in bulk and we wanted to buy in bulk. Six bucks for a bushel of tomatoes, oh heck yeah when the in town market was asking 20 bucks for a half bushel (I looked at the man like he'd lost his mind), we bought 3 bushels......AND the dude let us pack the boxes as full as we could possibly get them too. We bought them out of what they had left of peaches and added them to what a friend of easy child's had given her this morning that she had left over from canning and wound up with a bushel of peaches. :)

    Now Nichole had done her utter best to convince her husband to stay home with the kids because this was going to be a long day of hard busy work and at best he'd be bored to tears. But noooo, he just had to come which meant the kids had to come. easy child had the two older boys most of the day. So not only were we doing this, we were doing it with overly helpful little ones underfoot. I think we displayed amazing patience myself. Darrin, Aubrey, and Brandon helped pop beans with the adults.........and with all of us doing it a bushel and a half of beans took quite a while. At some point we had to shoo the kids away because while they were doing a good job they were getting antsy and slowing down progress.

    Then easy child starts putting together the pressure cooker we bought last year and used once, ONCE. She didn't bring the manual. She couldn't find one of the vital parts either that held the pressure gauge in place. I keep trying to get her to go home and get the manual, because we didn't even know what this piece looked like. Nope. But finally she looked it up online. Then headed off to the store to try to find a replacement, came back with another gauge thinking it would have the bolt included.......and it didn't. Took it back to the store, asked the store clerk...he gave her a substitute and assured her it would work.......and 40 mins later we were just as certain that it wasn't. sister in law kept telling us he could fix it. Now sister in law is about the handiest person I've ever met and he's got an amazing mechanical mind. But zero exposure to pressure cookers, which made me doubtful. And I have long experience with the darn things to know they are just not something to attempt to jury rig. Well, to make a long story short, because this was slowing down progress almost to a halt.....easy child told sister in law to give it a whirl and he did manage to find a bolt that worked just fine.

    So then, even in AC, we're pouring sweat while loading the pressure cooker with jars of green beans........while blanching tomatoes and putting them into cold water in the sink to peel them and filling their jars...........At first it was awkward and we joked and laughed alot at ourselves. But it wasn't too long and we got into a groove and got a sort of assembly line deal going. We had water bath going for tomatoes while pressure cooking the green beans...........and still I'm waiting out the last batch at 1 am. omg

    And we are only half done. :faint:

    Nichole went home around 10:30 because while Aubrey was being an angel and Oliver had long since fallen asleep in the portacrib, they still had an hour drive. sister in law had taken the boys home to bed at 8pm. easy child and I still had green beans to do and the tomatoes to finish up.

    We still have a bushel of tomatoes to go, the bushel of peaches, and 1/4 bushel of green beans. omg easy child and I will be finishing those tomorrow afternoon. After being here so long today I told Nichole she could come down if she wanted but not to feel obliged to do so. She'll be picking up her share of the cans (which already is a LOT) on next saturday if she doesn't make it down tomorrow. Her husband sulked and complained and pouted. She kept telling him she'd warned him and he was determined he had to come. lol

    I will say this though, I have new respect for my grandmothers and those before them. We needed ALL my counter space AND my kitchen table, in addition we used several chairs. It was not hard, but it was a LOT of work, HOT work even in AC. I think of my grandmothers doing this in 90 degree heat with nothing as fancy as a pressure cooker, AC, or even indoor plumbing....holy heck how did they do it?? (I know because they had to but still!) Shoot most old houses didn't have counters pre 1920's for pete's sake.

    But there were tons of laughs and tons of visiting both children and adults. Kiddos got to believe it so utterly cool to pop beans and Aubrey even got to try her hand at peeling tomatoes. lol Grandkids were amazingly well behaved. Maggie........for all the "family who don't come home often" did pretty darn amazing too once the initial excitement wore off.......although all the commotion had her baffled. Bruce discovered it is unwise to touch a cooling jar while sniffing it and one popping nearly scared him to death. LOL

    All this when our power went off at 4am this morning. I had just fallen asleep finally at 2am. The sudden silence woke me up instantly, going back to sleep wasn't so silent or easy. No fan meant I heard every chirping insect within a 3 block radius and every car leaving for work or coming home from a night of drinking at that ungodly hour. I had just drifted off when the power came back on at a little past 7:30 am, which woke me right up again. No going back to sleep as I had the girls coming over to can.

    So, needless to say...........I am totally exhausted. Canning will resume tomorrow afternoon because I plan to sleep in late.
  2. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Lol, Lisa! You really are the little engine that could. I'm so envious that you had women to work with you, and that you are teaching the younger generation how to be self sufficient. My kids were never interested.

    Have you ever tasted chutney? I used to make a darned good one with peaches.

    Please be careful about canning while exhausted. When husband was doing a 36hr stretch during his internship, I was up at 2AM making green tomato relish in a boiling water bath. One of the jars started to tip over and I reached in with my hand, OUCH!
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Yup, that happened about midnight, when easy child decided it was time to quit. She loaded up the last batch of jars into the water bath, set the timer for me to take them out, and went home to bed.

    I'm glad and relieved that the biggest lesson I've always worked hard to teach them by example took hold, that family all pitches in and works together when there is work to be done, regardless of age. I literally did everything with my kids while they were growing up from cooking, baking, gardening, yard work, housework....crafts. They were rarely told they were too young to try to do something unless it was a safety issue, then if we could think of a way to make it safe, they were allowed to give it a shot.

    I'm proud of my girls, and heck even the grandkids for wanting to learn. Nichole is such a clone of me it often stuns me. I really didn't have much worry the domestic engineer in her would appear once she started maturing, and it did. My ex goth girl is as old fashioned as her mother. lmao easy child......well, it took a while.......and while she's coming along nicely, she's still fighting the burning the candle at both ends syndrome. But for a while, the girl had me worried as she was caught up in the current attitude of society of instant gratification, money was made to be spent, and hard times would never come knocking at her door. She had started to come around a tad before her accident last summer, but that is what really woke her up to reality of adulthood. I've seen a drastic change in attitude with easy child for the positive.

    I laugh at my Mom who when my family does such things is totally amazed at the dynamics of how it works. She was also one for the family does together, except she made one critical mistake, she excluded herself from the work. She didn't realize that when family learns to work together from the beginning this way, it makes bonds stronger and much much closer relationships. never quite worked out for her. She missed all the sweaty hard work, but she also missed all the joking around and laughter, all the in depth discussions that go on during that type of work. She is only now realizing that she missed her opportunity to bond really close with her kids that way. (especially since she was a working mom and not there much of the time)

    I was so proud of easy child following through and getting her garden in this year and keeping up with it, learning to bake bread from scratch (which is now all her family eats 99 percent of the time), learning to coupon and hunt for bargains instead of just impulsively spending the money she and sister in law work hard for. She finished her 30 day challenge of all home cooked meals and realizes now it's not as impossible to do as she once believed, and that she somehow missed learning many family recipes and needs to acquire more to fill in her menus, not to mention how much food it actually takes to feed a family of 5, 4 of them males. Her challenge (I gave her the challenge) is now helping her to stock her pantry/home more efficiently. :) I have to laugh because since the boys switched to coming to Nana's instead of Nana watching them at their house, Darrin nags easy child about all of them eating at the table for meal time, which is what I require. LOL He loves it, Brandon and Connor love it too and eat better that way.

    Nichole has always helped me garden and cook. I'm proud of her for being determined to learn crochet and to sew......areas she's not had too much patience in before. easy child also learned to crochet beyond the basics which nearly caused me to faint because she has always had zero interest in "crafts".

    They do make me proud, for certain. They totally "got it". Even to the point where they don't even think about little ones pitching in and helping too. Which of course passes it right along to the next generation because honestly this is how we're geared to learn.

    We all worked or fannies off yesterday and sweated buckets and went to bed exhausted. But for the atmosphere in the house, you'd have thought it just a social gathering. Love it. That is the way it's supposed to be. :) And I have no doubt the grands, when grown, will look back on these times in their childhood with much fondness.

  4. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Lisa, my hat's off to you and your girls! I know how much work canning is. When we were kids, my grandparents lived in a suburb of a big city but they had a huge lot and used to raise most of their own food, even chickens and rabbits! They had a big garden and lots of fruit trees and my grandmother canned every bit of it. They had six kids and put up enough food every year to last all winter with very few trips to the store! My grandmother canned every kind of vegetable and fruit and even whole cooked chickens, and made all kinds of wonderful homemade jams and jellies. But I can't even imagine how much hard work all this was and how incredibly hot it must have gotten in her small kitchen ... way before the days of air conditioning. I remember going down in their basement when I was a child and seeing the walls lined with wooden shelves that were filled with hundreds and hundreds of glass jars full of fruits and vegetables. I wish I was that ambitious myself but I'm just not. I did make homemade pickles a few times and some wonderful plum jelly when a neighbor had a bumper crop and shared with us. And when I had a freezer I froze lots of corn, strawberries and green beans that we bought from the Mennonites. But now ... living just a half block from the grocery store has made me incredibly lazy! You did GOOD, lady!
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012
  5. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Lisa, you're just amazing!
  6. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Lisa, you have much to make you proud!
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Lisa... how did our grandmothers do it? Well... both of mine DID have pressure canners. On wood stoves, sure. One grandma had the best set-up of the times, though... she had a full "summer kitchen": a separate pole-shed type building, real roof, wood floor, and the "old" wood stove (I think she had TWO, at that), plus a very large hand-made wooden table, all surrounded by screen walls. She never canned a single thing inside the house - that would have been torture. Grandpa build a number of shelving units that got carried out there from the celler mid-summer, so things could cool etc. out there... then, they eventually ended up back in the cellar, loaded with jars. Compared to her sisters, and to many neighbors, Grandma thought she was treated VERY well!
  8. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Canned a total of 39 tomatoes (half quarts and half pints), 44 green beans, and 18 peaches (to be split up of course) which were half pints total.

    Feeling quite accomplished tonight.
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    When we lived closer to fruit-growing territory... I used to can (hot-water-bath, not pressure - takes longer) fruit and jams... and running solo, could do 48 quarts of peaches in 12 hours. Mind... that's without kids running around, and back when I was substantially younger. That's prep, pre-heat, pack, seal, into canner, out to cool, washed and labeled. I doubt that the four of us could do that now... I get tired just thinking about it.
  10. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    As we grow used to the process, we're getting faster because our actions are more organized and efficient. Tonight went MUCH faster, but then we knew totally what we were doing too and had worked out the organization last night. We hot water bathed the peaches & tomatoes. Only thing pressure cooked was the green beans. And because one jar did not seal......2 lids got stuck together so it couldn't seal.......I ate that jar for supper tonight. YUM lol (I could sit and eat fresh green beans n bacon all day long) So we're getting better.

    Filled up my entire kitchen table which is in no way small. I'll try to post a picture tomorrow.

    IC, your grandmother's set up sounds ideal. Sadly I know that neither of my grandma's were that lucky by a long shot.
  11. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    Lisa, I spent many a summer day peeling skins off of boiled tomatoes to get canned. I swore I would never sit in a hot, sweaty, steamy basement boiling tomatoes when I can buy them on sale 3 cans for a dollar. I hated it then and I would still hate it today. I grow veggies but only those we can eat now.
    You have my sympathies.
    by the way, my m i l has never bought a can of green beans her entire life. She has always canned hers from her own garden. She is 84yrs old.
  12. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Fran, the tomatoes weren't too bad. But then this was the first year doing them, so maybe after several years I won't feel the same way. lol

    Peaches, on the other hand, were sort of a pain. I think some of ours were a tad too ripe, maybe more for jam than just canned peaches, and peeling them was much much slower for many and downright tedious for some. So I hope they taste wonderful to make up for it.

    You mother in law is one awesome lady. I hope I can still be doing it at her age. :)
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Those peaches... did they smell like peaches? or not quite?
    Did you try to peel as-is? or dunk in a boiling water bath first, then into ice-water?
    And... did you get free-stone? or cling-stone?

    Cling-stone is a royal pain... I don't buy them at any price. Free-stone is far superior - the peach twists off the pit realy easy, if they are ripe. And if the peaches are ripe enough, they also peel easy - quarter them (easier to work with than halves), then catch a bit of skin with a thin paring knife, and usually it just peels right off in 2 or 3 strips.

    If the peaches are not quite ripe, the boiling-water/ice-water combo loosens the skins, but then you'll have peach juice running down your arms and puddling on the floor!
  14. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    The peaches were a gift, well a large percentage of them were, easy child topped it off to a bushel and I don't know which type since I didn't buy them. But yes, they smelled like peaches.

    We did the dunk in boiling water, then ice water, then peel. I didn't seem to have an issue with peach juice, but we did have an issue with some mushy peaches. Bruising maybe? (although they didn't appear bruised)

    I'd like to get the hang of the peeling as peaches are a family favorite. We did great with the syrup ect and they canned nicely. It was the peeling part for many of them that was a PITA. lol
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Fran, I am right there wth you in your promise to NEVER can tomatoes. Several times over the years I would be at my aunt's when she had stuff to can. Two separate years I was not fast enough or whiny enough to get out of it and ended up trying to slide skin off of boiling hot balls of semisolid acid. I had VERY sensitive skin and ended up with acid burns from my fingers to elbows (from the dripping juice). top that off with first being yelled at for 'whining' and then a few hours later being yelled at for not telling anyoen that the tomato juice burned my skin to the elbows and I was DONE.

    The morning after that fiasco I sat down iwht my mom and aunt and informed them that if they EVER attempted to make me can tomatoes again then I would devote myself to finding every creatively obnoxious thing to do that was possible and I would make them completely miserable and afraid to even wonder what I would do next.

    My mom did some canning when we were kids. She was canning grape jelly one day and uncle came in and startled her just as she was moving the pot of hot jelly to the table to be put into jars. She dropped the ENTIRE pan. A giant pan that was quite full. That kitchen was COVERED with grape jelly.

    Couple of years later she was canning spaghetti sauce with a different aunt than the tomatoe aunt. I was never sure waht happened this time, but once again the pot of stuff to be canned got dropped and it coated the ENTIRE kitchen. We had to pull out appliances and baseboards, and we STILL found some spots of it years later when we redid some of the kitchen!

    Lisa, I am amazed and very impressed! Great Job!!!
  16. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    ...I don't blanch peaches... I use a potato peeler. :bigsmile:
  17. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    If the peaches are really ripe, you don't need the boiling water bath; in fact, it tends to make them mushy.

    Just slice in half, twist, then use thin edge of paring knife to grab the skin and... the skin comes clean. BUT... if the peaches are cling-stone, then when you twist... they don't split cleanly, and it's a much trickier job.
  18. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Ahh. Then that is what happened with the mushy ones.

    LOL Step, that is what I wanted to do but easy child was determined to follow "instructions"

    Oh, well. We'll know better for the next batch, that's what counts. :)
  19. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    You can use a vegetable peeler on just about any firm fruit. Now that said, some are better off blanched, such as tomatoes and plums. It really depends on how fibrous the fruit itself is. And seedy - I wouldn't try on a strawberry, for instance.
  20. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Did you know you can get figs and make strawberry jam out of them? Really good. You put kool aid in for the flavor. You can also make grape jelly out of grape juice. Just an fyi. You really should try the freezer jam. No cooking!