It's summertime and canning in full swing! I am grateful that this past week has not been as hot as earlier this summer - it certainly makes canning and gardening a little more pleasant. My garden is coming along but it is in a multiple-year process of going from a weed-tree-plastic pot-garbage filled total disaster to a lovely-mulchy-productive patch of vegetables, herbs and flowers. In other words - I'm still working on it! This year we've been dumping loads and loads of mulch and spent hay and straw on it. For it's size it's still not nearly as productive as it could be but that's because there's only so many hours in a day. Oh but next year...
In the meantime I am preserving much of the bounty but I obviously don't grow pineapples in Ontario Canada. WE do however love pineapple. So why don't I buy it in a can at the grocery store and save myself all the trouble? I could wax poetic about canning jars again but I'll restrain myself and just say Bisphenol A. BPA is found in resins that coat the interior of food cans to prevent corrosion, has been shown to mimic the hormone estrogen and does not occur naturally in the environment. It's nasty stuff that has been linked to breast cancer, fertility issues and behavior problems in children (maybe adults too??) Almost all canned food has the lining and we are working hard to get rid of cans but we have a way to go. Although Canada has labeled BPA as a toxic substance it is still allowed in certain instances. I buy as much as possible in glass jars - like tomato sauce when I run out of homemade - but what to do about pineapples??
I decided to can it myself! I waited for a sale - No Frills this week was $1.77. The fruit was on the small side but I was still able to get 18 pints out of ten pineapples so when the cost is broken down it was either the same as on sale in a can from the grocery store or slightly cheaper to can them myself. Not eating BPA and seeing the golden yellow jars sealing on the counter was the bonus!
The process was simple. I prepared the pineapple by cutting the top and bottom off the fruit and sliced down the sides to remove the peel. Using a pairing knife I sliced off as many of the eyes as I could - there were still some little black flecks but it didn't seem to matter. I sliced off the good stuff and chopped it into chunks that were added to a large pot. I threw in the whole cores as well and added enough apple juice to just barely cover the bits and heated it through. I pulled the cores out before I filled the jars - they were just in there to draw out as much juice as possible. Everything was water bath canned following proper canning techniques for 15 minutes for pints. It would be 20 minutes for quarts but that's a lot of pineapple to use in one day.
My goal with canning anything is to put away enough for a whole year but I have discovered a problem with my math. If we would normally eat 1 can of grocery store pineapple a week on average it seems we eat twice as much as soon as I home can anything. I'm starting with 20 pineapples this year and we'll see how it goes. Homemade Hawaiian pizza is on the menu for this week!
It's green bean season as well. Momma Mia there's lots of beans this year. I have to admit I am not a big fan of canned beans but I did do some - the rest are frozen and some will be used to make canned soup later in the summer when more vegetables are ready. I bribed the guys with ice cream to get them to help prepare the beans and they happily obliged. Well actually I told them they couldn't have dessert until the beans were done - ha!
I've been using up the leftover layer hen chicken in the freezer by making layered soup. I found the recipe on Canning Granny's site. Here's a link: Layered Soup I added salt, pepper and garlic to her recipe. It's pretty flexible on how much and which vegetables to use - I ran out of beans at one point as you can see in the picture and used peas instead - it's our favorite soup.
I tried something new this year - red currant syrup. We have lots of red currants and they are a fruit I don't always know what to do with. There's only so much jam a family can eat. It's not exactly smoothie material because it's tart and the seeds and the skins just spoil it for me so I made syrup instead. I washed the berries and added 1 cup of sugar for every two cups of berries. I brought it to a simmer for a few minutes and then put it through a manual food mill to push out the juice and separate it from the seeds and the peels. It was canned in 1/4 pints and will be used for some special desserts I am planning for the future.
What are you canning right now??