I thought my proclamation on a public platform would be enough to curb these tendencies. I thought, no I boldly wrote I was done canning until spring. But I’m weak. I have no willpower. Holy moly, I thought it was tough to quit smoking 25 years ago. But this. My shelves are heavily stocked with home canned food in case we get snowed in for 4 months, (could happen, we live in Michigan) suffer an Apocalypse, or Armageddon. Really, what am I gonna do with a hundred-fifty jars of jam? I eat it about once a week. John only eats strawberry and now refuses to let me give any of that kind away. Kids. But those dang raspberries a couple weeks ago at their unreal cheap price, then blackberries, buy 10 cartons, get one free. Like who has a strong enough constitution to pass up those kind of deals? Not me. (See weak and no willpower above) Plus seedless blackberry is my favorite, and I was down to 1 jar. Too close for comfort folks. Making me nervous.
|Where do I store all my canned goods?|
Then there was the cranberry issue. My all time favorite. Can’t be without some in my house, EVER. Should have had that canned a month ago, but this tight Dutch girl was unwilling to shell out a 7 dollar increase over last year’s price. So I waited impatiently. Down to one jar, and it’s something I eat almost every night with supper. I think I can safely justify this tiny fib on my “there will be no more canning days in this house for 6 months!” I just HAD to can some of each of the 3. Not humongous amounts. Certainly not like 5 years ago, but a lot for 2 people abiding here. I can go through 50 pounds of sugar during a crazy canning day. Yikes. Yeah, lots wrong with that little message. Still, I have cut the canning, and pie baking down significantly in recent years. And I give a lot away. I like giving it away. It’s satisfying and makes me feel good. Plus I’m running out of jars, rings, lids, room and patience. With me.
|Canning cranberry sauce. A favorite…|
Let’s talk about my freaky fascination with a certain sized canning jar. I spotted some at an estate sale several years ago. Never had seen that particular size before. Not a quart, and not a pint. It’s a 1-1/2 pint or 24 ounces. They take a wide mouth lid, but then the jar goes quite slender. Every time I come across any, I snatch them up. One lady I visited 15 years ago was an avid canner. She canned her own fruit cocktail. It was delicious and so stinking cute in the jars. When her canning days were over she called and asked me if I wanted or needed any jars? Back then I was doing well over a 1000 jars a year and never turned down freebies. She gave me about 5 dozen jars, and 30 of them were this unusual pint and a half size. Be still my heart! There is one little problem with this nifty size. I don’t use them when I can. I’m petrified whatever I can in them will be given away. Then maybe the jars won’t be returned to me. Now normally I don’t care about getting my jars back. Most the jars I give away are happily returned to me in hopes that they will get them back again, refilled. (Didn’t take me long to come to this conclusion) I have enough jars that if a hundred or more are not retuned to me I’m fine. But this one size jar has such a hold on me, that I, umm, hoard them. Protecting them like The Hobbit’s Gollum with “Precious.” It’s unhealthy. So instead of using these favorite jars, I keep (hide) them in one of my MANY plastic canning containers in the garage. Occasionally I get quirky about them, unable to resist the urge to go out there and make sure they’re ok. I take the lid off and admire how cute they are. It’s kinda sick.
|Pint of spiced apple rings, 1-1/2 precious pint of canned meat…|
Backed to my warped life, and my public statement that there would be no more canning until asparagus season in May, 2015. You probably didn’t notice the small, minute * asterisk. My bad. For several years Meijer’s (my favorite store in Michigan, well next to Macy’s, just keeping it real) has strawberries on super sale one week during February or March. Now there’s no one that loves Michigan strawberries more than me. But I cannot part with 4 bucks a quart during June to smash them to a pulp to make jam. The fruit alone then costs 50 bucks, plus pectin at 2 bucks a pop, 20 pounds of sugar, jars, rings and new lids. I just can’t justify making jam with Michigan strawberries. Besides John is the only one allowed to eat my homemade strawberry jam. Brat. I buy Michigan berries for fresh strawberry pie, some for topping on angel food cake (with real whipped cream, duh) and maybe a quart or 2 for ice cream topping. When Meijer runs this winterish sale, they have their berries for about a buck a quart. (A good deal) They’re from Florida or California and perfectly ok to use in my jam. They are not as sweet, and often hollow, with a white center, as opposed to the almost solid red berry from Michigan. But still good in jam. So if the same tradition holds true, I could possibly be making jam in February. That explains the asterisk.
|Such pretty (and good) strawberry jam…|
But something else would trip me up on my words typed on 11-7-14. Just a couple days after that simple post about my rearranging jars in my 3, yes that’s 3 closets for storing my home canned goods, 2 bags of apples show up on my front porch. Sigh. The dude who gives me his grape crop every year had apples given to him. “Great apples Denise. They were hand picked, not picked up off the ground and will keep well for weeks.” That was the voicemail I got after he plopped them on my porch. Argh. Really, now how in the world am I supposed to handle something like that?
I let them sit in the garage for a couple days before I got twitchy about them. I just can’t stand having stuff sit around. (Couldn’t tell that by looking at my counters most days, but I mean canning perishable stuff). Lugged in my last dozen pint jars, the apples, canner, all that kanooey stuff that goes along with it and started peeling. Apples for sauce aren’t very much work. You don’t have to make nice uniform slices like for a pie. It’s more chunk size which goes much faster. (Plus it’s the crusts that are time-consuming) Did one bag at a time. From the first bag I got one dozen pints exactly. Hmmm, that’s what I was hoping to have from both bags. Now out of pint jars, and no freezer space. Didn’t want to use quarts or half pints. Heart thumping I head out to the garage. To my prized but rarely used secret stash of jars I love NOT to use. Each wrapped in foam, numbered, (kidding, don’t want you to think I have a phobia or something). I carefully bring them into the kitchen. Wash them gently and lovingly, tears streaming, rinse, and I’m ready to start the second bag of apples. Shoot Henry, these tall jars don’t fit in my small water bath canner. Back to the garage, haul out the big dog, wash it, then dump the hot water from the small canner in it. Geez. That’s a lot of time I’ll never get back. Ended up using 8 of my more-precious-than-gold-jars which is another 12 pints of applesauce I can’t give away because of the dang jars.
|No one will get any of those tall jars in back…|
Well neither my heartfelt, but somewhat ludicrous Facebook proclamations, nor a family intervention has helped me with my over the top obsession with “constant canning.” Some family members have added their 2 cents worth of advice recently. Suggested I join Canner’s Anonymous. It’s a 7 Step program. Oooh, I love steps. Got that from my Dad. One of the reasons I love canning so much. It’s the steps, process and repetition that march right along with the canning phenomenon. Sounds like I could have fun with this group. I’d better start loading the Jeep with all my canning paraphernalia. Except for my special sized jars. They can’t leave the house…