Sunday, May 17, 2009

Canning Mishaps

A month or so ago I purchased a lovely canning kit that comes complete with everything one needs to can ones own produce. Great I thought, this should be foolproof!

And so I got started, chop, chop, chopping tomatoes, cilantro, onions, and jalapeno peppers for my first ever canned salsa.

The first mistake I made was chopping well over a pound of jalapeno's with bare hands. Apparently one should wear gloves for the obvious reasons I discovered as I was nearing the end of the chopping process, and my hands started to feel like they were on fire. It seems this English person is clueless about the handling of fiery peppers from the southwest. I continued however to make the salsa, with my burning hands, and watery eyes.

I did everything exactly as the recipe required, with visions of botulism poisoning playing in my head, and I imagined that once I was finished, the ENORMOUS canner full of water would have reached boiling point. No, of course not, not even close. It took A LOT of water to fill that thing, and so obviously it took A LOT of time to heat it.

And so after about an hour or so of waiting around, the water was finally bubbling away and ready for my pint jars of salsa, and I was pretty excited to get those jars in there.

I soon discovered however that something wasn't quite right when my jars didn't seem to fit in the rack, and kept floating on their sides. I persevered for a minute or two before getting a little frustrated, and deciding to look more closely at the booklet that came with the canning pot. Apparently my HUGE canning pot is meant for quart jars, not the pint jars that were included with the kit.

As I stood there with my hands of fire, looking at the jars of salsa I had ever so carefully made from scratch, I pretty much decided there and then that canning wasn't for me.

I have since had time to reflect on my rather hasty decision after freezing most of the salsa, and eating the rest, (its pretty good), and I have decided that I might give it another go. This time though I plan to have the right sized canning pot which would be one that holds around 11 gallons of water, not 30.

In the meantime, I have a new appreciation for my chest freezer, and all that it can do for a rookie canner in a tight spot.


fullfreezer said...

Oh dear! I have a box of non-latex gloves (a freebie from a drug rep at work) that I use for chopping hot peppers. I do hope you don't wear contact lenses. Let me tell you, it's an interesting experience taking out your contacts after handling jalapenos.
I'm glad you aren't going to give up on canning. It is really quite easy once you get the hang of it.

Mo said...

Thanks Judy, and not I don't wear contacts thankfully. I feel that I will never get the hang of it right now but I will keep presevering anyway.

bodaat said...

good for you for trying! it sounds like it was an adventure and an experience that you can share with others. :)

ps - that salsa looks yummy!

leaner said...

LOL at the peppers! I KNOW that they burn but rarely wear gloves.

I haven't tried canning that way, I just use a large stockpot of enough water to cover my jars by 2 inches.

Don't give up yet! Its a learning curve for sure!

Liisa said...

Your post gave me a chuckle, just because it reminds me of something that I would do. I had visions of chopping habanero peppers... when I was finished I went to scratch my nose (completely forgetting the pepper juice all over my hands). It felt like there was a fire in my nose for the rest of the evening. :) Your salsa looks delicious - glad you were able to enjoy it. I suppose we don't get good at something until we make a few mistakes along the way. I just know you'll be an expert in no time at all!

Mid-life Midwife, CPM said...

Good for you for trying!!
I highly recommend the Ball Complete Book of Home Canning. Loads of great recipes and excellent reference pages. Borrow it from the library first and see what you think. That book helped us get a hang of what should be water processed and what should be pressure canned.
Better luck next time! Hope your hands feel a bit better!

Jenn said...

Canning can be very satisfying.

Give it at least another go.

And pickled beets are delicious!