November 2, 2014

Our first.. and second.. canning experience

Have you all ever canned before?
It is not an easy feat.
And is definitely time consuming.
And when your first time doesn't turn out the way you wished, you have to do it all over again.

Last month, I went berry picking with a co worker. She was nice enough to allow us to go on her property and pick the most beautiful cranberries I had ever seen. I mean they were so big and red and oh, did I mention big?
And the best part, she gave us her Alaskan berry cookbook from the 80s to make this high bush cranberry sauce that she said was just to die for.

I had never canned before, but I thought if she was willing to help me pick berries, let us use her canning utensils, and offer us her cookbook to follow the recipe, I should at least try.

^^ The recipe we followed.^^

^^ All of our necessary ingredients! ^^

^^Have you ever seen prettier cranberries? ^^

^^ Sanitizing our cans and lids and rims ^^

 ^^ Josh using the sieve. This is used to get the juice out of the berries and to leave the stems, skins, etc. out of the juice. ^^

^^ To properly can, you need to keep the jars and lids hot even before you put the sauce in. Since we didn't have a dishwasher, this task was a little difficult. But luckily, we were able to borrow this pot from friends so we kept our jars/lids in the warm water bath as we made the sauce. ^^

 ^^The sauce. This took the most time since you have to be constantly stirring it and watching it to make sure it's the correct consistency. ^^

^^Once the sauce was ready, we took the jars out of the hot water bath, quickly poured the sauce into the jars as fast as we could, tightened them without burning ourselves, and transferred them back into the hot water bath for 10 minutes. ^^

^^ And then after 10 minutes, we took them out of the hot water bath, and hoped we heard little "dings" of success that they were actually sealing. That "ding" was the best sound! ^^

So like I said, that was our first canning experience. We thought we did everything perfectly, because we had succeeded in hearing the little "ding".
We were fooled.
The next day we decided to open one to see if we got the right consistency.
We didn't.
We were supposed to make a high bush cranberry sauce. We made a high bush cranberry jam

And so that meant we had to do this whole process again. But with our second canning experience, we only made half a batch.
The first batch consisted of 12 cups of berries. Since it was late in the season, I only picked 6 cups. And luckily, my friend mentioned how I could put the first batch of jam back into the sauce so those first 4 hours of canning wasn't a complete waste.

So I did the whole process again, by myself I might add.
As soon as the jam started to bubble, I poured the 12 jars of cranberry jam into the pot of what would hopefully turn out to be cranberry sauce and prayed I would cook it just a little longer to thicken it, but not wait too long again where it would be too thick.

Let me tell ya, pouring the hot cranberry sauce into now 18 jars by yourself, and trying not to get it everywhere, was a little stressful.

But lo and behold, I succeeded. 
We got 18 beautiful jars of high bush cranberry sauce and you know what? It tastes great!
I put some pork chops into the crock pot one Sunday, and for dinner Monday night, I shredded the pork, and heated the cranberry sauce with it - and it tasted fantastic!

When you do it right, canning can be such a cool thing!

What do you can?

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