Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Beginning of My Canning Obsession

What made me decide to start canning?  I'm not exactly sure.  I had been throwing the idea around in my head for a while.  When you have a garden, you tend to get an abundance of produce all at once.  While it's nice to have 50 pounds of tomatoes, what the heck do you do with them all?  Especially when your neighbors, friends, and coworkers also have too many?  I considered donating them to a food shelter, but I never looked into it.  I casually mentioned the idea to my husband, and he was all for it (salsa...all year round?!). 

I didn't know anything about canning.  I mean anything!  I knew you took food, and put it in a jar.  That's all.  I had heard about a website called House Party.  It's a website where you can fill out an application to host parties (you pick the ones that interest you).  If you are chosen to be a host (basically meet the qualifications they are looking for) then you're one lucky person!  You set up your party information on House Party's website (including sending invites via email), and House Party sends you a box of goodies in the mail for your big day! 

As I was browsing around the House Party website, I saw they were accepting applications for a Ball Taste of Summer House Party.  Perfect!  The kit would include a Ball Jar 1440010740 Collection Elite Waterbath Canner, Stainless Steel with canning rack, 2 cases of jars, canning tools, Ball Canning Discovery Kit, Small-Batch Rack and 3 Jars, Plus Easy Trial Recipe Book, 2 Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, pectin, and coupons and reusable tote bags for my guests.  This sounded like a great opportunity to learn what canning is all about.  I submitted my application and crossed my fingers.

The goodies we received.  Photo courtesy of Karen T. from the House Party website.

A few weeks later, I received the email I had been waiting for!  I was going to be a host!  I can't tell you how excited I was.  I immediately filled out my party info on the House Party website, and sent the e-vites.  When the big box finally arrived at the door (seriously Fed Ex guy?!  8:30 p.m. on a Friday?!)...I couldn't believe all of the goodies I received.  You may be thinking...what's the catch?  Are you selling something?  Nope!  It's just a different approach to marketing.  It's a great way for a company to get a new product out on the market and get some word of mouth advertisement.  I wasn't selling anything.

I read over the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.  It's almost like canning for dummies.  It's a great place to start if you have no idea what you are doing.  If you are interested in canning your own food, I'd highly suggest starting there.  You can find it in many local grocery stores (I've seen it at Pick n Save for about $6). 

Finally it was party time.  The turnout was small, but that's what I was expecting.  I really didn't think too many people would be interested in canning.  We had a fun time chopping up ingredients to make Zesty Salsa.  Now, you have to keep in mind that I had this party in June.  The ingredients for salsa aren't locally available in June...so I had to resort to veggies from the grocery store and fruit stand.  While it turned out well, I"m sure that the salsa I make with tomatoes and peppers from my own garden and other local produce will taste much better.  We also made some no sugar added strawberry jam (once again, grocery store ingredients...).  It turned out fine, but the no sugar added strawberry jam I made after I went strawberry picking was MUCH better.

I learned a lot that first day canning.  I learned that it is much more fun to cut up ingredients for hours with friends.  I learned that just about anyone can 'put up' food to use later.  I learned that a giant pot of water takes a VERY LONG time to boil.  I learned to keep the fan on while I'm canning...it keeps the condensation off the ceiling.

I learned even more in my canning adventures in the following weeks.  It quickly became an obsession.  I began requesting books from the library.  I'd photocopy all of the recipes I wanted to try.  I now have a large binder full of recipes!

Where is this blog going???  I'm not so sure yet.  I'm hoping to recap a couple of my canning experiences up until this point...then hopefully keeping up with posts as I can (ha!).  Future posts will most like have more pictures (who doesn't love pictures, right!?).

1 comment:

  1. I've never heard of the 'Houseparty Website'... what an awesome discovery and WOW they came through and helped you learn to can!! How cool is that!! :) Congratulations on the beginning of a wonderful journey!!


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