This year I’ve had success with canning. I managed to can 10lbs of tomatoes, freeze another 20 lbs of tomatoes (whole), pickle vegetables, and make four different types of goodies from 16 lbs of quince. It feels great to be so productive and fill the pantry and freezer with healthy foods.
If you’re wondering why I needed so many tomatoes, well, we love pasta and I always make pasta sauce from scratch. Only this winter I will not be using canned tomatoes from the store, but my own tomatoes with no additives or preservatives. Just tomatoes. 🙂
You could say that canning is in my blood 😀 My parents and grandparents used to do this every year and the flavours and smells came back to me when I starting creating my own canned batches. It’s incredibly rewarding. Mind you, when I was a teenager I didn’t find it rewarding at all. It was boring and a waste of time. All I wanted to do was be with my friends and pretty much do anything else but canning. I had the same feelings about knitting too. Surprisingly (or maybe not?) I am finding great pleasure in both now that’s I’m a grown-up. Now that I have my own family and kids, I want to create and cook and preserve. 😀 Funny, eh? Even my own mother is shocked haha
Anyway…. here’s what I made in the past few weeks.
The simple way to describe it is – I washed the tomatoes and blended them. Then I filled Mason jars with the now liquid tomatoes. I put the jars in a huge pot and filled with water until it covered the jars about 1 inch. Then I brought the water to a boil and simmered for about 5-6 min. Then I took the jars out and placed them on a kitchen towel upside down. (WARNING: Be careful, the water is boiling hot!!) Then I let them cool before I put them on the shelves in my pantry. That’s it. No spices. No salt. No artificial preservatives. Nothing. Just tomatoes.
This method was even simpler. I washed the tomatoes. Put 3 tomatoes (they were quite big) in freezer zip lock bags. And placed in the freezer. That’s it. 🙂 The great thing about this method is that if you need a whole tomato, you have it. And if you need sauce or tomato juice, all you have to do is blend the whole tomatoes. Also, if you leave the tomatoes to thaw, the skin comes off all at once very easily. So freezing tomatoes definitely has its advantages.
This is a recipe from my mom who got it from her cousin. 😀 haha It’s absolutely delicious! And super easy to make. Here’s what you need:
(for a batch to fill approximately five 750ml jars; you can adjust the quantities depending on what you prefer – if you like to have more carrots than peppers or more cauliflower than cabbage – you can do whatever you like)
- 5 red bell peppers
- 5 yellow bell peppers
- 5 orange bell peppers
- 1 small head of cabbage
- 1 small head of cauliflower
- 8-9 medium size carrots
- celery leaves (for the top layer of the jars)
- 7-8 black peppercorns
- 1-2 tbsp salt
- 150g (appr. 5.3oz) vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
- 200g (appr. 7oz) vinegar (I used plain white vinegar)
Cut all vegetables, except for the cabbage and celery leaves, in chunks – not too small but not too big. Place them in a big bowl and add the oil, vinegar, salt, and peppercorns. Mix everything together so the veggies get coated with the marinade very well. Cover the bowl with a lid or saran wrap and leave overnight. The next day, wash your jars with water and soap and leave them aside. Cut the cabbage in big chunks and set aside. Wash the celery leaves and also set aside. Start filling the jars with veggies and cabbage in layers. Don’t worry if some of the marinade goes in the jars too. That’s good. 🙂 Push the vegetables down a bit so they stack nicely. With time they will settle down quite a bit so you want to fit as many in the jar as you can. Make sure you don’t crush them, though. Just push to fill any big gaps in the jar. So place one layer of vegetables and then one layer of cabbage, then another layer of vegetables. Distribute any remaining marinade equally to all jars. Top them up with celery leaves. Then close the lids. Place jars in a big pot and cover with water. Water should be about 2 inches above the jars. Bring to a boil. As soon as the water starts to boil, turn the stove off and take the jars out. WARNING: Be careful, the water is boiling hot!! Turn them upside down and let them cool down like this. The idea here is that you don’t want to keep the jars in the boiling water for too long because the veggies will start cooking inside. You want the veggies to be crunchy and (sort of) raw. They will pickle in the marinade so they don’t need to be cooked. The goal is to just seal the jars. Once sealed, they can stay in your pantry for over a year.
Quince and Apple Sauce
This is such a fantastic sauce! You can use it for everything – from baking to smoothies, to just eating it straight from the jar. It’s amazingly delicious. And it smells incredible. While I was making my quince goodies, the house was filled with fragrance. I had the windows open and I bet my neighbours knew something was cooking in our house 😀 Here’s what you need for the sauce:
- About 12 medium sized quinces
- About 12 medium sized apples (or whatever you have left in the pantry; I had a bag of apples that was starting to get too soft to eat raw so to me that’s a sign it’s apple sauce time 😀 )
- Juice of 1 lemon
Core and peel the apples. Core the quinces but do not peel. (Do not throw away the core and seeds – we’ll use them later for the quince spread; just put them in a separate pot and set aside) The skin of the quince is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. I usually peel the apples because of the wax residue, which preserves them on store shelves. If you use apples from your own tree or you wash them very well, you can leave the skin and use it too. Save the core of both the apples and the quinces together with the seeds. You’ll use them later for another super delicious goodie 🙂
Now back to the sauce… place the cut apples and quinces in a slow cooker. Add 1 cup of water and set on high. Cook for about 4 hours or until the fruit is soft. Turn the slow cooker off and blend everything with an immersion blender. When you get a smooth consistent sauce, start filling your jars. I used 500g jars but you can use smaller or bigger depending on how fast you are going to use it all up. Once open, the sauce is good in the fridge for about 2 weeks. Once your jars are ready, place them in a big pot. Cover with water – make sure the water is about 2 inches above the jars. And bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 min. Turn off the stove and take the jars out. WARNING: Be careful, the water is boiling hot!! Turn the jars upside down and let cool. When they are completely cold, place in your pantry. They will be good for over a year.
OPTIONAL: If you prefer, you can add cinnamon and a sweetener of your choice. I prefer my sauce natural with no additives. But again, it’s all personal taste that matters. 🙂
For the jam, I used this recipe as a guide. I had a bigger quantity than in the recipe so I adjusted it a little. Also, I didn’t put any sugar or lemon zest in it. I used honey to sweeten my jam.
I used this recipe for the syrup. Again, I skipped the sugar part. Actually, I didn’t put any sweetener in the syrup because this gives me more options to use it later. I can add it to smoothies, or lemonade, or tea. So the more plain it is, the better. 🙂
Remember the core and seeds we had leftover from the quinces and apples? If you have any whole quinces left, cut them up in pieces and add them to the core and seeds. Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Boil until they are soft and easy to break. Press them through a metal strainer in order to separate the seeds and skin (!Be careful, it will be hot!) and the paste that comes out is incredibly nutritious. It contains all the natural pectin and gelatin (which by the way is vegan gelatin, not the animal gelatin you usually get in the stores) plus vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You can add this paste or spread into your smoothies, or spread it on toast. YUM!!!! It’s incredible. I didn’t bother canning it because it was gone in 3 days. Just kept it in the fridge and used it all up in the morning for breakfast. Here’s more info about the health benefits of quince.
Tasting has already been done on all of the above yummy goodies and they all reaceived the highest marks on taste 😀 😛 YUM!
PS. Isn’t the view from my patio breathtaking?! I can’t stop looking and taking pictures. Which by the way don’t do it justice. 🙂