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If you can follow a recipe, you can can. Why not start with my salsa recipe? Between the tomatoes and vinegar, it's so acidic, you couldn't possibly blow it!
Marc and I love that we can meet our basic food needs, totally by ourselves, from seed to plant to harvest to sauce. Sure, it takes time, but there aren't many things that I do with my time that make me feel as good as canning does.
Enough philosophy. Here's a quick course in canning. It's really easy. You'll need:
A boiling-water bath cooker, which is a big pot with a cover and a metal insert that keeps the jars secure.
Canning jars, lids, and screw tops.
Tongs that you can comfortably and safely use to lift the jars in and out of the big boiling pot.
A LOT of time. Sometimes, I'll make the sauce on one or more days and can on another.
Everything you work with should be squeaky clean just washed with hot, hot water (e.g., in the dishwasher), and kept hot, hot, hot.
Fill, carefully clean, seal, and process each jar following step-by-step instructions on how to can. Our favorite source is The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest, which also includes lots of good advice on freezing, drying, pickling, root cellaring, and so on, plus a bunch of recipes. To order, click here.
For a course in home canning, call the local office of the Cooperative Extension Service, one of our favorite government programs. They're located in nearly every county, and with the help of a state and national information network, each one offers programs in nutrition, horticulture, family finances, child development, and housing. (If there isn't a course in canning, suggest it!)
By the way, you'll know the next morning if your canning worked. Press down on the center of each jar. If it's tight, and doesn't have any give, it's sealed. Congrats! If there's a clicking sound when you press in the middle, it was probably too full. No problem. Just use it as you would any open jar of tomato sauce, and store it in the fridge.
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