I’m trying to learn to can with confidence. To me, canning is a foreign skill perfected by 50’s housewives, pioneer women, and their descendants. I’ve always thought of it as a means to save money or combat scarcity- not as a way to preserve seasonal bounty or enjoy the luxuries of ripe summer produce during the depths of winter.
Maybe the tornado changed my mind. All week, i’ve been fantasizing about filling my cabinets with jams, jellies, pickles, relishes, and other condiments. I want something to spice up boring meals on the nights i’m too tired to cook. I want something to thrown on pancakes when there’s no syrup left in the fridge. So, I made learning to can a summer goal. I ordered a bunch of canning books from interlibrary loan and made a list of all the things i’d like to try.
My first few attempts were slightly nerve-wracking. I wasn’t ready to invest in canning equipment, so I used a soup pot, some metal tongs, an impromptu canning rack made of jar rings, and a ladle. In my first three tries (two jams, one relish), I dropped a jar, I burned myself with boiling water, and I spilled 220 degree jam all over the outside of the container I was trying to put it in. Tiring of the potential for mess and injury, I bought an inexpensive canning set. I hear you can find those for much cheaper, so keep your eye out.
This was the last recipe I made before acquiring canning equipment. It’s a tasty radish relish that’s great on steamed vegetables or fish. The recipe comes from Sherri Brooks Vinton’s Put ’em Up!, which is a great book if you’re intimidated by canning and want to start with small batches. Canning & Preserving with Ashley English is another good title. It doesn’t have as many recipes, but it does a good job explaining techniques.
Over the next few weeks i’ll try to keep you updated on my progress. I have several books and types of jars coming in, and i’m looking forward to experimenting.
adapted from Sherri Vinton’s “Put ’em Up!”
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon whole coriander
1 tablespoon cumin seed
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
2 pounds radishes, shredded*
1 cup diced onion*
1 (2-inch) knob ginger, peeled and grated*
2 garlic cloves, minced
(* I grated these in a food processor. Saves a lot of energy)
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients and return to a boil, stirring to ensure that all ingredients are heated through. Remove from the heat.
Use the boiling-water method. Ladle into half-pint canning jars, covering the solids by 1/4 with liquid. Leave 1/4 inch of headspace. Release trapped air. Wipe the rim clean; center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands. Process for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.