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Canning the front yard harvest

By Richie Ann Ashcraft

That front yard garden of ours is still exploding with tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, and squash.

We're doing our best to eat everything as it ripens, but I've spent most of my free time in the past month preserving everything that we can't eat.

Mostly, I like to freeze stuff. Maybe I mentioned this before, but I can't remember. Oh well. I freeze stuff.

I like to freeze stuff because it seems so much simpler. There's no need to slave over the hot stove thinking about science and botulism.

So far, our freezer is full of Palisade peaches, fresh diced tomatoes, shredded zucchini and apple (from our two backyard trees) for winter breads, apple pie filling and pesto cubes. 

But, the produce just keeps coming and there are some things that you can't freeze.

I interviewed Eugenia Bone a few years ago about small batch canning. Bone is a food author and blogger for The Denver Post. Through the course of our conversation, she told me that it was okay to can just a few jars of something I like. I always thought canning was about preparing for the war. I thought I had to can 100 jars of peaches and 200 jars of tomatoes because canning was about survival. Nope, Bone said, canning could just be about making a few delicacies.

I really liked that idea, but I'm lazy.

After a long procrastination, I finally canned just a few jars of something this fall.

First I made pickled peppers,


Then salsa,

I also made one jar of pickled okra for the hubby.

Eight jars. Woo Hoo!

I surprised myself really because my mom and grandma had taught me to can as a child. I hated it. It's right up there on the bottom of list of “Things I Like” with sewing. But, I remembered. I knew what removing air from the jars meant. I knew how to hot bath and leave air space. I know how to can! Thanks mom and grandma! I have real 'mom' skills!

It's by no means a pickle business — like the passion of Erin McIntyre, owner of YUM Pickles who has been kind enough to sponsor Haute Mamas with an ad, in case you didn't notice.

I read her Food page in yesterday's paper with extreme interest. I had no idea so many women were standing in their kitchens figuring out old-school canning skills.

And, I thought it had great hints and tips for the old newbie canners  like me. I really need them and could probably benefit from taking a refresher course on canning, hint, hint Erin.

I certainly wouldn't put myself in the “Yes, I can!” crowd yet, but I grew it and canned it. And it indeed feels good.






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My mom put up a bunch of jars of peaches and peach jelly this year. I even helped once. I think of canning as allowing us to have things, like fresh Palisade peaches, when they are out of season. My mom has the whole process down pat. The batch I helped on took us about an hour from start to finish.

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