Wednesday, May 25, 2011

GTTC - strawberries and canning competence

I was right about the bumper crop of strawberries! For this week's Garden to Table Challenge, I made a few things from the garden that I can enjoy now or months from now.

First, I made triple berry jam (on the left) and strawberry lemonade concentrate (on the right). Later in the week, I made another 14 pints of lemonade concentrate, this time also adding raspberries and blackberries to my own strawberries. Here are the recipe and directions I used (loosely based on the Ball canning book - I adjusted somewhat because the recipe was waaaaay too sweet):
  • To make about 6 pints of strawberry lemonade: measure 9 cups of berries (then puree), 7 cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used 10 pounds of lemons to end up with 7 cups of juice. You really need a citrus juicer for this job!), and 8 cups of sugar. Heat ingredients in large pot till sugar is completely dissolved and liquid is hot but not boiling. Fill hot pint-sized jars. Process for 15 minutes.
Below, the start of tonight's project - strawberry lemon marmalade. This marmalade is so flavorful. There's something so fragrant about the peel of citrus fruits - but I think it's definitely an acquired taste. I thought marmalade was soooo disgusting as a kid. Do you like marmalade? Did you as a kid?

This week's canning went so smoothly. It's funny to compare the mad canning skillz I have now compared to my first experience. Here's what has REALLY helped:
  • I have all the necessary supplies and have learned which ones I really need (large canner with a proper rack, tongs, a wet washcloth, a stockpile of jars, lids, and rings) and which ones I really don't (magnetic stick to pick lids out of hot water, jar lifter).
  • I have the concept down. I don't need to constantly read and re-read directions in the canning book as I go along.
  • I've got a system down. I can quickly and carefully remove a hot jar with simple tongs and a washcloth.
  • Per my former farmer friend, I keep my clean jars hot in the oven turned on low rather than in separate boiling pots of water. This trick has made all the difference.
  • I'm not freaking out about trying to keep a completely sterile environment like the book warns about. It will all be just fine.
  • I have full trust in the "pop!" and don't feel the need to hover to watch and listen for it.
And because canning is just really freaking fun and awesome (well, if you're the kind of nerd I am, you understand), I've decided the first GTTC prize will be the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I've also decided that I'm not going to wait till the end of the season to offer prizes. In fact, all season long, if I think of a fun prize, I will simply: 1) announce it on a particular Saturday, 2) draw a name from all the entries thus far, and 3) award the prize the following Saturday from all entries up to Friday night. All entries then go back in the pot. In other words, the more you play, the more of an opportunity you have to win.

Note to new GTTC participants - I'll be posting each week's GTTC on Saturday. Feel free to blog about what you're harvesting/cooking up, link to this blog, and then link below. Doing this gives you one entry to the occasional random prize drawings as described above. Saturday, I will draw from all the entries in the GTTC so far. Winner will get a new copy of the Ball book, which has a gazillion recipes and explains all the basics of canning step by step. The photo above is just so ridiculous I had to post it. I was moving photos from my camera and found my husband took these. On a glorious day this week, my six year old and I were outside in the front yard. I was reading the canning book (you can see it behind me), then we decided that we were going to pretend to take a nap. All I remember was that my little one said she was going inside to get juice. I woke up an hour later alone, dazed, and confused. The six year old got juice and decided to check out what was on TV. She never came back. And I'm sleeping in the front yard by myself cuddling stuffed animals...

And speaking of cuddling animals, my father's little guys were born last week. Can't wait to see how big they've gotten in one week. This post from a few years ago shows photos of a duckling being hatched (or whatever the verb for that process is). Hope you've had a good week!


  1. Wow, that's a lot of canning. We barely have enough strawberries to munch on, but this is only the second year and I lost half the plants in last summer's drought.

    I think I have that Ball book, but I must not have looked at it well enough. I didn't realize there were recipes for things like lemonade concentrate. Sounds like a great idea.

  2. Great job on the canning! I know what you mean about feeling comfortable with canning after you get some experience with it. I was the same way.

  3. That's really pretty!
    My tastes have changed too! I used to not like marmalade and shiitake mushrooms. Now I like both:)

  4. I can't believe you're already canning! You go girl! I'll have to try your lemonade concentrate.

  5. That lemonade would be so refreshing! Kudos to you, Wendy. I should have listened to my mom when she was trying to teach me home skills. Ha Ha. I don't can a thing nowadays.

  6. Your strawberry harvest looks delish, Wendy! If they were in my kitchen they'd be eaten before they could be made into jam. :) Kudos for your ingenuity. No wonder you needed that nap! :)

  7. We're set to have a good strawberry crop in a few weeks .. loads of berries and flowers on our two year old June berries. My family will like this recipe .. and I have the Ball canning book. We're up to our elbows in rhubarb this week .. come check out my post. Have a blessed weekend.

  8. I like your triple berries jam ;-) Great with scones. And I like marmalade for sliced bread but must have butter hehe...

  9. Your canning looks sooo neat. I'm thinking about getting into it this year :) My mom made apple butter when I was a kid, but never canned more than that. A co-worker cans potatoes, and I think that sounds SO cool. I love the idea of juice concentrate too! I'm going to have to get the Ball cookbook to see what other possibilities are out there :)

  10. Wow Wendy, your strawberries look so perfect!! A lot of ours had bug bites on them. Do you use any time of organic pesticides? That lemon strawberry marmalade sounds great. I must confess, as a kid I hated marmalade, and I think as an adult I may still do. I have to try making my own homemade version, hopefully that will change my mind!!

  11. Ohhh I never thought about canning Strawberry!!!!!!

  12. I love marmalade. This is great: our strawberries are still green, so I can put your recipe to use as soon as they are ready.


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