Thursday, August 4, 2011

Canning and Beautiful Things

I'm very practical and not overly interested in "decoration". However, when I have to interact with something steadily, I do enjoy it being a pleasure to look at and deal with. I prefer wooden knitting needles, for example, because they are pretty and functional; I do not mind that they are a bit slower to knit with. On the other hand, I do not have decorative knitting needles because in my experience, the decorations interfere with the function.

I recently went searching for pretty canning lids. There is a stretch of time in the summer when my canning supplies take a prominent position in my days. Then, all winter, I get to bask in the pleasing beauty of our garden in glittering canning jars. So, I thought to increase the pleasure of this endeavor by having nice canning lids.

I did not find canning lids like I had in mind, but I did discover that the regular Ball or Kerr canning lids have a plastic coating that contains BPA. I guess I should have realized this before, but I did not. In the discussion of this, I discovered Weck jars. They are really beautiful, but prohibitively expensive, especially if you already have an adequate stash of canning jars. Jason and I decided that we would just buy a few a year, as we always buy a few jars to replace ones that have gotten damaged or been given as gifts.

And what better thing to try out these jars on than peaches- one of the prettiest things we can.
Here we have half and quarter liter Weck jars beside half-pint and pint Ball jars. That gives you an idea of size. And that's peach butter, blueberry jam (syrup), strawberry jam, and ginger peach jam. Yum!

And finally, a word about this book:

It's a good book with good recipes. It isn't as paranoid as many canning books; the author's goal is not to scare you away from canning. And maybe you don't agree with me, but I think many, many books and extension agency pamphlets want to convince you that you WILL die from botulism if you foolishly decide to put your own food by.

The problem with this book is that a few recipes just fail. And nothing is as frustrating as eight quarts of blueberry jam that just won't gel. Yep, that's right, the jam I cooked for HOURS did not set. On further investigation, I think her recipe is FAR short (at least half the amount) of the amount of sugar required to do no-added-pectin jam. If you have never had jam not set, just trust me when I say it will make me sad all winter even as we enjoy the blueberry syrup that was supposed to be jam.

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