Canning: Making the Most of Summer's Bounty
This weekend, while my family gathered in her backyard, my mother gifted me with a giant parcel of rhubarb from her garden. Of course, I had plans for some fresh rhubarb crisp, and I even had a rhubarb syrup concept that I learned from Megan at The Creamery, which tastes great with champagne. My family, a group of knowledgable chatterboxes, eventually began educating me about canning rhubarb, since I was certain the crisp and the syrup wouldn't exhaust my supply.
I should note that I grew up canning. As long as there have been vegetables in my mom's garden and fruit trees in our neighborhood, my mom's non-air conditioned kitchen has been full of steaming pots of produce being canned. All seven of us kids picked cherries, cut beans, peeled pears, and cored apples. My brother cans his secret-recipe tomato juice every year. My sister and her hubby planted 85 tomato plants this year for their canned salsa.
We talked for awhile about canning rhubarb—specifically about how awesome my mom's rhubarb-currant jam tastes. After exhausting our knowledge about rhubarb, we began to discus those items which can be canned using a hot water bath versus those which must be canned using a pressure cooker. After 50 years of canning, my mom has this information memorized. I said, "I need a cheat sheet!"
Lo and behold, the University of Minnesota Extension offers such a resource. It is indeed a simple sheet which explains how to can specific food items, specifically identifying those that require hot water baths and those that require pressure cooking.
If you're just starting out with canning, you'll likely need more information than this cheat sheet provides. Fortunately, the University of Minnesota Extension has plenty of information for beginners too.
I always recommend that beginners start simple with something like tomatoes. They're pretty easy to can, and the wintertime chili and spaghetti sauce that results from your efforts will be a delightful reward.
Curious about the rhubarb syrup? I made mine without a recipe, and two days later made another batch after having exhausted the first. This recipe is similar to what I did (though I used less sugar).