Yes, We Can!

I had a long, lazy weekend ahead of myself this week, and I knew if left to my own devices I would simply read my new bookstore finds (Hannah Arendt and the new Antonio Negri!) rather than do anything productive. (Although, according to Negri, expending my mental energy is of course, productive...) But anyways, I've come across 3 mentions of canning lately, one in the Washington Post, one in Vegetarian Times, and one in the new Gourmet. A good rule of thumb for me is that if you tell me to do something 3 times, I will most likely do it. So I bought a boat-load of figs at the farmers market and got to it!

In case anyone is in the mood for some delectable home-made preserves, here are the basic steps for doing so. There are plenty of other step-by-step guides out there, but lest you get scared off, let me cut through the precautions and give you the basic outline:

1. The first step (aside from gathering your ingredients and equipment) is to boil and sterilize the jars and lids. You need to keep them hot while you prepare the recipe.
2. Prepare the recipe. This generally involves a good bit of chopping or peeling, but its not much more work the making a stew.
3. Once the jam/preserves whatever is ready, you carefully pour it into the hot jars. I used a ladle for this, but others suggest a funnel. Using gloves or a magnet, you carefully put the lid tops and screw tops on.
4. The final step is to boil the closed jars once more, usually for about 10-15 minutes. After letting it cool you can check to make sure the lids are on properly (they should be concave to the inside of the jar.) And you're good to go!

I would really encourage this project if you're one of those DIY people. I'm pretty sure I didn't save a lot of money, but when it comes to Christmas and Hannukah gifts, you can't beat homemade preserves. Think about it: if you handed someone a $3 jar of strawberry smuckers for a gift, they'd be like "wtf?" But a homemade jar of delicious preserves is a totally different story. You're still not spending much money, but people love it. My plan is to make several types of preserves and put them in little baskets- fig, strawberry, and apple butter I think. Plus its nice to know exactly what went into something you eat.

And here are some more delicious looking recipes:
*Caramel Pear Butter
*Mango Chutney
*Vidalia Onion Relish
*Blueberry Jam

In other news, I'm now carless! I moved to an area of town with ample public transportation, my bike is ready and raring to go, and I'm taking the plunge! I hope that this will at the least me save money, but more importantly I'm hoping that by "unplugging" from my vehicle I remove one of the screens that separate me from the world. Wish me luck lugging my law books around!


VeggieGirl said...

Oh my, deliciousness!!

Good luck being "car-less"!!

Anonymous said...

Hey, reading Hannah Arendt is pretty productive! Which book of hers are you reading?

Your figs look so small and cute! I would love to make my own perserves one day, but I am a fraid I am way too lazy!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

I would say that reading is a productive way to spend a weekend, at least at my place.

Congrats on canning, the preserves look fantastic. I would have never thought to make fig preserves, though I've never seen any figs at the market in Missouri.

That is awesome you are going car-free. Living in a much more car-free friendly town, this shouldn't be too difficult for you. I bet you'll love it. Wahoo for the Metro!

T said...

S- I'm reading "On Revolution" which is cool, but its always funny to read stuff that considers the Cold War to be the dominant permanent global paradigm... Good stuff.

Thanks for the encouragement on carlessness folks!