Fall Back, Spring Forward

Early fall is bombarded with canning projects and a last minute flurry of activity to get prepared for the winter. If you’re like me, you’ve still got a long to-do list and it’s satisfying to cross another one off your list (until, you see one more recipe you must try before the season ends!).

Today’s post was completely inspired by Well Preserved’s celebration of its 1000 post. That is a level of committment I can’t begin to imagine. Dana and Joel have occupations and I’m sure a life that keeps them hopping. For many, blogging is an enjoyable past time and a way to connect with old and new friends. Their post today celebrated their past and laid a path to the future: projects and new web designs they have in store. It got me thinking of my own journey and were it’s going.

For those that don’t know, Mr. Uncanny and I moved to Sackville, New Brunswick for his first job out of school back in 2007. I was (and still am) a student, but deliberately completed my Masters level coursework and knew I could write my paper and complete the two internships needed to complete the degree via distance edcuation. That left us free to look across the country at jobs and we were delighted to be called to the Maritimes. We packed our Civic to the brim, leaving just enough room for our cat and headed out on the 15 hour journey across Ontario to our new home. This February marks five years of living on the East Coast, our cat is gone and in her place are three new kittens, we have a 2 year old daughter we nick-name Honey Bear and we’re expected our next child in the coming weeks. We left downtown Toronto for a small subdivision with almost 1/3rd of an acre, which has given us opportunity to try our hand at a very modest attempt at homesteading.

Within my first year being here, something about this slower pace to life got me thinking about preserves. Speaking with several senior members of my community, I realized there was a wealth of opportunity to learn the skills needed to can and after my first hands-on tutorial of Rhubarb Chutney, I was hooked and I haven’t looked back. This summer and last, I was delighted to sell my preserves at our Sackville Market and rejoiced in getting to meet so many members of the community, chat with vendors and share with others a passion for preserving the past with an eye to the future and sustaining ourselves with the goodness New Brunswick offers.

The past two years, I’ve made 100s of different types of preserves: chutneys, conserves, jams, jellies, preserves, mustards, pie fillings, mincemeats, butters and more. I’ve also learned how to pressure can and put up our garden harvest to enjoy in the winter. While preserving will always have a place in my heart, I’m excited to look ahead to the new skills I want to learn:

  • charcuterie, particularly sausage making
  • cheese making
  • drying
  • to become more comfortable pressure canning
  • to experiment more in preserve making – I want to push boundaries with flavour combinations (like my yet-to-be-determined-how-I-feel-about-it Caramel Rhubarb with Blood Orange)
  • continue to experiment with using sweet and savoury preserves in everyday cooking and baking
  • don’t let preserves dwindle in cold, dank spaces. If someone groans when you ask them to fetch you a jam, then they’re in the wrong spot!

To the last goal, I’ve already made the following changes: Moving my preserves from my groddy, dank cold storage to a cabinet in the basement so I have better access to my stock and don’t scare my friends when I invite them to help themselves. It’s not a perfect solution; as you can see, it’s clearly a laundry cabinet, but I can quickly survey my inventory and delight in the variety.

New Home of Our Preserves

Better Visibility

Our Fancy Labels

Scary Cold Storage

I’m also getting to work on conquering my pressure canning fears of deviating from my Presto manual’s recipes and today, I pressure canned this gorgeous soup. I was intending to pressure can it all along, but a quick Google search and I was confused – was the texture too dense to can properly? Canning guru’s Putting up with the Turnbulls pressure canned a soup very much like mine and after reading some advice on our Facebook page, I thinned it out and canned it. I feel safe that I took all the necessary precautions and processed it for a very long 85 minutes. We sampled some for lunch and it was incredible. Recipe found here, at our sister blog 100 Mile Locavores, a blog we started when our family did the 100 Mile Challenge last winter.

Autumn Harvest Soup

As we wrap-up the summer and reflect on our endeavours, what goals do you have in mind?

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5 thoughts on “Fall Back, Spring Forward

  1. I think your new storage cabinet is brilliant. It’s dual-purpose nature is the icing on the cake. I’m going to buy some new shelves for the basement to store all my canned products since the sort of jumbled storage in peach boxes isn’t the best plan.

    I look forward to further posts on pressure canning, as I purchased a pressure canner last year and have yet to use it. Figuring out how long to process things is a bit more confusing than the straight forward water bath method. For example, I have a great green chili recipe that uses either chicken or pork – how long and at what pressure to process? Obviously I brown the meat first, but how long to cook the stew before canning? Just a little bit?

    I think it’s all a matter of becoming more comfortable with the process.

    Thanks for all the great info.

    -the redhead-

    • Hi Redhead!

      Glad to know I’m not alone in my nervousness about pressure canning. The stakes are so much higher than BWBing, but the rewards are equally great. I pressure canned a batch of turkey soup and it was incredible in the dead of winter not to have to defrost some huge block of soup. Plus, the taste was superior. I have a Presto canner and it comes with a little guide book; I’d probably just take their suggestion on chili and go with that. Or, Ball/Bernardin’s cookbook has a section on pressure canning chili that might give you some direction. From what I gather, most things are pressure canned at 11 lbs of pressure, but my element gets so hot even on low that the guage rarely falls below 15 lbs. With the soup, I just aired on the side of caution and gave it extra time. You’re right though, the more you use it the more comfortable you’ll be.

      P.S. I’d totally love the recipe! One of the ways I nest is to prepare lots and lots of food and chili is always a great thing to have on hand.

      P.P.S. Great to meet a fellow blogger and I’m excited to read your blog. 🙂

  2. So excited to have found you this morning 🙂 Love the blog and congratulations on your move, your new life and the baby on the way, how incredible! I am always learning and sharing and growing. I don’t pressure can much, but love the idea of putting up beans and soups and I love experimenting with new flavor profiles and recipe development. I find that when I offer my customers a recipe to go with their purchase, they leave with a project in mind and will usually come back to tell me how it turned out, I love that part!

  3. Pingback: Goat Cheese – Take 1 « uncanny preserves — thinking outside the jar

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