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CAA Featured Photo: Dill Pickles by the Boastful Baker

Refrigerator dill pickles
One of our long-time CAA photo contributors, Melissa of The Boastful Baker, posted this image to our Flickr pool this week. She made this batch of dill pickles based on Food in Jars’ recipe. Don’t these pickles look delicious?

Thanks again for contributing, Melissa!

If you’d like to participate and have your pictures featured, please join our Canning Across America Flickr pool and submit your photos.

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CAA Featured Photo: Pickler by Mama Urchin

How did everyone’s Can-a-Rama weekends go? Stay tuned for more updates from us on this — I hope your weekends involved as much fun as ours did!

Today, we’re featuring a family photo by Mama Urchin, a long-time contributor. I love how this image demonstrates family involvement — watching my parents canning definitely influenced my participation as an adult (though I had to stay far from the stove in those youngest years). Once I was this pickler’s age, I could venture closer to the action, like this.

Thanks for sharing your work, Mama Urchin!

If you’d like to participate and have your pictures featured, please join our Canning Across America Flickr pool and submit your photos.

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CAA Featured Photo: Can-a-Rama Weekend

I hope everyone’s got plans to can this weekend for Can-a-Rama 2012! Today’s featured picture is from Leslie Anne Kelly, from last year’s festivities where we canned at Pike Place Market.

After your weekend of putting up, be sure to share your pics in our Flickr pool and we’ll try to feature some of the fun next week.

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Repinning Can-a-rama 2012 : A Cantastic Giveaway

We’re trying something a little different but true to our social media roots.

A couple months back we started bookmarking articles, photos, and graphics related to canning and preserving on Pinterest – the virtual pinboard that lets you organize and share all the beautiful things on the web – and, well, we’re hooked.

If you are looking for inspiration, be sure to check out some of our favorite preservers pins: Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars, Cathy Barrow of Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen, Punk Domestics, Put ’em Up author Sherri Brooks Vinton (be sure to check out her “I Can!” project), and Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It author Karen Solomon.

Instead of entry form or essay, we are asking our fellow Canvolutionaries to utilize the site’s ‘re-pin’ feature to create your very own Can-a-Rama 2012 board between July 20th and July 23rd. Please visit our giveaway page for details on how and what to pin to enter.

In honor of our fourth annual Can-a-rama, the nice folks at Jarden Home Brands (the owner of Ball and Kerr) have given us a couple of very special items to give away to our readers: an enamel waterbath canner and 6 coupons for one free case of jars. Thank you Jarden!

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Twitter Chat: Tonight

Join our hour-long live chat on Twitter hosted by CAA founder Kim O’Donnel. All skill levels welcome; topics will cover recipe ideas for Can-a-rama this weekend and the 411 on safe food preservation.

Tuesday, July 17th
6-7pm PST/9-10pm EST
Our twitter handle: @canvolution
Hashtag: #canningchat
Recommended: Visit to navigate relevant tweets

Please join us!

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Food in Jars Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to our fellow Canvolutionarian Paulette, our Seasonal Canning Giveaway winner!

Paulette has won a copy of Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, compliments of Marisa McClellan and Running Press, when she uploaded this photo to our Flickr Group Pool.


Paulette’s caption read: “These Currants, which are only in season for a short couple of weeks in the spring are ready to be juiced and made into Currant Jelly. I use Currant Jelly to make a lovely Ham Glaze. Yumm!”

Thanks to everyone who participated in this giveaway and are part of our Flickr community.

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Strawberries + Vinegar = Shrub, A Beverage Revelation

Pickled strawberries.

As I type this post, I’m sipping on a shrub. (Don’t worry; no backyard foliage is involved.) A shrub is a colonial-era sweet and sour syrup made from fruit, sugar, and vinegar believed to have been brought to the U.S by British settlers.

19th century writer Oliver Wendell Holmes references the shrub in his 1861 novel Elsie Venner: A Romance of Destiny:

“…but I do feel thirsty’ said the poor lady, ‘and I do think a glass of srub would do my my throat good: it’s dreadful dry. Mr.Peckham, would you be so polite as to pass me a glass of srub?”

The poor lady in question had the right idea; the shrub is a genuine thirst quencher and whets that whistle like nothing else. I had my first taste at a recent CAA meeting when fellow canner Kimberly McKittrick shared a jar of pickled strawberries that she had put up the previous summer. One sip and we were all hooked: Slightly sweet but really more spice-forward and a tad tangy, the syrup and its pickled fruit are a revelation.

Carbonated strawberry shrub.

We’ve seen historical references to the shrub as a mixer for alcohol, lemonade and water of the tonic-ed, carbonated, and still varieties. No doubt it is a pre-cursor to soda pop, which unfortunately has taken over the world and made the shrub obsolete. In fact, the shrub is part of Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste, a list of food and drink items that have faded into obscurity in the light of industrial agriculture.

The recipe below comes from Wright Eats, written by Seattle-based food bloggers Dawn and Eric Wright. What follows are details for how to make your own shrub.
P.S. I am considering trying this with raspberries and blackberries, what with brambles on the horizon here in the Pacific Northwest.

Spiced Pickled Strawberries

Adapted from The Complete Book of Pickling, by Jennifer MacKenzie
6 pints strawberries, hulled (preferably on the smaller side and just a touch under-ripe)
3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups cider vinegar

Puncture strawberries with fork tines and cut any large ones in half.

Combine remaining ingredients together in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar and salt are dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Pour over prepared berries.

Cover the berries and let stand at a cool room temperature for at least six hours or overnight.
Prepare water bath canner, jars and lids.

Re-heat berries, gently stirring occasionally until strawberries are heated through but still hold their shape.

Gently spoon strawberries and hot pickling liquid into hot jars, leaving ½ inch head space.  Remove air bubbles and adjust head space as necessary.  Wipe rim and place hot lid on jar, screwing band down until fingertip-tight.

Place jars in canner and return to a boil.  Process for 10 minutes.

Turn off heat, remove canner lid and let jars stand in hot water for an additional 5 minutes.

Transfer jars to a towel-lined surface or a cooling rack and let stand undisturbed until completely cool, about 24 hours.  Check lids and refrigerate any jars that are not sealed.

Makes approximately 6 pints.

Use Up What You Put Up: Strawberry Shrub
2-3 tablespoons pickled strawberry syrup (and whole fruit if you like)
12 ounces sparkling water or club soda

Stir together in a tall glass, with or without ice, and enjoy. Add more syrup to taste.


P.S. I’m fairly certain that a vodka and soda would love to meet pickled strawberries…

One last thing: In the event that my shrub supply runs short, I am heartened to know of Tait Farm Foods, a family farm in Centre Hall, Pa., also the home to CAA friend Erin Hare.  I have had the pleasure of trying their raspberry shrub and it is an excellent stand-in for the homespun stuff.

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CAA Photo of the Week: Ready-Set-Can by Angela

Ready-Set-Can :)
Angela, one of our Flickr pool contributors, shared her photos of canning green beans and is our feature this week. She’s been a lifelong canner and counts over 26 years of experience!

For this project, she grew the green beans herself and later used a food processor to french them. They’ve canned 30 quarts this year, but sometimes have much more — in 2007, they had 150 quarts at the end of the long summer. She loves the process and providing for her family.

Thank you, Angela!

If you’d like to participate, please join our Canning Across America Flickr pool and submit your photos.

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Seasonal Canning Giveaway

Editor’s Note: A couple weeks back, members from Canning Across America had the opportunity to chat with Marisa McClellan of Food In Jars while we noshed on an assortment of pickled vegetables and savored a batch of last years strawberry schrub. We were so inspired by her new book Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round (Running Press, July 2012), that together we wanted to share the joys of seasonal canning with our readers prior to our fourth annual Can-a-rama. Enjoy!

The first time I really clued into the concept of seasonality was when I was a sophomore in college. In those days, I lived in Walla Walla, WA, home of vineyards, wheat fields and a fast and furious asparagus season. For the two or so weeks of harvest, asparagus was everywhere and typically sold for as little as three pounds for $1.

I had grown up thinking of asparagus as a special-occasion vegetable, too pricy for anything other than birthday suppers and holiday meals. Seeing it for so little at every independent grocery store in town made me realize that it wasn’t an inherently expensive vegetable when grown locally. It was the travel and scarcity that made it so. I’ve carried around that lesson every since.

Once you clue into the seasonality of food, there’s really no going back. Not only are things more affordable when they’re abundant, they also taste far better. The one question that comes up is what do you do when you have a hankering for asparagus in November or peaches in January? You can either squelch the urge or you can do a little work during their respective seasons.

I choose to do the work every time. I make asparagus pickles each spring, make vast vats of apricot jam in July and preserve about 100 pounds of tomatoes each September. As I eat through my stores, I think about the time I spent preserving and appreciate the seasonality of food, even from half a year away.

To enter to win a copy of my new book, featuring 100+ seasonal recipes for everything from jams and pickles to chutneys and flavored salts, visit the Canning Across America giveaway page.

CAA Contributor Marisa McClellan grew up in Oregon, where she learned to can local blueberries, blackberries and apples from her mother. A move across the country came between her and her canning pot, but a fortuitous blueberry picking expedition with a friend in 2006 reawakened her passion, and she has been canning and preserving ever since, blogging about it on Food in Jars, one of the Internet’s most popular and enduring canning blogs, which was selected as one of Saveur magazine’s “Sites We Love” in 2011. 

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My Experience With National Can-It-Forward Day 2011

Editor’s Note: As we gear up for the Can-A-Rama weekend next week, we look back at last year’s event as seen through the eyes of one of our backstage helpers!

A sunny Saturday at Seattle’s Pike Place Market is bound to be mayhem with crowds of foodies. Last August 13 in the midst of fruit vendors, fish throwers, and coffee roasters, the Canning Across America team set up shop under a pop up tent on the cobblestone streets eager to show off their knowledge, creativity, and playful attitudes for the National Can-It-Forward Day event. With various cooks from the gluten-free favorite Jeanne Sauvage to the rabble rousing Shibaguyz, the day was packed with innovative demonstrations and delectable samples. Each demo alternated between the creation of a canned product and example of how to use it in other dishes, showing passers-by that canning isn’t just about jelly.

I was located in the prep station, conveniently partitioned off to the side of the kitchen set-up. Surrounded by boxes of jars, produce, and gadgets, we back-stagers were in charge of getting every ingredient and tool ready for the show. Sound hard? The quick turnaround of dicing veggies and scrubbing pots in our makeshift wash-basins was not a stressful race as one might expect with so many culinary demos. It was full of laughter, interaction from playful bystanders, and so many delicious samples and snacks. The Ball Canning crew really knew what they were doing and kept churning out finished products as fast as we had the ingredients prepared. Between the crowd, the lively team, and the beautiful weather, the day was both jovial and informative. Thankfully technical difficulties were minimal, no fingers or eyebrows were lost, and through the curtain separating stage from sideline, I gained more knowledge about canning techniques than I ever thought possible.

The morning began with Jeanne, who whipped up a beautiful mixed berry jam that was served to the audience on fresh baguettes from Le Panier. After the demo, retro pastry chef Kelsey Angell of the Pink Door Restaurant swooped in like Lucille Ball meets a Hell’s Angel to show how to use that jam to make a Mixed Berry Torta with a flaky golden lattice that left us gluten free’ers salivating. Next up was a pickling tutorial by Allrecipes’s Judith Dern. The cooked cukes were turned into dill pickle and cream cheese sandwiches by Diane LaVonne of Diane’s Market Kitchen generating much excitement from the crowd for the how-to of such a simple treat. Who knew that with the help of the Ball Home-Canning kit, pickling was literally as easy as one, two, three? The next project stayed on the savory course with canned tomatoes, (courtesy of preserving blogger Brook Hurst Stephens) which were transformed into an aromatic seafood soup by French chef Phillipe Thomelin of Olivar Restaurant. With the help of a few additions including saffron, fresh scallops, and olive oil, Chef Thomelin had heads turning and necks craning. “I thought this was a canning demo?” one man said out in the peanut gallery. It is! Look what you can whip up with a dash of fish! Last but not least were the Shibaguyz Shannon and Jason Mullet-Bowlsby, who kept energy high for the finale of pepper jelly, a spicy addition to the bunch. Several stragglers stopped by the prep station asking to buy a jar of the hot sweet treat. Although no products were up for auction, they weren’t left empty handed but directed to the Canning Across America recipe section to make their own!

With rising trends in locavorism, home-growing, and community gardens, it’s no wonder that canning has stepped up as a serious new fixture in the food world. The concept has changed from a technique to survive winter into a wonderful way to enjoy seasonal flavors year round—while also getting really creative. Sorry jam, your glory days are over. Pickled vegetables, chutneys, jellies, syrups, and pie fillings have bumped up from their status as artisanal treats purchased in gourmet shops to the latest DIY projects. Pickled lemon asparagus, ginger fig jelly, or spicy peach tomatillo salsa anyone?

Not only is canning fun, but it’s affordable. As a college student, I’m on a tight budget but would rather cook than eat cheap, processed foods. Making my own is a bit more laborious, but a labor of love that I find relaxing, educational, and comforting. I’ve loved canning ever since I starting playing with the surplus from my aunts fig tree. It has only been a few years but has become a seasonal ritual that allows me to indulge in nostalgia for other seasons and regional flavors. It’s economical, especially if you grow your own produce, and it’s fun to do with friends or family. Last summer my mom and I made blackberry jam (a hysterically messy, laughter infused process) that I am still giving as gifts.

Last fall, I used my canning equipment for autumnal flavors. I went to the farmers market then made pumpkin butter, applesauce, and pickled cauliflower using the jars from the polished off strawberry and fig jams I made this summer! Unfortunately my canning bath is at home in Seattle but I make small batches in my pint-sized New York apartment. You don’t always need to make an event out of it, sometimes it’s nice to just experiment a little, especially if you’re prone to stockpiling your cabinets with surplus but take your time getting to the bottom of a jar. I also like to make one big batch of jam or fruit butter and add different spices to different jars at the end. That way I get to see which flavor combinations I like the best without making a dozen batches.

Canning isn’t only about tradition anymore–it’s also about freedom of expression. Work with what’s in season with the help of local markets, reuse your jars, swap with friends, and get crazy. Don’t forget to read the safety book on safe home canning though as it’s crucial to do it properly– you don’t want your loved ones to get a gift that keeps on giving (in a bad way!).

CAA Contributor Kayla Harvey is in her senior year of undergraduate studies for photojournalism at Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts in New York City. She is an avid baker and canner during her summers at home in Seattle and drags her concoctions back across the country to savor Northwest produce year-round. She is working on a photojournal on educating children about nutrition through community gardens and school programs.

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