Planning for Canning Season

Here we are at the start of June (June!  Already!  It was just New Year basically three weeks ago), and so it’s time to make plans for canning season.  Not because I’m super organized or anything, just mostly because I want to have something in place before I go out picking fruit at local orchards so I don’t have a repeat of last year’s apple debacle

If you fail to plan, y’all, you plan to fail.  Or something like that.  

Last November, the canning shelves looked like this:

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And now, a short seven months later, they look like this:

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 1.42.01 PM

Which is making me crack up because yikes.  Clearly I need to get some better jar storage in place.  Holy smokes.

Anyway, by looking at these two pictures, it’s easy to see where my canning plan needs to change for this coming year.  Namely:

  • make twice as much strawberry jam.  
    Strawberry jam was the first to go, and I think I bought something like 10-15 lbs of strawberries last year.  
  • make more blueberry jam, if kids can focus on picking or we find a sweet deal at a farmers market.  
    Our own blueberry bushes are a couple years from producing, so we’re still relying on established U-pick operations or farmers markets.  Blueberries are not all that fun to pick, though, so I suspect our jam yield will always be limited by attention spans.
  • make a bazillion percent more tomato sauce.  
    We grew only nine tomato plants last year, and that gave us something like 10 quarts of sauce.  I used a chintzy food mill for most of it, which was pretty terrible, but at the end our friends let us borrow their roma food mill (not an affiliate link, just to show you what I’m talking about) and it was a game changer.  Mostly because the two oldest boys (10 and 8) were able to do it themselves and enthusiastically volunteered to process the remainder.  Since we’re running a CSA this year, we’ve got about 100 tomato plants in the fields now, so here’s hoping for a bumper crop and a lot more sauce put up come November.
  • make half a bazillion percent more apple sauce.  
    We all remember about my 140 pounds of apples I accidentally bought last year.  But what we don’t all know (until I tell you, which I’m going to do right now) is that not all apple products are created equal according to my family.  That is to say that the canned apple pie filling was pretty much a flop (as evidenced by the amount of jars still sitting on the shelves) while the apple sauce was gone within 2 weeks.  So this year, not only will I cut my apple purchase in half (only 70 pounds of apples!  Will we survive?), but I’ll turn most of that into apple sauce.  A smaller amount will become apple butter.
  • make slightly less apple butter.  
    Don’t get me wrong, the kids still love it, and it’s still a great gift.  But if I up berry jam production, I can lower apple butter counts and we’ll probably be right where I am now- which is to say, I haven’t bought a jar of jam in seven months, and we eat PB&J every day for lunch.  So that doesn’t suck.

 

So that’s the canning plan for this year.  We’re still several years off from our orchard and berry patches providing us with enough fruit to produce this much food, so I’ll keep getting ours from local farmers until then.  And since our crappy spring from hell killed the entire Connecticut peach crop (yeah, we can grow peaches in Connecticut!  Usually.) that means no peach-jalapeno jelly this year, which is such a tragedy I may break my “local produce for canning” rule and snap some peaches up from the grocery store.

Want to see how it goes?  Follow along on Facebook and Instagram.