Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tomatoes, Part 1 (Yes, I Know it is December!)

Thanks to a generous somewhat-local farmer with a greenhouse, the church recently received a donation of tomatoes. While many of the boxes went to charities and those in need, there were boxes left over. Those boxes were available for church members who wanted them. I picked up one box last Friday, but there were still boxes available on Sunday, so I picked up two more, for a total of 60 pounds of tomatoes--enough for 2 batches of spaghetti sauce to can.

I wish I could say that I have finished canning jars upon jars of spaghetti sauce, but that is not the case. However, I can say that in addition to the more traditional December activities of cookie-baking and fudge-making, I have peeled 60 pounds of tomatoes. For the curious, that is around 24 quarts of tomatoes. Tomorrow I plan to saute onions, peppers, and mushrooms to add to the tomatoes, and then let the concoction simmer on the stove for hours. I think I should end up with 18 quarts of spaghetti sauce when all is said and done.

Spaghetti sauce needs to processed in a pressure canner. Pressure canners always strike a bit of fear in me. If the food is not processed correctly, I could end up serving my family a big batch of botulism. While I'm trying to assure correct processing, though, the darn canner rattles and complains so much that the risk of explosion in my kitchen seems imminent. However, I come from a long line of survivors of home processing, so the canning tradition continues.

I have a confession to make, though. I haven't used the pressure canner in years. And you know what that means: I have to replace the sealing ring, or my family will die from poorly-processed food. I had never replaced the ring. I dreaded the task. I didn't know where to find a ring, and imagined the procedure would be horribly difficult.

Well, I was silly!!! Amazon.com carries everything, including sealing rings for canners. And replacing the ring was much quicker than replacing a vacuum cleaner belt (not to mention much cleaner). All I had to do was take the old ring out, wash the lid, and put the new ring in. It was that simple!

How many other tasks do I dread for no good reason? Hopefully, the next time I'm dragging my feet, I'll be able to remember the lesson of the sealing ring.

Thankful thought: Thanks to Mom and Grandma, who have convinced me that canning without causing illness is possible. Thanks also to generous farmers.

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