Local family finds canning to not be so ‘scary’
When Terri Longing’s father-in-law, Mike, gave them fresh plums from his orchard, she didn’t know what she was going to do with them.
“I had several big bowls of plums, and there was no way we were going to eat them all,” Terri recalled. “So (my husband) Jeff suggested that I make plum jelly out of them.”
Terri admits the idea of canning was a little scary to her.
“I remember canning being this long drawn out process with a big pot,” Terri said. “I just found it a little intimidating so I’d never tried it.”
At Jeff’s request, Terri said she decided she would give it a try.
“We went to Atwoods and got all the stuff to do it with,” she said. “I think the pot cost like $25 so it’s very affordable, and the jars weren’t really that expensive either.”
Terri said she followed the instructions that came with her cooker during her first attempt/.
“I basically just followed these instructions,” she said. “They have how to do it, step by step instructions in there.”
Terri said what she didn’t learn from her instructions, she quickly picked up from her friend, Google.
“I did a little research on the Internet too,” she said.
Terri found her first batch of jelly to be time consuming because she opted not to use pectin in it.
“I didn’t use the pectin the first time so I had to go through several rounds of boiling and cooling to get it right,” she said. “It took me all day to do it.”
After experiencing the long, drawn out process of making jelly without pectin, Terri decided to go with using pectin, which is an agent that makes the ingredients gel to a jelly-like consistency.
“Once I started using the pectin, each batch only took about 15 minutes,” she said. “The directions said 10 but I left mine in there for 15 just to be sure the jars were sealed good.”
Terri said every jar sealed perfectly and there were no problems with her jelly.
Still, she explained, the jars without the pectin did have the same consistency as the jars with the pectin it just took it longer to get there.
Terri also got fresh blueberries from her father-in-law’s orchard. She decided to freeze them, but she learned there’s a trick to freezing blueberries as well.
“I put a picture of my blueberries on Facebook, and (a friend) commented and told me not to wash them before I froze them, “ she explained. “Apparently, if you wash them before you freeze them, they get soggy.”
The Longings also have a garden at their home. Once the tomatoes are ripe, Terri plans to blanch, cut and freeze them as well.
“It’s amazing how much money you can save by canning and freezing your own fruit and vegetables,” she said.
While she isn’t committing to canning everything she has in abundance, Terri said this experience has made her see that canning isn’t quite as intimidating as she once thought it was.