11 In Preserve

Canning Season is Officially Closed

Apparently yesterday, October 23, was National Canning Day. I knew nothing of this holiday, until it started to pop up on my Facebook feed. I feel this holiday is a bit late, as with my last batch of fig spread a few weeks ago, I deemed Canning Season officially closed. I’m sure I could find more things to put in jars, there are still apples, figs and probably late tomatoes. But I’ve run out of shelving, I’ve put my pot back up on the top shelf, and frankly- I’m exhausted, so I’m calling it done for the year.


I did not come from a family that has a history of preserving. My mom might have done a few jars of apricot jam growing up, but I never remember seeing a stockpile of mason jars in our house. The only preserving I can clearly remember was she dumped raspberries in a jar of booze and set it on the top shelf, telling me she was making cordial. I would sneak sips when she wasn’t home, and all I remember was tasting sugar. I certainly didn’t learn how to can from my grandmother- I don’t think I’ve ever seen her over a stove for more than a few minutes.

berry jam messIMG_4141 I taught myself how to can- about 6 years ago when I was living in an itty bitty A-frame granny-unit with only a sink and 2 burner hot plate for a kitchen. I rather impulsively bought a flat of peaches from the Healdsburg Farmer’s Market, and suddenly had to learn how to blanch, peel, and safely can. After that, I moved on to peach jam, foraged blackberry jam (which turned into blackberry brick- determining the jellying point is HARD!!!), and then when I learned about the BPA issue in canned goods, started processing tomatoes as well. IMG_3739IMG_3814

I took an afternoon class to make sure what I was doing was correct and I wasn’t going to kill myself or Matt with Botulism. As canning started to be come much more accessible and trendy, the canning section of my home library expanded beyond my original Ball Blue Book. I started trolling website focusing solely on preserving and making up my own jam concoctions. When I moved to a larger apartment, I had a better kitchen but still no storage, so jars lived in the coat closet, on bookshelves, behind the couch and under the bed.


Since then, I’ve seriously upgraded my from that 2-burner hot plate. This year, with working on my new 6-burner Blue Star range and a giant-ass sink that could be a bathtub, canning season was significantly easier. I also have a walk-in pantry where I can actually find, and SEE, what I’ve put up.

photo 2

the shoe box has spices that don’t fit in my drawer and I’ve been to lazy to find a better home for. don’t judge.

photo 1

I’m always working to determine exactly how much of something I actually need. I need to get better at tracking what I make and what I use. But I have improved this year, and actually LABLED my jars (novel concept, I know!). I know I should have put up more cans of tomatoes, and last year, I made enough apple butter to keep a small country stocked with spread.

So without further ado, here is my:

canning inventory for 2014.

Jams & Sweet Preserves:

  • 5 4-oz jars Spiced Apple Butter, leftover from 2013, from Canning for a New Generation
  • 8 4-oz jars of Fig, Orange & Cinnamon Preserves, adapted by from http://cookcanread.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/fig-orange-jam/
  • 7 half-pint jars of Blackberry Jam with Lemon Zest, made without pectin, from Canning for a New Generation
  • 21 half-pint jars of Vanilla Pear Jam, from my own adaptation
  • 6 half-pint jars of Caramel Cardamon Pear Jam, from http://heartbeetkitchen.com/2014/recipes/caramel-cardamom-pear-jam/
  • 3 half-pint jars, leftover from 2013 of Peach Jam, source forgotten
  • 8 4-oz jars of Chocolate Pear Spread, from http://foodinjars.com/2013/01/pear-and-chocolate-jam/
  • 4 half-pint jars of Mystery Pink Jam, which I’m 99% sure is White Peach & Plum with a 50% chance of some spice, possibly with cinnamon (obviously I missed the labeling on this one….)

Chutneys & Savory Preserves:

  • 4 half-pints of Green Tomato Chutney, from Food in Jars
  • 6 half-pints of Slow-Roasted Fig Preserves with Lemon, from Canning for a New Generation
  • 8 half-pint jars of Pear, Port & Thyme Conserve, plus 2 half-pint jars leftover from 2013, from Well-Preserved
  • 5 4-oz jars & 3 half-pint jars of Spicy Tomato Jam, from http://foodinjars.com/2010/09/tomato-jam/
  • 5 half-pint jars, leftover from 2013 of Apple Pear Chutney, source forgotten
  • 2 half-pint jars, leftover from 2012, recently found in a box while finally unpacking it, of Green Tomato Relish


  • 4 pint jars of Classic Dill Pickles, from Food in Jars
  • 3 pint jars of Bread & Butter Zucchini Pickles, from a Martha Stewart magazine cutout from years ago


  • 7 pint jars of Tomato Salsa, which turned  to vinegary and didn’t really like, from Food in Jars
  • 9 half-pint jars & 1 pint jar of Roasted Tomato-Garlic Salsa, from The Art of Preserving


  • 12 pint jars of Seasoned Tomato Sauce, from the Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving
  • 2 pint jars & 10 quart jars of Crushed Tomatoes, packed in own juice, from Ball Blue Book
  • 2 pint jars & 6 pint jars left from 2013 of Tomato Juice, from Ball Blue Book


  • 4 pint-jars leftover from 2013 of Cinnamon Applesauce, from Ball Blue Book
  • 6 quart jars leftover from 2013 of Apple Pie Filling, source unknown and my apples were to soft so they’ve turned into Spiced Crushed Apples, that I don’t know what to do with (hence still being here….)




As always, I love to hear from you! Leave me a comment! Are you still preserving or have you called it done for the year? What was your favorite thing you put up? What the hell do you do with so much apple butter!?

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  • Reply
    October 24, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Holy cow Lady, you are on fire with the canning! That’s a lot. I read once that Wendell Barry’s wife kept her canning records written on the inside of her cabinet walls…for 50 years! I can’t commit to our cabinet paint color choice enough to write right on them, so I’ve taped binder paper on the inside door and keep it logged there. It’s easy to remember to write it down when it’s right there in the kitchen. You’ll be eating well this winter!

  • Reply
    October 26, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Wow, you have an amazing pantry full of awesome canned goods! I hope you liked the Caramel Cardamom Pear Jam. I’m on my last jar 🙁 I’ve got my eye on the slow roasted fig preserves now.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I’d love to do a yearly track but it feels like I am always canning something. I have 15 pounds of venison left to can…we ran out of freezer space. I’ve already canned about 40lbs of it, plus stuff from the garden. (I love making taco meat and sloppy joe meat for super fast dinners during the winter.) We’re on a frugal income and eat as much as possible out of our gardens. I’d love to try my hand at rabbit sausage but my husband won’t let me do that to his rabbits (roasting, grilling, baking, and frying only). I also only started canning about 6 years ago and absolutely love it….I’m willing to try anything. Love that you have such access to figs…yum! Northern Iowa doesn’t like figs.

    • Reply
      November 4, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      I have yet to adventure into pressure canning, how nice that must be to have canned meat and other veggies at the ready!
      For now, we’ve got the freezer!

  • Reply
    October 29, 2014 at 6:40 am

    Oh my gosh, Melissa! I knew you canned, but I had no idea the extent. I have dreams of canning my own salsa, tomatoes, pasta sauce, chutneys, jams. What I lack is time. Perhaps it will take a good bargain on a box of fruit to light the fire. We have enough mouths here that all of my yard fruit gets eaten — most don’t even make it into the house first.

    Great post; thanks for putting the (obvious) work into it to share with us wannabes. I will be coming back to this compilation of recipes for sure!

  • Reply
    November 4, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Hi Melissa, I found your blog while searching for foraging groups in Sonoma County several months ago. I enjoy your stories because they usually coincide with mine. It’s nice to find someone else frantically trying to store their food before it spoils.

    My mom and I can and we can enough for my parents, me and my husband, as well as my brother’s family. I live in Petaluma, my parents in Sebastopol, and my brother’s family is in Santa Rosa. I think between me and my mom, we canned somewhere around 400-500 jars this season and that doesn’t include the stuff in my chest freezer or the food we dry.

    I, too, am excited when harvest is finally over because that means I can breathe. I feel elated and free from my chores once my summer garden is pulled and the winter garden planted. Since the winter garden is too young and I don’t need to maintain it as much as I do for the summer garden, it feels like time just opened up. I spend about 30 minutes a week out there checking for pests and monitoring watering needs but that is it.

    To be honest, I look forward to winter when everyone else is dreading it. It’s a great time for mother earth to bathe herself with the rains and for me to do other things. I still try and get out and forage for whatever is in season. Last weekend we went crab fishing and hopefully this weekend I can go mushroom hunting.

    Thanks again for the stories. I enjoy them so much. Keep up the good work.

    • Reply
      November 4, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      Hi Sheri! Thanks, and welcome! Did you find a foraging group? I’ve never looked, but would love to find one to help me identify mushrooms!

      • Reply
        November 10, 2014 at 12:11 pm

        I joined Sonoma County Mycological Association and they have a free monthly foray that is open to the public up at Salt Point State Park. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to get outside and learn something. You can also bring your mushrooms to have the professionals identify for you. In the event you’re interested, the website is http://www.somamushrooms.org

        It’s a great way to get introduced to mushrooming and the people who run it are very knowledgeable. I’m new to mushrooming and have been studying for about a year and a half on mushrooms that grow in our area from the books I’ve bought. I’m still a beginner but I’m confident with the mushrooms I’ve learned about. It’s been a fun hobby for me and I enjoy getting outdoors and away from the garden and kitchen.

        There is a motto, when mushrooming, to live by and that is “When in doubt, throw it out.” Nothing is more exciting when you find your first edible mushroom and you’re 100% confident you know what it is. But on the same note, nothing crashes you into reality faster than when you find a poisonous one.

        The next foray is this weekend, I think. 🙂

  • Reply
    Canning Season is Here! | forgotten skills
    July 21, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    […] year, I canned my way though a kitchen remodel, and still managed to put up quite a bit. You don’t need a fancy set-up to preserve, but weather you are an experienced canner or just […]

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