The following summer with stuffing things in jars grew. And in 2009 Gene built me 2 sets of shelves - this is the big brother to a smaller, narrower, shallower shelf - to hold it all:
The jars' fit into the shelves is pretty tight, except on the taller shelves. The Pacific Northwest is earthquake country and I'd be devastated to lose my hard work because the jars weren't secure. Items on shelves tend to "walk" during an earthquake, so a tight fit is a good thing.
I bought the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and have since tried dozens of the recipes. I checked it out from the library twice before buying it. That 2nd time was a sure sign this book was meant for me. I'm not a big book-buyer as I want to try them for awhile before plunking down the dough. I've jotted notes in the margins: years I made the recipe, alterations, opinions, redo-worthiness, and URLs of recipes I've liked. It lives up to its title and it's a worthwhile addition to any home-canner's library.
Eventually, I even bought a 7-quart-load pressure canner so that I could safely preserve things like broths, vegetables, and soups. It reduces the time for canning tomatoes by nearly an hour per batch, meaning I get more done in an afternoon or evening than with a boiling-water-bath canner.
Here's what I did in the summer of 2010. It was a busy one! Notice that the above canning shelf has been put to good use.
- National Center for Home Food Preservation - this is my go-to website for canning and I trust it above all others. So many blogs say things like "of course home-canned pumpkin butter is safe", or "we've BWB-canned green beans for years without problems". Check out NCHFP's scientifically tested guidelines before proceeding.
- FoodinJars is my favorite canning blog. Marisa promotes safe canning procedures, has interesting recipes, and seems like my kind of gal. Check out her links for other canning blogs.
- Save yourself the time/money and do a few test-runs with a canning book before committing to it. Libraries are getting more and more canning books as the trend continues.
- Craigslist is where I got most of my canning jars (estate & garage sales). In my experience thrift stores like Goodwill charge too much. Never, ever pay more than 50 cents for any jar, old or new.
- Ebay is a good place to buy large lots of lids. I got 500 loose wide-mouth lids in 2009 and as of September 2013 I only have a handful remaining. The lifetime of a lid is roughly 5 years.
Lots of people say "Grandma did it this way and nobody ever died." Well, that's shitty logic, people. Just because Grandma never wore a seatbelt doesn't mean that you wouldn't die in a car crash if you weren't strapped in. Oh, and that "flu" that everyone got one year after Thanksgiving was actually food poisoning.
Home food preservation takes significant time and money. Protect your family and your investment by following scientifically tested preserving guidelines.