A few weeks ago, Danny and I tried our hand at canning for the first time. It wasn’t necessarily a complete success, but it was much more successful than not, which is great for an experiment! We’ve now canned whole tomatoes, apricot jam, peach jam, hot pepper jelly, mint jelly, marmalade, apple butter, dill pickles, pickled tomatoes, mango chutney, and freezer jam (peach and apricot). The apricot jam, marmalade and hot pepper jelly haven’t really set as well as I would like, but the peach jam is amazingly tasty and set nice and firm. We haven’t opened up the apricot jam to taste it, but I imagine it probably tastes great even if it is a little runny. We also made and froze a bunch of stewed tomatoes. The mango chutney is supposed to sit and mellow for two months before we use it, so we have to wait until mid-November or so before it’s really ready. The jury’s still out on whether we’ll actually be able to resist opening one up before then to test it out. 🙂

There’s something so satisfying about seeing all of the pretty jars lined up in the closet with their bright colors. The pepper jelly is particularly striking I think (it’s the fourth from the left in the picture above). When we taste tested it, it was a little hotter than I expected, so I will probably have to use it sparingly, but the flavor is really good and Danny will likely want to eat it with a spoon once we open one of the jars.

Canning and pressure cookers seems to be one of those things that a lot of people are afraid to try, but I have to say that we love both of them. I love that I can use my pressure cooker to make great chicken stock in an hour that would normally take half a day of simmering, or make fall-apart stewed lamb. I also love the idea that some of the great tomatoes that were at the farmer’s market this summer are still waiting for us to enjoy them this winter. Not to mention that there’s something so gratifying about being able to offer houseguests homemade jam with their toast in the morning!