Cannery Row

Our farmers say the green beans are in, and you know what that means. The chance of an explosion on the wee homestead just went up exponentially.

Canning high-acid fruits and jam is easy, only requiring a large pot of boiling water. But low-acid veggies like green beans are a different story. They require much higher heat and pressure to kill serious cooties like botulism. So out came the giant, rattling, bomb-like pressure canner. Or should I say, Freddie, as Brad has christened the thing.

But we had way more than just green beans to contend with. Extra cucumbers, beets, field peas, butter beans, and blackberries were also available this week, and there’s no negotiating with Mother Nature. When they’re ready for harvest, you’d better be ready in the kitchen.

So hubby and I resolved ourselves to a weekend of non-stop food preservation. Exhausting though it was, it was pretty dang satisfying too.

Beets have become a staple in our diet, appearing in a range of dishes from roasted beet and feta spread to red flannel hash. The recipe for pickling is so simple, although I usually skip the cloves since ours tend to be used in savory dishes.

This was the second year we’ve attempted pressure canning, and I’m happy to report a much higher level of comfort with the experience. I didn’t hide in the laundry room once.

Our sweet friend Erin shared her bushels of field peas and butter beans with us, and Brad quickly volunteered for shelling duty. He swears there’s nothing more relaxing than to shell away while catching up on the Netflix queue. Well, except for the whole almost-losing-a-thumbnail bit.

In the end, we had four pints of cucumber pickles, four pints of pickled beets, 26 pints of green beans, 10 half-pints of blackberry jam, five quarts of field peas, five quarts of butter beans, six quarts of blackberries, a bottle of cucumber-infused gin, and a ton of butter bean pods with which we’ll attempt to make pea pod wine. And I will neither confirm nor deny the appearance of a rogue blackberry pie.

Now, bring on the tomatoes!

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