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Even Canning Has Teaching Moments
Have you ever canned? Last year I canned for the first time and the process went pretty smoothly. So I thought I’d try canning again this year. Remember the last time you were in a position where you tried to save yourself a few extra steps and realized those saved steps might have been worth doing anyway? It’s like any project, how we plan and prepare requires careful attention to get to the end result. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Like most tasks we take on, sometimes we miss the small details while focusing on the bigger tasks at hand. While I’ll admit I was probably ambitious to take on this canning project, I felt confident this would be a breeze. I laid out all my utensils, pots, and jars so I was ready to go. Preparation and planning was off to a good start. As I skimmed the instructions to begin, I carefully followed the step-by-step preparation procedures described in the book. In no time I was comfortable with my assembled process and my confidence increased as I submerged each jar into the bath of boiling water. All was going well.
As I sat to examine my canning book for more canning projects I could take on, I stumbled across the helpful tips section and the steps the author noted were important. For instance, it’s better to sterilize jars in boiling water the day of canning rather than sterilizing jars beforehand in the dishwasher (as I had done setting them upside down on the counter), there’s less chance for contamination. Strike one. Another tip, use a plastic utensil to stir jar contents instead of a medal one, this will reduce the chance of scarring jars and shortening jar lifespan. (Ahem) Strike two, didn’t stir contents at all to remove any air bubbles. Yikes, “Can I get away with this?” The next tip ladle contents reserving 1-inch of extra room for top of lids. This I did, but when I removed the jars there was some residue on the bottles. Flipping through my book, I soon discovered this was OK as long as the lids were sealed, which they were. Phew! Another tip advised removing jar bands once cooled, leaving only the sealed lids for storage (less likely to corrode and be difficult to remove). Certainly able to do this, but did leave these bands on last year.
Needless to say, I may have missed a few steps but it wasn’t critical. The good news is I learned not to make the same mistakes next time. After inspecting the jars I concluded canning was a success. Followed by someone gently reminding me that proper inspection was needed again upon opening the jars—as this jokester stated, “There’s no cure for botulism.”
Science hasn’t solved this one . . . ; )