Summer is waning here, in a big way, I guess that makes sense since we’re 2 days away from the equinox. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at canning, but a high school paper on botulism did a really good job of scaring me away from that in my younger days. The larger influence on my life in regards to canning was my father. The most precious commodity in the dreary, wet winter months of Western Oregon were the golden peaches that were squirreled away in the ‘canning room’ (the room had much, much more than just cans, but for all intensive purposes we will call it that today). The prospect of peaches in the morning or after dinner would elicit a mild kind of excitement from my brother and I who would have decimated the peach-supply if it wasn’t monitored and rationed by my father.
In my quest to become a domestic goddess and do-er of things, I thought it was probably time to try it myself. Just to give you an idea of how long of a time this was coming, Nic and I own the Complete Book of Home Preserving (since before we left Portland) and had purchased new canning jars… and still we didn’t can. Then summer turned to fall and our vegetables stopped ripening… and still we didn’t can. Then we saw a basket overflowing with local (and sustainable) Roma tomatoes… and it was time to can. We bought 11 pounds of tomatoes and I spent the following morning (and afternoon) in a steamy kitchen fretting about what ‘finger-tip tightness’ was and if none of the jars sealed up, what on earth I would do with 8 almost-canned jars of tomatoes.
So, I called my father for the purpose of getting some re-assurance for such concerns as were voiced in the paragraph above. And then I was ready. I washed and sanitized jars and lids, I blanched and skinned tomatoes, and I boiled more water in preparation of filling the jars. Then I set up a kind of production line that went something like this: put lemon juice and salt into bottom of jar, add tomatoes, fill with water, wipe the lip and threads of jar, place lid on top, and apply screw-band to finger-tip tightness. I did this eight times and then placed the jars in a water bath for 50 minutes (adjusted for elevation), and the have been cooling on my counter since then.
Upon inspection last night I believe the seal has set which means, in the words of Greg Brown, I’ll be able to ‘taste a little of the summer’ well into the 5 months of winter, which will be here soon enough.