(Mis)Adventures in Canning

Making jams and jellies with my mom growing up was really only a half-hearted task. I can stir a pot like nobodies business (in both senses of the word). But when the hard part of canning came up, you know, the actual canning part – I tended to be elsewhere.

I understand the process. I get the theory. So theoretically it should all work out perfectly. Yah, it didn’t.

We have a lovely neighbour behind my workplace. He’s a kindly old man who likes to bring us tomatoes in payment for the random work we do for him. Throughout summer he has only ever brought us green tomatoes. Usually we let them sit out on our windows to ripen, but the past little while I’ve wanted to make use of these verdant veggies.

I made fried green tomatoes awhile back and served them with the Hot Red Pepper jelly that I “made” with my mother this summer. This Hot Pepper jelly is where I had intended to take a leading role, but ended up mastering ladling jelly into a jar instead. I think the combination of the homemade jelly and green tomatoes got to my head because I decided that I wanted to make a Green Tomato Jelly.

I didn’t know what it was supposed to taste like, or look like. But I knew I wanted to make it. I ended up using a variation of a couple recipes I found online, adding star anise, nutmeg and cinnamon to the mixture – which, in theory, would have added warm earthy flavours to counteract the sweetness of the sugar.

This recipe involved a 3 day ‘jamming’ process that tasted…interesting. Both Carson and I tried it over the three days but it still only ever tasted like sweet spiced tomatoes.

Cue the canning. Of the 4 jars I bottled, originally only one popped. I got so excited double checking that the one jar had suctioned that I managed to unseal the jar. Ok, 0 out of 4. I decided to do the boiling canning method in addition to my mom’s tried ‘n’ true process.

10 minutes into the boil I notice green flecks swirling in the water. Weird. I figure that I must not have tightened the lids enough, I reach for the jar that the green bits are floating around and… only pull half the jar out of the water. Lovely. Now I’m -1 for 4.

I ended up leaving the 3 jars in the boiling water hoping for them to seal. The previously popped/unpopped jar never resealed. The two tiny jars did – though one later unpopped again. However, since I left them to boil in green jam filled water, and, since they were too hot to touch after pulling them out, my two lone jars were covered in pieces of sweetly spiced green tomatoes. Luckily Carson ended up taking pity on them and cleaned off the few remaining jars.

I’m still repulsed by the sight and smell of the jam churning in the water. No one ever wants to see green chunks floating in water. I’m going to wait for the memory to fade and finally try the finished product. Until them I’m going to put my canning ideas on hold.

To sum, of the 4 jars:

1 exploded

2 unpopped

1 sealed

Not exactly a victory. Below is a version of the recipe I used. Don’t project my canning failures onto the recipes itself.

First Frost Green Tomato Jam