Don't you love it when you stumble upon an idea or new way of doing something that not only is loads better but can save you money at the same time?
D cans dill pickles, jalapeno peppers and raspberry jam and we are enjoying the homemade products immensely.
It's been 2 or 3 seasons for the pickles and he has experimented with other peoples' homemade recipes as well as online ones. I think this year's hybrid recipe batch is the best out of the bunch. When it is that time of year to buy cukes, I'm always amused to find farmers thinking it's me (I'm the official family produce picker) canning and then see their faces when a guy steps up.
And you should have seen D's face when we got him his very own canning kit...Can you imagine Daniel Craig canning or getting excited about a canning kit? That's about how surprised I was.
The jalapeno peppers started as a lucky find -- A giant buckets' worth at a greatly reduced price caught our attention. D had been buying jarred ones for years and just paid the money for what really isn't an expensive product at all. And like with a lot of things, a bit of education destroys the perception that something is really really hard and beyond an average person's grasp. So off we went to buy more jars. And the results have been pretty awesome.
The raspberry jam was new this year partly due to our over abundant soft fruit season as well as the shear price of homemade jam and the volume that gets consumed. D loves jam and again we are used to buying it from farmers' markets and specialty stores vs the commercial brands which are too sweet for us.
He found a recipe that didn't need pectin as apparently raspberries have enough of their own, the jam will just set. We were a bit apprehensive but figured it was worth a couple pints to try it out and it was a winner. More fruity tasting than anything we've ever bought with half the sugar. So now we have a whole set of smaller jam jars.
The process of learning the above didn't come without challenges. The first year of pickles shorted out our gas stove or so we thought. I wasn't totally on board with all the moving parts of canning and didn't really like having all that humidity in the house etc. So when the stove stopped working, I had a little freak out as it is an expensive gas range...
Turned out it was a safety mechanism when temperatures got too high. D had all the burners on full blast in an effort to sterilise all of his jars and the stove shut him down in self preservation. We didn't even know there was a built in range fan on top of an oven fan until that happened. Once the temperature dropped enough, everything came back online. I remember being so mad looking for warranty information and D being so scared he killed the stove for $20 worth of pickles...
Next season, the jalapeno peppers went off without a hitch. (Thank goodness!)
The jamming created a lot of tension in the house because the raspberries brought home families and families worth of fruit flies and I had to buy an extra fly swatter to manage them all. Seriously, I couldn't even eat lunch in peace or get into my car without swatting as they were in our garage recycling area too. And it is irritating and dangerous trying to kill bugs while driving.
Oh what did we do before Google? Within a few hours of setting up a couple of fruit fly traps made of apple cider vinegar and a bit of detergent, it caught the rest of them. Just wished we had found it a week earlier. I have a pretty extreme aversion to bugs so they were driving me crazy and causing anxiety as I swear they were biting me.