Can-o-Rama 2012

It’s 1:43 AM Monday as I write this. The past 56 hours have been a Can-o-rama from “where’s-my-coffee?” to way-past-dusk that has precluded the writing of any witty or useful blog posts. I’m eating good cheese with a spoon, too tired even to drink the well-deserved pour of wine next to me. I got nothin’, peeps.

Nothing except this:

Jars and jars of food. Homebrew Husband took Friday off from his Totally Corporate Job and, in between the needs of children and garden and life, together we canned. A lot. We started at about 5 pm Friday evening after dropping our daughter off for a sleepover at a friend’s house and we ended…well, now.

We got a ton of food safely sealed away in jars (actually about 300 pounds, but close enough) that we will be enjoying until, hopefully, around next August, when we do this again.

Total tally:

  • 38 quarts Whole Peeled Tomatoes
  • 8 quarts Crushed Tomatoes
  • 17 pints thick tomato sauce
  • 12 quarts Turmeric Garlic Dill Pickles
  • 12 quarts Dill or Spicy Dill pickles
  • 5 half-pints Strawberry Lime Tequila preserves
  • 5 half-pints Strawberry Black Pepper Balsamic preserves
  • 5 half-pints Strawberry Grand Marnier preserves
  • 9 12-oz Ginger Peach preserves
  • 18 half-pints Blackberry Nectarine Amaretto preserves
  • 7 quarts Peaches in Cinnamon Syrup (damn floating peaches)
  • 1 gallon Spicy Lacto-Fermented Dilly Beans
  • 1 gallon Turmeric Garlic Dill refrigerator pickles (not pictured)
  • 14 quarts Spaghetti Sauce with Beef, Bacon and Red Wine (Pressure Cooker)
  • 18 pounds Strawberries, frozen (not pictured)
  • 5 gallon of Homebrew in primary
  • And quite possibly other stuff that has already been tucked away in the fridge, forgotten.

My goal is a quart a week on tomatoes + sauce. So close.

Much of this jam will become gifts.

Strawberry Grand Marnier – excellent way to hot up a Strawberry Jam Margarita.

All pressure cooker food looks like crap. But, oh man, is this good sauce.

Had to buy tomatoes and pickling cukes but these beans are all homegrown, baby.

More peaches and nectarines are on the agenda for tomorrow (oh shit, it’s already tomorrow) later today, after I get a few hours sleep. I tried raw packing these super floaty peaches. Um, yeah – back to hot pack for me.

These pickles are much lovelier in person. I am loving turmeric garlic dill pickles right now. My friend shared her recipe with me – a few small tweaks to her original recipe and I am making jars as fast as I can get my hands on pickling cukes.

I put Homebrew Husband in charge of the 180-degree/30 minute pasteurization these pickles underwent. I asked him if he could keep the water temp between 180 and 185 for 30 minutes. He laughed at me and said something like, “Pshaw! Compared to a six-hour long, traditional three-step German decoction mash, that’s child’s play.” Honestly, I’m not sure what he meant but he kept the water temp between 181.5 and 182.5 the entire time.

There is something amazing and rewarding about seeing the fruits of 56 hours of effort laid out like that (childbirth analogy, anyone?). Processing 150 pound of tomatoes on the hottest day of the year (naturally) isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, and I get that, but in our weirdo way, we had a blast.

But now I’m going to bed.

Anyone else in the middle of can-o-rama?


  1. says

    I am not as prolific as you are, but this weekend I put up 48 quarts, 24 pints, and 16 half-pints of food (and I did it solo). A new record for me. And like you, I’m a bit exhausted!

  2. Linda McHenry says

    Impressive!……I haven’t even started yet…..heading up to Greenbluff for a U-pick day next weekend. Going to try and get in a few relishes this week if the farmers mkt comes thru……my garden is waaaay behind.

  3. says

    beautiful work! I spent the weekend buried in peaches and turning out peach-vanilla jam, dried peaches, frozen peaches, peach sauce and peach bbq sauce and forgetting to feed my children.

  4. says

    Wow. That’s amazing.

    I actually expect to be canning up a little storm myself today. I wasn’t planning on it, but a friend had said she might bring tomatoes by on Friday & did not. So I figured no tomatoes from her. But I woke up to a message from her asking if I was around this morning because she had a care package for me. So, I expect to be canning tomatoes today. And maybe tomorrow.

  5. Laurel says

    Wow, amazing work! My mom, brother & sis-in-law put up 99 quarts of grape juice yesterday using two kitchens and an assembly line set up. (They live next door to each other near Chicago.) I guess concord grapes love a hot dry summer because they had a gorgeous bumper crop. Every growing season is different. Last year apples did well, but grapes didn’t. This year grapes are abundant but no apples.

    • says

      I like crushed too. We were dealing with 150 pounds and were just able to assembly line whole peeled, raw-pack into jars really fast. The processing time is longer, or course, but with two large pots going we were able to get 19 quarts going at once. Crushed, which we did for batch #1, before we started doing whole peeled, has that extra step of seeding and cooking and we were just looking to minimize steps. :) Believe it or not, I’ll probably do more crushed next weekend, but at a smaller scale and at a less frenzied pace.

      • says

        Do they have to be pressure canned? I have canned heirlooms whole, & water bathed them, but within a couple of months, about 50% of the cans had aerated themselves, bubbled over, & gone sour on me.

        • says

          Something was wrong with your process, I’m sorry to say, my dear. You likely had some sort of anaerobic ferment which is VERY scary because of the potential for botulism toxin growth. So tomatoes are borderline acidic. Which means that they are safe to WBC but you need to add a small amount of acid to each jar to bring them into the strongly acidic category. They also require a relatively long WBC processing time. My whole tomatoes were in for 85 minutes.

          • Maggie says

            When I’ve canned whole tomatoes I’ve always added lemon juice, regardless of the tomato variety. I think I also tend to err on the side of adding too much lemon juice, but I’ve learned to just rinse the tomatoes when I open the jar to use them so my sauces and soups aren’t super-acidic. Below is the website that I’ve turned to for directions on how to safely can various fruits and vegetables, and so far everything has turned out well. Happy canning!


          • says

            Yeah… this was a few years back & I’m not sure that I was adding acid at all at the time .. most were kept refrigerated & used quickly & I think we just BWB the rest for something like 25 mins & “hoped” they would survive. We had some 75# of heirlooms coming out of just our garden & it was coming out our ears. We weren’t upset. I’ve been told (by unedumucated know-it-all aunts) since, that maters aren’t cannable without a pressure canner, which I didn’t believe, so I wanted to check with the canning queen herself. Thanks!

  6. Joy says

    Nice job! I put up a few dozen jars of peach and apricot stuff (jams, plain, spiced, whatever) and then ran out of jars (!!!). Need to restock today because the blackberries are starting to come in fast. Sleep well and massage your calves!

  7. Gina says

    Well, damn. Here I was feeling so smug about putting up a measly 13 pints of crushed tomatoes yesterday afternoon (still more to do today). You are amazing! And how much do I love that your husband participated! Everything looks great.

  8. says

    Wow. You go girl. We sure appreciated you taking your last lucid moments to report here. I have never equaled that kind of output, but your post brought back fond and exhausting memories of canning and freezing in the log cabin without running water, till deep in the night. And this just might be the right moment to finally blog the memory of The Great Peach Party of 1983.

  9. Mary Carman says

    Makes me feel good just seeing all that wonderful food, and it’s not even mine. You have been very busy. I did that when the family of 5 children were still at home. Now it’s just me so much easier.

    • says

      My husband and I did this together, but really for the most part one person canned while the other kept company and managed the kids. I couldn’t have done it solo. Kids have a knack for needing something RIGHT NOW just when your preserve will, if left unattended for 12 seconds, be completely ruined.

      • says

        I had a lovely girl I used to babysit drop by to say hello after more than 10 year because she saw my car in the drive … though I struggled to pull away & was trying my best to not be rude, I was about 30 seconds too late for a week-in-the-making 3 gallon batch of a beautiful nectarine, watermelon & mint preserve =( what do you do if you overcook yours?

  10. says

    I’m utterly inspired.

    I usually just do tomatoes and make sauce with them as I go. Any recipes/ideas for canned tomato sauce? I’d love to come home and open a jar, but one without a label and 160 ingredients I can’t pronounce.

    • says

      Kelly, what I do is save any meaty cores, all the peels and any juice from canning whole or crushed tomatoes. Then I reduce that all down, puree it with an immersion blender, and run the whole thing through a fine mesh strainer. Further reducing if necessary and salt to taste. Add 1/4 teaspoon citric acid (or 1 tbsp bottles lemon juice) in each pint jar (double for quarts) and BWB process 35 min for pints, 40 minutes for qts. I keep my basic tomato sauce really simple, and don’t mess around with adding garlic or onion or basil or whatnot with BWB canned goods unless I’m following a specific recipe. I did a finished spaghetti sauce with meat this round but that was a pressure canner preparation.

  11. Karen says

    SO depressed, in the middle of a move this year that we are doing ourselves without moving company and moving my elderly parents in with us. Have to let all canning go this season. Dang!
    Can you share the Tumeric Dill recipe?

  12. Melanie says

    I know that “to the bone tired” you must of felt. But also the sense of pride and accomplishment of seeing your hard work laid out in front of you in pretty jars. And knowing that maybe just maybe winter will be super easy when it comes to getting meals on the table. Congratulations on your amazing accomplishment! On a different note, have you ever tried Barbara Kingsolvers 3 in 1 day canning recipe that makes 3 different tomato based sauces? (from her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) You might like it, though you do add a fair bit of sugar to the recipe as you go…

  13. Susan says

    It’s all so pretty and sparkly, I feel mesmerized, hungry, and a mild feeling of lazy guilt all at the same time. Awesome job!

    Now the really important question…what’s the homebrew???

  14. Regan says


    I used your no-pectin, low-sugar jam recipe yesterday with 6 lbs. of blackberries. Added cinnamon, Grand Marnier (2 Tbsp.) and a little Jose Cuervo Gold (1 Tbsp.). Divine!

    So, I felt really accomplished having done 11 half pints of jam this weekend. Now…. not so much. On the other hand, you’re such an inspiration! This is my first year canning anything, so next year I’m totally going to go “whole hog”! I would love to see that spread sitting on MY dining room table! Great job!!

  15. marrria says

    you are my hero. when i grow up, i want to be you. so totally inspired – thanks for taking the time to share even while utterly exhausted.

  16. Matt says

    Just canned 9 lbs of fresh blueberries. 7 pounds went into low sugar/low pectin blueberry jam. 2 pounds went into a new recipe: Shallot/balsamic/rosemary blueberry jam. First jam sesh ever too, I am pretty stoked.

  17. Mimi says

    We (husband and I) plan to do our tomato and jam processing next weekend! Very excited, its always a great day. If you are able to share…very interested in that pickle recipe.

  18. says

    WOW. That is an astounding accomplishment, especially in just one weekend! It really makes me want to grow and can MUCH more than I already do.

  19. says

    Amazing… I’ve been canning all summer and haven’t done that much. Would you be willing to share your Spaghetti Sauce with Beef, Bacon and Red Wine recipe?

  20. Jocelyn says

    Impressive indeed. But, the jam gifts aside, how does your family eat all that food in just one year? I couldn’t imagine canning so much food for a normal size family, as I’d be fearful of it going to waste.
    I used to can a lot at one time, even winning my fair share of blue ribbons for my efforts, but I’ve found over the last few years that just a few jars of jam & pickles will suffice, as much of my summer bounty, whole tomatoes, veggies, and fruits etc, now go in the freezer.

  21. says

    Awesome! We tend to spread out our insanity a bit, cause we’re sick like that. Raspberry jam (something like 36 9oz jars) to add to home made yogurt, 4# also frozen, and 32 Quarts of canned beans. We are buying tomatoes this year, and are trying to figure out how much we will need (home made ketchup was a bigger hit than we had thought). Still loads of beets in the garden and we need to replenish the 30Q stocking level we try to go into the winter with on apple sauce as well. Our ‘brag board’ will probably include some honey for the first time in a couple of years as well (finally the girls are bringing in some surplus)…

    • says

      Kaity – followed my own pectin free jam method (link follows), except I pulled the majority of the strawberries from the syrup after a few minutes of simmer so as to preserve their freshness. I then proceeded to reduce the strawberry syrup down to super thick syrup (candy making thickness), reintroduce the barely cooked berries, bring all to quick simmer, add in GM and proceed with WBC. But if you don’t want to do all that back-and-forth with the berries, just do this, wet zing only:

  22. Karen says

    Bravo- that is a huge amount in one weekend. We spread ours out. It’s a season long can-o-rama for us. We’ve done:
    peach salsa (6 pints),
    zucchini relish (6 pints),
    cucumber dill relish (6 pints)
    jams and jellies (about 50 jars of various sizes so far),
    canned peaches (60 litres),
    dill pickles (30 litres),
    pickled beets (8 litres),
    tomatoes (40 litres done and 60 litres still to do plus sauce and ketchup).
    We’ll finish the pesto tonight – probably 30 or more half pint jars. Pears arrive this week (2 bushels) and we will sauce and can 3 or 4 bushels of apples in September. We’ve also frozen a bushel of beans, a bushel of red peppers (both diced and roasted), a half bushel of zucchini (both diced and shredded), a bushel of peaches, about 20 litres of blueberries and we may do a few more, 20 litres of cherries, and lots of different smaller bags of assorted berries, rhubarb and currants (I haven’t catalogued them all).
    Still to come in the next week or two as things ripen and/or I get good deals at the market: marinated peppers, red pepper jelly, canned and frozen plums, plum sauce, crabapple jelly, watermelon to be pureed and frozen for smoothies, corn on the cob and off the cob to be frozen, salsa verde, grape juice and grape jelly/jam. At this time of year, if it isn’t moving, I am either freezing or canning it – lol.

  23. Linda Hoppa says

    Just love your blog. How beautiful all of the canned goods look. I just put 9 pint jars of sweet and tangy barbeque sauce in the larder. Took 27 lbs of tomatoes and hours of cooking down but it is just fabulous. How wonderful it is to know exactly what goes into each jar canned and what you are feeding your family. Hope you get some rest after your marathon.

  24. Irene says

    Wow, it all looks so beautiful and organized. I have such a mismash of different jars it looks more like a thrift shop of food rather than your elegant department store look! Your pickles and beans look fantastic.

  25. says

    I envy you, your “youth”~! I also can, as we always have excess. We grow exclusively for a restaurant in San Diego that is a “farm to table” restauant. Whatever they don’t take weekly is canned. I’m pushing 70 & I sure wish I had the ability to stay at it for hours like you & your husband. Your fortitude amazes me~! I’ve ventured into some “off the wall” canning recipes this year as so many of the recipes from the past are boring. If you ever come up with a way to pressure can Pesto, Baba Ganoush, Hummous, etc. I would be thrilled. I haven’t read your entire blog but I can tell this is going to be a good “read”~! Thanks…..

    • says

      I dunno about baba ganoush or hummus, but I am 100% sure pesto can’t be canned satisfactorily. Heating the basil causes it to turn black. :( I keep mine in the freezer, in half-pint mason jars, topped with a little layer of olive oil. It stores beautifully that way.

      • BarbaraC says

        I’ve found leaving out the cheese when freezing pesto and adding it just before use really improves the texture. The cheese gets rubbery I think. But I also don’t have a great food processor so the cheese isn’t that finely grated either

        • Karen says

          This is what we do as well. And we skip the cheese entirely in some cases where it is going on a dish with other cheeses, or if we have invited some of our dairy free friends for a meal.

  26. debbie says

    Wow, I am so impressed! Any way that you want to share your Spaghetti Sauce with Beef, Bacon and Red Wine recipe? It sounds divine.

  27. BarbaraC says

    This is awesome. My garden didn’t love the wet PNW spring or my hurt back, so my yields have been pitiful. But I’ve got more raspberries than I know what to do with, so I made shrub this weekend and put up some zuke relish.

  28. says

    Wow. Now I want to get mine back out of the pantry so I can look at it too. LOL

    My harvest comes in fits and starts, so my canning does as well. There is a BIG can-o-rama coming for Chili Sauce and other tomatoey goodness. Maybe tomorrow. Today is yet another batch of blackberries to be dealt with. So delicious, and they plant themselves which is awesome- but wow is this a lot of blackberries this year!

  29. Amanda says

    That first picture is extreeeemely impressive and yet also extreeeemely intimidating for someone like myself who is thinking about trying out canning. :)

  30. Kathy says

    Loved reading about your can a rama (and other stories). I can in small bathes as my GMO tomatoes ripen. Everyday I can a load with an interesting recipe with a new technique I read on about on line. Everyday I go out to the garden and pick another load of tomatoes to do. No can a ramas for me. I learned to can alone and usually prefer it, but maybe tomorrow I’ll let the other half help. Thanks for the tips and recipes. I’ll be following along.

  31. Bushrat says

    Just found your blog and I have a few questions. I am an outdoor enthusiast and travel a lot. I was wondering whether it was possible to jar Gelatin and how long it would last at room temp (being air tight). I know my tallow (rendered from suet) kept almost a year in an air tight glass jar. Would tallow rendered down from marrow keep the same as tallow from suet?

  32. Kristin says

    I’ve always raw packed my peaches. And they always float just like yours are. But I’m afraid to try hot pack…aren’t they mushy?

    My canning friend and I are doing a marathon tomato session on Wednesday…and probably another next week. Canning really is better with a friend.

  33. says

    I have never canned before, but this is inspiring. I live in a tiny studio in San Francisco with no free earth space. BUT – this is making me think of ways to preserve some of that Farmer’s Market Season taste until next year!

  34. greg says

    Interesting i did maybe 20 qts of tomato sauce late summer. Water bath canned them for 30 mi. I cooked the sauce for prob 45 min to hr to get them thick enough but other than a little salt i didnt do anything else to them. We have eaten nearly half of them so far and no problems with anything. Maybe we have realy acidic tomatos? Next year i will triple the ammount i make. Did some tomato jam though that turned out realy good, makes good glaze or bbq sauce base or just put it on a burger in place of ketchup. I did ketchup last yr still have some in freezer it was realy good but we just dont use mutch ketchup even when it is that good.

  35. says

    Sister! How is the bounty holding up? Do you have a can-o-Rama scheduled for this month? I made 8 quarts of peaches, hot packed and they are floaters! How do I get them down??

  36. Michelle M. Fischer says

    I happened on your website during the course of Saturday nite insomnia. I was looking for fun jar label designs. Good stuff here! I love the strawberry jam marguerita idea and the jar used on a blender ….wow who new :) I’m recently getting back into canning after a 20+ year sabbatical to raise kids and work full time. Many thanks for the inspiration. Michelle

  37. Kathy says

    Yeah you. My daughter and I did a lot of canning also. 36 pints of stewed tomatoes, 11 pints carrots, 4 pints of green beans, 39 pints of corn off the cob, 6 quarts of corn on the cob, 15 half pints of zucchini relish, 7 loaves of zucchini bread frozen, 3 loaves of banana bread, frozen, and 18 quart bags of rhubarb, frozen. But we didn’t do it straight. I’d have been in the morgue or at best in bed for a month. I used to be able to do it but I’m in my 70’s now, so it takes a lot longer. But good for you. I am so happy that the younger generation is finally getting it.


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