Small batches

Because we are senior citizens and just the two of us in the household, the garden is planned to provide for us and not a lot of extra. But providing for us includes not just eating fresh food, but freezing some vegetables and canning others. Toward this goal, I discovered Marisa McClellan’s books on canning in small batches. Typically, most of the canning I do is done in pints and half pints and since we can’t eat a dozen each of several different jams and jellies, her recipes that make only a few half pint jars each are perfect and provide variety.

The exception is usually pasta and pizza sauces. Generally I save tomatoes until there are enough for a full pot, but it usually still canned in pints. Yes, I did use quarts a few days ago when I thawed and canned the pints that were in the freezer, but that is rare. I will use some quarts for tomatillos or jalapenos that go to Son 1, but rarely for our pantry shelves.

This morning, I noticed that the tomatoes that I was gathering on the kitchen window sill needed to be used and was faced with just freezing them, peeling and coring them and then freezing them, or just going ahead and making a batch of something that could be canned. It was just about 2 1/2 pounds of peeled, cored, and diced tomatoes, so not but about a quart’s worth. I decided that I would just make a small batch of pasta sauce. I had used the pint that was in the freezer, the one that evolves when I use less than a pint or make a batch that is more than the jars ready to can, but not enough for another jar. When the freezer jar is full, it is pretty layers of leftover sauce and then it becomes the next jar to use and is thawed in a saucepan with whatever additions I want to add for that meal.

The tomatoes cooked down to rough sauce consistency, made two pints with a new layer to add to last night’s leftover. The biggest stock pot with a silicone pad in the bottom instead of the deep steamer is tall enough for pint jars, though it only holds 4 or 5 safely. The big canner pot takes so long to heat up it isn’t worth using for only a couple pints or half pints. They were canned, just two lonely pints, but the satisfying pop that signaled they sealed means two more for the pantry shelf while I wait for more tomatoes to ripen.

I guess you can call me a southern woman, I was born and raised in Virginia. I am southern enough for some traditional foods like black eyed peas, collards, and grits, but not southern enough for corn bread without a little sugar in the batter, I detest overcooked vegetables with fat back in the pot, and I can’t tolerate sweet tea. One traditional food I do like, but rarely get is fried green tomatoes. This morning as I was picking a couple more tomatoes to add to the sauce that I was prepping, I plucked a medium sized green tomato and made myself 4 slices of fried green tomato with my breakfast.

I still have not received a shipping notice for the reuseable canning lids, but a friend offered me a box which I declined because of having just bought the flat of 4 ounce jars the same day, but then in today’s mail, an angel sent me 4 dozen brand new regular mouth canning lids. This angel is my SIL, she is an avid canner, far more canning than I do. There was the sweetest note saying she noted back in March that lids and jars were hard to come by, started a quest that found them on Amazon at a price gouging price, then landed a windfall. As she was finishing up about 300 jars of her canning, she shared some of hers with me. I now have enough to finish any canning I will get done this season. I know she must read this blog or she wouldn’t have known my need, so thank you, you are the sweetest.

2 thoughts on “Small batches”

    1. She is a sweetheart anyway. But it was so nice and such a surprise. After reading her note of canning about 300 jars, I counted what I have canned and so far only 45. I may freeze some things she cans, but even with Pear Marmalade, Grape Jelly, Applesauce and pear sauce to come, I won’t begin to approach that. I have used another dozen on quick brined pickles and Jalapenos and ferments, but I still won’t come close to 300 jars.

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