Multibatch Canning

Call it impressive or call it procrastination: We sealed up 85 jars of goodness on Sunday. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
Winter came early to Montana this year. The first flakes started coming down at home September 28, while we were sailing in Canada’s Gulf Islands. By the time I got home a month later, more snow and single-digit mornings were just days away.

It made for some interesting fall garden cleanup and canning. We managed to dig the last of this year’s carrots and beets and stuff next year’s garlic before the pre-Halloween storm, but we had to wait until last weekend to do the final round of canning with apples, tomatoes, and tomatillos. Call it impressive or call it procrastination: We sealed up 85 jars of goodness on Sunday. Read on for more about multibatch canning and boxing vegetables on the cusp of winter.
Read more for canning tricks and storage tips

Tomatoes

Grilling and preserving pair perfectly, and their advantages stretch far beyond flavor. Get grilled tomato recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
You’ve probably noticed that I love grilled vegetables. I also love home-canned goods, and the techniques of grilling and preserving pair together perfectly. The advantages of grilling for canning stretch far beyond flavor, particularly for tomatoes.

Grilling combined with freezing makes it easy to start processing vegetables as they ripen throughout the growing season, making preserving seem more like a habit than a chore. During tomato season, we pull the ripest fruit from the vine every few days. That evening, we fire up the grill and cook off a rack or two of tomatoes; the hot halves go straight into a colander set over a large bowl to drain off the juice—usually while we’re enjoying a grilled dinner. Once they’re cool, I pour the separated solids and juice into separate containers, weighing and labeling each before adding them to the freezer.

When the freezer’s full, I have two products ready for processing: solids and juice. Because the juice was drained off, any sauce or salsa doesn’t have to cook for hours to thicken. Because the solids have already been pulled out of the juice, I can quickly apply it to any recipe, from beverage to soup. In just a couple of hours, I can have several canner batches processed for long-term storage. The freezer is ready for the next round of preserving, and the canning shelves are full of delicious fire-roasted flavors.
Learn to make Grilled Tomato Pasta Sauce and Tomato Juice Soup

Pears

Lower-sugar, fruit-forward spreads easily last a couple of weeks in the fridge once open. Get pear recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Over the years, I’ve experimented with many ways to preserve pears. They don’t keep as well in dry storage as apples, and I rarely used them when frozen, so they don’t yet have a home on my quick-save list. Dehydrating works well if you want them for backpacking or snacks. My mom always canned them in syrup when I was growing up, and when I have a bumper crop I’ll put up a few jars in brandy syrup or lightly sweetened pickle brine.

Mostly I save pears as preserves. The first time I made marmalade with ginger and pears, I followed a Ball recipe that used 1 part sugar to 2 parts fruit and found it to be overly sweet. I’ve since discovered that because the natural acidity of pears makes them safely shelf stable, the sugar primarily keeps the jam from molding once it’s open and sitting in the fridge. By melding Ball’s recipe with other lower-sugar versions, I came up with a fruit-forward marmalade that easily lasts a couple of weeks in the fridge once open, as well as a jam that pairs pears with tart cranberries.
Learn to make Pear–Ginger Marmalade and Pear–Cranberry Jam

Classic Zucchini

My mom tried every way she could think of to feed us zucchini. I still rely on her classic and newer recipes. Get zucchini recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
As I was growing up, my mom tried every way she could think of to feed us zucchini. My dad always planted several hills, plus a couple extra in case one failed, and Mom found endless ways to sneak it into dishes once the crop started coming in. Chocolate zucchini cake was her favorite way to disguise the squash: the texture gave it away, but that didn’t stop us from reaching for a slice. She also processed it as pickles, relish, and even salsa.

My favorite way to save zucchini today is grated and frozen for pancakes and quick bread. But if you’re short on freezer space, pickled zucchini becomes far more attractive. The year before I was born, my great-aunt Verle gave my mom a classic zucchini relish recipe that Mom made for decades. She claims we liked it even better than Cucumber Relish. Zuke relish doesn’t stand out in my memories, but I loved relish as a kid, so I must have been eating a lot of these jars. It’s stood the test of time; my great-aunt’s original recipe required only minor tweaks to match today’s safe-canning standards.
Learn to make Zucchini Relish and Bread-and-Butter Zucchini Refrigerator Pickles