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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Elisse & Dan Can!

For the last 12 years that we've had the Elkhorn Inn, Chef Dan and I have been making pickles, cordial, or freezing all the things we make from our garden and wild harvests: I make Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese-style hot peppers & Mexican Gherkin pickles, we make cordial from the wild black berries we pick, and we freeze the wild blackberry sorbet and sauces we make. We also successfully freeze pestos (basil, rosemary, oregano, etc.), tomato sauce, soups, and even our Red Ruby Corn (which freezes great wrapped in newspaper!). But this year we decided to "take the plunge", as it were, and actually CAN! Yes, real Martha Stewartesque canning, with big vats of boiling water, and Ball jars with the little metal tops and screw-on rings! Dan had canned in the past (pre-me) so he had less fear of it than I, and although it's a lot more time-consuming than plopping things into a freezer bag, it turned out to be surprisingly easy! What made us dip our toe into the canning ocean was another huge harvest of Concord Grapes:
This year's grape harvest!

I planted 3 vines- the "Red, White & Blue American Concord Grapes" assortment that I mail-ordered when we first restored the Inn 12 years ago- almost as a joke, but last year they Finally started producing- big-time! With our first real grape harvest I made wine- incredibly sweet wine (which has actually aged quite nicely in Mason Jars, LOL). And as we still haven't finished off the wine, we wanted to do something different with our grapes this year. Having an inn means we always need jam for guest breakfasts, so Concord Grape Jam sounded like the perfect thing to make- and jam needs to be properly canned! The first thing we did was pull up Really Good and Clear Canning Instructions online so we would do it correctly- it is EXTREMELY important that you can correctly if you don't want your food to spoil. Then we bought the Ball jars with their lids and rings, and the tools we needed (a jar tightener and a jar lifter, to get the jars in and out of the boiling water), and pulled our our big canning pots. Then we started pulling recipes: We picked a classic grape jam recipe for the Red & Blue Concord Grapes, and a white Concord Grape jam with Lemon Balm (which grows abundantly in our garden).

Grapes on the vine!
Our Concord Grape Wine!

Our Concord Grape Jams- CANNED!
Between the cooking and the boiling and the boiling and the cooking, we wound up staying up all night, and at 5:30a.m. we finally had bottled up the jam properly and had it cooling on the counter! I have to say we were Really pleased at how it came out... and so the next night Chef Dan then decided to make Apple Butter and can it!

Next on the agenda: freezing the Red Ruby Corn and tomato sauce, making and freezing Chef Dan's Yellow Corn Soup, and making more hot pepper pickles and hot sauce! And then we have to dig to potatoes!

Chef Dan's Apple Butter- CANNED!

Heirloom Tomato Sauce!
Some of our garden's bounty!
Chef Dan with our Red Ruby Corn & Squash!

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