Whew! I feel like I should pour myself a shot of something stiff. I’m not sure words can do justice the high-stakes operation that just took place in my kitchen. Drum roll, please……………
I canned some applesauce.
Eight jars to be exact. My heart is racing, my arms are shaking and I haven’t taken a full breath in about an hour!
If there ever was a test of Good Girl’s ability to balance rules with imperfection, canning is it. There are lots of rules to canning and it seems to me that the consequences of not following these rules are certain death for my family! I don’t know if there is any truth to that at all. But when I hear words like “sterilize” and “bacteria” the Good Girl switch is activated and I go into high alert. Let’s just say this, my 5 year old is no longer speaking to me and my husband just said I was being aggressive. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
This is my second attempt to can applesauce. I tried last year but I was so uncertain of my abilities that we just ate it all within a week and kept it in the refrigerator. I didn’t want to let this year go by without at least one attempt to build my skills. I hope someday to be a master canner! With a huge garden! And chickens! But, I digress. . .
So, I called up my canning mentor (our amazing landlord and former neighbor). He supplied me with the water-bath canner, the jar grabber and the little magnetic do-dad you need for the lids. How lovely! I got myself some 8 oz jars. We picked our last batch of apples Wednesday. The stage was set.
Today I awoke knowing this gray, rainy Sunday morning was my golden opportunity to give it a go. I completely expected to find this year far easier than last. This happens to me a lot in my homemaking skills. But canning seems to be a bit trickier than other domestic endeavors. I guess because of the whole botulism thing. Ipso facto, I read the instructions about a thousand times as I began prepping my kitchen.
Step one: Wash the jars on sanitize. This step is always the one that foils my plans. We have a lovely new dishwasher that is energy efficient. What that means is that you can never know how long a cycle will take because it varies based on the water temperature. As you’ll see below, this greatly adds to my stress.
Step two: Peel and chop. Add a bit of this and a bit of that. Cook the apples. Revel in the glorious smell of FALL permeating the house. This year, I used a delicious new recipe from Sparkle Kitchen.
Step three: Start the water a-boiling. And this is where things get dicey. It seems like canning is all about timing. Everything has to be hot when you do this so timing is essential. Remember how long it takes a huge pot of water to boil? Forever! And remember I have no idea how long the sanitize mode of the dishwasher will take. Of course, just to make me squirm, the lids can’t actually be in boiling water. Hot but not too hot. Good Girl’s blood pressure is rising.
Step four: Assemble the tools. Wow, look how organized I am! I feel ready to handle this. But just in case, reread the instructions, again.
Step five through infinity: This is where the frenzy begins. Pots are boiling, the dishwasher finally stopped running, the applesauce is done, the water for the lids is “not quite boiling” and I think I’m ready. At this point, two children with big clear-plastic tubs on their heads enter the kitchen. And Good Girl gets tense. “Honey, NOW is what I’ve been telling you about! I need to have a kitchen with no children in it!” E has been prepped that when all the pots converge, Daddy distraction will be key.
Thankfully, the children move to the laundry room to get dressed for some outside time. Not so thankfully, they are all still talking to me as the laundry room is right next to the kitchen. I’m food processing, I’m funneling, I’m wiping rims, I’m trying to catch the rims on the right side with the magnetic do-dad and they are all talking to me! I can’t think! I can’t follow all the rules AND have people talking at me! This is the point where you entered. See the above-mentioned snide comment from hubby and silent treatment from Big C.
Well, I’m not sure how it all happened. But just moments later, I had my first batch out of the canner, resting in it’s spot where it must remain undisturbed. A second batch soaked in the boiling bath. I let out my breath. I now actually have 15 minutes before I have to DO anything else! My family must have finally made it outside because it’s very quiet. And like I said, I think I need a shot of tequila! Hopefully some warm, spiced applesauce waiting for my family will soothe their ruffled feathers. And hopefully, when we bust out a jar of applesauce in February, everyone will agree it was all worth Mommy going a bit nutty, for a taste of fall in February.