When we first moved in to our house in April, a neighbour of mine told me that our garden ‘really produces’. At first I was worried because that meant that if I didn’t have a good crop, then it was me, and not the garden. I could never have prepared myself for the harvest at the end of the season. Even after losing about half of our tomatoes to frost at the end of the summer, we still had a huge haul. So much so that we still have a couple of months worth of tomatoes and potatoes left.
So, if you were successful at gardening like me and you are still looking at a mountain of produce and wondering how you will finish it before it goes bad, I have a suggestion for you — Canning! And when I think of canning, the company that comes to my mind is Bernardin. Bernardin has been a leader in quality canning products for Canadians for over 100 years.
I’ve been looking at canning equipment for some time now and wasn’t sure if I would be good at it. I was so excited when I talked to the great people at Bernardin and they sent me their Home Canning Starter Kit to try out. This kit makes it virtually impossible not to be a success at canning.
The kit comes with a 21 quart canner pot, a rack, jar lifter, funnel, magnetic lid lifter, bubble remover, 4 pack of decorative jars with lids, Original Crystals pectin and my absolute favorite part, a recipe booklet that I now call my ‘food bible’. In a nutshell, EVERYTHING you need to get started.
The book is over 400 pages long and includes detailed instructions and pictures. It even has recipes for tomato paste, pizza sauce, cocktail sauce and more. So not only are you making fresh food for the family, you know exactly what is going in to it. I planned my garden this year based on what I wanted to eat during the summer months. I will still do that next year, but I am taking this winter to read through the book and earmark recipes I want to make and I will also be planting according to what I want to can next fall.
For my first try, I made the Fresh Vegetable Salsa. Papa Bird is a fan and connoisseur of salsa so I thought it would be a great recipe to try out.
I laid everything out, followed the easy directions and made my first batch. I followed the directions to a ‘T’, mostly because I hate it when people don’t follow recipes then say they didn’t like it, so I followed it exactly.
Included in the directions was how to boil the jars and lids before hand and everything went smoothly and I was pretty impressed with myself. I cooked the salsa and filled the hot jars, then returned them to the hot water to finish and set them up right as per the instructions.
A few days later, it was time to taste my homemade version of Papa Bird’s favorite snack food on earth. I really don’t know what happened as it was all a blur. Half way through the first jar, we both realized we were racing each other to finish it, it was so good.
Papa Bird then said “Next time we are out, we’re picking you up more of those canning jars. What else can you make?” Score! It was fantastic.
The complete canning kit with everything I mentioned above is available for online purchase at Golda’s Kitchen for $65.00 CAD and would make a great gift for anyone who ever considered trying canning. I’ve also found a lot of Bernardin products at my local Canadian Tire store at great prices.
You work so hard all summer for your great crops, why not prolong some of that fresh flavour so you can enjoy your vegetables year round, especially while the snow is falling?
Bernardin also has a couple of great contests going on their site right now. You can enter to win their 2010 Bernardin Shopping Spree Contest and win 1 of 10 $1,000 Bernardin Shopping Sprees, or you can enter their Because you ‘Can’ Sweepstakes to win a trip for 2 to Toronto for a cook-off to see who will get in to the next Bernardin Canning cookbook.
* I received the complete Canning Kit for free to complete my review. The opinions expressed in this post are mine only and are in no way influenced by any outside factors.