Canning during the spring season is not what usually comes to mind when I think of filling the pantry with beautiful results of gardening labor. However, that is where I am starting this year.
Goal #1 Use up all my current canned goods. After taking a canning hiatus last year, I find myself still with an abundance of filled jars. Some I have no worries about them being used up soon (beets), others I know are going to take more deliberate planning (green tomato pie filling).
Why not plan to use them throughout the year? Some, like beets, I will. Others, though, have a 2013 date on them. While still good, their quality is in decline; they need to be used soon.
The corn has found a home in a cornbread recipe. The plan is to make muffins and freeze them.
The crushed tomatoes will be used in chili. I was surprised to find howcmanybof these we actually used. If they are still hanging around I will puree them to use while cooking rice.
The tomato sauce, my earliest try at spaghetti sauce, is runny and unflavored. It is currently being used when I cook rice, and will continue to be used as such.
The pickled beets will be eaten as sides. After not having beets for years, I went a bit overboard while canning. Turns out that we do not eat a quart twice a week all tear long. I may start using these to make Harvard beets some meals.
The pearbutter will be dumped unless there is a redeeming recipe somewhere. It would have turned out okay except it needed more sugar. Lots more sugar.
The other jams I will continue to open and use. The only store bought jam we have is apricot jam, which my husband likes but of which I have none.
With our maple syrup supply running low, placing a jar of fruit syrup in the fridge next to the maple syrup would go a long way toward helping me remember we have them. These were failed jelly and jam attempts.
I also have a few loners hanging out in the pantry -a jar of relish, some peppers, a tomato soup combination – these will be moved next to similar items and added to the meal preparations. Our next pizza meal will have banana peppers on it. Yum!
Goal #2 Try some no garden related canning recipes. Last fall, my friend shared a jar of Thai Dipping Sauce she had canned. It was delicious and required no fresh garden products. It is one example of a canning recipe that can be done any time of the year.
Goal #3 Gather and sort all empty canning jars. When filled it is easy to keep similar sized jars together. As jars get emptied, though, I find there is a glitch in my method. Most are in bins and boxes, but enough are in bags, on my work bench and next to toys on shelves in the basement to get the feeling of being surrounded by wayward jars.
How do you approach the start of the next canning season if you still have jars of goods left over from past years? Any particular recipes you use?