Yes, I Canned

Categories: Canning | 5 Comments
Posted Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 at 10:50 am

I have two words for my first canning experience.  Nerve.  Wracking.  I suppose I’m an excitable type, but rarely in the kitchen have I gotten my adrenaline going to such a pitch as I did puttin’ up chutney.

It began simply enough.  Peeling the leathery skin off the sunset-hued persimmon and  chopping the sweet smelling apple all created a meditative calm.  Then mixing the ingredients with the vinegar, lime juice and spices, releasing an exotic, sour aroma.


Putting the chutney in a pot, I was soon lulled by its gentle simmer.  Then I remembered I was in the middle of an experiment.  I  pulled out what I intended to use as a canning rack and saw that it wouldn’t work at all!

A canning rack is something used to elevate the jars from the bottom of the pot so they aren’t in direct contact with the flame or the metal…so they don’t explode.  I panicked.  Wasted fruit.  Time I would never get back.  Zero jars of chutney to show for it.

Luckily I’m blessed with neighbors who love to cook.  I emailed Brooke and Edie an SOS: “Help!  Immediate need for canning rack.  You are my only hope.”  With the chutney half-way done, I knew I only had minutes to “MacGyver” a solution.

Like  canners’ angels they both wrote back right away. Brooke had the goods and said I could borrow hers.  But the water was boiling fast. Luckily, my brilliant husband called, responding to my anguished text, and came up with a quick solution: use our trivet.  Turned out it fit perfectly in the bottom of the pot.  Problem solved, I went back to work.

After putting the jars in the oven for 15 minutes at 225, they were well heated.  The chutney was done, the water was boiling, the clock was ticking, the heat was rising.  Everything had to happen all at once.  I had no idea what I was doing.

I went into this with only cursory understanding of the process.  I figured learning in the heat of the moment  would permanently seal the correct methods into my brain, like summer tomatoes in a jar.

Opening for the first time my cute lil’ canner’s kit, I found the funnel and used it to ladle in the chutney (which was delicious, by the way!). Was I supposed to immediately seal the jars and place each one in the boiling water as they were ready, or put all the jars in the water at once?

Split second decisions all of which could lead to death by botulism!

Speed reading through the 400+ page tome Ball Complete Guide To Home Preserving, I gleaned that each jar should be immediately sealed and  placed in the water.  The rim of the jars should be wiped clean with a paper towels to ensure proper sealing.  The lids shouldn’t be screwed on too tight so that they may vent.  When all the jars are in the water, then turn it up to a boil and begin the timing.  In canning, as in comedy, timing is everything.

15 minutes and zero explosions later and voila!  Two jars or Persimmon Chutney!

I’m still kinda scared to eat it though!




  1. Sally

    Bravo! They’re beautiful! You have now completed the canning course. Instead of a rack you can always put a dishtowel in the bottom of the pot (it will float, but you can shove it down.) All you need to do is keep the jars from clinking against each other and protect them from the heat of the burner. I like your jars, too.

  2. Amanda

    Congrats on taking the canning plunge. I’ve always wanted to try canning but I’ve been held back by my fear of exploding glass shards or deadly botox poisoning (heh). This book has been on my wishlist for awhile — Do you have that one?

    And congrats also on your new blog! I just finished Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. A new way to think about eating and living…difficult yet rewarding.

  3. Evangeline

    Luckily you can only get botox poisoning when you’re trying to preserve your face, not your food. I actually took another canning class this weekend, which I’ll be posting about soon, and now am officially over my canning fears. I just bought 36 jars at Smart N’ Final, so I’m all set to go.

    The Ball Book of Canning and Preserving is a great resource. I’ve also found two fantastic blogs: and I have heard about the book you mentioned, but haven’t checked it out yet.

    Re: Michael Pollan. I’m still reading his other book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, however, I’ll pick that one up next. He’s such a good writer and doing such important work!

  4. FarmApartment » Pumpkin Three Way

    [...] where we enjoyed a pot luck feast.  I brought a Pumpkin Pie (recipe below), cranberry sauce and my Persimmon Chutney, which was a big hit.  The chutney ended up being served on the cheese platter, a brilliant [...]

  5. David King

    Hey Evangeline! Good to meet you today. I had the same experience you report in this post – I ended up using the bottom grate of a Smokey Joe grill in the bottom of my canner! Worked good enough… Thanks to your post I have a use for the non-astringent persimmons someone gave me (I was going to slice them and dry them, might still with some of them). If you ever get the astringent type, I have a deadly persimmon jam recipe that is awesome! Tastes like a smokey mango jam. YUM!

    Good to connect. See ya in the garden.


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