I had a realization yesterday. It dawned on me that I am what you call a volume canner. I always thought, “I do a fair amount of canning.” and was fine with that. But when I posted a picture of a small portion of what I had taken advantage of the long holiday weekend to preserve, folks’ reactions made me consider it a little more deeply. “Wow!!” “Woah!!!” “Holy moly!” Er, what?
Oh, I guess not everyone fills five hundred jars in an average summer? (Duh, Rebecca.) Obsessed? Yeah, quite possibly… but here’s the thing. I fill jars with items that are delicious, versatile, and NOT PURCHASABLE. Okay, maybe some of the items can be bought in a store, but the majority of them are unattainable unless you make them yourself or are friends with an obsessive canner (like me) who likes to share the proverbial or literal fruits of their labor (like me. Alright. The truth is that if you walk in my house in canning season, you’re likely to find yourself cornered with a spoon full of something pushed toward your face and the phrase, “Try this and tell me what you think!” uttered earnestly.) And the items that can (pun alert) be bought? I like to think my version tastes a little fresher, is a little better for you, and has a little more romance to it. I’m looking your way concord grape jelly made from grapes I picked with my kids.
I have about five items I make in quantities that give even me pause when I contemplate the numbers. Smoky Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa (at least 86 pints each summer), Candied Jalapenos (in excess of 100 jars annually between what we eat and what we give for gifts), Garlic Dill Pickles (anywhere between 76 and 96 quarts), Homemade Unsweetened Fruit Juice (apple, Concord grape, Niagara grape about 60 quarts of concentrate), and the good stuff you see in that picture above (this year, I have about 50 pints and I’m still planning on another couple of batches!) What you’re looking at is Zesty Corn Relish.
Zesty Corn Relish is the combined adaptation of a recipe from ‘The Joy of Pickling’ by my little sister, Jessamine, and I. Jess and I share the canning madness and when the weather cools, we often swap our goods. A while back, Jess passed a jar of her version of the corn relish my way. It sat on my shelves among my other canned goods for a while waiting for the right moment. That moment came one night when we had Pulled Pork Tacos (made with this recipe!) on deck and I realized I had forgotten to make any goodies to serve on top. The jar of Jessie’s corn relish came up from the basement and disappeared instantly amidst indecent noises of approval and joy. We knew that was getting made in abundance at that moment.
Jess shared her alterations to the recipe with me, and I decided to add a little more heat to the party by adding jalapeños. The result is a jar of FRESH corn taste (you know corn never tastes as good as when it’s fresh from the field, right? This gets pretty darned close and is a heckuva lot closer than any frozen or canned corn you can buy at the store in February!) that has a surprising chameleon quality. It goes with e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Tacos, chili, beans and rice, pot roast (this use comes straight from my Grandma and it is glorious, let me tell you!), grilled or broiled chicken, pork, or fish, sausage… Put it on or in just about anything, stir it into jarred salsa for extra texture or serve it alone with tortilla chips as a stand alone salsa. My sis serves it as a side salad sometimes! Trust me. Once you’ve tried this, you’re going to want shelves lined with crunchy, savoury, sweet, zippy, Zesty Corn Relish.
So tell me… do you can? Are you a hobby canner or an obsessive one or somewhere in between? If you’re new to canning and need the gear, below are links to my favourite canning equipment.
Canning Gear Basics:
(all Amazon.com affiliate links.)