17 June 2010

Playing with food: fresh lettuce and first-time canning projects

Although some of my plants are looking a bit sickly, the lettuce is holding up remarkably well, considering the hot, humid weather. I think I'll keep planting it throughout the summer and into the fall.

In addition to harvesting more lettuce, I finally tried canning, after reading several books about it and taking a canning workshop. I decided to make strawberry jam and dill pickles, both which took me much of Sunday. Like a moron, I used the wrong side of the jar lifter, which I only realized when the plastic handles (which I thought were the jar-lifting grips) fell off in the pot, becoming irreparably warped in the process. I also spilled boiling water on myself at least 4 times and ran out of brine, forcing me to quickly make a new batch.

Still, I was mighty proud of the finished products. I haven't tried the pickles yet, since I want them to sit in the brine for a couple weeks. The jam, however, was amazingly good, though perhaps a bit on the sweet side.

While I didn't save money on making my own jam, I certainly did with the pickles. At Headhouse Farmer's Market I bought 15 pickling cucumbers for $5. I used 11 of them, which yielded 3 quarts of pickles. I purchased 2 quarts of strawberries (also at Headhouse) for $13, and they yielded 2 and 1/2 pints of jam. Next time, I'll go to a Pick-Your-Own farm for strawberries -- I hear there are some great spots both near Philly and in Jersey.

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