Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Blow to My Confidence

I have been canning since I was about 12. At first it was applesauce, peaches and pears. Then we moved and Mom planted a big garden. Then it was beans, beets, corn, and tomatoes.

When The Man About the Place and I moved to our house, we planted a garden. That was 12 years ago. And every year we've canned. Just like I was taught, just like I've always done.

This past Friday, The Man pulled all the beets. Two five-gallon buckets and half of another one full of beautiful beets. Two were as big as softballs.

Saturday morning I began the process. Wash the beets, boil for about 15-25 minutes, plunge into cold water, slip off the skins, dice, fill clean quart jar, add 1 teaspoon salt, cover with water, put on lid and ring. When there are 7 full jars, place in pressure canner, and process for 35 minutes. Remove from canner (once the pressure has dropped) and wait for the "sound" (the lid sealing).

First canner full came out just fine. Second canner full - in three of the seven jars, the beets turned a disgusting shade of poop brown. Interesting, I thought. Last canner full - all seven of the jars turned a disgusting shade of poop brown.

At this point, I began to question my canning ability. This had never happened before. I did everything just like I've done for years. Why this, why now? This doesn't bode well for the rest of the canning season.

I looked on the internet, talked to my canning sister, emailed my brother in China and none of them had any ideas why this would happen. The only thing I could figure out was that there was some kind of reaction between the beets and "something." What that something is, I have no idea.

My brave Man of the Place opened a jar, tasted them and said that they tasted different, not bad, just different. He said the texture was different too.

Yesterday, he opened all the other jars and dumped them in the composter. I couldn't bring myself to save them. My stomach turned just looking at them. Half of my hard work, rotting in the garden.

My canning confidence has taken a blow. I hope the rest of the season is not like this or we'll be hungry this winter.

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