When the Ball brand asked me to participate in this year’s Can-it-Forward Day, I accepted. I’ve declined the invitation in the past because, frankly, it looked like a lot of work, equipment and time. As it turns out, it can be all of those things, but doesn’t have to be. And sometimes the work, equipment and time makes for the perfect excuse to have a party.
Speaking of parties, on Friday, July 22, the Ball brand will host its sixth annual Can-it-Forward Day: a day to celebrate the joys of fresh preserving, and encourage both new and veteran canners to preserve more. This year, the event will take place entirely online, via Facebook Live. Throughout the day, the Ball brand and its expert ambassadors will demonstrate a variety of canning recipes in the true spirit of canning it forward. For every engagement received on the videos, whether it’s a comment, like or share, the brand will donate $1 to a local charity.
I had the “new canner” requirement covered by my own involvement. Now I needed to recruit a veteran canner to help me with this project. I immediately approached my friend Chantale Taurozzi, who grew up in Warwick, New York, in a refurbished barn on a retired apple orchard. She’s that person you see on Facebook sharing their latest canning or cooking project. You know, the one who makes you feel lazy as hell.
On our day of canning, I plopped myself at Chantale’s kitchen island and let her do the canning while I did the typing. (I was not being lazy. I had a story to write.) When she pointed out that her kitchen has two sinks and two dishwashers, I knew I’d picked the right partner for this project. “The clean sink is for the canning,” she pointed out. And that, my friends, is dedication.
“Some people like to go to the gym, or read, I cook,” she said with a shrug. Chantale’s love of cooking large quantities came from spending time with her grandmother. “She wouldn’t make one batch, she’d make seven batches,” she said. “Everyone went home with food.”
So as I sat at the kitchen island waiting for the water to boil, I threw out the questions.
DEB: Why do you like canning?
CHANTALE: First, it’s very nostalgic. It reminds me of my grandmother and great aunt and our days at the bungalow by the lake in New York, canning for hours. It’s really an event. You can’t stop once you start. Families make parties out of their canning days. It’s also nice not to have to shop. In the winter, especially, the fruits are so nice to have on hand. We’ve got great peaches, tomatoes. It also gives you a sense of self-sufficiency. After Sandy, I had a cupboard full of food which I gladly shared with neighbors. And, last but not least, you know exactly what’s in your food.
What tips do you have for rookie canners?
1. Learn the science behind canning. Get yourself a Ball brand cookbook. They cover the science and teach you how important it is to preserve correctly. You do have to take it seriously because you can get very sick. Acid is very important.
2. Never reuse the lids.
3. Your dishwasher is good for keeping bottles warm until you’re ready to fill them.
4. Ball’s Facebook page is great for tips.
Chantale also shared her favorite things to can:
- Tomato sauce and pizza sauce.
- Fruit. Peach butter doesn’t require a lot of sugar and it just cooks down. It’s like summer in a jar.
- Raspberry coulis is nice to have around to make your everyday dessert a little fancy.
- Pesto, which I freeze so it stays bright green.
- Barbecue sauce fun to can and brings back summer in the middle of winter.
- Fast pickles—they are super easy.
And she let this newbie in on rookie mistakes to avoid:
- Overfilling the jars.
- Not cooking long enough for the size jar you’re using.
- Not waiting the recommended five minutes after cooking and before removing.
For our Can-it-Forward project I decided to make the Chipotle Tomatillo Salsa, from The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving. It’s an easy, six-ingredient recipe. The first three ingredients go on one baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Throw everything in the blender and you’ve got a tart and smoky salsa pretty much ready to can. That’s my kind of recipe.
Chipotle Tomatillo Salsa
2 lb. (1 kg) fresh tomatillos, husks removed
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup (60 ml) fresh lime juice (about 3 large limes)
½ tsp. (2 ml) salt
3 to 4 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Arrange tomatillos, stem side down, and onion quarters, skin side down, on a large rimmed baking sheet. Wrap garlic cloves in a small piece of aluminum foil. Place foil pouch on 1 corner of baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until tomatillos and onion are beginning to char and soften. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack to cool. When vegetables are cool enough to handle, remove peels, and place in a food processor. Add lime juice and remaining ingredients; process until pureed.
- Transfer mixture to a large stainless steel or enameled saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
- Ladle hot salsa into a hot jar, leaving a ½ inch (1 cm) headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band, and adjust to fingertip-tight. Place jar in boiling-water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
- Process jars 25 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat; remove lid, and let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool.
The folks at Ball sent me four Collection Elite Wide Mouth Pint Jars. These are new 16 oz jars. The salsa recipe I prepared was only enough to fill two jars, which my veteran canning partner thought was hilarious. “Deb, anything under 40 jars is not canning,” she said. Baby steps, Chantale, baby steps.
For a ton of tips and to take the Can-it-Forward pledge this year, visit the Ball brand Tumblr and website. And remember to tune into Facebook Live on July 22 for a fun day of canning tips and fundraising for local charities.