It is finally Fall. Time to be rewarded by the fruits of Summerâ€™s labors.
Each year, my family organizes a Canning day, providing a great opportunity to get everyone together and stock up on bottled vegis, jams, spaghetti sauce, and pizza rolls. Autumn weather is perfect to be outside and makes garden gathering enjoyable.
One way to minimize the work and mess is to move everything from the picking to the boiling completely outside. Just put up a camp table next to your garden and you have a nice work area to use, leaving your kitchen clean. A Camp Chef two or three burner stove will provide ample heat. Our two burner Explorer does the job quite nicely with one burner for blanching and other various cooking needs and the other for the boiling pot. The boiling burner keeps running all day long to cycle through the tomato jars. We usually will do fajitas in a Dutch ovenor a large pot of spaghetti to bag and freeze while we wait for the tomatoes.
While the adults work through the sauces, tomatoes and other cooking intensive activities, the kids enjoy gathering berries for jam. Of course we might actually get more jam if half of the berries werenâ€™t eaten in the picking process, but just the same. The kids have a great time and they enjoy doing it. They can even do the job of smashing the berries and mixing in the sugar and pectin. Not only are the various steps in making jam easy for kids, but they will bring up the fact that â€œthis is the jam we madeâ€ almost every time we make sandwiches. One tip, make sure the clothes they are wearing are not your favorites.
By late afternoon, it is time to make pizza rolls. Ground wheat flour and pizza sauce from some of the tomatoes makes a very fresh tasting and healthy meal or snack food. We were getting hungry as it closed in on dinner time and wanted to move through the rolls quickly. To speed up the cooking, we used both the regular kitchen oven and our Camp Chef Camp Oven. It was a pleasant surprise to find that this oven, small as it, can really turn some output. With enough room for two small cookie sheets, the Camp Oven was able to cook about 20 rolls at a time. I love having these rolls in the freezer to grab-and-go on my way out of the house in the mornings. We pre-cook them so they only need to be warmed up for lunch. Perfect!
Everyone had plenty of work to do and everyone had a great time. The evening closed with all the kids falling asleep on the couch watching a movie. Gotta love that. I look forward to saving some cash and still eating good from the garden all winter. Check out more canning pics posted on the Outdoor Cooking Facebook page.