Thursday, October 22, 2009

Recipes for Disaster

After that first canning experience I knew I had been beaten. But since I don't give up easily I armed myself with better tools and determined to forge ahead.

First - I went out and got myself an actual canning kettle. One that was made for pint jars because honestly, I don't see myself canning quarts anymore.

And because my timing is always dead on, the day I bought the kettle, I got a call from Thatmom saying she found all of Thatdad's canning gear.

Second, I started all my prep the night before. With the right gear, and all the tomatoes pureed, onions and apples chopped, I figured this canning process would be a breeze.

I was so wrong.

Now, I know that it is completely a sign of a poor cook to blame the recipe. But honestly? There is something completely wrong with the recipes in AVM. I know I've said it before, but as I stood in tears in Thatmom's kitchen I knew there was nothing I was doing wrong. I am fairly positive that no one ever tested or made these recipes.

The first obstacle I ran into was the amount. Seriously - do people can in the bathtub? Who has pots big enough for this nonsense? And I really don't think the Kingsolvers really ever made this recipe whatsoever because really - the amount of tomatoes they call for does not match the number of quarts produced and the number of quarts the recipe calls for makes WAY more product than they claim it will.

The only pot I had big enough for all the ingredients was the new canning kettle I had purchased. And even that was a little on the full side.

The next problem was that NOTHING thickened. Ever. The barbeque sauce never got thick after HOURS of boiling. Now I'm a science girl. I understand the properties of heat, liquid and evaporation. There's no reason why the sauce shouldn't have thickened. But it didn't. And the peach sauce? Sugar, water, fruit. I've used this combo time and time again for filling and it always thickens. And yet, this recipe refused to thicken. Which gave me three different "products" that were all liquidy sauces.

My third problem proves to me that no editor went through and attempted these recipes, because the second part of the recipe has a list of ingredients that AVM fails to tell you what to do in, there are no directions telling you when to add the garlic and tabasco. Do you add them to the peaches? The peach "syrup" (or in my case peach water)? The sweet and sour sauce? This is pretty much when the tears started.

The final issue was the amount of product created. The recipe calls for 14 pint jars and 7 half pint jars. After filling these jars, I had SO much chutney left over. Into tupperwear it went and Thatboy and I have been having chutney for dinner every night. And probably will for weeks and weeks to come. Roast chicken with chutney, Roast pork with chutney - tomorrow night's dinner is chicken satay with chutney. I'm lucky Thatboy is so easy going with dinner. Although it helps that I've promised never to can again after this last debacle. And the amount of product I have will last me pretty much until we die. (and maybe a week after that)

Barbeque Relish, Sweet and Sour Sauce, and Chutney (recipe from


  1. Shame, my friend. I feel for you. The little filled jars do not look all that bad, but I think the tears must have been from wasting???

  2. Sorry to hear, I am sure I would be in the same boat as you. Better luck next time - although somehow I think you have given up.

  3. "And because my timing is always dead on, the day I bought the kettle, I got a call from Thatmom saying she found all of Thatdad's canning gear." <= now that is the story of my life! This made me laugh out loud! This is why I don't can- so much work for such little product and now I know why the stuff is so expensive to purchase! But was it all yummy? I hope so!

  4. My hat is off to you! What a valant effort. Isn't it great that we don't depend on these efforts to actually survive.
    I loved this blog post!

  5. A for effort, seriously. I'm pissed on your behalf that the recipes are all jacked up - that is so so ridiculous!!

  6. omg,no offense but I am cracking up!! Definitely avoid canning. Or rather can AVM.

  7. Everyone says canning is easy, but I think it's scary. This post reinforces that fear for me. Mind you, the final product looks good.