Four years ago when we were moving here I made a rash decision. You see that is easy to do when you are having a moving sale on your driveway while the moving truck is being packed on the street. Suddenly when you are faced with packing up all your worldly goods to ship them 2000 miles a lot of things seem to loose their value. That was the story with all of my canning supplies. I don’t even remember what I got for them, but in an instant when the woman with her curious and critical yard sale eye looked them over and asked, “Are these for sale?” I said, “Sure!” and just like that, years of collecting and planning was loaded in to her trunk!
When I chose a stove for our new home, I thought about that rash decision and decided I must not have really wanted to pursue canning anymore and chose a ceramic cook top. For the most part I like it. I have vacillated on the gas vs. electric debate and on this particular day I must have been feeling electric. Over the years there has only been one thing the stovetop has left me wanting for, to be able to can.
Growing up I thought my mom was “Super Mom.” Her home was kept neat as a pin, she never missed any activity we were in, she volunteered countless hours at school, planned summer camps for the Girl Scouts, chaperoned youth group trips, made a home cooked meal every night… I’m getting exhausted with just making the list and she was the mother of 4 kids 2 ½ years apart! At some point in the summer, usually after camp and before school started, the fruits would arrive. I remember peaches and pears hiding out in boxes waiting for just the right firmness and in a flurry she would begin. Sometime the process would be days on end and sometimes spaced out, it was up to the fruit.
Our families galley style kitchen would be over taken with jars and bands, sinks full of floating peaches, or a pot on the stove with a food mill on top, and always was the presence of a very large dark blue enamelware pot. The canner would steam away on the stove and fill the air with a thick humidity that was so out of the ordinary in our Northwest home. When she was done the counters would show like stained glass. Each fruit like a color of an artist palate glowing from within the shiny clear jars. I remember watching her carefully tip jars of jam to watch the consistency and listen for the ping that would signal that the lids had properly sealed. I remember thinking it was a lot of work for something you could just go buy at the grocery store!
A month ago I went back to my mom’s home to gather some of her belongings to take home with me. One of the things I wanted to have was her canning book. Reading it has been something like looking through a journal and a diary. A lot of facts and a lot of feeling! I have really enjoyed it and it has reignited the desire to can for my own family. Boy was I wrong as a kid! After years of searching I have found that NOTHING compares to my mom’s home canning! (Although Hood Crest out of Hood River, OR comes very close!) So that meant that my dilemma needed solving and my budget doesn’t allow for replacing my stovetop!
In my quest for finding a solution I ran across a comment someone posted about the Masterbuilt Turk’N’Surf. This appliance is a turkey fryer that can also double as a crab pot. The person commenting said that they used it for canning and it worked for them. It is electric, which means I can use it indoors. I’d consider that a plus, not canning outdoors in the Midwest = much less humidity! I decided to give it a try and ordered one. On Labor Day we took the kids to Stone’s Apple-Barn and armed with my Turk’N’Surf and 40 pounds of apples I set out to see what I could do. It worked great and there was even the benefit of not having a canner on the stovetop, so I could use all of the burners for cooking! Here are some pictures of my mom’s book and the canning results: