This is the first year we have ever successfully planted, grown and harvested beets or carrots. Drum roll please! Now that doesn't mean we did a great job.
The carrots look pretty good growing by the tomatoes.
But the beets had to share space with a lot of grass and weeds.
Still, our harvest was larger than we expected. We hope to learn a lot from this new experience.
I went ahead and picked both crops because I don't think we have enough of either to fill up the canner. I was glad to find out they are both processed for 30 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.
Our carrots are twisted and gnarled because we need to plow the garden deeper for root crops - but they taste good.
I cut off the greens outside so I wouldn't accidentally bring in any bugs.
Not bad for a little patch. We'll see how many this turns out to be when they are cut up and ready to be put in the jars.
Most of the beets are small, only a few are a good size. There were more than I thought there would be. It is so interesting to see how a harvest turns out.
I had read that it is better to twist off the greens instead of cutting them. When beet greens are cut they tend to bleed out more of the color.
I saved all of the greens for the chickens. I don't know if they will eat this many in a day, but the weather is very hot and these greens won't last, so the chickens get greens for breakfast today.
Now it's time to get ready to can. We are not pickling the beets, just canning them in water. Frank likes them better that way and I have never been much of a beet eater. After all the work of growing and preserving them, though, I think I will be eating more beets.
First, wash everything. The carrots need to be washed...........
The beets are boiled for about 20 minutes after they are washed.
Then rinsed in cold water to loosen the skin.
Next, cut off the root and the stem.
Most of the skins slipped off very easily. Only a few needed to be peeled some with the knife.
Slice them up, and they are ready to go.
While I was working on the carrots and beets....
Frank was getting the jars ready. We pour boiling water in a milk bucket and roll the jars around.
You know how hard it is to keep your cookbook open to the right page? Frank got a piece of plexiglass that would fit over most of my cookbooks. It works great!
And it fits on the shelf with the books. Easy to use and store.
I have highlighted the important stuff in the manual that came with my canner. I review this every time I use it. I use an All American canner. We bought this type because it doesn't need a gasket, therefore, less parts to replace.
Since this is my first canning of the season, we check everything out and put a fresh layer of Vaseline between the lid and the base to prevent the two sticking together during the canning process. Every so often we have to use a screw driver to loosen the lid, but if so, it works fine.
Here is our beet crop - five pints.
I am adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt per jar, which is optional.
The lids and rings are simmering off to the right.
Now they're ready to add boiling water and put the lids on.
Here we are starting to fill up the first layer on the bottom. This canner calls for 1 1/2 inches of water. You will notice
that some of the lids have writing on them. We reuse some of our lids. It is not recommended. We do it anyway. When we open a jar, we do it very carefully trying not to bend the rubber ring. If the surface of the lid is in tact and the rubber ring is okay, we use them again.
This is the rack for the second level. Our canner will hold 16 pints.
We ended up with 14 pints - 5 beets and 9 carrots.
With this type of canner, you have to be careful to get the gap between the top and bottom even all the way around.
Then, tighten down the wing nuts evenly, two at a time on opposite sides.
Once steam starts coming out of the vent, exhaust for 7 minutes. Put the weight on the vent and wait for it to start rocking and spewing a little. Then process for 30 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.
When the time is up, turn off the fire and let the canner sit until the pressure gauge reads zero. Carefully take off the weight and make sure there isn't any steam venting. Then carefully remove the lid and jars.
We put them on a shelf out of the way and cover them top and bottom with an old towel so they will cool off slowly. Then we listen to that wonderful pinging sound as they seal.
Aren't they beautiful??!!
24 hours later, we remove the rings, wash the jars, label them with the date and store them away. We wash the rings and dry them promptly to prevent any rusting. They need to last for years to come.
We are grateful for the bounty with which we have been blessed.
Until next time - Fern