TOOL OF THE WEEK: CANNING KIT

Now is the time of year where I really like to dive into canning. In the middle of summer it’s usually too hot to enjoy the process and those jars of jam are done in the early hours of the morning to beat the heat. In the fall it’s a rush to put up enough tomatoes, sauces, salsas and chutneys before the end of the season. Now, as fall turns into winter, and the nights are longer than the days, canning becomes a pleasant task.

Most people think of making jam or tomato-based products when canning. They might also be thinking about preserving their bounty of green beans. The thought of canning past October might not even occur to them. But there are so many things to be made this time of year and the West Seattle Tool Library has a canning kit to help you along.

The canning kit contains two manual ricers with wooden pestles, and a 30-quart aluminum pot with lid. It’s the perfect set for making applesauce. Once November hits, and all the apples have been harvested, #2 apples are plentiful and cheap. It’s not uncommon to find organic seconds for fifty cents per pound.

And while you’re buying some apples for sauce, think about grabbing some extras to make apple butter and apple pie filling. Both are fantastic on long winter nights and both also make great holiday gifts for family and friends.

Another popular item to can in early November is anything with green tomatoes. Right before the first frost (usually around November 11th in Seattle) everyone rushes to get those last green tomatoes off the vines. Some will eventually ripen into reddish tomatoes. Most will stay green until they eventually rot. Why not make them into some green tomato salsa or pickled green tomatoes. I like to can the salsa into wide-mouth half-pint jars. The jars are perfect to take to a potluck with a bag of chips. The pickles are marvelous on sandwiches and burgers, taking the place of both red tomatoes and pickles.

New to canning and want to learn how to do it safely? The West Seattle Tool Library will be offering a canning class this Tuesday. Cost is $25 and includes materials. You’ll learn how to can according to USDA guidelines and will get to take home a few jars of what we make that night. More information and a sign-up is available here.

If you made too many jars of pickles, salsa or jam this year and want to trade them for something else, the West Seattle Barter Fair is this Saturday. More information is available on the main Sustainable West Seattle website.

The West Seattle Tool Library has a collection of over 1,300 tools currently available, is free to use and run primarily on user donations. Click hre to view our entire online inventory. For more information on becoming a member, please visit our membership page. If you are interested in volunteering at the Tool Library, please contact us at: [email protected]

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