At some point in your homemaking journey — whether you’re a cook, gardener, or full-blown homesteader — you’ve probably learned how to preserve food. And for many people, boiling water bath canning is the gateway to all other food preserving.
Though it requires more gear in the kitchen than, say, mason jar fermenting or oven dehydrating, there’s something about canning a batch of tomatoes, jams, or pickles that’s deeply satisfying.
Maybe it speaks to our off-grid fantasies of being a self-sufficient mountain mama (or mountain man). Maybe it’s because the distinctive pop of the lids brings a sense of accomplishment and joy, or the fact that we end up giving some of those jars away as gifts that brings even greater joy.
I learned how to preserve food just a couple months into tending an edible garden (before I learned how much I actually needed to grow to feed my family). That first summer, I canned 24 jars of tomatoes and 40 jars of jams and jellies. (These feijoa-white peach preserves were one of my first batches in the kitchen, and the first canning recipe I ever posted on my blog. Wild, eh?)
Almost a decade later, I’ve learned some useful tips and tricks for modern-day home canning, and even picked up a few time-saving habits as an ambassador for Ball Canning, America’s favorite mason jars.
Learn from these little nuggets of information I’ve gleaned from their test kitchen, as well as from my own experiences (hundreds of jars later!).
Growing up, I always ate Thanksgiving dinner with my friends’ families since my own family never celebrated it — not because they weren’t thankful on that day, but because it was never a part of their culture. So when that fourth Thursday rolled around every November, I couldn’t wait to partake in the classic American holiday.
I loved watching the grand entrance of the turkey, steaming hot from the oven and being carved up at the table, I loved the green bean casseroles with French fried onions, the marshmallow-glazed sweet potatoes, and especially the Marie Callender’s pies. (Pecan was my favorite.)
But most of all, I loved the cranberry sauce that came out of a can. It was so fun to see the jiggly relish scooped out of the can, ridges and all, plunked down into a serving dish, and sliced up into individual rounds.
I still get nostalgic for that molded cranberry jelly, even though I now make my own and my palate has shifted to fancy-schmancy cranberry sauces with ginger and bourbon and other delights.
I guess it’s the shape that I’m most fond of, and its appearance on the dinner table always brings me back to some of my favorite childhood memories.
I’m obsessed with home renovation and home buying shows on HGTV.
But every episode always has a happy ending, and there have been plenty of times when I’ve wondered how the people on those shows feel one year later, or how they’ve changed things up once the cameras left the premises.
How did they decorate after all the props were taken away? Did they keep the paint colors the same? Do they still love the flooring/furniture/windows that they chose/bought/installed?
I wish every show had a “One Year Later” follow-up season so we can really see what happened after those first impressions, because even if I’m intrigued by something I’ve seen, I’m more convinced after I hear how it’s been working out.
My other obsession (reading online reviews) means I don’t make a lot of decisions on the fly, as I want to be assured I won’t go wrong. I imagine there are probably more than a few people out there like me, because ever since I posted my original review for the Avocado Green Mattress, I’ve had many readers ask if I would still recommend it.
And without hesitation, I say yes!
Here’s my experience one year later, after many nights of sharing a bed with my husband and toddler in all four seasons.
(And, the original discount that Avocado gave to Garden Betty readers is still valid! Click here to get $150 off any mattress, or keep reading to the end where you’ll find the link with your special code to use at checkout.)
I can hardly believe it myself, but as of this month, I’ve been living in Central Oregon for one year!
You might recall that my family and I relocated last October from Los Angeles to Bend, a move prompted by our desire to put down roots in a place that felt like a better fit for our lifestyle.
After Gemma’s birth, we reprioritized what we wanted for our future, and that was a slower pace, a safer community, better public schools, and being only minutes away from all the things we loved to do, such as hiking, camping, and snowboarding.
At the same time, we didn’t want to live in an isolated mountain town that required long commutes into civilization, whether for medical care or a date-worthy restaurant meal.
Bend beat out several other places on our short list (which I share in #7 below) and so far, we have had no regrets about our decision to move here. In fact, our only sort-of regret is that we didn’t make the move sooner.
I’ve had so many readers write me in the last year to ask about our move, some who are itching to make a change themselves, and some who are merely curious how an LA girl is handling the snow. (Hint: I love it!)
I’ve been wanting to give an update on our first year in Bend, and thought these questions (with my answers) gave a great overview of our experience so far.
Author’s Note: I wrote this post back in 2011 and since then, these pickled green tomatoes have been one of my most popular recipes on Garden Betty, amassing over a million pageviews and hundreds of comments. I figured it was finally time to update it with new pictures from my garden in Central Oregon, as well as a printable recipe card (a feature that’s been a long time coming on this site).
I’ve also changed the way I do the boiling water bath process, which I detail below in the instructions.
The original story behind the recipes brings back good memories of my old garden in Southern California, so I’m leaving the rest of it the same.
I am drowning in tomatoes. Crunchy, tart, green cherry tomatoes. Correction, I was. By the time you read this, I’m well on my way to Pagosa Springs, Colorado, via a 10-day-ish road trip through Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.
But this road trip was the impetus for the mad harvest last week of my rogue tomato plants, which have been exploding with fruit all summer long. When you’re away for 10 days, things on the homefront can feel a little stressful.
Who will water the garden, who will weed the beds, who will check for pests and trim off the dead stuff and pluck all the ripe veggies so they don’t waste away?
When I saw the hundreds of green tomatoes hanging off the vines, just days away from ripening, my other thought was — who will eat all of that?!
This post is in partnership with 3-IN-ONE®. All thoughts and words are my own.
Is it just me, or does it feel like fall chores vastly outnumber my spring garden checklist? Maybe it’s because I’ve moved to a climate that actually freezes in winter, so there’s a lot more to do to “batten down the hatches” this time of year.
We’re tidying the greenhouse, piling up the compost, and putting away the majority of our planters, trellises, and tools to give the garden a good rest. It feels nice knowing that things are slowing down after several months of toiling outside, but before that happens, there’s one last push in the garden to get it ready for winter.
By putting in the work now (especially while the weather is still pleasant and mild), you’re laying the foundation for a healthy garden next spring.
Here’s my recommended fall garden checklist for the next month!
Seed saving is one of the little joys of gardening. Now that we’re nearing the end of the season, my kitchen counter is lined with tea towels and saucers of all sizes, with seeds of all kinds spread out to dry. Still more fruits, vegetables, and seed pods are sitting in baskets or paper bags, waiting to be extracted, washed, dried, and stored.
It would likely be easier to just buy new seeds every year, and sure, seed packets don’t cost all that much. But when you save seeds from your own garden, you’re preserving a piece of horticultural history — continuing the “bloodline” of your heirloom vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs to ensure they will exist another generation.
Saving your own seeds also means your future crops will be more adapted to your climate and growing conditions, and thus be more vital and productive.
It’s been quiet on the blog this summer. Though I wish it was because I was out exploring (there was a little of that, but not nearly as much as I would’ve liked), I was hunkered down at home, building fire pits and fires in my backyard, cooking and shooting five recipes a day with a toddler underfoot, and luring friends to my kitchen for rounds of taste testing.
In other words… I have a new book coming next spring!
Maybe it was my Asian upbringing that taught me never to waste food, as my family used and ate every part of the vegetable, fish, chicken, pig or cow that we brought home. Or maybe it’s my ever-growing curiosity when it comes to food from the land… but when I walk around the garden, looking at all my lovely plants, I always think, Can I eat that part?
You waited seven, maybe nine months, for all that homegrown garlic to finish growing. Now that you’ve dug it all up, you want to savor it for as long as possible until the next garlic crop is ready.
This is when curing becomes your friend.
Curing is the process of letting your garlic dry down in preparation for long-term storage. Curing and storing garlic allows you to enjoy the flavor of your summer harvest well into winter… and one of my favorite things about garlic is that it still stays fresh long after it’s been plucked from the ground.
No pickling, no canning. Just a simple head of garlic that looks and tastes the same as the day you pulled it.