Keep track of all your canning and preserving projects – for tomorrow and posterity!
Have you ever made a truly suburb batch of jam – and then forgotten which recipe you used? Ever lost track of how long a bag of frozen peaches has been lurking in the bottom of the chest freezer?
Yeh, me too. Years ago I made some plum preserves that the whole family raved about. I have no idea what kind of plums I used. Ever since, I have been trying to re-create the recipe with no luck. And after many summers of trying to perfect my great-grandmother’s ripe pickle recipe (the handed down recipe card included a list of ingredients only, no amounts and no method), I finally got it right! But then promptly lost the stick-it note I wrote everything on.
I needed a Canning Journal. Maybe you do too. Just like a personal journal can help you keep track of your life events, and a gardening journal will keep your backyard garden organized, a canning journal is a valuable resource for those of us who can and preserve fresh food.
A Canning Journal Will Keep Us Organized
If I had started my journal 20 years ago, I would know what kind of plums to pick up at the Farmer’s Market. My great-grandmother’s pickles would be on my table this year, and that forgotten bag of frozen peaches might be used, not sent to the compost pile. No matter if we have one canning project a year, or one hundred, it helps to have a place to keep track of them. It’s our self-sufficiency version of including a “best buy” date on each jar. None of us wants to waste food, especially when that food has been preserved by our own two hands. A canning journal helps us stay organized so that we make preserve just the right amount of food each year.
A Canning Journal Helps Jog Our Memory
When I was a child my grandmother and her sisters made their mother’s Russian Bear pickles every summer. The whole large family loved them. They are made with the overgrown cucumbers that get lost under the leaves and are usually thrown into the compost pile or to the hogs! But apparently none of the Ridout girls’ daughters made the pickles. The sisters aged, their children and grandchildren grew up and moved away, and the pickle making tradition stopped. By the time my children were grown, I was wondering how to make those wonderful pickles from my youth. The recipe was found. Only problem – the recipe was simply a list of ingredients, sort of. It says, “make brine, add vinegar and cloves and cinnamon.” Not much to go on!
I researched and tweaked those ingredients for years, until I made a big batch of Grammie Ridout’s Russian Bear Pickles. If only I had written it down in a canning journal. The next year I had to start almost all over again, because I lost my recipe. Now it is safely written down to help jog my memory. Writing down your projects will help save you lots of time!
A Canning Journal Will Become A Family Heirloom
As the above story shows, you never know which family member will want to re-create your specialties years from now. Although I started canning when in my 20’s, I was in my 40’s by the time I really started canning more unique items, and wanted to share the canned goods from my youth. By that time, most of my grandmother’s sisters were gone, and my grandmother could no longer remember the exact recipes.
A canning and preserving journal will become a treasured family heirloom. It will show future generations not only how to make your special Frozen Green Tomato Enchilada Sauce, but also is a window into what we ate, how often we enjoyed each product, what kind of produce was popular, and what processes were considered safe. Wouldn’t you love to have a written record of your mother or grandmother’s favorites? I certainly would. A canning journal helps keep the future connected to the past. Food is love, and a canning journal is the bridge between the two.