Crazy Canning Lady: Canning Successes & Failures

by Texas Homesteader ~
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I’ve canned food almost all my life – I actually enjoy it. Recently I was gifted many fresh pears that I didn’t want to go to waste. And THEN we took a long weekend to go visit my favorite aunt & uncle in west Texas. My aunt sent me home with about 20 lbs of fresh apples PLUS a huge cooler packed with frozen cut/sugared apple slices & pureed apples. 

OMGoodness there’s NO room in my freezer or fridge – that means more food to process!

That can mean only one thing: Go into power-canning mode for several days trying to FINALLY get done with the fresh produce that needed to be dealt with. Although I ended up with many jars of delectable treats, getting there was a comedy of errors! C’mon in & see.

Crazy Canning Lady had a Canning Marathon trying to FINALLY deal with the fresh produce. Getting there was a comedy of errors! #TexasHomesteader


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Canning Day 1: False Sense of Security

You see, my first day of canning this produce I made Pear Sauce (like applesauce but made with pears), then canned it up that afternoon. It was way easy:  Use my *apple peeler/corer to peel & core the pears in minutes and plunk them into a slow cooker. Cook all day, strain, mash, can. Easy Peasy!

Oh, and butterflies landed on my shoulder and 7 tiny men whistled cheery working tunes and cleaned up the kitchen as I danced around with my magic wand.  Well this isn’t going to be so difficult,  I can do this!

Canning Day 2: Things Get Interesting

Then we took a few days off to travel to see my aunt. You know how it is when you’ve been away for a few days – there’s LOTS to catch up on! Plus I’ve got all those fresh pears that I must tackle to keep them from being wasted and now there’s my aunt’s mountain of apples too. I needed to ramp things up!

Today’s canning session involved having things on rotation – simmering pear preserves while the Kahlua applesauce was canning. Then applesauce out and pear preserves placed in the still-hot canner while I was making the apple butter. Finally the apple butter placed in the still-hot canner when the preserves came out. WHEW! It was a busy canning day, but I worked with precision and efficiency.

But oh my kitchen suffered with splatters & spills!  Now where are those darn tiny whistling men to clean my kitchen?

Crazy Canning Lady had a Canning Marathon trying to FINALLY deal with the fresh produce. Getting there was a comedy of errors! #TexasHomesteader

Canning Day 3: Kitchen Madness

The 3rd day I wanted to make apple pie filling. It’s no longer recommended to use regular cornstarch when canning. Now the only safe recommendation is to use a *modified cornstarch designed to hold up to the heat of canning to assure a safer end product.

As I got all my ingredients together to make & can my apple pie filling, panic set in. I couldn’t see my Regular Clear Jel. (GASP!) Did I use it all last season!!?? Panic struck!

So I’m on my hands & knees fumbling through the cabinets mumbling inaudibly “please, please, PLEASE

Finally a ray of light – I laid my hands on my supply of regular Clear Jel. (not instant) Yea, false alarm! I’m now back on track, I’m sure all will go smoothly. (yeah, RIGHT!!)

Crazy Canning Lady had a Canning Marathon trying to FINALLY deal with the fresh produce. Getting there was a comedy of errors! #TexasHomesteader

That apple pie filling came together quickly. But I pondered as I was pouring it into the sanitized jars:  “My freezer is completely packed, as is my fridge. There’s NO room for anything right now.  I can’t just store what didn’t fit into the jars in my fridge or freezer.”  So  I wondered how important a full inch of headspace in the jars was…

“There’s only a little bit left”, I thought. “It will fit in these jars”, I thought. Sigh….

I left headspace of course, but not a full inch. The apple filling expanded in the jars while in the canner & forced hot filling from the jars. When I pulled the jars from the canner, apple filling spewed out of them like Mt. St. Helen! The filling between the jar & lid will keep the jars from being safely sealed.

So with a sigh I cleaned up the sticky mess, popped the lids, dumped the pie filling into a kettle to reheat. More jars were sanitized & canning water dumped, canner washed and refilled with clean water. It took a long time for that mammoth canner to heat up again. Then I re-canned the apple pie filling. 

The moral of the story: Yes, the entire, full, 100% verifiable headspace is important! LOL 

UPDATE: I’ve also read that it’s helpful to leave your jars of canned apple pie in the canner with the heat turned off for about 5 minutes after the timer goes off before removing to the counter. This does seem to help balance the pressure so give it a try.

Lids Should ALWAYS Fit Securely

While the apple pie filling was in the canner I decided to use my Apple Peeler/Corer to peel more of those pears. I wanted more pears in syrup, so I cut the peeled pears into quarters & scooped out the cores. 

Simple syrup was made up, more jars were sanitized & I started filling them up with pears & syrup. But one of the lids just didn’t seem to screw on very far. 

I removed it & re-attached it.  Hummm…  Removed it again & looked it over. It looked fine – shiny and unwarped. 

“Maybe this is just a different kind of jar or something”, I thought.  “I’m sure it will be fine.” 

Big mistake! 

I get those vanilla pears into the boiling water-bath canner & set the timer, blissfully unaware of the shenanigans going on inside the canner.

Apparently that googly lid popped off of the jar during canning. When I opened up the canner I was greeted with pears floating in cinnamon-vanilla-flavored sticky water.

GRRRRR….  I couldn’t see the humor of it at the time so I didn’t get a picture to share – y’all would have loved it!

But instead I pulled the other jars out and set them aside, tossing the boiling sugar water with its dancing, floating pears in the canner out onto the gravel driveway. At least that will give the chickens a treat when I let them out later.

Last Canning Day: Finally DONE!

The last day I made & canned pear relish. I’d previously made up and canned a small 1/3 batch just to make sure we’d like it. I mean pears and onions? And MUSTARD? Hummmm…. I just didn’t think we’d be sold on that odd flavor combination. But DANG we love this stuff and RancherMan requested a full batch.

Crazy Canning Lady had a Canning Marathon trying to FINALLY deal with the fresh produce. Getting there was a comedy of errors! #TexasHomesteader

He helped me peel the pears & I cut & cored them. This time we ran everything through the grater blade of our food processor. 

Although it did make the chopping go much faster,  I wasn’t as pleased with the resulting texture. Next time we’ll stick with our original method of using my grandmother’s manual food chopper – I much preferred that chunkier texture.

I pulled out my largest stock pot & simmered everything until it reduced down to relishy goodness. But with the smoother, heavier texture of the relish I had a hard time keeping everything stirred well enough to keep from burning some of the relish to the bottom of the pot.

Try as I may to not dislodge the burnt parts, I spent the entire stir-time picking out small flecks of charred pears. LOL. I guess this full batch will be for RancherMan & myself only. I don’t think he’ll have a problem with that – the texture is different but the taste is still the same.  I’ve been using this relish in my fresh egg salad and it’s delicious!

Crazy Canning Lady had a Canning Marathon trying to FINALLY deal with the fresh produce. Getting there was a comedy of errors! #TexasHomesteader

This crazy canning lady is hopefully done canning for a while. This canning marathon did remind me how thankful I am that I’ve simplified my empty canning jar storage so that there was much less going up & down the attic stairs fetching and returning jars.

You can imagine that RancherMan’s happy about that! I’m not sure my poor kitchen will ever be the same, though!

Crazy Canning Lady had a Canning Marathon trying to FINALLY deal with the fresh produce. Getting there was a comedy of errors! #TexasHomesteader


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57 thoughts on “Crazy Canning Lady: Canning Successes & Failures

  1. Alicia

    Oh my Goodness. I am looking forward to our move to Texas next week. I LOVE canning and I am looking forward to next spring to begin canning all my fresh veggies from our garden. Although this year I do plan on a winter garden, but I’m not sure how much it will yield yet because of the difference between Arizona and Texas. I could always have my winter garden in Arizona, but with the temp change and location, I need to see what will be good for us. Moving different states I will be back to learning. Different dirts, climate, fertilizers, and so on… it will be my year to really check it out. But I’m ready for a Canning Marathon as my stockpile has been hit hard for this move. I didn’t plant a fall garden so I feel like a fish out of water. Not too much more time and I will be there with all my Hopes and Dreams in being self sufficient with all our food needs and from growing our own meat to our vegetables and fruits. Look Out Texas, we’re almost HOME.

  2. Vickie Westcamp

    I love stories such as this, and reading all of the comments I realize that I’m not the only Crazy Canner! My episode involved tomatoes and chili peppers… one of those “you had to have been there” stories. Thanks for giving me quite an empathetic chuckle today! 😉

  3. Pingback: What'd You Do This Weekend? #241 | Recipes and Ramblings with the Tumbleweed Contessa

  4. Mrs Shoes

    I’m really glad that the second time I came back I was able to read the whole story – I laughed & laughed, but I could relate to how frustrating it was. Funny stories are always funnier when they’re over. 🙂

  5. Melony

    Man, I have never canned and after your description, I’m not sure I ever will:) I’ve been having a run of days like that as well. Sometimes, you just wonder if it would be better to stay in bed, LOL! I’m glad you got some good preserves out of all that effort!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      LOL Melony. I will say that canning creates such a feeling of empowerment & accomplishment. The problem lies when you bite off more than you can chew and try to power through it anyway. (snicker) Thankfully although there were many messes to clean up & much time spent, I was rewarded with several sparkling jars of perfection. ~TMH~

  6. Tracy Lynn

    Oh, this just made me laugh out loud! I am so glad I saw this on the Hop 🙂 Just so you know, when I am canning this August I will have a T-shirt on with your quote…

    ” I am blissfully unaware of the shenanigans going on inside of my canner. ”

    Best quote EVER! haha, thanks for the smile 🙂

    Tracy Lynn

  7. Michele Morin

    You are my hero!
    Here in Maine, we take the winter off from canning (or at least I do!)
    But your kitchen looks a lot like this crazy place when the green beans are growing by the bushel!

  8. Karina

    Yikes! That’s a wild amount of work – but so beautiful – I love it!

    Thanks for sharing… BTW, visiting from The Art of Home-Making Mondays Link-Up Party!

  9. Elaine

    Oh I’m sure that marathon was tiring but look at the results!! Thanks for sharing on My 2 favorite Things on Thursday. My blog was down last week but it’s up and running again. I hope you can find time to stop by and share some more this week! Pinned!

  10. Pingback: GOOD MORNING MONDAYS #96 | Darling Downs Diaries

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I questioned for a while whether or not I’d make it through, Christine. 🙂 But my pantry shelves are lined with glistening jars of deliciousness so it was all worth it. ~TMH~

  11. Jennifer A

    LOL This almost sounds like one of my canning episodes, but at least you now have a bunch of beautiful foods for this winter! Thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop!

  12. Keri

    It sounds like you had a wild time canning but some awesome yield on canned goods. That stinks about having those messes to clean up, where are those little men when you need them?! 😉

  13. Gillian

    I can totally relate!! My husband says “NO MORE CANNING!” but there is always something tempting me at every corner … it’s apples now, of course… already did the apple pie filling and working on apple sauce today/tomorrow …. maybe apple butter, if we have enough. The apple pie filling is the best and so easy to use!
    I feel like I have been canning for two months straight – I’m exhausted! I have had some incidents like yours, as well, and they are always a bit frustrating in the moment…. well done, though! Love all those jars lined up!

  14. kim

    OMG, you did have a few trials along the way. Sometimes when my husband is canning he doesn’t always stick to the instruction. So far so good…
    I have to say that I’ve never heard of pear relish, but it sounds delicious!! I will be following your blog now. We love to can so I may learn something new here.

  15. CookieD-oh

    HA! It always seems like the first day is deceptively easy, no matter what you’re cooking up…then reality sets in 😉 Glad to see you survived! #sustainablesundays

  16. Michele Morin

    What a fun post! I”m in the midst of crazily canning tomatoes.
    So often I’ve said in the past during canning season: If it’s not moving, can it. If it’s moving, hit it over the head and can it!

  17. Charlotte Burkholder

    Canning can get overwhelming. So frustrating when something doesn’t go right, since you put a lot of work into it. Thanks for sharing on Family Joy Blog Link-up. Please come back and join us again! Remember to leave your host a comment to increase the chance of being featured.

  18. Kelsie

    I am all too familiar. We have 2 pear trees that mass-produced this year plus 1 apple tree. I thought “pear sauce, applesauce, pear jam, spiced pears.” Then someone gave me 2 bushels of apples from their trees. Yikes. So then I canned apple pie filling & made applie jelly with the peels. Hmmm, still more pears…. so I canned quarts of pear pie filling [local extension office said to use a canned apple pie filling but sub pears] and then I made more quarts of spiced pears and…. blackberry applesauce. My kitchen has been mopped 3 times and the floor is still sticky, my stove still has cooked on sauce, sugar/water, pie filling, etc and my shelves are overflowing with jars of things we will probably never eat. Laughs. Won’t everyone at the next church potluck be surprised when I bring 5 pear pies for dessert.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      LOL!! Not laughing at you Kelsie, but WITH you. Ugh – I’m pretty much finished with my canning for awhile. I much prefer canning in the chill of fall or winter. Heat-of-summertime canning is definitely not my fave. ~TMH~

  19. Lady Locust

    Bah haha! Saw the title and thought you might be writing about me. Whew! Glad to know that I’m not the only one who’s been worshiping the pressure canner and canning pots;). I just told hubby tonight, if I have to help with wood only one box of tomatoes. If I don’t have to then I think I can do two boxes if I orchestrate it right. We must be gluttons for punishment Your jars are beautiful though and bet they look pretty lined up on the shelves. Happy days~

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      LOL! I think many of us are in the same boat this time of year, Lady Locust. I love canning but DANG this time it seemed one thing after another tested my patience! 🙂 Happy canning! ~~TMH~~

  20. Teresa

    I love it! I am doing the same thing, apples, sweet potatoes, and I need to put some more peppers up . Very busy but you sure don’t want to complain, instead thank God foe the abundance, next year may be different. Have a great day!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Yes ma’am Teresa, and it actually has been different this year. Last year I had LOTS of apples but very few pears since both those fruits were gifted by other people. This year my aunt’s apple tree did not produce well because of a freak frost this spring. She saved what apples she could and sent me home with frozen apples too. But a sweet neighbor down the street heard I was looking for pears and offered all we could pick from his tree. So there was still plenty of fruit to preserve this year – Love it! I still have a handful of fresh fruit in the fridge, I’m thinking of making a pear cake. It’s delicious! ~TMH~

  21. Patti

    Hysterical!!! This came at just the right time! My dog had a horrendous yeast infection caused by allergies and I was forewarned that I’d have to scrub down my entire house when it cleared up. I had no idea that one 80 pound dog could take down an entire house. My house was like walking into a frito factory on steroids.

    I’m sitting here getting a much needed laugh, thank you! You have made my day!! 🙂 Patti


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