Can you can it?

As much as 90% of the food canned at home in Alaska is salmon. I totally made that number up, but it is an educated fabrication, given my years of observation on the subject. Canning has a fascinating history dating back to the early 1800s in France. In fact, they discovered the process before they even understood why it worked to preserve food. Universities and government agencies continue to study, research, and test the process for safety with various foods. Please be sure to use up to date information from reliable resources on proper methods, processing times, and altitude adjustments. Reliable resources included the National Center for Home Food Preservation, ball (as in ball canning jars), and county and university extension services. 
My mom has spent a lot of time and effort keeping herself up to date on current guidelines, and I am excited to have her input on the matter. She is available to answer any questions you have in this section, and I will share things I have learned from her about the process of home preservation. 
Let’s talk about a few things that are fresh in the garden right now.
Zucchini and yellow squash- These act similarly when it comes to preservation, so we can talk about them together here, even if you only want to work with one of them. During the canning process, the texture and density changes too much which prevents heat penetration to the core of the jar. It is not recommended to can either of these veggies. However, you can use them with a relish recipe. 
Radishes- Unlike most root vegetables, it is not recommended to can radishes like you would beets or carrots. Sometimes these recommendations are based more on quality than safety. This could be the explanation as to why you can can other root vegetables and not radishes. You can, however, use them with a pickling recipe. 
Rhubarb- It is technically a vegetable, and there are several options for canning. It is commonly used in conjunction with fruits in jam, as a sauce, and it can also be pickled. It seems like most recipes are calling for copious sugar, which isn’t surprising considering how tart it is. 
Greens- beet, chard, kale, mustard, spinach, etc. can all be canned mixed together or on their own. In some cases like beets, the greens are considered waste and aren’t used. Others come on and you end up with way more than you could eat. Preserving greens is a great way to extend the time you can enjoy the harvest. 


Pasta Amatriciana With Beet Greens


Ama- what? It’s a red sauce that’s slightly spicy. And it has bacon. I’m sure there is scientific research out there that says bacon makes everything better. This dish is no exception. The beet greens aren’t just a way to throw something fresh into a pasta dish, their flavor becomes a cornerstone of this fantastic dish.

When we made it, we used 4 cheese tortellini from Costco, but you can use whatever pasta you have on hand. Top suggestions are spaghetti or penne. If you want to get adventurous, look for bucatini.

Serves 6

5 slices of bacon (no flavored bacon, a little smoke is fine), sliced into 1/4 inch wide slivers
1 lb Your choice of pasta
Half a yellow onion, diced
2 cloves minced or 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dry thyme
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dry oregano
Several pinches salt
Several pinches pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper
2 cans crushed tomato
1.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Mushrooms (optional), quartered
2 tablespoons butter
12 oz beet greens chopped in 1 inch slices
Parmesan to finishIMG_0210

Sauté bacon on medium low heat. Once thoroughly cooked, remove and set aside.IMG_0209

Start water for pasta. Keep working on the sauce while preparing pasta according to directions.

Sweat (low heat sauté) onion, garlic, thyme, oregano, a pinch of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper 15 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add crushed tomatoes. Add balsamic vinegar. Simmer for 15 minutes uncovered.

IMG_0212In a separate pan, sauté mushrooms and beet greens in butter. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Greens will wilt down quite a bit. Once sauted, add into the red sauce. Keep on low heat until ready to serve. Add half of the bacon, the rest is saved for garnish.IMG_0213

Serve sauce over pasta, finish with the rest of the bacon and parmesan.