10 January 2014, by gj
Preparing cabbage for canning.
Home canning is easy enough to do.
If you are just starting out, here’s a little information to help.
1. Measure headspace from the very top of the jar down to the top of the food.
Having the right amount of headspace is very important. Too much headspace and the jars may not seal properly. Too little, and your food could expand to the point that it leaks out, preventing a seal.
Once you are canning for a while, you will get the hang of it visually. You can also use your finger, I know that from the tip of my forefinger to the bottom of the nail is 1/2″. No ruler needed.
2. Be sure everything is clean.
Perhaps this goes without saying. Wash everything before you start, from the food to the jars and lids.
Be sure the cat won’t be jumping up on the counter, and don’t let anyone lick the spoon until you are done.
sauce, soup, sauce, snack, snack
3. In the beginning at least, don’t change the recipe.
You can water bath process whole tomatoes, but if you go and start adding things like celery to make stewed tomatoes, you will need to pressure can.
High acid foods such as tomatoes and pickles have the acid in them to help preserve the food. The same is true for high sugar foods like jams and some juices. When you add other ingredients, you change that acid or sugar level.
While it doesn’t hurt to add a little spice, otherwise stick to the recipes.
Likewise, stick closely to the processing times.
4. After the jars seal, should you leave the rings on or take them off?
There is a lot of bizarre misinformation out there, like ‘if you leave the rings on, bacteria can grow under the ring and get into your food’.
Whether you leave them on or not is optional. We remove them for 2 simple reasons:
A. We are cheap and do not want to invest in a ton of rings.
B. You should take them off to wipe the jars anyway, especially if you pressure canned as there is likely some residue on the outside of the jars. May as well leave them off.
5. Label and date your food.
Is that salsa or stewed tomatoes? Hmmm….
Don’t leave it to your memory. Just use a Sharpie marker to write on the lids, you’ll be throwing them out anyway.
Be sure to add the month and year, to make rotating your supply easier.
Get your hands on a good canning book.
Preserving food really isn’t difficult.
Here’s a short video to show you more.
Categories: How to Store, pressure canning, water bath/steam canning
28 August 2012, by gj
So, you put in a garden and are getting a wonderful harvest- that’s great news.
Or, you went to the market or farm market, and they had a deal on a bushel of whatever veggie is in season- a good way to save money.
Perhaps, though, you are wondering what to do with it all.
Previously we looked at what can easily be frozen, no blanching needed.
Of course most vegetables can be frozen, but maybe you don’t have enough space to freeze everything.
That’s when canning comes in handy.
Get your hands on a good canning book...
There are two ways to can food at home:
1. Pressure canning- uses, well, a pressure canner to bring food temperatures well above the boiling point.
2. Water bath or Steam canning preserves foods at the boiling temperature of water.
Foods preserved with the water bath method are either highly acidic, such as pickles and tomatoes, or sweet, such as jams.
Well do I remember my parents simply pouring melted wax over a jar of jam as a way to seal it. This method is no longer recommended, though I’m sure it’s still practiced.
The whole idea of canning is to prevent any nasty micro-organisms from having a party in your food.
Let’s look at green beans as an example:
If you want to water bath can them, you need to add something acidic, like vinegar, to prevent the growth of micro-organisms. So, pickle them- Dilly Green Beans are wonderful.
If you’re not into vinegar then you need to pressure can them. This will bring the water inside the canning jar to the hotter temperature it needs, much hotter than the temperature water boils at.
Let’s also look at tomatoes, because this is one that gets just a little more complicated.
Red tomatoes, and more so the heirloom tomatoes, are quite acidic (some of the new yellow hybrids are not acidic enough).
So you can water bath can whole or peeled tomatoes. If you want to make Salsa, Catchup, Juice, or Marinara (meatless) Sauce, you can also water bath can.
On the other hand, if you want to can Stewed Tomatoes or Tomato Soup, you need to pressure can it.
“Why?” you may be wondering, or “I was told I had to pressure can Marinara.”
The difference is acid. All of the recipes that get water bath canned have vinegar or lemon juice (citric acid) added to them, the others don’t.
And if you don’t want vinegar in your Marinara then you need to pressure can it.
...and and get inspired.
There’s also a really good reason to learn to can your own food- convenience.
Just today Mandolin took out a jar of homemade Bean Soup and heated it up.
“I made lunch” he called out to me.
“Thank you” I replied, “but technically, I made lunch; last October.”
National Center for Home Food Preservation has tons of info and free guides to help you can safely.
Categories: How to Store, pressure canning, saving money & time, water bath/steam canning
14 July 2012, by gj
What a wonderful idea for a way to teach others about canning!
Today is the second annual National Can-it-Forward Day when the Ball Canning Company encourages those that do can to share what they know and help others learn.
home canned goodness
Back in our restaurant days we were licensed Food Processors, meaning we could sell what foods we ‘put up’ – our most popular was the Pear-Raspberry Jam.
Now we can for our family and friends and still love trying new recipes and sharing the old ones.
In fact, the Ball Canning Company was gracious enough to let us share some of their recipes that we love so much- find them in the Recipes Page.
sunshine in a jar
So in celebration of the day, here are a few things I’d share with new, and seasoned, canners:
1. It’s easy, really; and once you get the hang of it, it’s a lot of fun.
2. Home-canned food, like homegrown, tastes way better.
3. There is a small initial investment- but you can also find used equipment for sale and save some cash. Eventually it will pay for itself.
4. Look at what you are buying to determine what you should can- we eat a lot of soup, for example, maybe you prefer pasta with marinara sauce.
freezing berries now for jam later
5. If you grow your own food and/or buy from the farm market, know that much of what is in season can be frozen until you have the time to can. As I harvest berries, peppers, onions, and tomatoes I freeze them. Then on a cool fall day when I’m no longer in the garden, I make jam, salsa, soup, etc.
Also to celebrate the day, and to help those new to canning, we made a How-To Video- check it out, let us know what you think!
Have you tried canning yet?
If no, I hope this post helps.
If yes, what do you like the most about it?
Free label templates and more on National Can-it-Forward Day
Categories: How to Store, pressure canning, water bath/steam canning
15 August 2010, by gj
So I’ve admitted I’m a gardening maniac and, like any obsession, there is always a price to pay.
I’m not quite sure how I ended up planting 600 onions (I must have been on a planting euphoria that prevented memory retention) but that is what happened.
And it was a very good year.
I’ve already written a bit on what to do with onions, and have a few jars of dehydrated and a few bags frozen.
But it was time to bring in the rest of the crop, and time to deal with it.
Until this year I didn’t know you could can onions (it must have been on a Need-To-Know basis, and I didn’t need)…I always just froze, dried and kept fresh in the fridge.
This year, there’s just not enough room.
So I looked in my handy Ball Book of Home Preserving (25th. anniversary edition by the way… just saying) and found two nifty recipes.
Yes, I did just intentionally use the word ‘nifty’.
onions in Ball brand canning jars
pressure canner and steam canner
Honeyed Red Onions and Vinegared Red Onions. One Pressure Canned, the other Steam/Water Bath Canned.
I did mix white and red, I couldn’t help myself.
honeyed onions and vinegared onions
Canned Onions-kewl. (Yes, this must be lame expression time…I’ve been spending too much time with Mandolin).
I have contacted the Ball Home Preserving Company asking them if I could share these recipes with you.
I am still awaiting permission. In the meantime, get one of their books. You’ll be glad you did. They are full of kewl and nifty recipes.
So this is how I spent most of today…
the onion aftermath
onions in the fridge
more on onions
Our Recipe Box
Did I mention I still have Leeks in the garden?
Categories: How to Store, pressure canning, Recipes, water bath/steam canning