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
6 September 2011, by gj
pick a few, any few
This is not quite a pickle nor a relish, hence the name.
A little history:
I was looking for seeds last winter for my every-other-year planting of cucumbers.
As I’ve mentioned, we don’t eat pickles much or a lot of relish.
When we do eat relish it’s usually with seafood, as in a crab salad for example.
So when I saw Lemon Cucumbers I immediately thought “what a great lemony relish that would be- perfect with fish and seafood!”
My mind was reeling and I guess I never stopped to read the description, lemon cucumbers look like lemons, but don’t taste like them.
Oh well, they do have a very sweet taste and are easy enough to eat as is- I do like fresh cucumbers.
Still, I could not get the lemon relish idea out of my mind (stubborn, I know).
I looked through my canning books and on the Internet, but could not find a recipe.
“Aha!” I thought, “I wonder if I can substitute some lemon juice for vinegar?”
More research and a lot of conflicting info, basically coming down to
Don’t Do It.
The one thing you do not want to change in a canning recipe is the acidity level- this can become very dangerous as far as the safety of the end product is concerned.
I considered a refrigerator pickle relish with the lemon juice, but there’s not enough room in the fridge-
you see, the seeds turned out to be quite prolific.
“Hmm…” I thought, “I could add lemon juice each time I open a jar.”
“Well,” I responded to myself “for that matter you could just add lemon juice to whatever you’re making.”
Suddenly my baking experience came back to help- don’t add lemon, flavor it lemon- the same way I’d use Butter Flavoring to make Pure White Butter Cream Frosting (instead of adding butter).
the tip of the cuke-berg
So, here’s what I did-
I chopped into fairly big pieces:
6 quarts cucumbers, assorted kinds
1 cup of red onions
8 hot red peppers
1 sweet green pepper
I covered them with 1 1/2 cups canning salt, and let it set a spell (a few hours- this draws out excess moisture).
I rinsed them well then made a basic brine recipe for sweet relish (you could also use a sweet relish packaged mix).
10 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbl. mustard seed
2 handfuls of dried celery leaves, crushed (or celery flakes, about 3 Tbl.)
6 cups white vinegar
NOTE: How much brine you’ll need depends on how closely packed your veggies are. If you need more, forget the spices and just heat to dissolve 1 3/4 cups sugar/cup of vinegar and add to your jars. If you have leftovers, let cool and refrigerate- it’s perfect to use for refrigerator pickles.
Once the brine was boiling, I added the veggies and let them simmer for 15 minutes.
Now I’ve seen recipes online that tell you to just pack this in jars, seal, and let set.
Don’t believe them!
Well, I don’t anyway.
At least, I’d never recommend it- if you want to really be safe-
Use a slotted spoon to fill your hot, sterilized canning jars.
Add 1 Tbl. of Lemon Extract to each quart jar- 1 1/2 tsp. to each pint.
Add more brine if needed, try to get any air bubbles out; leave 1/4 inch headspace (measured from the top of the jar).
Cover with hot lids and rings, process them in a boiling water bath for 10-15 minutes (more for quarts than pints).
there is seafood in my future
Mandolin really loved it- we got into a bit of a contest to see who could name the most ways to use it.
Of course, he won… (but only after a *cough*cough* good fight) so he gets to cook with it first.
Categories: how to store, recipes, water bath/steam canning
20 August 2010, by gj
Vegetable Juice is far away my favorite juice each morning, homemade especially! Although it takes a little extra work, there is a delightful byproduct. (Just wait-you’ll see)
This is not any official recipe, just what I made with what was in the garden:
Garden Blend Vegetable Juice
15 pounds tomatoes
1 colander-full swiss chard and spinach
15 med. ribs and leaves celery
2 handfuls dried parsley
1 pound carrots
1 cup onion
1/2 cup green pepper
2 tsp. salt
1 shot lemon juice per quart jar
juice the juice
Wash veggies, chop into chunks. Combine all ingredients except lemon juice in a pot and simmer about 1/2 hour.
Remove from heat. Juice in a juicer or food processor. Heat back up.
Add 1 shot of lemon juice to each quart jar. Fill the jars to within 1/4 inch head space.
Process in a water bath canner about 45 minutes.
give 'em a shot
home canned healthiness
Now here’s the good part. Take the stuff that is left in the juicer or strainer and put it into a sauce pot. Add water and simmer for a while.
Now you have some wonderful vegetarian soup base!
strain the pulp for soup base
Pack into freezer jars and freeze. Use as you would any soup base.
Now clean up your mess!
Our Recipe Box
Categories: freezing, how to store, recipes, 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
11 August 2010, by gj
Home canning in a water bath or steam canner is a fairly simple process. Home canned foods stay good for up to two years, and help free up some of the freezer space for other garden bounty. Home canned goods make delightful and thoughtful gifts, too.
The two types of natural preservatives that can keep food safe using this method are acid and sugar.
Sugar is obvious in home canned jams, jellies and syrups. Acid is the mainstay in pickles, relishes and tomatoes.
All other types of home canned goods, such as plain vegetables in water, need to be pressure canned. This will be another blog.
1. glass jars and lids specifically for canning, such as Ball Canning Jars
2. a Water bath or steam canner
3. additional small tools, such as a funnel, spatula, and jar lifter can make the job easier but are not required.
It is important to stick closely to a recipe, especially if you are a beginner. The Ball Book of Home Preserving has a wonderful selection. There are also recipes on their website.
I have been canning a long time and no longer use recipes for salsa, BBQ sauce and a few others I make yearly. But I know that I must keep a high acidity level to my sauces in order for them to remain safe to eat.
For example, Tomatoes are naturally acidic. If I’m adding to a tomato recipe, such as in making salsa, I compensate for the additional ingredients (peppers, onions) that lower that acidity level by adding some vinegar.
keep lids and rings hot
get the jars hot
Important points to remember
The most important thing about canning is to keep everything clean and hot.
Wash your vegetables and tools. Boil the lids and lid rings in water. Sanitize your jars either by placing in the water bath canner or steamer, or, if you are using a lot of jars, sanitize in your dishwasher.
a canning funnel keeps things neat
Leave sufficient headspace in the jar, usually ¼ inch (see recipe). This headspace is measured from the very top of the jar.
leave the right amount of headspace
wipe jar rim and cover with lid and ring
place in canner
Process according to the recipe. Different items and different size jars (pint, quart) require appropriate processing times.
Resist the temptation to press down on the lids to help them seal. Let them seal naturally.
If a jar does not seal (you will see the lid did not become sucked down in the middle) refrigerate after the jar is cool and use within a few days.
Once the jars have sealed, you can remove the outer rings and store. Be sure to label with a date.
let jars cool and seal
I have to say that one of my favorite gardening sounds is that of canning jar lids sealing (tink-tink-tink).
raspberry vinaigrette, mixed pepper salsa, spiced red cabbage
How to can video tutorial, recipes
To make the Homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette, I did a take-off on a recipe from the website. I made the vinegar using this recipe. Then dissolved an equal amount of sugar into the strained vinegar. I brought it to a boil, filled jars and processed 15 minutes.
Yes We Can Can – the Pointer Sisters
Our Recipe Box
Categories: how to store, water bath/steam canning