Mon 10 Dec, 2007 11:08 pm
I'm interested in doing some home canning on a very small scale, mostly as a way to preserve large batches of sauces and soups when there is no room in my freezer, and perhaps some jams.
I don't have the fancy canning equipment, I just have a large stock pot and a dozen Ball Jars and Lids and an insta-read thermometer.
This is something I've always been timid about doing because I'm afraid I'll badly poison myself by not doing it right. Any advice for the timid to help boost my confidence in the method?
I know you need to fill the jars with hot liquids, almost to the top.
And that the rim of the jar needs to be very clean to get a good seal.
I also know that you need to sterilize all the equipment and jars before using them by boiling them in hot water for at least 10 minutes.
I know you need to screw the lids onto the jars semi-tightly and simmer the full jars in water for a given amount of time (don't know the variances for different types of food if there are any).
For jams, when (if ever) is a wax seal required vs. the canning method?
Does using a Foodsaver to create a vacuum seal equate using a wax seal for this?
I know that if, when opening a jar, you don't hear that vaccum release sound you should be concerned about the seal integrity and safety of the food.
Does the water need to fully cover the jars when they are processed or can it only partially cover them?
Can all canned food jars be stored on the pantry shelf or must some be refrigerated?
Are there any ingredients such as salt, sugar, vinegar, etc. that are necessary for the canning preservative process or can you just boil up some fruit or vegetable without anything added and can it?
I found this website which will probably have a lot of info, but any tips from the experienced is still desired too.
Thanks for that link Butrflynet. I have never canned but am thinking about it (and don't want to kill anyone).
My impression is that you're going to need a pressure cooker to get the jars and contents to a high enough temperature. This is a pretty good sized investment for most of us.
You can get by without one if you are only canning high acid foods like tomatoes except yellow tomatoes.
I've been canning for many, many years. Including one year doing it on a big old wood heated cook stove. I never do canning without a tested recipe in front of me. It's impossible to remember proper proportions and timing. I don't take any short cuts. Roger is correct about the kinds of food you can do in a water bath canner, everything else needs a pressure cooker or should be frozen. I've actually switched to freezing over the last few years, it's faster and when done properly - food tastes better.
A good start book is The Blue Book of Preserving from The Ball Jar Co.
(Amazon has it used for about $4)
Putting Food By - by Ruth Hertzberg
Stocking Up: How to Preserve the Foods You Grow Naturally - Rodale Press
Preserving The Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader
I also do lacto-fermentation in crocks. It's probably the easiest way to preserve food and one of the most nutritious. I spent the big bucks and bought a Harsch Crock - it was worth every penny. It makes the best sauerkraut and pickles! This is one method that you do not need to follow a recipe, it's very fool proof.
Just a few things to remember: Always buy jars that are specifically made for canning (no washed out mayo or sauce jars). Do not reuse sealing lids. Never try and can anything in a microwave. Use real canning salt, never salt with iodine. Use the best, freshest veggies and fruits you can find or grow. Do not be tempted when places offer a basket of "canning tomatoes" cheap, damaged fruit/veggies can cause spoilage.
Hmm, sounds like it is going to be a little more expensive than I can afford right now. Guess I'll stick to freezing things.
So, what did people do before we had pressure cookers?
Green Witch should have her own television show.
This history of canning is the history of pressure cookers. The first pressure cooker was invented sometime in the late 1600's. Canning was perfected (more or less) in the late 1700's for Napoleon's Army so they could be feed on the move. Soliders fight better when they have full bellies and are not pained by food poisoning. Like many modern inventions, war was the motivating factor.
Green Witch should have her own television show.
Only if you promise to be my co-host. You know, like Ed McMann or Kathy Lee.
I would be proud to serve.
On our first show we can show the audience the finer arts of baling....
That's so accurate it's scary. Although, I always tie my babushka under my hair rather than under the chin.
I did find that photo a bit uncanny, the way it depicts us so realistically.
Throw in a few feral chickens, an outhouse, a saggy laundry line and a few grazing capybaras and we're right at home.
Remember the time Getrude and I, flanked by you and your husband, had the photo taken in your garden? I still recall the look of joy on your face when I gave you the pith helmet for a present and you were literally beaming in the photo.
Ahhh, the good old days..
Hey, I still have that hat. Very handy when shaking trees down for some nuts.
I have a recipe for bread & butter pickles which does not require hot water bath. I tried it and my jars sealed is this safe?
I don't know cwred. Hopefully, someone (like Montana) will come along with some experienced advice for you. Was the recipe from a reputable source?