Merry Meet and Welcome Back to The Garden
The leaves are changing and the harvest has come in. Now its time to put up my preserves, pickles,jellies,and jams. So this months topic will be canning. There is no greater sense of satisfaction than opening up some home made pickles that you have created from start to finish, having grown the dill and cucumbers. My canned goods keep us happy throughout the winter and are great for Yule gift giving.Kitchen witches all know that we can charge these jars of delicasies with magickal intent during the growing and canning process. This is a wonderful article for beginning canners from the Mrs. Wages website and recipes from my filebox some I have tried some I haven't so please let me know how they work for you.
I hope you all enjoy.
Home canning is a practical and enjoyable way to preserve garden produce at its finest.For us avid gardeners its a way to enjoy our hard work all throughout the winter months. Almost every vegetable and fruit can be canned and their goodness and flavor saved and enjoyed throughout the year.
What's more, home canning is wholesome. There's no need to add chemical preservatives. And you'll always know exactly how much, if any, salt or sugar has been added...which makes canning ideal if you're concerned about the foods you and your family eat.
And finally, home canning is satisfying. It's a home-craft that families have enjoyed for generations and the results are something everyone will appreciate: quarts of spaghetti sauce made with your own home grown tomatoes, fresh peach preserves, jams, jellies and jars of endless varieties of pickles.
Canning is quite a bit different from ordinary cooking. When you cook, you can follow a recipe. Or, you can be adventuresome and add or leave out ingredients as you see fit. Maybe today you're feeling extra "garlic-y." Or, perhaps you'd like to toss a handful of nuts into that banana bread. Go right ahead, no problem.
But when you're canning, experimentation can be downright dangerous. Time and temperatures have been worked out very carefully and must be followed to the letter. Too little time or too low a temperature means you're not protecting the food against bacteria, enzymes, molds, and yeasts. Too much time or too high temperatures can result in needlessly destroying nutrients in the food and damaging its taste.
So, always follow directions and recipes precisely. Don't improvise, compromise or try to be creative. Botulism and other food poisoning is very serious. Be sure to protect yourself and your family while you enjoy fresh, wholesome canned food. Play it safe and take all the proper precautions. Remember, canning is like anything else: It gets easier every time!
Equiptment You'll Need
Here are two rules regarding equipment:
Make certain equipment is in good condition. A pressure canner with a faulty gauge or jars with nicked edges can cause food to spoil.
Make certain equipment is available. Lay it all out in the kitchen before you start. Mid-point in a canning session is not the time to remember you forgot to buy those canning lids
You'll need a pressure canner if you can vegetables (except for tomatoes, sauerkraut, and pickles), plus a kettle with a cover if you're canning fruits using the boiling water bath method.
Pressure canners are manufactured in various sizes: match your canner with your canning ambitions; and if you'll be doing a lot of canning, buy a big canner and save both time and heating costs with it. When using a pressure canner, follow the manufacturer's instructions. All canners require a rack on the bottom, so boiling water or steam can circulate under the jars.
The dial-type pressure canner has a gauge that shows the pressure, a petcock that allows steam to escape under a controlled pressure, and a safety valve that will pop and thus relieve pressure if the petcock becomes stuck. The gauge must be checked for accuracy each year.
The weighted-gauge pressure canner has a one-piece, metal weight-type pressure control. When the called-for pressure is reached, you will hear the control jiggle, releasing steam and preventing the pressure from rising higher.
A kettle with a cover is used for boiling water bath canning of high-acid foods. Most people use a conventional black enamel canner. It is resistant to acids and salt solutions, and so can double for cooking pickles or brining vegetables. The kettle must be deep enough so that jars sitting on a rack will be covered with at least an inch of water. There must be at least another inch in the kettle for the space required for a rolling boil.
Jars and Lids
Jars are sold in sizes from a half-pint to a half-gallon, and with a variety of lids. Most popular are the pint and quart sizes with the two-piece vacuum-seal lid held in place during processing by a metal band. With these lids, it's easy to tell when the seal is perfect. The lid makes a definite snapping click when it seals while cooling. The lid curves downward when sealed and remains so. When tapped with a spoon, the sealed lid rings clear.
You probably have many of the items you'll need. These include knives, long-handled spoons, saucepans, measuring cups, a colander, and scrapers. These are additional helpful aids:
The jar lifter is used for removing jars from the canner. Use one and you won't burn your hands.
The jar funnel with its wide mouth makes it easy to fill jars without getting the food on the rim of the jars.
A bubble freer is handy, cheap, and makes it easy to get bubbles out of the food before processing.
For a timer, look for a photographer's timer. It's accurate, and will tell you with a loud ring when time's up.
A Variety of Jars
Here are three of the most common canning jars found today.
If you're buying jars, we recommend pint or quart jars with the two-piece vacuum lid. The underside of the lid has a strip of rubberlike sealing compound on the edge, where it comes in contact with the rim of the jar. A metal screw band holds the lid in place during processing, and is removed when the jar has cooled and the vacuum inside the jar holds the lid. These lids are discarded after one use; the bands are saved.
The older style jars that have caps with porcelain liners are sealed by placing a wet rubber ring over the neck of each jar. The cap is screwed on firmly, then backed off a quarter-inch to allow air to escape during processing. After processing, but while the jar is still hot, tighten the cap to complete the seal. Carefulit will be hot. Use potholders or oven mitts. When the jars are cool, test the seal by tipping them. Any leakage indicates the jar is not sealed.
The jars with wire bails and glass lids are still in use, although they haven't been manufactured for many years. A wet rubber ring is fitted over the neck so that it rests on the glass ledge of the jar. The glass lid is placed so that it rests on the ring. The long wire bail is set in place in the groove on the top of the lid, and the second bail is left in the up position. After processing, and while the jar is still hot, you should push the second bail down against the side of the jar. When the jars are cool, test the seal by tilting each jar.
When using any of these jars, do not attempt to open them to replace any liquid lost during processing.
Make sure you're totally ready to get started by following a few simple preparations:
INSPECT YOUR JARS. All jars should be free of cracks or nicks in the rims. If any are damaged, don't use them because they can cause food to spoil. Also, be sure you have enough jars for the task at hand.
CHECK JAR TOPS. If you're using the two-piece vacuum caps and lids, make sure you have enough, that they're all new and rust-free, and that the screw bands are also rust-free. Make similar checks with other types of lids.
USE COMPLETELY CLEAN EQUIPMENT. If you're pressure canning, check the gauge on your pressure canner to be sure it's functioning properly.
WASH AND RINSE JARS THOROUGHLY. Use dish detergent, rinse well. Set jars in clean, hot water until used. If using dishwasher, keep jars in dishwasher until ready to use.
MAKE SURE LIDS AND BANDS ARE CLEAN. Follow manufacturer's instructions. Zinc caps should be boiled for at least 15 minutes, washed with detergent, then rinsed and kept in hot water until used. Glass lids used with jars with wire bails should be prepared the same way.
REMOVE BLEMISHES FROM PRODUCE. Cut out any dark spots, whatever is discolored or doesn't look right and fresh.
SCRUB PRODUCE. Thoroughly wash and rinse produce.
HAVE ENOUGH ROOM TO WORK. Crowding can cause spillage, breakage, etc.
Everything checked out, clean and fresh? Now you're ready to begin!
Preparing the Produce
The fruits and vegetables you can should be prize winners, at the very peak of perfection, and certainly not too ripe. They shouldn't be blemished or bruised. Whether they are from your garden, a grocery store, or produce market, they should be fresh. Ideally, you will both pick or buy and can on the same day. If that's impossible, the produce should be refrigerated.
It must be clean. Washed carefully and completely, the produce must then be pared or cut up with clean knives.
All foods are canned by one of two methods:
Boiling water bath method. This is used for acid foods. These include all fruits, tomatoes, sauerkraut and most foods to which vinegar has been added, such as most pickles and relishes.
Steam pressure canner method. Used for foods containing little acid. These include vegetables, except for tomatoes, and meats, seafood, and mixes of food that include some low-acid foods.
Boiling Water Bath Canning
This method of canning is easy and popular. It should be used only for high-acid foods. These include fruits, tomatoes, and some foods with vinegar added. It can be used with both the raw or cold pack and the hot pack method of filling the jars.
You'll need a boiling water bath canner. This is a big kettle with a tight-fitting cover. The canner also has a metal basket. This basket holds the jars off the bottom of the kettle so that hot water can circulate underneath. The basket also keeps the jars separate from each other, and has handles so that all the jars in the kettle can be lifted in or out at the same time.
The kettle must be deep enough so that the jar tops are covered by at least an inch of water, with at least an additional inch of space above the water. Most quart jars are 7 to 7 1/2 inches tall, so a canner should be 12 or more inches deep.
This same kettle can be used in making jams, preserves, and marmalade.
1. Fill the kettle half full of water, put it on the stove, and begin simmering. Heat another small kettle of water.
2. Place raw or hot-packed food in the clean, hot jars, leaving the recommended head space. Salt if desired. Salt isn't necessary for preservation.
3. Run a plastic bubble freer (much better than a table knife or spatula) around the inside of the jars to release any air bubbles.
4. Wipe the top of each jar with a damp cloth if your syrup contains sugar, or with a dry towel if not. Do this thoroughly and carefully to prevent small particles from interfering with the seal.
5. Center the lid over the mouth of each jar. Screw the band down firmly. With bail jars, stretch the rubber rings over the mouths of the jars, pulling them down to the "shelf" just under the rim. Then set the glass lids in place and secure the longer clamp over the top. Do not press the second clamp down until after processing. One-piece lids should be tightened firmly, then backed off a quarter of an inch, unless the manufacturer's directions say otherwise.
6. Lower the jars into the boiling water with a jar lifter. Make sure jars are not touching so you get good heat circulation. A wire basket will keep the jars properly spaced.
7. Add boiling water from the other kettle to cover the jars by one or two inches.
8. Put kettle lid on and start timing.
9. When the recommended time is up, remove the kettle from the heat and take out the jars with a lifter or by lifting out the basket. Leaving them in longer will result in overcooking.
10. Put the jars on a cake rack or towel in a draft-free area. Don't knock them together; they will shatter easily when hot. Don't cover them unless they are in a draft.
11. Clamp down the second wire on bail jars and complete the seal on one-piece lids by screwing them tight. Don't tighten or loosen the screw bands. Leave jars undisturbed for twelve hours to cool.
12. Test the seal. If it isn't good, you can reprocess the jars within twenty-four hours of the original processing. Be sure to use new lids. However, to eliminate recooking which results in loss of nutrients and quality, we recommend immediate refrigeration and early use, instead of reprocessing. Try to discover why your jars didn't seal. The most common reasons are a bit of food caught between the lid and the jar rim, and cracks on the jar rim.
13. Remove the screw bands from the Mason jars. Wipe the jars clean and label them with the produce name, its origin, and the date. This is helpful when you're planning next year.
14. Store the jars in a cool, dry, dark place. Dampness rusts the dome lids and causes the seals to deteriorate. Light tends to destroy vitamins and fade colors. Freezing and thawing will ruin the food's taste and possibly break the seal.
Plan to eat canned foods within one year. While the food may be safe to eat for much longer, there's no reason to settle for old canned goods when next year's harvest will supply good fresh produce.
Boil all home-canned vegetables in a covered saucepan at a full rolling boil for 10 minutes before serving. Home-canned spinach or corn should be boiled for 20 minutes. If the food looks spoiled, foams or has an off odor during heating, destroy it.
Altitudes Affect Processing Time
Because water boils at lower temperatures as altitudes rise, it's necessary to allow more time during processing.
Steam Pressure Canning
1. Place basket or rack in canner. For foods canned by the hot pack method, put boiling water into the canner. For foods canned by the raw pack method, put the same amount of hot, but not boiling, water into the canner. Set on low heat but do not allow water to reach simmering temperature.
2. Place raw or hot-packed food in the clean, hot jars, leaving the recommended head space. Add salt if desired. Salt isn't necessary for preservation.
3. Run a plastic bubble freer (much better than a table knife or spatula) around the inside edge of the jars to release any air bubbles. Adjust lids.
4. Place each prepared jar upright into canner on the rack or basket. Jars must not be touching each other or the bottom of the canner so steam can circulate freely.
5. Place the cover on the canner and lock it securely.
6. Set the burner to the highest heat. Set controls so that steam can flow freely from the canner. Allow steam to vent for seven minutes for canners up to the eight-quart size, and ten minutes for canners larger than eight quarts.
7. Place controls to halt flow of steam, placing the pressure regulator on the vent pipe in weight control canners or closing the control valve by turning the valve stem down to the horizontal position in the gauge canners.
8. Allow the pressure to build up to ten pounds for canning at 240 F. Watch the gauge closely on dial gauge canners, and when the dial is almost at ten pounds, turn the heat down to low. With weight control canners, reduce the heat when the control begins to jiggle vigorously. The heat should be enough to make the control jiggle two or three times a minute. If using a stove burning coal or wood, wait until the pressure reaches ten pounds, then move the canner to a cooler spot on the stove.
9. Avoid rapid temperature changes that may cause varying pressures and force liquid from the jars.
10. Start counting the processing time as soon as the required pressure is reached.
11. As soon as the processing time is up, turn off the gas burner, or remove the canner from the electric burner or the wood stove.
12. Allow the pressure to return to zero gradually. Don't run cold water over the canner or remove the pressure regulator or open the control valve.
With gauge canners, when the dial reaches zero, remove the pressure regulator or open the control valve very slowly. With weight control canners, check to see if the pressure has returned to zero by lifting the control slightly with a fork. If steam spurts out, the pressure is still up, so wait a little longer. If you do not see steam, remove the control.
13. Release the cover from the locked position and remove it, lifting the far edge first, so that you shield yourself from the steam.
14. Remove the jars from the canner and set on a rack to cool. Complete the seals if necessary. If using jars with the two-piece vacuum lid, don't tighten the screw bands.
15. If you are processing another batch of jars, be sure there is enough water in the canner before starting.
16. When the jars are cool, test the seal. If it isn't good, you can reprocess the jars within twenty-four hours of the original processing. Be sure to use new lids.
17. Remove the screw bands from the Mason jars. Wipe the jars clean and label them with the produce name, its origin, and the date.
18. Store the jars in a cool, dry, dark place. All foods, acid and non-acid, contain enzymes and can harbor molds and yeasts, all of which will cause food to spoil. All of these can be inactivated or killed by the heat of the boiling water bath canning method.
The steam pressure canner method is used to destroy another threat against canned foodbacteria and their by-products. These include Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, and Clostridium botulinum, the cause of botulism.
Since these harmful bacteria are not a problem in the high-acid foods, there's no reason to use this high temperature method with them. These bacteria will thrive in the low-acid foods and aren't destroyed by the 212F temperature of the boiling water bath method, but succumb to a recommended period of 240F heat. So the steam pressure canner method must be used for them.
Two More Terms
Two other terms used in canning should be explained. They refer to packing the jarsputting food in them as an early step in canning.
Raw Pack or Cold Pack: These terms, used interchangeably, refer to putting uncooked food into a jar to which a hot liquid is added.
Hot Pack: This refers to putting into jars for processing food that has been cooked to some degree. Hot pack sometimes requires less processing time, since the food already is partially cooked. Sometimes it takes as long, or longer, because of the denser pack.
Instructions for each food will explain which of these packing methods should be used and the processing time required.
Your First Time?
If this is your first attempt at canning, here are some hints that should make it easier for you:
Start small. Six quarts of tomatoes or a half-dozen jars of jam or jelly are plenty for this first try.
Be prepared with everything you need. Jars and fresh lids. All the equipmentand that includes a pressure canner with a gauge that's been tested, if you're pressure-canning. Most important, produce that's at the peak of perfection, ripe but not too ripe.
Have a large cleared area to work in. Canning takes lots of space.
Have more time than you'll need. You figure you should have it done in an hour? Then give yourself two hours and feel no pressure.
And realize that canning is a lot like many other kitchen tasks, baking bread or following a complicated recipeit gets a lot easier the second time you do it.