Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Preseving summer...

I haven't had the time to can very much in the last couple of years.  So, I am taking advantage this year.  I made a trip to White House Fruit Farm yesterday to see what all local produce they had availabl.  Boy was I surprised!  They already had beautiful purple beets by the peck, prickly cucumbers overflowing their baskets and tender string and wax beans pile high in their bin. They also had, not only the classic Bing cherry, but some shiny yellow/pink Ranier's as well.  Less than 20 minutes and my cart was overflowing with goodies.

I know some people wonder why I can.  I hear..."but you can buy pickles at the store" or "you're not saving any money" or "that's so much work".  Yes it is alot of work, but I enjoy not only the process and hearing that distinct "pop" but seeing the look on my family and friends faces in the middle of winter when they taste a beet that 'tastes' like a beet.  Or my kids rationing their pickles to make the last until next year. (you see they could eat a quart a day, seriously...and we won't even talk about the peppers).

For those of you who have never canned I will give you a very basic (shortened version) tutorial.

The two most common sizes are pints and quarts coming in regular or wide mouth size.  I have come to prefer wide mouth.  They are easier to clean, pack and get the goodies out of later.  I have also recenty developed a fascination for the half-gallon sized jar.  I actually saw some at the vegetable market, so I must not be the only one.  However, I found they do NOT fit into a regular sized canner.  The two most important words in canning are...HOT and CLEAN.  Those two ingredients are essential for safely preserving your bounty.  Along with your jars you will need 2-piece lids, they consist of the lid and the ring.  You can reuse the rings...you CANNOT reuse the lids.

You will also need a canner w/ rack, wide-mouth funnel and jar tongues...a Ball Blue Book is a great idea as well...I still use mine.  Now all you need is water and your bounty.  Some recipes are very involved and require alot of time. i.e. pickles, chutneys, jams  Other recipes are basic without a whole lot of preparation.  For example beets.  Just wash them and boil them until the skins come off (and they slide right off) then you slice them to your desired size or leave them whole, pack in jars with a little salt, pour boiling water over and process.

Process...I know...what's that?!  After you have your bounty packed in their jars with their lids and rings on.  Ooops, almost forgot...warm up your lids in a small pan of HOT water.  This softens up the rubber ring so they will conform to the jar and seal.  Now put your jars into your canning rack in your canner that's about 1/2 full of water.  Water level will change depending on if your using pints or quarts and how many.  I usually start with 1/2 full and then add after my jars are submerged. AFTER the water comes to a boil you start your timer for however long the directions say, usually anywhere from 15 to 35 minutes.  When the timer goes off, life out your jars, place on a towel and wait for the "pop"...this sound tells you the jars have sealed...and that's a good thing!  That "pop" can take several minutes to an hour, so don't panic.  As the jar cools it pulled down the lid, so it does take a little time.

That's basically all there is to hot water bath canning.  This is a great tool for people with health issues or those wanting to eat organic.  You control the ingredients.  Say you are watching your sodium...if you make beets don't put any salt.  Or diabetic...you control the sugar.  While there are some recipes you have to follow to a T, most have some room for playing (those are my favorite). 

Canning can also be a holiday saver..REALLY!  I like canning my own pumpkin puree.  We enjoy not only pie but bread, muffins and cookies made from pumpkin. Last year there was NO pumpkin on the shelves of local grocery stores due to some flooding down south.  My family did not have to go without their pumpkin goodies! And afterall, what would Thanksgivng be without pumpkin pie?!


Darlene (SCS:akronstamperdpk) said...

Oh my gosh ... your tutorial is awesome ... I will have to link this posting to a few of my friends! WOW these goodies look AWESOME!! GREAT job my dear! This is definitely one of the benefits of you working from home again! Way to go!!!

Amy Johnson said...

Well believe it or not, but I can too. I haven't canned much the past couple of years (because of my job and Ashley's wedding) but I sure do enjoy the taste from homemade canned foods better. Especially Salsa!

Vee said...

Do I ever admire those who can and enjoy it, too. I don't. Neither one. But if I ever think I might like to give it a try, this provided lots of good information. Love the beauty in those jars!

Joan Fricker said...

I enjoyed your tutorial! Your harvest looks beautiful too. Nothing like opening a jar in the winter time.

I so enjoy your Mom's visit last week! What a treat for me.

Happy Birthday! I hope your birthday is the greatest yet!!!!!