July 19th, 2013
We talked in a prior post about pickling. In today’s post we’ll look more in depth with water bath canning, steam canning and pressure canning.
Before we go on, though, please remember to learn about food safety. Look for the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. You can find it in a variety of stores as well as purchase it online. Ball also has a website full of videos and information here.
You can use your dishwasher to sterilize the jars and rings if it has that high temperature cycle available on it. You can also sterilize the jars in an oven at 250F and keep them there until you need them.
This is the easiest because you don’t need any additional equipment. It helps if you have a jar lifter, but it’s not required. You can use any large pot that you have, and put a tea towel on the bottom.The jar seals and kills bacteria at 212F.
You can water bath can items that have a pH less than 4.6. That is to say, you can safely water bath can anything that is acidic. This includes tomatoes, jams, fruit, preserves, and pickles.
How long it has to boil is detailed in the recipe, so follow the recipe closely.
When making pickles, you can have a lot of fun with spices. A good online resource is Pendery’s where you can find chilis, seasonings and spice blends.
When making salsas, the ingredients will cook together.
Steam canning can be controversial. There are all in one electrical cooking appliances that claim they can do pressure cooking and steam canning.
Here’s PickYourOwn which details that steam canning is not recommended and why.
Food In Jars offers both sides of the fence. And they recommend this extension site at Utah as to how to effectively use steam canning. Those that like steam canning believe it can provide a hotter internal temperature than water bath without needing to invest in a pressure canner.
Now, the USDA doesn’t recommend this. It could be a useful way of preserving items for the short term, but not for any long term storage. Read up on this method before trying it so you can make an informed choice.
Pressure canning gets the temperature in the jar up to 240F and kills off all bacteria. You can can just about anything including leftover soup, homemade chicken broth and of course relishes, chutneys, jellies and jams.
The time to process the jars varies, so follow the recipe. The timer starts when the pressure canner reaches pressure.
You can also make double batches of chili or stew and pressure can it instead of buying the canned version from the stores. You can make healthier alternatives that’s easier for your family to grab and heat.
Pressure canning is a great way of having emergency food supplies as well.
When you’re done processing, you’ll take the jars out and let them sit for about an hour to cool down. Then you’ll check the lid. Press your finger down. If it doesn’t move, the canning was successful. If it pops, the it wasn’t and may need a new lid or just more time in the processing.
No matter what you’re preserving, if you have spices, it’s best to wait a few weeks to let the flavors fully develop. Take the rings off of the jars for storage. If you leave them on, they could rust. Plus, you can buy only new lids but not have to buy new rings.
When you pull out the jar from your cabinet to use in the Winter, make sure the lid is still well sealed and doesn’t pop. When you open it up, look for any signs of the food having spoiled like bubble, foul odor, or signs of mold.
Canned products make a wonderful housewarming gift or holiday present. You can decorate the jar or add a touch of fabric and ribbon.
Don’t think you have to can large batches, either. There are recipes out there for small batch canning so you’re not stuck in a hot kitchen all summer long.
What would you like to try to preserve this summer?