Canning

From Antivist

Contents

An Important Checklist

  • 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.

Canning Butter

  1. Use only highest quality butter (Land O Lakes or equivalent). margarine does not work because margarine is a chemical butter substitute.
  2. Heat jelly jars in 250 degree oven for 20 minutes, without rings or seals.
  3. While the jars are heating, melt butter slowly until it comes to a slow boil. Using a large spatula, stir the bottom of the pot often to keep the butter from scorching. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes at least: a good simmer time will lessen the amount of shaking required.
  4. Place the lids in a small pot and bring to a boil, leaving the lids in simmering water until needed.
  5. Pour melted butter carefully into heated jars, being careful not to get any butter on rim of jar. Leave 3/4" of head space in the jar, which allows room for the shaking process.
  6. Carefully wipe off the top of the jars, then get a hot lid from the simmering water, add the lid and ring and tighten securely. Lids will seal as they cool. Once a few lids "ping," shake while the jars are still warm, but cool enough to handle easily, because the butter will separate and become foamy on top and white on the bottom. In a few minutes, shake again, and repeat until the butter retains the same consistency throughout the jar.
  7. At this point, while still slightly warm, put the jars into a refrigerator. While cooling and hardening, shake again, and the melted butter will then look like butter and become firm. This final shaking is very important! Check every 5 minutes and give the jars a little shake until they are hardened in the jar! Leave in the refrigerator for an hour.
  8. Canned butter should store for 3 years or longer on a cool, dark shelf. Canned butter does not "melt" again when opened, so it does not need to be refrigerated upon opening, provided it is used within a reasonable length of time.

No-Cook Freezer Jams

No-cook freezer fruit jam is an easy way to skip hot days of canning and yet still process the bounty of summer produce. This no-process, low-sugar fruit jam is wonderful with strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries. Experiment with combinations. No-cook jams keep up to 6 months in the freezer and 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 cups washed, hulled, and finely chopped berries, at room temperature (about 1 quart whole)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons agar flakes
  • 1/4 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
  1. In a mixing bowl, stir the lemon juice into the fruit. Set aside.
  2. Place the water in a small saucepan and stir in the agar flakes. Wait 1 minute and then, without further stirring, bring the agar to a simmer over medium-low heat. Once it's simmering, stir for 2-5 minutes, or until the agar is completely dissolved.
  3. Stir the honey into the agar. Use a heatproof rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the pot.
  4. Pouring with one hand and stirring with the other, add the agar mixture to the fruit (donot add the fruit to the agar). Continue stirring until theya re completely mixed. Taste at this time and add more honey, up to 3 tablespoons, if desired.
  5. Pour the mam into hot, scalded half-pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.
  6. Cap and seal. Let cool in the refrigerator for 10-12 hours before freezing. Label and freeze the jam for up to 6 months.
  7. When ready to use, thaw the jam in the refrigerator. It will keep about 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Yield: Four 1/2 pints.

Resources


Canning involves putting food into jars, heating them and holding them at a temperature high enough and long enough to kill microorganisms. Air is driven out of the jar and a vacuum seal is formed, keeping the food safe.

You will need:

   * Jars
   * Lids and Rings
   * Miscellaneous kitchen tools*
   * Canner, either a boiling water bath or a pressure cooker type
  • Miscellaneous kitchen tools include:
   * butter knife
   * damp cloth
   * jar lifter or sturdy tongs
   * large kettle
   * small pot for heating lids and rings
   * larger pot for heating jars

Jars

They don't have to be new; look at garage sales and thrift stores. Check rims for nicks or bumps by running a finger around them lightly. If there is any unevenness, the jars won't seal.

It's an unending discussion as to whether you should use jars that contained mayonnaise or other prepared products, so I'll give you the facts and you can decide for yourself.

These jars are generally thin walled in comparison to jars made for home canning and will break more easily. Standard rings and lids won't fit all of them. However, most of them that look as if they will fit, do. If you decide to try them, check carefully for unevenness on the rim, as they're not held to the same standards as jars created especially for home canners.

Since these jars are basically free, the loss of a jar is no big deal, but the food in them might be. If you have a flood of tomatoes and don't know what to do with them, it might be worth taking a chance, but if you have precious few and really want or need to keep all you can, go the extra mile and get jars that will stand up to heat and temperature changes. They're an investment that will last a long time.

Jars must be as sterile as possible. Wash thoroughly with soap and hot water, rinse and put them in very hot water. It used to be recommended that you boil them for 10 minutes before beginning, but that's no longer considered necessary, since the boiling water bath or the pressure canner will do the same job. Be sure to keep them very hot throughout the process, though.

Lids and Rings

Always buy new lids. It isn't safe to reuse them, as the gasket material isn't flexible enough to seal twice. Lids can be bought inexpensively in packages of a dozen each. Rings can be used again as long as they're not rusty, but if they're showing signs of rust, or if they're out of round, buy new ones.

Both lids and rings must be hot before using them on the jars. Put them in very hot (not boiling) water before you begin to fill the jars. Give them time to heat through.

Miscellaneous Tools

Tongs are indispensable as tools to lift lids and rings from hot water. You can use any kind, but the ones with soft covering on the ends work best. A magnet on a long handle works for lids, but can be awkward for rings. You can also tie a small magnet to the end of a large mixing spoon handle for this.

Lint free cloths must be used to wipe the top of the jar from spills before seating the lid. Dampen the cloth and rinse in warm water occasionally while you're working.

Racks usually come with regular canners of either kind, but if for some reason you don't have one, put a towel in the bottom of the canner. It won't keep jars from hitting each other, but it will keep them from bouncing against the bottom of the canner and perhaps save you a jar or two. Space the jars evenly in the pot, not touching.

If you don't have a rack that you can lift from the water for your boiling water canner, look for a jar lifter, which is a tool that is simply a wide curving tong which will fit around a jar and lift it.

You'll also need a towel placed on a table in an out of the way, draft free area on which to set the jars until they seal. Don't move them for 24 hours, unless you can see that they didn't seal, then you need to refrigerate them.

When a lid seals, it will often make a popping sound. It will always indent. If a lid doesn't sink inwards, it hasn't sealed. Give all of your jars at least an hour to seal, but be sure to check them closely after that. If they don't seal, refrigerate the food and use as soon as possible.

Be sure to follow the exact recipes and instructions for each food you can. Ball Blue Book of Canning is the recognized authority. You can find it in most libraries, but if you're going to can much at all, it's worth having your own copy.

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