Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Happy Canning: A Mini Guide to Food Preservation

Just a sample of what can be done with canning
 Preservation by canning is a great way to save food that you have a surplus of and to diversify your meals. It is also a great way to keep eating local, even in winter! Pulling out a jar of bright yellow peaches in the middle of winter? Call me over because that’s amazing. But why stop there? Jam, green beans, corn, salsa, pickles, soups, broths etc. The list goes on, and it could meet potentially everyone’s dietary needs and desires. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty great to me.
When deciding what to can its important to pay attention to what’s available to you at the time. Take note of what’s on sale and what’s going to get you the best bargain, or what you have growing in your garden. Most importantly though, look at what you think you'll want to eat later. Once you’ve figured that out, you’ll have to decide which canning method is best for that type of produce.

Now, bear with me here, okay? There’s only two methods of canning: boiling water bath (BWB) canning and pressure canning. The former can be used for all your high acid food needs; luckily, every fruit falls into this category, along with pickles, tomatoes (with added lemon juice) and acidified foods like chutney or ketchup. The latter is used for pasta sauce, soups, broths and veggies. Disclaimer! It is super important to use the proper method for the food your canning. Canning is a perfectly safe method of preservation, but you need to do your research, and follow instructions.

 If you’re new to world of canning, start with BWB because the cost is minimal and its used to preserve fruits and everybody likes fruit.

Next step is to choose a canning recipe from a reputable source and then follow that to the T. I mean it. Don’t try to cut corners to speed up the process. I guarantee you that every step in that recipe is for tasty food that is safe to eat. Nobody likes food poisoning; I can guarantee that. Canning is all about acid levels but you don’t need to know what chemicals do what. Simply follow that recipe and everything will fall into place.

To get started with BWB you'll need some of the following equipment:
  • Mason jars with two part lids. One to cover/seal and the ring to secure. The flat lid part needs to be new.
  • A pot that is at least 3 inches taller than your jars so that they may be submerged in water. And it needs to have a rack to keep the jars off the bottom
  • Canning tongs (DO NOT use kitchen tongs. They are not the same and you will hurt yourself)
  • Wide-mouthed funnel
  • Bubble tool (plastic knife works fine for small jars)
I know that may seem like a lot, but, you can purchase kits that have almost all of these materials for as little as $12. Great, right?

Now that we've covered all those bases, here are some fantastic resources for canning:
So, now you're ready to move forward and can the night away. Leave a comment below and let us know how it goes or if you have any question or concerns or simply share with us a recipe that you found to be a must-have. Until next time, happy canning!

Homemade peach jam

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