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Summer in a jar

A big warm Tightwad welcome to Brenna from Aunt Bee's Garden who wrote this guest post for Tightwad; we are doing a post swap today.

I love canning. No, I really do. It is something that I wish for all of my friends to try. It is an amazing feeling when you open a jar in December that you packed back in July and the contents are yummy. Summer in a jar.

Most of my friends assume that it is some sort of voodoo or magic that is involved in canning and preserving food. However, there are just a few steps that require just a teeny weeny bit of science and some love.

The most basic method for canning is the Boling-water method. All you need for this method is canning jars, new lids, rings, a towel, and a big pot of water. For your first canning experience use a simple jam recipe.

1. Sterilize your jars in boiling water. This is absolutely the most important part of canning. Have the towel folded in half next to your stove. Turn off the water. Using tongs or jar lifter remove jars from water and place on towel. Throw the lids in the water - do not boil these, it will ruin the sealing compound.

2. Fill the jars with your recipe leaving a 1/2" of headspace (space from top of food to top of jar) at the top. Do this while the jars are still warm from sterilizing. Wipe the rim of the jar so that you can create a tight seal. Top with hot lids and rings - do not screw on too tightly.

3. Process your packed jars in your pot of water, making sure that jars are covered with 1" of water. You can use a canning rack inside your pot or just place a few extra rings under the jars so that the water can circulate all around. Process your jars according to the directions in the recipe. Don't tell the USDA but I do not process pickles. I don't like the mushy texture of the pickles after processing and I feel very confident that they are safe because of the acidity and the salt. I am not recommending that you skip the processing step when canning pickles, just letting you know:)

4. Let the jars cool on the towel or move to a wire cooling rack. As the contents cool, a vacuum is created in the headspace and the lid will make a ping sound, letting you know it is sealed. When you press on the lid it should not move. If it does move then a tight seal was not created. It's okay though - just put the jar in the fridge and eat in within a few days. Label the jars immediately so that you don't forget what is in that lovely little jar.

Once you get the hang of this you can start playing around and finding new and exciting recipes. The most important advice I have is DO NOT BE AFRAID TO FAIL.

Tightwad was pretty inspired by this post... I think something with green tomatoes would be good... like a chutney or a salsa. I'm off to find a large pot!

4 comments:

M. said...

Thanks so much for this post! I just bought my first set of canning jars this week, and I'm so excited to foray into the unknown territory of canning! I'm loving your blog, and looking forward to more great tips!

Aunt Bee's Garden said...

You go, girls!!!

Kim said...

You know, I don't process my pickles either. I hate soggy pickles. I think refrigerator pickles last many many months.

I love canning too!! I just did strawberry jam last week. Pickles might be happening this week if there are some at the farmer's market.

Kat said...

I have just purchased another 12 pack of wide mouth quart jars ...... and I've NEVER canned a thing! I actually use my jars like canisters (definitely keeps any "friends" out of flour/sugar/pastas) One of these days I will have to try canning instead of just blanching and freezing.

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