Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Preserving Food by Canning

Canning is something I recently became interested in. I don't even remember how. But I started watching some YouTube videos and decided to give it a go.

I started by ordering this canning pot on Amazon. You can do water bath canning in a regular stock pot if you want (with some type of rack on the bottom), but I don't have one big enough. If you're also looking in to starting, know that water bath canning only works for certain foods. Mostly fruits. Things that have a lot of acid. To can things like vegetables and meats you'll need a pressure cooker to safely preserve them. I picked up a Ball canning kit and some mason jars at Target.

The first thing I canned was applesauce. I got 6 pounds of organic gala apples. I've made applesauce before, but I didn't use a food processor to puree the fruit (it was late and I didn't want to wake Harry up or dirty another appliance). Here's a quick breakdown of how I made it.
  • Peel and chop 6 pounds of gala apples. Soak chunks in water with a few splashes of lemon juice.
  • Rinse apples and add to a large stockpot. Turn heat on high and cook down to a sauce. Use a potato masher to help break up apples.
  • Add 1 tablespoon cinnamon. You could also add sugar if you like.
  • Cook down to desired texture and pour in to sterilized Ball jars. Wipe top of jars and secure lid and ring.
  • Place jars in hot water bath canner. Bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes (adjust for your altitude).
  • After processing, turn off heat. Let the jars stand for a few minutes before removing from water. Then place jars on folded towel (to help prevent breakage). Leave them alone for 24 hours to completely cool and seal.
You'll know the jars sealed properly when the button on the lid gets sucked in. It should make a popping sound.  It'll keep on the shelf for about a year. Once opened, store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

The 6 pounds of apples turned into 4 pints of applesauce. Harry likes it okay. I think it's the chunks, so next time I'll put it in the blender to smooth it out.


After the applesauce, I decided to try strawberry jam. Traditional jams call for equal parts fruit and sugar, bleh! Why even bother with the fruit at that point? I had no idea it was so sugary. All the sugar is needed to help the pectin set in to a jelly. Without it the jam would be very runny. Fortunately they make a low sugar pectin so you don't have to use so much. Here's how I made the jam.
  • Hull and mash 4 pounds of strawberries. This should yield approximately 8 cups of puree. 
  • Pour puree into a large stock pot. Add 2/3 cup water.
  • Gradually stir in 6 tablespoons of Ball's Real Fruit low-sugar pectin. Add 3/4 teaspoon butter (optional- but this helps minimize foam).
  • Bring strawberries to a full rolling boil. One that can't be stirred down (be careful- it will splatter!).
  • Add 1 cup of sugar. Bring back up to a full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute, while constantly stirring. 
  • Remove from heat, skim off any foam and ladle jam into half pint jars. 
  • Place jars in hot water bath canner. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes (adjusting for altitude).
  • After processing, turn off heat. Let the jars stand for a few minutes before removing from water. Then place jars on folded towel (to help prevent breakage). Leave them alone for 24 hours to completely cool and seal. 
The 4 pounds of berries made 9 half pints of jam. One of the jams didn't seal properly, so I just threw it in the fridge to use first. We'll be set for a long time!


Next I'd like to make a batch of pickles. Maybe some tomato sauce. And Ant has requested some canned peaches. If I keep up with the canning eventually I'd like to get a pressure cooker so I can do green beans and other veggies. I love canned green beans!

Anyone else do canning? What kinds of things do you like to preserve?

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