This past week I did some canning. I preserve food many ways, dehydrating, water bath canning, pressure canning, freezing (which I am trying to get away from) and fermenting which I hope to expand my knowledge on the fermenting.
But this is our time to do canning because the fresh vegetables and fruits are ready now. Actually all year we can preserve food because we have different seasons for different vegetables and fruits.
This past week I concentrated on making conserve, jam, relish and applesauce. I will make some more jam and applesauce and move on to whole vegetables and meat. The reason I made applesauce is because I use apples in some of the things I can "preserve" because I do not like to use pectin or anything that makes the jam or jelly to gel. I had quite a few extra apples so I made applesauce which now Charles would like me to can some more applesauce. :)
This above is a small batch of blueberry conserve. I made a bigger batch of plum jam and blueberry jam but the conserve is special.
I do not want to tell you how to can because I go by the ball canning books which everything I made is in one of the ball canning books. We learn best by doing.
Canning jam, jelly and conserves is something we have to get the "feel" of doing and learning when it is ready to put in the jar. It takes a lot of stirring and it is very hot so when canning these types of food in the kitchen we must clear the kitchen from small children and pets so they do not get burned.
I will use a canning thermometer at times but I mainly judge by the way it coats my spoon and I remove some and put in a plate and let it cool then test it with my finger. Sometimes it can take a long time standing there stirring a jam or conserve but it is worth it because the taste is so different than store bought jam or conserve.
Water bath canners have a rack that raises and lowers inside the canner. When you fill your jars with what you are canning you use a jar lifter and place them in boiling water on the raised rack while you are filling the next jars then lower the rack to submerge the jars under the water. What I was doing this past week was called hot packing. What I was putting in the jars was being cooked and very hot and the jars were sitting in very hot simmering water while waiting to be used.
We have two water bath canners, this one above is my smaller older canner and then we have the larger dark blue water bath canner for larger jars.
My tip for canning is to use a paper plate to put your spoon, dippers and funnel on while canning because it gets very messy and can stain your cloths.
For jams and conserves I will use paper towels and paper plates. I still manage to splatter things on our cloths.
When it came time to make the relish and chow chow Charles helped me to gather vegetables from our garden and then he took me to the farmers market to get the things we did not have.
When he had the time he would come in and help me by chopping some of the veggies while I peeled.
Chow chow is made in stages because there is a salting stage where you chop everything and put it together and salt it for around 6 to 7 hours then rinse well and cook with vinegar. I use canning vinegar.
It is a rainy day today, we have a tropical cyclone coming in and so I will organize our canning jars and such, catch up on some housework and be ready to get back to work on food preservation.
There is always something to do around the yard or inside the house and I never get tired of it. The older I get there is more pain in my body but my excitement grows like a child in a candy store. I want to do so much right here where we live and I hope I don't run out of time for a good while. :)
These are my three Ball canning books. The one on the left I have been using for many years, then the one on the right and the one in the middle is one Charles purchased for me.
Food preservation must be done right and on the internet there are many things that are dangerous and bad advice. It does not have to be this way and we can safely preserve our food like our generations before us did and we can store that food on a pantry shelf. We just need good tools and books that have methods that have been done for years. Remember that with canning there are certain foods that can be done in the water bath canner and foods that require a pressure canner.
When dehydrating food there is no exception when it comes to food safety because it can be done right. Certain fresh food needs to be blanched before dehydrating to keep the dehydrated food safe. Do not take shortcuts.
Dehydrating food is another shelf stable food storage solution where we don't have to worry about if the power goes out.
Preserving our food is a good thing because we know what we put in that jar. You can do this too and then pass down the knowledge so it will not be forgotten.