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Any fellow canners out there?  RSS feed

 
Leah Sattler
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I have been in full swing canning this month. Green beans, tomatoes, some potatoes and also chicken and stock. I really love to see rows of home canned food stocking the pantry. prior to this year I only canned things I could water bath and froze anything that needed pressure canning. spurred partly by the loss of electricity due to the ice storm this winter (and facing the potential loss of all my frozen food) This spring I stepped up and bought a pressure canner. It really has proved to be simple and rewarding. I was always a little intimidated by the thought of pressure canning but now I see it really is no big deal. What is in your canner this month?
 
paul wheaton
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Susan Hoke
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Leah Sattler wrote:
I have been in full swing canning this month. Green beans, tomatoes, some potatoes and also chicken and stock. I really love to see rows of home canned food stocking the pantry. prior to this year I only canned things I could water bath and froze anything that needed pressure canning. spurred partly by the loss of electricity due to the ice storm this winter (and facing the potential loss of all my frozen food) This spring I stepped up and bought a pressure canner. It really has proved to be simple and rewarding. I was always a little intimidated by the thought of pressure canning but now I see it really is no big deal. What is in your canner this month?


Since I don't have a pressure canner I'm looking for a good used one, an All American would be a wonderful find) I've only been canning pickles, tomatoes & jam. A neighbor told me she used a steam canner for all her canning. That may be too risky.

 
Susan Hoke
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paul wheaton wrote:
Leah, have you done much canning with apple juice instead of sugar?



Hi Paul,

Do you have any recipes or pointers? Apple Juice & Beets sounds like a good combo.
 
Leah Sattler
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paul-I have never canned with apple juice but I don't can alot of anything that might need sugar, just some jelly. thats a great thoguh though. the store bought jelly I prefer is all fruit. I'll have to look up some recipes. I knwo that the sugar levels must be adequate to insure that the pectin can do its job, I think it would just be a matter of equating the sugar amount with a concentrated juice amount. I have hydrometer so I should experiment to find out what it takes to get an equal amount of sugar using apple juice.

globe woman - I am very happy with my cheapo presto canner. it was around 50$ brand new. I would suggest also you buy a canner with a petcock and not a dial gage. apparently it is getting harder and harder to find someone local to check your gage every year. Oh and no, no, no, on the steam canner! There has been plenty of research done to negate the safety of all those old canning methods. Yeah someone will say "well I haven't died yet". Just remember its not the thousand times that botulism doesn't grow it is the one time it does!
 
paul wheaton
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I have no experience with apple juice recipes.  I do know that when I buy canned fruit, I now focus exclusively on the stuff that is organic and is canned with fruit juice (nearly always apple or pear juice).

 
                    
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See http://www.homefamily.net/index.php?/categories/foodnutrition/canning5257/

I don't know about the quality of her advice, but it was encouraging.  I think the healthiest alternatives to sugar would be apple juice, stevia or local honey.

also
http://solutions.psu.edu/Food_Preparation_Safety_Storage_144.htm

I considered buying a chest freezer - I love frozen smoothies - but then it would be just one more electricity dependent appliance I'd have...
 
Leah Sattler
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I love my chest freezer. I would rather be dependent on electricity than be dependent on someone else for my food! It saves me money too. what meat I can't provide myself I can buy on sale and freeze until use although I am making it a point to not put any more meat in the freezer than I could can up in a reasonable amount of time if the electricity goes out.
 
Kelda Miller
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So Leah, with the green beans and potatoes, is there plenty of salt to keep it preserved? I'm trying to get my head around veggies that don't have pectin. Or is it the pressure canning method that allows the low pectin?
 
Leah Sattler
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pectin is used when making jelly to solidify the mixture. sSme fruits have naturally high levels of pectins, like apples, and some need added pectin. The pectin does not preserve it and neither does the salt. Sugar in jelly does have a hand in preserving but the major "preserver" in jellys and fruits is the acid. Pickles are acid because of the vinager used and can also be processed in a boiling wter bath. Botulism cannot grow in an acid enviroment. Sometimes a form of acid needs to be added to fruits, usually in the way of lemon juice or a prepared powdered acid mix specifically marketed for canning.

Low acid items must be processed in a pressure canner. They are preserved by heating the contents to a high enough degree to kill botulism spores. A temperature that cannot be achieved by simply boiling water. As the jars begin to cool a vaccuum is formed and the jars seal, preventing contamination by bacteria, molds and especially important, botulism spores. So any icky bugs that were in the jar are killed and the jar is sealed preventing any enviromental contamination that would decay or spoil the food and allows it to sit at room temperature for an indefinite period of time with out spoiling just like canned food from the gocery store.
 
paul wheaton
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Leah,

So if I were to can .... blackberries.  I would think that if I canned them in water, (I thought up until now) they would be okay, but would probably taste lame.  But if I can them in apple juice, they would can just as well, but taste much better.

Now I have never done either of these things, so I'm doing a lot of speculating. 

My thinking is that blackberries don't have a lot of acid.  (not really sure about this)

I always thought the number 1 reason for sugar (in this case, apple juice) is that once the jar is opened, you need to use the fruit right away or else it will start spoiling right away.  But once the stuff inside the jar is sterile, it will keep for years until opened. 

So ... are a lot of my assumptions errant?

 
Leah Sattler
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blackberries are considered acid and can be canned in boiling water bath. keep in mind however that whatever you can must be at the peak of ripeness and maybe even slightly underripe, overripe fruit begins to loose its acidity quickly. here are the reccomendations for canning various berries.

http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_02/berries_whole.html
the syrup isn't neccessary but helps to retain color and flavor.

Here is the reccomendations for apple juice. http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_02/apple_juice.html

The blackberries should be processed for 15 minutes and the apple juice 5 minutes. The rule of thumb is use the longest processing time for what ever ingredient is included in the recipe. So that would be 15 minutes in this case. I don't see any reason why apple juice couldn't be used as the syrup.
 
Leah Sattler
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNgDDE7S3FI this is good initiation. Her canner uses a different weight gage than I have on my presto 16 qt canner, mine gently rocks to keep pressure it doesn't "jiggle". Be sure to read and follow the instructions that come with your canner.
 
Leah Sattler
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I just did a quick jar count and I have canned around 80 pints and quarts combined so far. I really need to get some more green beans going. I planted another bed with them using my old standby yellow wax beans that have been so reliable for me. After having 3  rather dismal yeilds when trying out other varietys I just went back to what works. Its nice to see the pantry well stocked.
 
Ken Peavey
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Stuff I have canned:
apple jelly
watermelon jelly
blueberry jelly
mixed berry jelly (freakin' awesome)
applesauce
cucumber pickles
turnip pickles
radish pickles
okra pickles
carrot
chard
collards
mustard
spinach
turnip and greens
beets and greens
cabbage
sweet corn
yellow squash
zuke
butternut squash
peas
green beans
wax beans
potatoes
chicken, deboned
chicken and dumplings-do not try this
hot dogs-not really worth the effort
pork, boston butt
pork shoulder
meat sauce, ground beef
meat sauce, ground beef/turkey blend
meat balls
chicken livers
italian sausage
smoked ham-never do this
beef stew
chicken stock

Tomatoes are conspicuously missing from this list.
Give me time.
 
                              
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Okay I have to ask what happened with the smoked ham?  Cindy and I have talked about canning different meats next, we have covered all of the garden vegetables this year that the kids will eat.  So I am curious about your experiences with all the meats if you would like to share them.

Vince
 
Ken Peavey
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The hot dogs turned into mush.
The chicken becomes bold flavored, quite tasty in fact.  I boil the meat first to get it off the bone as well as for safety, using the stock to fill the jars.  Its the bones that give it the strong flavor.
The smoke from the ham intensifies to become disgusting, the ham turns into a salty rubber tire.
Chicken livers begin to disintegrate after a couple of years but still make a fine sauce for noodles.
The dumplings turn into paste making for a sloppy jar of food, chicken is still good.
Boston butt pork is essentially poached pork.  Not as good as fresh, has a texture like the beef in commercially produced beef stew.  Used like tuna, it makes a fine sandwich.
Pork shoulder tends to be a fatty meat, there will be grease on the top.
Meat sauce, meat balls and italian sausage are browned first to remove the grease.  Packed in tomato sauce.  Some quality loss but still acceptable.
Beef stew should be thickened AFTER it comes out of the jar.  If thickened beforehand with rue, it can be lumpy.  If cornstarch, it needs to be thickened again after opening.

 
                              
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Thank you for a quick rundown of the different meats.  We had planned to try beef stew first, so I will definitely heed your warnings.  Thank you for the response.

Vince
 
Ken Peavey
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Beef stew is a good start.

-Since the canner will be going for 90 minutes, put in your raw potatoes and carrots just before you pack the jars.  They will cook up in the jars. 
-Trimming extra fat off the meat will reduce the grease on top of the stew when the jars cool.  Any grease in the jars can be removed when you open the jars at mealtime.  I leave it in, adds flavor.
 
                              
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I'm getting hungry already.  Do you have a specific recipe you like or do you slightly modify a slow cooker recipe?

Vince
 
Ken Peavey
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no recipe.  I make it up as I go along with whatever is available.  Brown the meat, don't brown the meat.  Caramelize the onions sometimes.  Potato and carrot are a staple ingredient, as are peas and garlic.  Mushrooms if I have them around.  If I have pot roast juice, it goes in for sure.  A beef bone gets boiled down.  Barley or  wheat adds texture.  Toss in some chick peas.  Young zuchinni adds to it.

The broth is what gets me started.  Take all your vegetable scraps, no lettuce, boil them down.  A beef bone or pot roast is what gets me started.  Makes a fine stock.
Fresh thyme goes in for sure.  Sometimes oregano, sometimes marjoram, usually parsley.
 
bunkie weir
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i have a question about canning carrots and green beans. they always come out too soft for my taste. on another forum, someone mentioned canning them with only an inch of water in the jar. they called it 'dry' canning. i've never heard of it before. they said that by the time the canning is finished, there is more water in the jar from the beans and they stay firm and crunchy. anyone heard of this technique?
 
                              
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Dang it, I am hungry again.  I am going to have to go and read about eating stinging nettles or something instead of this thread.   
 
Ken Peavey
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I just scored 9 dozen mason jars for $3/dozen off Craigslist
 
Leah Sattler
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bunkie weir wrote:
i have a question about canning carrots and green beans. they always come out too soft for my taste. on another forum, someone mentioned canning them with only an inch of water in the jar. they called it 'dry' canning. i've never heard of it before. they said that by the time the canning is finished, there is more water in the jar from the beans and they stay firm and crunchy. anyone heard of this technique?


I follow all usda canning guidelines. I have heard of tons of things but I am not sure this is an area where I would want to experiment. one question that comes to mind is how much the water has to do with even distribution and penetration of the heat. I suspect that the guidelines suggestions about water are more for aesthetic purposes though.....food that floats to the top of the jars (or jars that lose water in the process) and is exposed out of the liquid often discolors.
 
                    
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The smoke from the ham intensifies to become disgusting, the ham turns into a salty rubber tire.


well, isn't the smoke and the salt supposed to the job of preserving the ham?  I don't "get" canning ham...

on another forum, someone mentioned canning them with only an inch of water in the jar. they called it 'dry' canning.


I think that's steam canning, the type of canning that people have since discovered is unsafe.  Use a water bath for just about everything, a pressure canner for corn and meats.  That's like, a probably too general rule of thumb, but generally accurate. 

We're just getting into the whole canning scene.  Our blackberries (water bathed for 15 min) have an ok taste, ok enough to at least remind you of august.  Which isn't half bad on oatmeal in february, actually. 

We pull water out of the solar hot water heater so that we start with 160-190 water.  That makes acheiving a rolling boil with a wood stove do-able.

kpeavy - I'm so glad to say that you don't have to follow a recipe.  The blue ball book I looked at scared me a little "do this or die" sort of introduction, but I just can't really follow a recipe all the way, and they didn't have any specific times for black berries, and I just can't bring myself to use 4 cups of sugar in ANYthing.  Your list is very inspirational (except for the wacky failures) but - no tomatoes?  That's the only thing I don't want to (well, can't without getting wine) ferment instead! 

In general, I love the diversity of experiences in this forum.  I'm learning lots!
 
Ken Peavey
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Canned Ham
Smoke and salt will preserve a ham for a few weeks, more if refrigerated as well.  For long term storage of a few years, canning is a fine solution as it takes no continuous energy inputs, does not freezer burn, wont dry up.  The ham was an experiment in canning.

Dry Canning
The good people at Ball did plenty of research and trials to put together the Blue Book.  It can be trusted as a reliable source of information of safe canning practices.  I don't have time to test new or different methods.  I only try different foods.  In my opinion, if the method is not sanctioned by the USDA or the Blue Book, it may not have been thoroughly tested and as a result, safety is not assured.  I will not be doing any dry canning, nor will I promote or endorse it as a safe and reliable method of storing food.

Blackberries
I don't want to sound like the Canner Police but 30 minutes in a water bath is the accepted standard for safe and reliable processing of acid foods.

No Recipe
This refers to the ingredients in the beef stew.  I still follow the rules in canning the stew.

Tomato
I never had enough to can.  My cherry tomatoes are as sweet as berries, they just don't accumulate in sufficient quantities to fill the jars.  In NY this summer hundreds of tomato plants were laid waste by Late Blight.

DO THIS OR DIE
Botulism (see Wikipedia entry) is the greatest concern when home canning.  The botulism toxin is extremely potent, a teaspoon of the stuff would be sufficient to kill off everyone in my county.  The bacteria are common in most soils worldwide but in low numbers.  An anaerobic environment, such as inside a canning jar, is required for its growth.  While boiling can destroy the bacteria, the toxins produced by the bacteria must also be destroyed.  This requires a combination of temperature, time, and acidity.  The canning rules are there for a reason.  They are designed to ensure the product is safe when you feed it to you family months later.  Failure to follow the procedures for cleaning, packing, and processing can result in sickness, and in extreme cases, death.

[size=12pt][center]DO NOT TAKE SHORTCUTS IN HOME CANNING[/center][/size]



 
                    
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Thanks for the response, kpeavy.  I'm all for experimentation but, canned ham just sounds bad to me.  Didn't mean it as a criticism.  

I should add that it wasn't raw blackberries for 15 minutes.  I put boiling blackberry stuff into the jars, then boiled those for 15 minutes.  Does that help?

All those reasons about the scariness of home canning are why I'd rather ferment when possible.  
 
Ken Peavey
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That canned ham was an awful thing.  Blech.

Hot packing the blackberries was wise.  It shows attention to detail which is an important aspect to home canning.

It is understandable to be nervous about home canning.  There is a certain amount of risk involved, but that risk is eliminated by following the procedures in their entirety.  Home canning has been around for the better part of a century.  Performed correctly, its as safe, if not safer, than commercially processed foods. 

Home food production and storage is a growing trend.  Novice home canners may be afraid of overdoing it or may not fully understand the reason for a procedure, feel it is unimportant and choose to skip over it.  Since some of them may be reading this forum, I think it is important to place an emphasis on following all the steps in their entirety.  Once you do enough canning you will find its not difficult, none of the steps are a particular hassle, and by personally attending each step with attention to detail, the result is good, cheap, safe, delicious food.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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A big role for water in canning is as a heat transfer medium.

It is no surprise that dry-canned beans are not over-cooked: air doesn't carry much heat. I think this comes as a tradeoff with safety.

A narrower and/or thinner-walled canning jar would allow safe canning with less cooking. In the extreme, the polyester envelopes that MREs come in now (and fancy tuna, Indian food...I've even seen spam packaged this way) allow the center of the food to reach a safe temperature much more quickly, and also to cool much more quickly after the appropriate time has elapsed.
 
Ken Peavey
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I believe those poly packed foods are preserved through irradiation.
 
          
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I can jam. I've had success using concentrated apple juice instead of sugar. The jam turns out just as sweet, so I imagine using plain apple juice (instead of concentrated) with canned berries will only make them more delicious. My mom's canned raspberries I remember as a kid were okay, but a little plain.
 
                      
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I can every year. I usually "put up" about 500 jars of everything from tomatoes, chili sauce, jams and berries to peaches and apple juice. Some of the rabbits I raise are also canned. We dry lots of fruits and veggies, make wine, hard cider and put squash, potatoes, apples, onion, garlic and even excess eggs in to cold storage.

We have an unheated greenhouse that we use year-round and supplies us with greens and the like. As we approach February, we still have plenty until the spring flush hits. By then, the goats will be milking and we'll be busy all over again! I'm just coming out of dormancy.
 
                    
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I am located in Oregon and looking for a weighted dial canner as I have the regular dial like a clock front and it does not work right on my Electric stove changing to Gas is not possible does anyone have a weighted guage dial canner they are willing to sell
my email is  rsb@gorge.net
thank you
Sharon
 
Ken Peavey
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Shar,
Check Craigslist.  They got all sorts of stuff on there.
 
                    
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I can a couple items that I have not seen discussed here.
1. milk:  I can milk in my pressure canner, you basically just use the same guides as you would for meat, it is pure goat milk, so high in protein, and fat.  What you get out is still liquid, the color does change to pink looking.  Kind of like if you look really close at evaporated milk.  But, for cooking it is just like it was.  And it really helps when the ladies are not fresh, and you have no milk on hand.

2. fish:  There are recipes in the Ball Blue Book for fish, and other meats.  Just clean you fish well, then salt it and add a bit of water, I cold pack it, raw pack, whatever you call it.  Then process it for the correct time.  Your end product, whether it was catfish, perch, or whatever tastes just like tinned fish at the grocer, and the bones are soft enough to chew them and eat them, just like with sardines.  We liked it.  Especially for snacks or making fish cakes and frying them up.
 
Rob Sigg
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So I just started getting into canning/preserving with my wife. I really like that we can keep things into the winter and not waste food. However, Im frustrated that almost all recipes/methods for canning involve high amounts of energy and involve destroying alot of nutrients/enzymes during the cooking process. I have done some pickling, but lets be honest not all vegetables are good pickled. How do you all feel about this? The only options are eat what is in season, buy from the grocery store or cook the crap outta stuff which devalues the food. Im interested in hearing from everyone on this issue.
 
                          
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Rob, I can and dehydrate. For my jams, I use honey and a citrus fruit pectin that doesnt even require the honey. We dehydrated a ton of fruit. The vegetables I can are pickled beets, marinated onions, garlic, cauliflower and okra, also my hot sauce, tomatillo sauce, pimento peppers and stewed tomatoes, though I also cook with a lot of dried tomatoes. I am about to make kimchi for the first time, which will use napa and bok choy, peppers, onions and carrots. Since it is fermented, it is loaded with natural enzymes. Most other vegetables are dehydrated so I am losing less of the nutrients and I find they have a better flavor when I cook, than canned. I also am concerned with the heat destroying so much of our food. I am also about to make hominy from my blue corn, so that will take care of another vegetable/grain that can be stored dried. I need to find a way to deal with cucumbers so that I have them for my asian cooking.

We turned an outside stairway into a quasi root cellar this last year and I have stored cases of apples, onions, potatoes, pumpkins and winter squashes. I still have potatoes that we are eating, as well as apples.
 
Karl Teceno
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My wife and I have canned both hot water bath and pressure canning for years but recently we have also started vacum packing and freezing stuff. The vacum packer stops freezer burn. We simply blanch the veggies and put it into the freezer unsealed. After it freezes, we vacum pack it. If you try to vacum pack it unfrozen, the moisture most often won't allow for a good seal.
We also either buy meat on sale and repack it then vacum pack it or meat from a farmer freind of ours.
You can make what ever size bags you want. You can boil the bags at cooking time, wash them and reuse them. And probably the best feature is the fact that we save tons of leftovers. We label them, date them, then freeze them. No more mold experiments in the back/bottomof the fridge.
 
Rob Sigg
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I definitely prefer freezing over canning because of preserving the nutrients, but freezer space is limited and can be energy hogs. The vacuum seal thing is pretty cool though.

Kathryn, I like Kimchi  very much. Have you ever made it before? What recipe are you using? I have been sundrying tomatoes and plums but I haven’t tried other vegetables like cukes, squash etc. We plan on using a section in our garage for over winter storage of things like the onions, potatoes etc. It gets in the 40’s out there so it should be fine. Im glad to see there are others out there who understand that cooking everything leads to a somewhat empty diet. Thanks for the comments.
 
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