Author Topic: SO confused about canning  (Read 13791 times)

shelivesthedream

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SO confused about canning
« on: January 22, 2015, 02:50:37 AM »
We've got an allotment this year and the arrival the other day of all our seeds made me think about the other end of it - harvest. We live in a small flat and have a small freezer, just about big enough to hold leftovers/double batches at the moment, and nowhere to put another one. There are only two of us and, while I'm not planning on planting up the whole allotment (half of it is still covered in weeds) I don't want to not use as much of it as possible. I'm prepared to end up giving things away, but I'd love to preserve as much as possible for our own use.

I've made some jams these past few years, so canning seems like the obvious next step but it is SO confusing! To the extent that I don't really have a handle on what all the options are, let alone how to choose between them! Part of the problem, I think, is a vocabulary one - most of the resources I have come across are American (all quarts and cups) and so I find them hard to understand.

Here are some specific questions I have, but any further general explanation would be most welcome!

1. What kind of jars can you use? I suppose I can't re-use jars from the supermarket?
i. What is with the two-part lids that I keep seeing?
ii. Why can't you re-use lids if you wash them properly?
iii. How much is reasonable (UK) to pay per jar?
iv. Is there a maximum size that's safe to use?

2. What can you can and what can't you can?
i. How do I know if a food is high-acid and low-acid?
ii. Which foods lose texture during canning? (I hate sloppy textures!)

3. Can you water bath can in a normal saucepan? (They seem like elaborate saucepans to me, and I already have one HUGE pan for making jam which could fit a good few jars)

4. Can you can prepared food? Like, can you make soup and can it? Or pesto? My husband isn't crazy about the idea of canned vegetables but we eat a lot of soup.

5. How can you tell, when you open the jar, if your food has gone off?

6. I know this sounds silly, but when you open the jar, is it just like buying a tin of fruit/vegetables from the supermarket?

7. What's the difference between canning vegetables and pickling them?

8. Can you think of any other ways of preserving vegetables that do not require refrigeration or a special storage space?

---

List of things we plan to grow:

Brussels sprouts
Cauliflower
Calabrese (heading broccoli)
Sprouting broccoli
Kale

Broad beans

Carrots
Beetroot
Chard
Fennel

Tomatoes (cherry, three kinds)
Good King Henry
Lettuce (two kinds, both heading)
Winter squash (two kinds)
Sorrel

NO onions/garlic (food intolerance) and NO potatoes (life's too short and I don't like them much anyway)

deborah

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2015, 04:14:38 AM »
There are several types of preserving (I'm Australian, so we use the word preserving rather than canning - and I think it's what they use in the UK too) - water bath, pressure cooker and lacto-fermenting (there might be more, but we'll stick with these.

Water bath - you put the sealed jar in a saucepan (or a preserver - they are higher, and are a specially made saucepan for preserving), covered in water by about 1.5cm and heat it for 1.25 hours at 92-98C - just below boiling (I used to boil - higher temperatures kill good enzymes) - this method works for acidic things - tomato puree, fruit, jam, chutney, pickles (although the last three don't really need a water bath, but it makes certain there aren't bacteria inside)...

Pressure cooker - as above but in a presure cooker so the contents get significantly hotter - this method works for non-acidic things - beans, and most vegetables - the soup you mention would almost certainly need this method, as onions and garlic harbour botulism which isn't removed in a water bath.

Lacto-fermenting - usually layer contents with salt, and the brine causes a fermentation - eg sauerkraut, preserved lemons ant most vegetables can be done this way.

I use a water bath to preserve 52 litre bottles of tomato puree each year from my garden - heat up the tomatoes in the microwave, get at them with the stick mixer to make a puree, then bottle and water bath - terribly simple - used to take me half an hour in the morning before I went to work. Totally pure tomato - no vinegar or any additives at all - so it is not a pickle (which does have vinegar). I could just cut it up a little and I would have chopped tomato rather than tomato puree. I also boil the tomatoes to make tomato paste. I also bottle a lot of the fruit from my garden - ending up with a jar of fruit or fruit puree for every week, so I can make pies or crumbles each week. I don't add sugar, so the fruit could be used in main courses (apricot chicken is one dish we have). You must have the contents filling the bottle - with a bit of a gap at the top - air bubbles are bad, and spoil the contents, so whole or sliced fruit must have juice or water to fill the bottle - but that's what your supermarket stuff is like too.

You can reuse your jars from the supermarket - they have a built in rubber seal in the lid, and this should last for another use or two - however the seal deteriorates, so the lids will need replacing after a couple of uses. You can even buy new lids for these supermarket jars on the internet. There are other jars that are specially made for preserving - the french preserving jars are a glass jar with a hinged glass lid (the hinge mechanism can come off and is metal), and a very fat rubber seal. The common jars used in Australia are a glass jar with a much smaller (and easier to manipulate) separate rubber seal, a metal lid and a metal clamp.  The American jars have a glass jar, and a metal screw on lid with a glass insert (they must also have a rubber seal somewhere) and are often called mason jars - and of course they have a two part lid (the metal screw part and the glass insert). I don't like the French jars because the rubber ring is very hard to put on a hot bottle. The mason jars are available here, but only rarely, so I use the Australian Fowlers-Vacola system. I like the preserving jars - they come in reasonable sizes, and are straight up and down, so are easy to get the contents into. The jars are often available here in op shops. The rings for the Australian bottles are available (as are new bottles) from a number of hardware stores, so they are easy to replace (one other reason I don't use mason jars). They do cost a bit, but I inherited my mother's jars, and I expect to pass mine on to someone someday.

Because you are boiling the food (or near enough) the texture is what you would expect from heated food, and is similar to the texture you would get if you open something you bought in the supermarket. Of your vegetables, the only things I would use a water bath for are tomatoes. The other things can be made into pickles and chutneys, or lacto-fermented.

Lacto-fermentation also requires a jar - I use the french jars for this, as they don't have any metal touching the contents, whereas the other types of jar do (and I wouldn't trust a supermarket jar, because the coating on the lid could be corroded by the salt). The salt forms a brine with the liquid produced while you are layering the bottle. I use bigger bottles for this. Whereas you can use the contents of a waterbath or pressure cooked bottle immediately, the lacto-fermentation process means the contents need to mature for some time - generally a few weeks or longer.

If the food is off, the jar is usually under pressure. I'm sure you know the sucking in noise when you open a jar - that is because the contents of the jar have been heated and sealed, so the jar has less pressure than the outside. Most bacteria generate gas, which increases the pressure inside the jar. If you don't get the sucking noise, the contents are suspect. Mold is also a bad thing.

You could also dry vegetables.

I think that answers all your questions - 6 is yes.

happy

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2015, 05:16:03 AM »
Deborah's given you a great answer.
There are differences between UK and US methods. We Aussies tend to be somewhere in the middle.
Personally so far I've only preserved food by freezing ( blanching and freezing) and refrigerator preserving of jam, garlic, pickled cucumbers. The refrigeration acts as a backup so that the processing requirements are not so stringent. For this I use supermarket jars and their original lids once more only. The lids are safe as long as they seal priorly i.e. the bubble in the middle is sucked down as the contents cool and pops when you open it. There are websites where you can buy lids without jars.

If you want preserves that will sit on your shelves you need to follow the methods Deborah outlines i.e. water bathing/ canning. I don't know of a UK site but the 2 best  blogs  I know of are Ericas @ NWedibles - especially her food preserving section and this post http://www.nwedible.com/2013/07/how-not-to-die-from-botulism-what-home-canners-need-to-know-about-the-worlds-most-deadly-toxin.html
and Rhondas @Down to Earth, where she outlines a lot of old fashioned ways of preserving food, not much specifically on canning.

MayDay

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2015, 05:59:15 AM »
The reason we replace the flat part of the lid (the rings can be reused forever) is that as the lids get reused the seal will start to fail. It's not worth losing a whole jar of food over an 8 cent lid.

I've heard you can reuse supermarket jars if they fit the canning lids, but the glass is thinner, not meant for reuse, so again you risk breakage. You should verify that though.

Ball canning recipes and the USDA have officially safe recipes. They are probably over conservative. But botulism has no smell or taste so it's just not worth the risk. If you can get the ball recipe book in the UK it's nice to page through but it's all on their website as well.

Generally tomatoes and a lot of fruit is acidic. Salsa is ok as long as you use an official approved  recipe. Most veggies besides tomatoes need pressure canning unless you pickle them.

Moonwaves

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2015, 06:04:20 AM »
1. What kind of jars can you use? I suppose I can't re-use jars from the supermarket?
i. What is with the two-part lids that I keep seeing?
ii. Why can't you re-use lids if you wash them properly?
iii. How much is reasonable (UK) to pay per jar?
iv. Is there a maximum size that's safe to use?
Re-using jars from the supermarket is possible but not very advisable if you want to actually use a water-bath or pressure canner (I've given in and mostly started using the American terms for canning, since so much of the information around is in American) as the glass is not always strong enough to withstand multiple boilings. And, to be honest, the one time I tried using ordinary screw-top jars in a water bath everyone of them opened so I think you really do need the two-part lids. I tend to re-use supermarket jars for things like jam and chutneys, which I don't process. (Although any American book will tell you that you absolutely should).
The two-part lids get called different things and the names get mixed up all the time (complicated by the fact that many of the companies, for example Leifheit, which have given their names over time to certain types of jars, actually manufacture all types and so it gets confusing). There's the metal ones: a flattish metal lid that goes on the top of the jar with a metal ring part that gets screwed around it. That ring is removed after processing (after jars have cooled). There are the swing-top glass lids: rubber ring around the top of the jar (there's usually a lip for it to lay on) and then the glass lid is closed over and the metal hook thingy secured. You probably know these best to see. And there's the other glass lids with a rubber ring that get secured with separate metal clips, which are removed after processing and cooling.
Re-using lids - the metal two-part lids, well, I don't often manage to remove them without bending them a little bit so mostly they're not re-usable anyway. I do re-use rubber rings on my glass jars (by far my favourites) but you just have to be careful and check for deterioration before using them or else you might not get a good seal.
Can't offer any opinions on UK cost. You can pay up to €4.50 per jar here in Germany, which is why I started buying from ebay. Find someone clearing out their granny's attic and you might get lucky and get hundreds of jars for very little. Lakeland, I see has 3 x 1 ltr. jars for GBP8.99.

Highly recommend the Ball Blue Book of Preserving (American, just make sure you buy the current version and not, like me on the first attempt, a nostalgia re-print of a hundred-year-old one!) and even more than that, the River Cottage Handbook Preserves. Excellent basics and great recipes.

2. What can you can and what can't you can?
i. How do I know if a food is high-acid and low-acid?
ii. Which foods lose texture during canning? (I hate sloppy textures!)
General rule of thumb is fruit being more high-acid and veg and meat being low-acid. Tomatoes fall into just barely high-acid enough to be processed in a water-bath. For low-acid foods you must use a pressure canner to achieve the necessary temperatures.

3. Can you water bath can in a normal saucepan? (They seem like elaborate saucepans to me, and I already have one HUGE pan for making jam which could fit a good few jars)
Technically yes but a canner is usually far bigger. I can only fit about four jars into my biggest stockpot but at least seven fit into my water-bath canner (which I also got on ebay for about €5). If you don't have a canner with a false bottom/stand bit in the bottom, make sure to put a folded towel or something underneath the jars. The jars should not be on the direct heat. You also need to make sure that there is plenty of room to have an inch or two of water above the jars during processing. For low-acid stuff you do need to get a pressure canner, which is the more elaborate one you see. Again, it's like a pressure cooker but much bigger.

4. Can you can prepared food? Like, can you make soup and can it? Or pesto? My husband isn't crazy about the idea of canned vegetables but we eat a lot of soup.
Yes, you can can soups and things like that but should make sure to follow guidelines on times and temperatures and if possible follow tried and tested recipes. This is were good books like the Ball one come in very handy.

5. How can you tell, when you open the jar, if your food has gone off?
It'll smell or look funny or both. I get very nervous about this but it really is true. I've had some gone off stuff but it really did stink when I opened the jar. If you're not sure, dump it. Or take a small spoonful and eat it. If you're dead next day, get hubby to throw that jar out. :)

6. I know this sounds silly, but when you open the jar, is it just like buying a tin of fruit/vegetables from the supermarket?
Pretty much. But better.

7. What's the difference between canning vegetables and pickling them?
Canning is usually just processing in water or the juice of the fruit/veg and/or brine made with salt and water. Pickling involves vinegar. Or there's lacto-fermentation, described above and which lots of people think of as pickling.

8. Can you think of any other ways of preserving vegetables that do not require refrigeration or a special storage space?
Dehydrating. Seriously, best thing ever, try it out. I've done more fruit than veg but you can do veg, too and eithe re-hydrate or ground up into powder to use as, for example, soup mix.

List of things we plan to grow:

Brussels sprouts
Cauliflower
Calabrese (heading broccoli)
Sprouting broccoli
Kale

Broad beans

Carrots
Beetroot
Chard
Fennel

Tomatoes (cherry, three kinds)
Good King Henry
Lettuce (two kinds, both heading)
Winter squash (two kinds)
Sorrel
A lot of these don't really lend themselves to preserving for storage (unless you make soup or something out of them). You should also check out Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel for other ideas for long-term storage of just the plain veg.

Or check out The Green Living Forum or River Cotage forum for lots of (mostly UK-based) people doing lots of this stuff.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2015, 06:07:37 AM by Moonwaves »

happypup

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2015, 06:45:16 AM »
I do a bunch of canning. The deal with the two part lids is that you put the flat part on, then lightly tighten the screw band. Then when you boil (process) the jars, heated air from the jar (you don't fill up to the top) can escape without the whole lid blowing off. The escaped air results in a vacuum when you take the jars out and cool them, which seals the jars tightly and plays a role in keeping the food from spoiling.

Since you want the jars to heat through evenly, you need a big enough pot for water to freely circulate around them, and tall enough to cover the jars by at least an inch. They shouldn't touch each other, or at least shouldn't be butted right up to each other. So you might need a bigger pot than you think, depending how large the jars you want to do are.

Check out some recipes online or head to the library. Different veg / different recipes will have different processing times, and the same goes for the size of jar you're trying to use. Even if you're not somebody who likes to follow recipes in general, when you're starting out with canning you'll want to do it -- the amount of acid in the jar is pretty important if you want to avoid making just a bunch of little bacteria bombs. I really like the book Canning for a New Generation: http://www.amazon.com/Canning-New-Generation-Flavors-Modern/dp/1584798645. It's a nice mix of instruction on how to can and really good recipes. Simply Canning is also a very decent site: http://www.simplycanning.com/.

Around here at least you can always find jars and sometimes screw bands at garage sales and stuff. A pack of lids goes for a couple bucks, and it's worth it to get new ones for processing. I keep the old ones for jars I'm not canning, since if it's just going in the fridge or freezer the quality of the seal isn't as important.

mrsggrowsveg

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2015, 07:17:13 AM »
1. What kind of jars can you use? I suppose I can't re-use jars from the supermarket?  I prefer ball or mason jars.  I have picked many up at thrift stores and garage sales.
i. What is with the two-part lids that I keep seeing?  There is the rim and the lid.  The lid seals the jar and the rim part really only needs used for canning.
ii. Why can't you re-use lids if you wash them properly?  The lid part actually sticks to the jar the first use.  After that it does not.  Here are some reusable lids you can buy:  http://www.amazon.com/Tattler-Reusable-Regular-Size-Canning/dp/B0051PDXCQ
iv. Is there a maximum size that's safe to use? The largest we use is 1/2 gallon.

2. What can you can and what can't you can?  You can can almost anything.  The important thing is to follow the food safety recommendations for each different type of food.  I usually use simplycanning.com
i. How do I know if a food is high-acid and low-acid? not really sure
ii. Which foods lose texture during canning? (I hate sloppy textures!)  There are ways to avoid this.  In some recipes you can use calcium chloride or lime to keep things like pickles crisp.

3. Can you water bath can in a normal saucepan? (They seem like elaborate saucepans to me, and I already have one HUGE pan for making jam which could fit a good few jars)

4. Can you can prepared food? Like, can you make soup and can it? Or pesto? My husband isn't crazy about the idea of canned vegetables but we eat a lot of soup.
Yes.  Once again I would look for food safety recommendations for each type of food.  These would probably need pressure canned.

5. How can you tell, when you open the jar, if your food has gone off?  You cannot always tell.

6. I know this sounds silly, but when you open the jar, is it just like buying a tin of fruit/vegetables from the supermarket? Should be.

7. What's the difference between canning vegetables and pickling them?  Pickling adds a vinegar flavor, but keeps things nice and crisp.

8. Can you think of any other ways of preserving vegetables that do not require refrigeration or a special storage space?  Dehydration.

MayDay

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2015, 07:29:18 AM »
Mrsgrowsveg, what the neck do you can 1/2 gallons of?

QueenAlice

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2015, 08:15:17 AM »
I LOVE canning! I haven't read what others have posted because I only have a few minutes, so if there is duplicate info, I apologize. I just couldn't resist replying!

Note: I live in the US

Before I jump into this, I would recommend buying the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. The intro has the answers to a lot of your questions.

1. What kind of jars can you use? I suppose I can't re-use jars from the supermarket?
I use Kerr/Ball jars (same company, same style jar, different name). Kerr is simply the name Ball puts on jars that they distribute out west. I don't remember why...

These jars are made to withstand high temperatures necessary for canning. There are two main reasons I can think of not to re-use jars from the market:

1. You don't know if the jars are made to withstand high temperatures, i.e. they could explode while processing (this refers to the actual step of canning).
2. You would need to find lids that fit the jar. This directly leads to your next two questions:

i. What is with the two-part lids that I keep seeing?
The two part lids consist of a lid and the ring to hold the lid on the jar. You don't have to use a two part lid, they do make "all-in-one" lids, they are just not as easy to find. These also may be more finicky about sealing, I haven't used them before.

ii. Why can't you re-use lids if you wash them properly?
You can and you can't. You CAN reuse the ring portion of the lid. You CANNOT reuse the lid. This is because the lid has a sealing agent that helps it seal to the jar post processing. These seals are one and done use. They may seal a second time but you can't be confident it is a good seal, it may lose it's seal over time causing the food in the jar to become exposed to outside pathogens.

iii. How much is reasonable (UK) to pay per jar?
N/A

iv. Is there a maximum size that's safe to use?
The size jar you use is dictated by the food you are canning.

2. What can you can and what can't you can?
i. How do I know if a food is high-acid and low-acid?
My general rule of thumb:
Fruits and tomatoes are high acid. Though tomatoes aren't really that high acid, which you may find surprising...
Everything else is low acid.

When I can tomato sauce (water bath can) I add lemon juice to punch up the acidity a bit. Also interesting to note: I use lemon juice from a bottle (Ick, I know...) because the acidity has actually been breed out of lemons, so you can't rely on fresh lemons consistently. I have actually debated buying my own pH meter, but now we are starting to get off topic.

Acidity is also dictated by the recipe you use. When you are starting out and learning PLEASE ALWAYS FOLLOW A RECIPE FROM A REPUTABLE SOURCE. I can't stress how important this is. A mommy blogger and/or pinterest is most likely NOT a reputable source.  The internet is a scary place for safe canning practices.

ii. Which foods lose texture during canning? (I hate sloppy textures!)
It depends on the recipe and canning time.

3. Can you water bath can in a normal saucepan? (They seem like elaborate saucepans to me, and I already have one HUGE pan for making jam which could fit a good few jars)
I'm not sure what you are specifically calling a sauce pan, but if you have a pot that you can fit the jars in, cover them completely with water + 2 more inches of water and it has a lid, then yes! That is all you need for water bath canning. Pressure canning is a different beast though, that requires a pressure CANNER (not COOKER). Although a pressure canner can double as a pressure cooker. It's one of those a "square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn't a square" situations...

4. Can you can prepared food? Like, can you make soup and can it? Or pesto? My husband isn't crazy about the idea of canned vegetables but we eat a lot of soup.
Yes, but for the most part this will require pressure canning, not water bath canning. Soups, definitely, but NOT pureed soups. Those are too dense for the heat of processing to get to the center of to kill the bacteria. I'm not sure about pesto.

These are the foods I prepare most often and the processing they require:
Water bath canning prepared foods:
- Jams, jellys, preserves
- Plain tomato sauces
- many different types of salsa

Pressure canning prepared foods:
- stock/broth
- broth based soups

5. How can you tell, when you open the jar, if your food has gone off?
Smell and look.
If it smells off, it is. If you look at the underside of the lid and there is mold, there is an issue. Sometimes you can't tell and you have to trust in your best practices. Botulism is scary.

6. I know this sounds silly, but when you open the jar, is it just like buying a tin of fruit/vegetables from the supermarket?
If you find the right recipe!

7. What's the difference between canning vegetables and pickling them?
There isn't. Everything you do is called canning. Pickling is a specific instance of canning that uses vinegar as the acid to keep away bacteria.

Some of my favorite canning blogs:
* Some of these aren't very active anymore, but the recipes are still useful

http://foodinjars.com/
http://www.allfourburners.com/
http://wellpreserved.ca/
http://hitchhikingtoheaven.com/
http://hungrytigress.com/
http://www.canningacrossamerica.com/
http://www.savingtheseason.com/
http://puttingupwiththeturnbulls.com/

I could go on for hours... I'll stop now ;)

mrsggrowsveg

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2015, 08:16:35 AM »
Mrsgrowsveg, what the neck do you can 1/2 gallons of?

Pear Sauce, Carrot/Radish Slaw and some Marinara for parties. 

stripey

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2015, 08:35:27 AM »
I'm Australian and agree with Deborah. In general Aussies tend to do water-bath canning (and a bit of lacto-fermentation) rather than pressure canning.

Water-bath canning (which is a form of pasteurisation) basically requires a low pH or or hypertonic/hyperosmotic environment for it to work. (Hypertonic-- either lots of sugar, e.g. jam, or lots of salt). Otherwise you won't kill clostridium spores (like botulism!) in the finished product. Low acid/salt/sugar foods need another form of preserving, which is where pressure canning comes into its own.

I use a combination of Fowler's jars (see Deborah's comments) and recycled supermarket jars. With the supermarket jars, I just make sure the lid looks pristine, and then go ahead and use it. Occasionally I have something which doesn't seal, and then I just put that one in the fridge and use quickly instead. No biggie.

If you have low acid/high sugar or salt, basically use your common sense to tell you when something is off. There are a couple of exceptions-- sometimes the top bit of a preserve becomes darker due to oxidation which is harmless. Once you've seen it a few times it's unmistakeable.


netskyblue

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2015, 08:37:23 AM »
I would not re-use store jars for canning.  It's not considered "safe" by the authorities, and even though some people do it, and most don't die, it's not worth it to me.  I do re-use them for storing dry goods, or storing stuff in the fridge.

Ball & Kerr are the 2 main brands of canning jars.  There are others out there, but these are the gold standards.

I also wouldn't re-use lids.  RINGS you can re-use, though they eventually get rusty and need replaced.  The lids can get bent, the seals get old, and these things can lead to food spoilage.

You can waterbath "acidic" foods in any pot big enough for the water to cover the tops of the jars.  Acidic foods are most fruits, pickled things (these are things in a vinegar brine), and sometimes tomatoes, but the generally recommended advice by the experts is that "today's" tomatoes are often lower acid than the tomatoes of yesteryear, and it's advised to add lemon juice or citric acid to them if you intend to waterbath them, to be SURE they are acidic enough to be safe.  I don't like that flavor in my tomatoes, so I always pressure can them.

To can vegetables, meats, everything "not acidic," you need a pressure CANNER (not the same thing as a pressure cooker, though you can pressure cook in a pressure canner).

It is not considered "safe" to can anything with dairy, any grain products (so no flour thickener in your soups or pasta, or rice, or anything like that).  You also don't want to can anything with too much fat on it.  That can interfere with the seal of the jar and spoil your food.  I.E. if you're canning meats, make sure the fat is drained off well.

I rarely waterbath anything, unless I'm making jam/jelly, and I don't eat much jam/jelly, so I don't waterbath often.

I usually can:
Chicken/Turkey Stock
Beef Stock
Tomatoes/tomato juice
Pears/pear sauce (I have a pear tree available to me)
Mushrooms (I got a great deal on mushrooms last year and canned 12 lbs in half pint jars)
Beans (because I hate cooking beans, I just do a big batch and that's my beans for the year.  I do kidney beans with chili powder & tomato juice, and black beans with taco seasoning)

I have canned:
Potatoes (they get kind of soft, but if you have lots and need to preserve them, it's an option)
Carrots (same as above)
Roast Beef (in large chunks makes for a fast roast beef dinner, in small chunks kind of falls apart and makes nice beef & noodles)
Shredded Chicken (I didn't like the flavor though)

CU Tiger

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2015, 08:47:43 AM »
There is a GREAT website called FOOD IN JARS, you should check her out. She lives in Philadelphia, PA, and writes about home canning and preserving, mostly in small batches. Just reading her blog (or either of her two books) would help you understand canning a lot better.

I too was scared of canning for a long time, because it made me think of the kind of pressure canning my Grandma did back in the day, with two pressure canners going, and entire days devoted to canning. Who has that kind of time...and I was scared of botulism.

But the small batch canning, in a water bath, that I can do. Check out Food in Jars, I think you will find it useful. Here's the url:
http://foodinjars.com/

CommonCents

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2015, 08:52:00 AM »
My sister cans a lot and recommends Blue Ribbon Preserves book.  She does: Applesauce, apple jelly, grape jelly (made just for my husband), raspberry jelly/jam, blueberry jelly/jam, peaches, green beans (I didn't like those), jalapenos (only did 1-2x for my dad), bread & butter pickles (I prefer dill), corn salsa, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce and likely more I've forgotten.  Her applesauce recipe comes from a book called Applesauce.

In exchange for harvesting/preservning labor, we get to exchange our empty jars with full ones from her pantry.  We try to be reasonable in the amount that we take though.  I think if we started eating PB&J sandwiches every day we'd need to work something else out.

Louisville

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2015, 09:00:43 AM »
Please pay attention to the advice offered here and then go read some books, too. I don't want you to poison yourself.

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2015, 10:18:12 AM »
1. What kind of jars can you use? I suppose I can't re-use jars from the supermarket?
i. What is with the two-part lids that I keep seeing?
ii. Why can't you re-use lids if you wash them properly?
iii. How much is reasonable (UK) to pay per jar?
iv. Is there a maximum size that's safe to use?

2. What can you can and what can't you can?
i. How do I know if a food is high-acid and low-acid?
ii. Which foods lose texture during canning? (I hate sloppy textures!)

4. Can you can prepared food? Like, can you make soup and can it? Or pesto? My husband isn't crazy about the idea of canned vegetables but we eat a lot of soup.

5. How can you tell, when you open the jar, if your food has gone off?

8. Can you think of any other ways of preserving vegetables that do not require refrigeration or a special storage space?

When canning you are killing bacteria that would otherwise be harmful.  The process is: heat it to a high enough temperature to kill off anything bad and seal it off so that no new bad stuff can get in.  The bacteria that causes Botulism is a big one that you're trying to avoid.  The options are make an acidic food that it can't grow in (i.e. tomatoes) or heat it up a lot (pressure canning). 

1) You typically can't reuse lids because you need a good seal.  The canning process will cause the lid to "pop in".  With an uncanned jar you can push the lid down and it will pop up, with a canned jar it is always pushed down because there is a vacuum inside the can.  I reuse lids and check to see if they have canned properly, if they don't I throw the lid away and recan it.

2) You know which foods are acidic by looking it up.

4) Yes, you can prepare foods, but in limited ways.  Flour and oil make it difficult to heat up the entire can, so any recipe that adds them is likely to be a big no.  Your best bet is to find a tested recipe for canning.  Someone else with more extensive knowledge and equipment will have made sure that it's safe.

5) You can check that the lid is won't pop.  Other than that, it'll typically be obvious.

8) Dehydrating foods is a great way to preserve them.

Canning isn't for everyone.  The research you're going to have to do to make sure that you're doing everything safely is going to get more intense than looking up a cups to liters conversion.  My advice is to find instructions from a reputable source (I use my local agricultural college, they include high altitude instructions) and follow them exactly.  As you start to understand the process you can figure out what adjustments are okay.

MsPeacock

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2015, 10:23:25 AM »
I love canning - Prior posters have answered your questions and given you links. I wanted to throw in a recommendation for this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Ball-Complete-Book-Home-Preserving/dp/0778801314/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421947199&sr=8-1&keywords=ball+canning+book

It has never failed me - the recipies and instructions are great. Everything broken down step by step and easy to follow. I beleive other canning companies may print similar books.

I am super paranoid about cleanliness and following instructions for canning. You just don't want to end up with something nasty due to eating improperly canned food. (I have a friend, bless her heart,  who "wings it" when canning and I toss everything she gives me. She tried to can cream of mushroom soup in a water bath and the bottles exploded all over her kitchen weeks later. No thanks. )

TrMama

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2015, 11:10:02 AM »
You've gotten lots of good advice already. The thing that sticks out to me is that many of the veggies you plan to grow do not lend themselves well to canning. You could pickle just about any of the non-leafy greens on your list, but unless you really like pickled food, you may not eat that much of it.

The only thing that really comes to mind from your list is antipasto.

Kale and chard should probably do well though most of the winter in the UK. We live in the PNW which has a similar climate and in the winter I've covered my winter greens with a clear plastic hoop to keep them from rotting in the rain.

deborah

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2015, 12:20:04 PM »
Mrsgrowsveg, what the neck do you can 1/2 gallons of?

Pear Sauce, Carrot/Radish Slaw and some Marinara for parties. 
My tomato puree is in these jars.

shelivesthedream

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2015, 02:40:54 PM »
Wow! Thank you, everyone! I may come back with more supplementary questions later, but for now just have one: Is there a British canning book you could recommend? Perhaps something from the WI??

Because I look at all this '1/2 cup of this' and 'quart jar of that' and my brain goes funny - also, I just have no idea what some of these things you are all canning actually are! I've vaguely heard of applesauce (no idea what you'd do with it - sounds like baby food), but bread and butter pickles? I definitely had to look that one up! And antipasto? To my mind that's a delicious selection of cured meats and olives.

My husband likes sour flavours a lot, so I think pickled carrots and beetroot would go down well with him. I know a lot of things we're growing won't preserve well, but it's our first year and they say to grow what you like, so I have just gone for all our favourites to keep the motivation going during the long months of waiting and weeding!

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #20 on: January 22, 2015, 04:12:44 PM »
You've gotten a lot of great advice about canning already, so I'll just throw this out there: for the half of your allotment that you're not planning to plant this year, sheet mulch it now!  Several layers of newspaper covered by several inches of good mulch.   

CommonCents

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #21 on: January 22, 2015, 08:50:49 PM »
Wait, you've never heard of applesauce?!  It's delicious on potato pancakes with some brats...  Also nice with some pork chops.  As a kid I admit to having had it for breakfast once or twice (not Mother-known and likely not approved).  It is a baby food too, but it's usually slightly different (more puree and less sugar I think). 

the lorax

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #22 on: January 22, 2015, 10:36:50 PM »
using a green manure crop will also help prep the ground for planting next season- rye, mustard etc.

deborah

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2015, 10:47:46 PM »
I've vaguely heard of applesauce (no idea what you'd do with it - sounds like baby food), but bread and butter pickles? I definitely had to look that one up! And antipasto? To my mind that's a delicious selection of cured meats and olives.

My husband likes sour flavours a lot, so I think pickled carrots and beetroot would go down well with him.
Bread and Butter Pickles = Gherkins (I was confused when they first started selling both here).

Yes the US is mad keen on apple sauce.

Your cauliflowers can also be pickled - usually in a pickled vegetable mix. You may also want to make green tomato pickles (a standard here at fetes). Pickles and chutneys really don't need a water bath, so your supermarket jars should be quite OK.

Look in your library for recipe books for preserves - these books often include instructions for simple preserving. Our library has several, including one published in London (so presumably a UK book) - Best-ever book of preserves : the art of preserving : 140 delicious jams, jellies, pickles, relishes and chutneys shown in 220 stunning photographs / Catherine Atkinson, Maggie Mayhew.

I was quite dumbfounded when I discovered that my library had a HUGE selection of recipe books.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2015, 10:51:39 PM by deborah »

deborah

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #24 on: January 22, 2015, 11:28:05 PM »
Wait, you've never heard of applesauce?!  It's delicious on potato pancakes with some brats...  Also nice with some pork chops.  As a kid I admit to having had it for breakfast once or twice (not Mother-known and likely not approved).  It is a baby food too, but it's usually slightly different (more puree and less sugar I think). 
Potato pancakes? As against rosti? And what are brats?

worms

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #25 on: January 23, 2015, 01:21:27 AM »
Another Uk grower here, but about 600 miles north of you, so view my advice with caution!

I agree with the poster above who suggests that a lot of what you plan to grow is better frozen than canned. I'd also concentrate on the growing side of the allotment in the first year and view viable produce as a bonus and part of the learning curve - it's only when you have a glut of something that you really get inventive with the options!  If I tried three types of tomatoes, all I'd get is green tomatoes - and only if I was lucky to get some warmth and sunshine!

There is probably more UK culture around pickling than canning and if you think about our traditional vegetables, these are all ones that will cope with winter storage (either in the ground or in a frost-free shed).  I would max out the salad veg for the summer plus courgettes, beetroot, carrots and beans and then some kale, leeks, cabbages and swedes for the winter.

Invest in some home-made hoop frames (get a roll of blue alkathene pipe from Wickes or B&Q and a builder's polythene sheet) for frost protection.

For canning/pickling, I think in Uk we are more used to the Kilner type of jars (which have had a recent resurgence due to their appearance as storage jars on "Bake Off"). You can currently get them in the big supermarkets but they are much cheaper in Ikea (I've not exposed the Ikea ones to boiling, so test them first). The split lid jars are available in specialist hardware stores  but you would need to actively seek them out.

Bottom line, though is that this needs to be something that you enjoy.  Relax, take all the advice with a pinch of salt and just enjoy the allotment for now and then worry about the produce as and when it arrives.

worms

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #26 on: January 23, 2015, 01:29:52 AM »
....oh, and plant herbs! Lots of herbs. Use fresh or dry them at home.  Growing from seed is a hassle and more expensive than picking up the ones in pots at the supermarket - just tease out the roots and plant them out in a free draining soil.  Most will then survive for years if looked after properly.

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #27 on: January 23, 2015, 06:03:42 AM »
Wait, you've never heard of applesauce?!   
It's just not called applesauce over here, that's all. :)  I know it from home simply as stewed apple. Didn't ever get puréed in our house, you just got it as it was. Usually lovely and warm with custard.

@shelivesthedream The River Cottage book I mentioned above is British. Here's a link to it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Preserves-River-Cottage-Handbook-No-2/dp/0747595321/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1422017820&sr=1-1&keywords=river+cottage+handbook+preserves. There are WI books, too, but I don't have any of them so can't offer any opinion. If they're anything like the WI cookbooks I do have then they'd probably be pretty good.

Someone mentioned pickling the cauliflower. I made piccalilli from the River Cottage Preserves book a couple of years ago - I really enjoyed making that. Unfortunately, I don't really like eating it, so I haven't bothered to make it again. It took me ages to give away all the jars (although everyone who got one seemed to like it). That's the thing I find amazing about pickles really, you get so much from so little.

Also, forgot to mention and I'm sure you know already but just in case: your best resource is often going to be your allotment neighbours. Try and make sure to chat to them when you can, ask them what they do for storage and preserving, etc., etc. They'll have the best tips for your area, not only in relation to what grows best but also where to source jars etc.

stripey

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #28 on: January 23, 2015, 09:28:13 AM »
I didn't think that bread-and-butter pickles were necessarily the same as gherkins. Bread-and-butter pickles in my mind are made with a variety of vegetables, in a sweet-sour-salty pickling liquid. My mum tends to use sliced cucumbers as the base vegetable with onions, capsicum, carrots etc. for variety. My sister uses zucchini as the base vegetable instead.

Best pickled cucumbers are the little French cornichon variety, if you can find some seeds (usually heirloom stockists have them).

CommonCents

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #29 on: January 23, 2015, 10:37:46 AM »
Wait, you've never heard of applesauce?!  It's delicious on potato pancakes with some brats...  Also nice with some pork chops.  As a kid I admit to having had it for breakfast once or twice (not Mother-known and likely not approved).  It is a baby food too, but it's usually slightly different (more puree and less sugar I think). 
Potato pancakes? As against rosti? And what are brats?

What is rosti?  I feel like we are speaking two different languages here!

Potato pancakes - like latkes.  Bratwurst.  It's a typically German meal (my mom's side was German).

http://gfinsf.com/wp-content/uploads/speiskamer_002.jpg

deborah

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #30 on: January 23, 2015, 01:08:08 PM »
Looked up latkes - rosti are swiss, no flour and bigger, but the same thing. They are nice.

be

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #31 on: January 23, 2015, 01:17:00 PM »
I've put up jams and tomatoes -- tomato sauce, salsa, pasta sauce, and canned tomatoes.

For jam, I've reused jars.  So it's not uncommon for my friends/family to receive jam in a pasta sauce jar or mayonnaise jar.  I've only ever had 2 pop.  I don't water bath the jam.  With all that sugar, bacteria isn't going to develop.

I did notice one thing when I did can my tomatoes, when they're processed in the water bath, they'll include the times for the different sized jars.  Unless you need to just use the smaller sized jars, I would suggest looking at the different sizes.  Processing time for a quart is not 2 times longer than the processing for a pint, although a quart is 2 times larger than a pint.  Since you're not allowed to put the jars on top of each other during processing in the water bath, if I can for the sake of efficiency, I'll usually choose the larger sized jar. When I process in the water bath, I always use the Ball or Kerr jars.  Having one pop in a pot of boiling water just seemed scary.

I use the Blue Bell canning book for reference.

For soup, what about freezing some in a container in the freezer.  Defrost and heat as needed.  That's what I do.  I typically do that to a beef and veggie soup. 

be

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #32 on: January 23, 2015, 01:27:31 PM »
Netskyblue,

Read your comment about your dislike of canning beans.  Except for kidney beans, if you're processing dried ones, I use the crock pot to rehydrate and store in zip lock bags in the freezer.  Super easy (or I wouldn't do it.)  I figure 1 2/3 cup rehydrated beans equals 1 can.  For kidney beans you have to boil on the stove to get rid of a toxin. 

If freezer space isn't a big deal at your house, maybe this would be an option for you.

And yes, the beans a frozen without any liquid.

horsepoor

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #33 on: January 23, 2015, 01:43:12 PM »
I've put up jams and tomatoes -- tomato sauce, salsa, pasta sauce, and canned tomatoes.

For jam, I've reused jars.  So it's not uncommon for my friends/family to receive jam in a pasta sauce jar or mayonnaise jar.  I've only ever had 2 pop.  I don't water bath the jam.  With all that sugar, bacteria isn't going to develop.

I did notice one thing when I did can my tomatoes, when they're processed in the water bath, they'll include the times for the different sized jars.  Unless you need to just use the smaller sized jars, I would suggest looking at the different sizes.  Processing time for a quart is not 2 times longer than the processing for a pint, although a quart is 2 times larger than a pint.  Since you're not allowed to put the jars on top of each other during processing in the water bath, if I can for the sake of efficiency, I'll usually choose the larger sized jar. When I process in the water bath, I always use the Ball or Kerr jars.  Having one pop in a pot of boiling water just seemed scary.

I use the Blue Bell canning book for reference.

For soup, what about freezing some in a container in the freezer.  Defrost and heat as needed.  That's what I do.  I typically do that to a beef and veggie soup.

Do you mean you don't pressure can them?  Please don't skip the step of processing your jars in a water bath.  If you need to be convinced, fill two jars with the same jam, freeze one and process the other.  Then open them up, store in the fridge and see which one is moldy after a week or two.  My water bath processed preserves last indefinitely without molding in the fridge as long as they don't get contaminated as they're being used.

Saving a few cents by trying to reuse lids or using mayo jars or whatever isn't worth the risk of ruining food, making someone sick, or having a jar blow up in the canner.  Once you've purchase the proper jars, they'll last for years and years (people get their canning jars passed down from grandma, right?), so they're basically a one-time investment.

Also, you can stack jars in the canner as long as there's at least an inch or so over water over the whole thing.  I prefer the wide mouth jars because they make a better base to stack a second layer on top of.  You can always put an empty jar or two in the canner if needed to ensure that the second layer is held in securely and won't tip over during processing.

NoraLenderbee

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #34 on: January 23, 2015, 01:56:17 PM »
Another good book is Putting Food By.

http://www.amazon.com/Putting-Food-By-Fifth-Edition/dp/0452296226
The link is to the most recent edition, but you can probably find earlier editions, too.

I'm not an expert canner--we just do pickles and fruit--but the book explained everything I needed to know. It's US measurements, however.

happy

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #35 on: January 25, 2015, 03:49:54 AM »
@ horsepoor: I think this is one of the differences between UK/ US.
I make jam, reusing store jars/lids (lids once only), being very careful re sterilising and no touch technique, then refrigerate the jam which adds a second layer of safety. Its safe to do this if you keep up to 12 months in the fridge. I also use a similar process for refrigerator pickles - cucumbers.

I don't make anything else this way, and if I were storing jam/pickles in the pantry at room temp, I would water bath. If wanted to keep stuff for longer in the fridge I'd water bath ( and use proper jars). Once you decide to preserve/can all manner of things and store at room temp, you need to be careful and follow standard procedure/recipes.



worms

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #36 on: January 25, 2015, 05:10:32 AM »
There must be a big difference in sugar content between Uk and Aussie jam if it goes mouldy in the fridge!

We make jam in re-used jam jars, with re-used lids, jars simply washed by hand before re-use, jam poured in hot, allowed to cool, stored in the cupboard for days, weeks or years prior to use. Even once opened, it is stored in the cupboard - it may oxidise, it may go sugary, but it very seldom goes mouldy!  I know that this was how my mother and grandmother did it, so can attest to 100 years of practice!

I have in front of me a jar '98 blackcurrent, slightly crystalline on top, but apart from that fine for use!

horsepoor

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #37 on: January 25, 2015, 07:16:10 AM »
The US provides canning safety recommendations through USDA and the university system, and that is what I go with.  This page references the "inverting" system - basically it's not as safe and more prone to error, so I think it's inappopriate to reocommend it to a beginner, especially.  If you want to do it, fine, but I'd never recommend marginal food processing methods to others.  http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/uga_processing_j_j.pdf

I do use less sugar in my jams than the usual recipes call for, but my point was how quickly the non-water bath processed product will spoil as opposed to the processed product.  It points to the amount of bacteria killed in the process.

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #38 on: January 25, 2015, 12:16:01 PM »
In my opinion, the best use of canning is for jams, tomatoes, and pickles (though I'm not much of a pickle person). To the OP, pickles sound like your best bet for experimenting considering what you'll be growing. If you like fruit jams/preserves, wait for the fruit to be in season and buy enough to experiment with when it is cheap (and ripe).

I don't think anyone recommended the book "Canning for a New Generation" yet. She has a nice mixture of less sweet preserves and interesting canning-safe pickles. Not for canning, but a good book for other types of canning is the book "Asian Pickles".

I'll +1 those who recommended Food in Jars (blog and book) and Northwest Edible (blog only so far, but she has a book in editing).

I haven't experimented much with it, but this year I'm going to be trying a lot of dehydration. It's the best way to preserve food from a nutritional perspective. I can't personally recommend any resources on it yet, though there is some info on it in the book "Independence Days" by Sharon Astyck.

The second best is freezing, but obviously you need space for a freezer, and (in many parts of the world) you're vulnerable to power outages. Canning is less nutritious, canned pickles are the least of all canned food. Whereas fermented pickles are actually MORE nutritious than the fresh product because of all the probiotic benefits, and many of the bacteria involved in lactofermentation help make more of the plant's nutrients absorbable by our bodies.

stripey

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #39 on: January 25, 2015, 06:38:11 PM »
@ horsepoor: I think this is one of the differences between UK/ US.
I make jam, reusing store jars/lids (lids once only), being very careful re sterilising and no touch technique, then refrigerate the jam which adds a second layer of safety. Its safe to do this if you keep up to 12 months in the fridge. I also use a similar process for refrigerator pickles - cucumbers.

I don't make anything else this way, and if I were storing jam/pickles in the pantry at room temp, I would water bath. If wanted to keep stuff for longer in the fridge I'd water bath ( and use proper jars). Once you decide to preserve/can all manner of things and store at room temp, you need to be careful and follow standard procedure/recipes.

I think one of the big differences between the US and Australia is that serious poisoning from put-up food (botulism or otherwise) is quite rare. The CSIRO notes that food-associated botulism in Australia is very rare, and that the incidence is much less frequent than in the US or Canada (as an aside, most botulism cases in Australia are occuption-associated, e.g. farmers being unfortunate enough to have a botulism outbreak in their cattle... much more likely in the 'anthrax' belt regions). This has probably got to do with the fact that most Australians put up food that's a bit of a 'treat' (pickles, awesome tomato sugo, preserved fruits, jams) most (all?) of which are likely to be high sugar, high salt or low pH (i.e. hyperosmotic or acidic- see previous comments). As a result, government reccomendations and generally the home preserving culture is a lot less concerned about new lids and somesuch, and more concerned with assuring that people put the correct proportion of sugar in jam and adding citric acid to tomato paste if low-acid tomatoes are used.

If anyone is interested, here are short CSIRO guides to small-scale commercial preservation: http://www.csiro.au/Outcomes/Food-and-Agriculture/preservation-in-oil-vinegar.aspx and http://www.csiro.au/Outcomes/Food-and-Agriculture/preservation-in-oil-vinegar.aspx (the latter has a good explanation of equilibrium pH and how it applies to food, and describes hot processing rather well. However I tend to water bath process most things because testing is too much effort).


Goldielocks

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #40 on: January 25, 2015, 07:50:14 PM »
First -- RELAX

I started canning only about 4 years ago, and found it so much easier than I had thought.  Just follow a modern recipe (canning) instructions and be careful about sterile / very very clean conditions (like a new mom about to bottle feed for the first time, if you know what I mean!)

Jams - easy, safe.
Fruits&applesauce & tomato sauce  - waterbath, easy (ok after all the peeling / chopping)
Pickles for all sorts of vegetables - very easy, don't actually need the full canning jars, can re use good jars from supermarket.
Relishes - YUM!  so many varieties that you can't get in the store.   

So far, i stay away from most of the low -acid veggies on your list, either they would not taste good canned or need a pressure cooker to be safe.  But it may be worthwhile to  make veggies into purreed soups and can that (pressure cooker).

Instead, I freeze a lot.  So my two cents is to also get a larger freezer (chest style, even a 600mm x 600mm x 1000m one will do nicely.

Someone here recommended sun dried / oven dried tomatoes.  So this year I will try that.   
finally some items like carrots, squash, beets, maybe cauliflower -- these can be held for several months in proper dry cellar / cool storage....   Far better to keep fresh what you can not can.  (Pun intended)

deborah

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #41 on: January 25, 2015, 08:08:40 PM »
When I was little, we had a big block (1.5 acres) of garden, that included peach, plum, lemon, orange, grapefruit, pomegranate, and cherry plum trees. We used the pomegranates and cherry plums as ammunition (when we used anything else, we were punished), so I don't think they were bottled. However, we had preserved peaches and plums with our cereal at breakfast each day, and we made a lot of 3 fruits marmalade which was used on toast. The peaches and plums were preserved in water (not syrup). I never liked the marmalade, and the peaches still had their skins on and stones in, so I didn't think much of them either. The marmalade was not water bathed and was put (very hot) into jars from the supermarket. The peaches and plums went into the big fowlers-vacola jars and were water bathed.

However, having fruit readily available has encouraged me to plant fruit trees and to preserve. When I left home and was in a flat, my best friend would make tomato sauce, green tomato pickles and mustard pickles for the church fete and to give away, and I would help - but I was making these already - maybe we occasionally made these when I was a child. None of these was water bathed - ever, and most were put in supermarket bottles. People would look for her preserves at the fete, and they were usually sold out within an hour. She also would buy a couple of boxes of tomatoes and make tomato sugo (or puree) - without any additives and water bathed. These weren't sold.

I guess the key to not water bathing and using supermarket bottles is that we always boiled the bottles as we were making the preserves, and the boiling hot bottles would be filled with boiling hot preserves and their lids sealed. Any that didn't seal properly (have the lids sucked in) were not kept.

Once I had a garden, I planted fruit trees and preserved the fruit I liked, making jams, pickles and chutneys depending upon what I grew, and what was available. I started buying preserving bottles, and water bathing, but jams have so much sugar in them that I really don't think they need it, and I have never had a batch go off. Even before I retired I started to do some more lengthy preserving - crystallized fruit...

All the crystallized fruit recipes that I have come across put the fruit in syrup, and wait a day. The next day you boil the syrup up, and put the fruit back in it - ad nausium for about 24 days. This means that the fruit/syrup concoction is exposed to air for a long period of time, and doesn't go off. It is exactly the same ingredients as jam. And no recipes for crystalised fruit call for a water bath.

In fact, now I think about it,  I have NEVER seen a recipe in any cookbooks that water baths jam or pickles or chutney. I would have been stunned if I had. Over the years, my collection of these recipes has grown as friends and relatives have given me books and their own recipes for different jams, pickles and chutneys. It is probably because these things all end up with a low PH; until recently Australian recipes for these preserves have not included garlic - and even today, very few do; and they have a high amount of sugar preserving them.

Unfortunately, my cook books have been reduced as part of my de-cluttering exercise, but the ones remaining all talk about using water baths for preserving fruit, tomato puree... but certainly don't use a water bath for pickles, chutney, jams... Moreover, as pickles and chutney are a relic of the Brittish Raj, they were produced to be used in a warm climate with no refrigeration. There is the occasional pickle recipe in one of my books that does require refrigeration.

The cook books I refer to include: Margaret Fultons Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery, The Australian Gas Cookbook, The Australian Gas Cookbook - Bicentennial Edition (a completely different book), Perfect Preserves by Maggie Mayhew, several cookbooks by Sally Wise, and several others. These are all very reputable Australian cookbooks, used by thousands, with very clear instructions.

be

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #42 on: January 27, 2015, 06:41:46 PM »
I've always put the entire amount of sugar and fruit as stated in the recipe for that particular brand of pectin.  Sometimes the amounts do change based upon the pectin brand.  I've had jam crystalize but I've never had it mold.  I currently have jam from batches I made a few seasons ago, and the seal is still intact. 

If I don't have enough fruit as directed for that brand, I've added water to make up the difference.  However I only do that if it's just a little bit more.  So for example, if the recipe states 6 cups of plums, and I only have 1 cup of plums, I'm not going to add 5 cups of water, but if I have 5 cups of fruit, I'll add 1 cup of water.  You get the idea.

One thing I will add about making jam.  I've processed and frozen fruit in ziplock bags to be turned into jam at a later time.  So I freeze the pectin brand stated fruit amount.  I'll pit, peel, and chop as directed on the pectin brand package and put the pectin brand stated amount into the ziplock bag, freeze, and stack like cordwood.  This way I can stand over the hot stove when I have time, or I won't be working up a sweat just stirring the pot.


OP, don't be scared.  If you want, try a batch or 2 to see how it works out.  Do try it when you've gotten to the point where you're not going to be disappointed if it doesn't turn out.  It's been my experience, that I'll get to the point where I'm just tired of processing all the produce, and no i couldn't eat another bite of x, and if my experiment doesn't work, it's ok.  I'm just glad to be rid of all that produce taking up space in my frig.

Good luck.

As a total aside, does anyone have any ideas for santa rosa plum usage other than jam?  They don't really dry into dried plums very well.  Any other suggestions? 

deborah

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #43 on: January 27, 2015, 07:38:23 PM »
Santa Rosa plums - cordial, sparkling drink, plum chutney, pickles, plum sauce (especially for Asian dishes), Worcestershire Sauce.

Goldielocks

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #44 on: January 27, 2015, 11:14:21 PM »
All varieties of plums are wonderful in coffe cakes - look for a "kuchen" recipe aka a German coffee cake. Even tart wild plums with huge pits. If you need to take out stone in soft fruit, freeze them first, then Thaw them. Pits come out using fingers only

homehandymum

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #45 on: January 27, 2015, 11:56:15 PM »
You're in the UK?

You guys (and we here in the Antipodes) don't have a tradition of pressure canning anything.  We just don't store our low-acid foods that way for winter.  Traditionally, we dry them (onions, garlic, beans and peas) or we cool-store them, sometimes still in the ground (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, swede...  And those last three all taste better after they've survived a frost, anyway, because it brings out the sugars).

Winter is generally mild enough that winter greens like kale and silver-beet (chard) will survive in the garden if cloched.  They won't grow, but they're fine to be harvested all winter.

Apples and pears get dried or cellared, or turned into cider or perry.

Other fruit gets turned into jam or preserved whole or in halves in sugar syrup (think plums and apricots).  Water-bath processing is definitely enough for this, so long as you use enough sugar.  For jam I don't even bother water-bathing - just put it boiling into hot jars and lid them.  Anything that doesn't seal gets put in the fridge.

Any other low-acid vegetables, like cauliflower etc, get turned into pickles, chutneys or sauces, where the addition of high acid vinegar and/or sugar keeps the bacteria from growing. 

The River Cottage book would be a great resource, but check out your library, too - hopefully they'll have a good selection of recipe books, including ones on jams and preserves.

shadowmoss

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Re: SO confused about canning
« Reply #46 on: January 28, 2015, 05:13:46 PM »
If you want to try dehydrating things instead below is a link that has a lot of good information and recipes.  It is mostly a hiking/backpacking site and how to make food for your hikes, but the basic instructions would still be the same.
http://www.backpackingchef.com/