Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Canning Tips

Here is some basic Do's and Don'ts of canning to start you off.

How do you get all of the equipment needed? It may seem like you aren't saving money when you have to spend money first right? You need to find some great prices and that will help even more. But if you can each year, you will save on buying fruit, jams and vegetables at the store. I noticed walmart has quite the display of canning items right now. The basic items you need are bottles with lids(12 for less than $10), sealing lids($2), and a canner.

There have been a lot of changes since our Grandma canned, actually since 1990 and new rules have been set. A canner can cost about $20 to $100. For all of my supplies I paid $10. How---I went to the thrift store a few years ago and found one for $7. My mom and grandma supported my cause, as well as yard sales of older people, and added to my bottle supply--I have 40. Each year I pay less than $5 for canning! I just buy the sealing lids (these cannot be reused each year) and can about 40 jars of pears, applesauce, tomatoes, apple pie filling) All of this fruit is free from my garden, my grandpas garden or by word of mouth.

Here are some basic instructions to can just about anything.

I did tomatoes this year and I really feel that it is the easiest to do. I grew my own tomatoes but the bulk came from grandpa.

First you find your fruit or veggie you want to can. If you want to make jam, you need pectin--found with all of the canning supplies--- and they have all of the recipes inside.

Then we washed all of the bugs, dirt, a snail slime off:)
I wash all of my jars in hot water or the good ol' dishwasher.

Then I boil a big pot of water. I turn off the stove and put my tomatoes inside for about 10 minutes. This helps get the skins off. From there I toss them in the sink of cold water. I really don't know if this is what everyone else does, but I grew up watching my mom do it. Now the tomatoes skins come off. This is the kids favorite part! They put their chairs up to the sink and the peels come right off. I cut out the stem part and the kids love to squish them in the jar. Well, my girls love to get dirty---my little boy, oddly enough, really hates the feel of it:) We leave about 1 1/2 inch of space at the top.
While this is going on I take the sealing lids that you buy at the store for about $2 and keep them in a pan of hot, not boiling water until I am ready.
Then I add 1 tsp vinegar to the tomatoes for safe acidity(this did not need to be done in my mom's days) and we take a non-metal utensil and hit down any air pockets. My 6 year old has been canning since 20 mths and she really loves to help me. It is my 21 mth olds first year canning and she seems to really enjoy squishing the tomatoes between her fingers:)

We put the lids on, and put the jars in the canning rack. I fill the pot about halfway---I learned one year not to feel it up too high or you have a lot of mess to clean up when it overflows from the jars being added. I turn it on high and get the water boiling (lid is on). Once the water starts to boil, I set the timer for 45 minutes. Other fruit like pears are shorter amount of processing time. Once done, remove the rack from the pot. I learned this today actually:) I usually leave it in the pot a bit so I don't burn myself, but apparently it can overcook your food if left in the heat too long. I don't care too much since my tomatoes will be pureed and cooked into pasta sauce later anyway. But other items may be affected by this. Once they are out don't tighten the lids, since it could break the seal. Int he next few ours make sure the lids are sealed. If it makes a popping noise when you push on the top then it needs to be done again. In this case I don't want to do it all over again for one jar so I just make dinner with it that night:) I also had one jar shatter yesterday, and since I am just a beginner I am not sure why this happened this particular.

If you have any questions you can ask me---or if you want to have a professional opinion you can google it:) I figure they seal every year, I haven't died from eating anything year after year, so it seems to be working good enough for me:)

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