August 15th, 2013
As you’ve probably gathered, we’re big on people growing their own food. Still, we realize there are times when your garden may giveth more than you are able to receive. (Really, Mr. Squash, you shouldn’t have!) What to do? Consider canning.
Canning is a safe and economical way to enjoy the goodness of your garden all year long. Many folks can be intimidated by the canning process. (Bottles and sealers and jars, oh my!) No worries, we’ve got a few pointers to get you over your No-Can-Do attitude.
1. Keep it clean. Jars should be sterilized and your workspace clean. Never use jars with chips or cracks in them.
2. Stick with the basics. Use standard canning mason jars such as Ball or Kerr. Nix aluminum and copper, as these types of containers can alter the taste of what you’re canning. Steer clear of mayo jars or repurposed jars that aren’t heat-tempered and often don’t reseal properly. If you choose stainless steel, only use the container once.
3. Fresh is best. Pick your produce at the peak of freshness. The quality matters, so never use overripe or diseased fruits or veggies.
4. Follow the recipe. Don’t add extra seasoning or additional low-acid ingredients such as onions, celery, peppers or garlic. Changing the suggested ingredients can cause bacteria to grow and make your canning unsafe. Adding butter or fat is not recommended unless a recipe calls for it.
5. Remember the acid. Many canning recipes require acid to help the produce remain fresh and to help maintain a vibrant color. Lemon Juice, vinegar or citric acid can reduce the risk of contamination, especially in vegetables with a pH of 4.6 or lower.
6. Make a clean sweep. Before closing the jars, wipe all the way around the rim to ensure nothing is sticking out. If the lid doesn’t close tightly, unwanted air can get in.
7. Heat ‘em up. Many standard canning jars come with detailed instructions on how to get the safest seal for your canned goods. It may take a few times to do it correctly.
8. Check the seal. After your containers have been heated and cooled slightly, look at the seal. It should be taut and flat. If the button on the lid has popped up, it’s not sealed correctly. Of course, you can still eat it, but it will need to be refrigerated and consumed that week.
9. Consult the experts. When it doubt, do a little research. These websites are chock full of great canning knowhow. They’re sure to bolster a full-on canning attitude adjustment. Happy reading.