Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Canning 101

Hey, Guys! You may remember we talked about our garden here. Well, we've been harvesting tomatoes out the wazoo, so I thought it was time to call in the big guns when it comes to learning about canning your delicious veggies. This will be a 2-part series, so look for some great recipes next week, too! Without further ado, I'm so pleased to introduce our guest blogger today...

Heather Fox grew up on her family’s 5 acres outside of Whitehouse, Ohio. Her parents and 3 other siblings spent a lot of their time in their large garden and preparing their harvest for use during the winter months. Heather watched and helped her Mom, Aunts and Grandma can, blanch and store food grown in their gardens while growing up. She has attended several canning classes and cans her own produce each year.

As Summer begins to wind down many of us are staring at the bounty our gardens have provided and considering ways to preserve their harvest to enjoy in the winter months. It is exciting to be able to reach into your cabinet in the middle of winter and pull out a jar of homemade jam or can of homemade spaghetti sauce that you made. Before you get to that point (and so we aren’t thinking about winter) let’s go over the two types of canning:

  • Waterbath Canning is recommended for beginners and used for common recipes involving tomatoes, salsa, pickles, jellies, jams, fruits (whole, sauces, etc.) and other high-acid foods.
  • Pressure Canning is recommended for intermediate and advanced canners. It is the method used for preserving meats, poultry, vegetables, chili and other low-acid foods.

Both methods of canning require glass preserving jars with lids and bands. The most common jars used are the Ball brand and can be purchased at your local store or online.

Waterbath Canning is an easy way to introduce yourself to food preservation and there are a lot of great recipes and resources available to help you along in your canning journey. I will be sharing this method with you.

There are three main things to do before getting started:

#1: Having the correct supplies. Always have your items prepped and ready to go! Aside from your waterbath canner with a canning rack and jars with bands and lids make sure to have on hand common kitchen utensils such as a sauce pan, measuring spoons, kitchen knives, large spoons, cutting boards, ladles, non-metallic spatulas, and dish cloths. Other items that are helpful to have on hand are a jar funnel, jar lifter and bubble remover/headspace tool and dissolvable labels.

#2: Select your recipe. Make sure that you have on hand all of the ingredients the recipe asks. This helps assure you are practicing good food safety and guarantees you will have a delicious product to enjoy. When selecting your produce to use in your recipe always use fresh produce free of bruising and bad spots.

#3: Practice good food safety! This cannot be stressed enough! Canning is actually a science that has been studied and tested for many years. Prior to the methods used today botulism was often the result of poor food safety and improperly preserving foods. Steps such as washing your hands during the process, having a clean workspace to prepare your produce, using clean utensils and following recipes exactly are all ways to practice good food safety techniques and to ensure a safe and quality food  product for you and your family to enjoy.

Interested in beginning canning? I recommend checking out the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. It is a great resource for beginners and provides easy recipes to get you started on your own canning journey. Additionally, OSU Extension offers great canning information on their blog called “Chow Line”.

Next week’s blog post will highlight a couple easy recipes you can do at home with produce that is now available in your gardens, local farmers markets or your local farm stand.

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