Life's great journey is made up of day by day delights.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Canning for the Modern Day Woman: Breakdown

Hellooooooo! Happy Saturday!!! Consider this a part 2 from my original "Canning for the Modern Day Woman" post.  Canning is a really fun and gratifying hobby to have. One of the awesome things is that it actually goes beyond a is almost like it meets a primal need. The need to store and supply for yourself and those you love. Down the road if, Heaven forbid, we or someone we know, runs into hard times, we won't be without a necessity to life. FOOD. And really, I could go on and on about how it taps into my soul but I figured you're here more for the canning breakdown as opposed to my epiphanies? Yeah, that's what I thought. ONWARD!!

So like I briefly explained in my previous post, canning, although fun, is a bit time consuming. I will say that the more one cans, the easier it does become. You just have to understand a few important basics (which I conveniently found here.)

1. Prep is key!
a. Clean all surfaces and utensils. Now, I am probably a little nerdy about this one but I literally clean every possible tool and surface I might use. Sanitation is uber important because, if not done correctly,
you may not kill the bacteria and germs that can naturally reside. If you let those linger in the jars, they
may not seal properly which can lead to spoilage of food.....clearly not the point of canning. A big part
of killing the ickies is understanding what you are canning and how to boil which leads me to my next
b. Some simple science and chemistry knowledge is required to properly can and succeed. I bought this
book for about $7.00 and it has been a life saver. Highly recommend picking the Ball Blue Book
Guide up! Example: Strawberries are naturally acidic so they only require being canned in a water
canner (i.e. a giant pot). It takes less heat and pressure to kill any bacteria partly because of the acidity
in the fruit. However, if you want to can, say, meat, then a pressure canner is required. It can
carry more germs and it is not naturally acidic (according to a pH scale) so it can't terminate those
germs on it's own thus the pressure canner! The meat falls into the low acidic category on the pH
scale. The canner raises to a certain PSI to eliminate the germs and create a proper seal.
High acidity = water bath canner. Low acidity = pressure canner.
c.  Have the right tools on hand: clean jars and lids, funnel, magnet stick, headspace/air bubble tool,
rubber coated clamps, knives, cutting board, clean towels, spoons, cheesecloth (for jams), thermometer (for jams & candies), pressure canner, water bath canner, racks for canners so jars do not touch
immediate surface (racks typically come with canners), and timer.
2. Choose what you are going to can!
This is a given but it ties into the prep part. Is what I am canning going to require the water canner
or the pressure canner?  If you are not quite sure, reference the recipe and a good canning book.
3. Can, can away!

A few nights ago, Hubby and I decided to make and can some vegetable soup. So glad for his assistance because it would have taken a lot longer without him. You are probably thinking, "It is just soup...what is so hard about making that??" It is not that it is difficult, just time consuming because canning recipes tend to call for larger portions so you can make a lot at once, store it, and eat as needed. We bought fresh produce (another key: keep what you are using fresh, fresh, fresh!) and immediately went home to start. If we weren't going through a rough summer and our garden had thrived the way we had wished we could have used our own produce, which I recommend whenever possible. I o.c.d.'d my little heart out in prep...

(and lids)

(and lids)

Heat water then place jars and lids inside on the rack. It is important to have the jars and lids fully heated before filling with yummy goodness.
 ......then we got to chopping the vegetables while we let the jars and lids sit in heated water (after having been washed). The jars must be hot because hot mixtures are usually poured in. You don't want the jars cracking due to a big temperature change. We put our sliced and diced veggies in a big pot with some water and seasonings then let get to a simmer/boil for about 15ish minutes.....

 Following that, we retrieved the hot jars...

Popped a funnel in, poured in the veggies and yummy broth.....

Cleaned the mouth of the jar (there must not be any debris or cracks), measured the headspace (distance between top of food to top of jar), removed air bubbles, plopped on lids....

 Secured lids, and placed all jars in pressure canner. The recipe called for the canner to be at 10 PSI.

To achieve that, we had the canner sitting on a burner on high and watched as it slowly rose to 10 PSI. We then made sure we had a steady heat and set our time for the allotted time which just so happened to be 1 hour and 25 minutes! Once the jars had been in there for the time needed, we turned the heat off and let them sit there till the gauge went from 10 PSI back down to 0. Only then could we remove the lid and then gather our jars. Many times the jars will have a white powdery coating on them which is due to oxidation.

Simply clean them up and they are about set. All of the lids must have a secure fit. They cannot move, wiggle, or jiggle. Throughout the day you may hear light pop sounds...that is a good thing. It is the last little bit of air escaping and the process is done! You will want to store your jars in a cool, dry place. I recommend a cabinet or pantry away from the oven/stove. Then, some cool, autumn night, when hunger strikes, you will be armed and ready with some delicious food that YOU made. You know exactly what is in it and what it cost! ENJOY!!!

For the full recipe, please visit Ball's site here.
 I am so excited to eat our soup in the cooler months!  I have a lot more ideas up my sleeves so stay tuned to check them out. Have you tried canning before? Do you have any tried and true recipes? I'd love to see them! :-) Until next time, HUGS AND KISSES.....

1 comment:

  1. I am so overwhelmed at the idea of canning. It seems like I need to go out and buy so many things to start, but you have inspired me a bit here. I never thought of canning soup! Haha! I've only considered canning veggies from our garden. Right now I clean and cut everything and put it in the deep freezer. Cool article, cuz! I really like your blog. :-)