Preserving Series: Water-Bath Canning: How To

Water Bath canning is suitable for most fruits, jams, pickles, and really anything with a PH below 4.6. It is important to not use anything other then approved sanitized canning equipment (a steam canner or inverting the jars so that they will seal are not approved methods). The reason it is so important to use the proper equipment that is well cleaned is because of food safety, namely Clostridium botulinum. This bad boy is deadly and the oxygen free environment of canned good is it’s bread and butter. If the item is not at the correct PH and the PH is above 4.6 Clostridium botulinum will thrive in those canned goods.  It is also important to never alter recipes so that the delicate balance of acidity is not disrupted.

For low-acid items (like most vegetables) it is important to use a pressure canner which reaches the temperatures necessary to kill off Clostridium botulinum. Recipes will say if they are to be water-bath canned or pressure cooked.

But with that being said don’t be afraid of canning! When it is done properly the end result is much better tasting, much better for you, and if done smart,  much cheaper then what you can get at the store. Just follow my easy instructions below!

The equipment necessary for water-bath canning are as follows:
A water-bath canner with a lid (stock-pot with a spaghetti insert works for small batches)
Metal basket insert (so jars are not resting on the pot surface -they can break this way-)
Jar-lifter
Ruler
Clean butter knife
Clean wet wash-cloth or napkin
Full-length hot pads
Proper canning jars (ball, kerr, mason, or other type jar) inspected for cracks or dents
Rust-free rings/bands
New canning lids with un-used seals (this is what preserves the food)

The steps to water bath canning are:

1. Prepare boiling water canner. Heat the jars, bands, and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2. Prepare item to be canned according to the recipe. Remove jars from water just before they are to be filled.
3. Once the item has been placed in the jars with the proper headspace, or space left at the top of the jar as identified in the recipe, make sure to remove all the air bubbles with the butter knife. Wipe the rim of the jar with the wash-cloth to remove any food debris that could prevent a seal, and center on the lid. Then apply the band until it is fingertip tight.
4. With the jar-lifter and hot pads place each of the jars into the water-bath canner. Make sure the jars are covered by one inch of water and do not start the timer until the water is boiling. Adjust the time to the altitude you are at (a quick Google search will inform you, if you are unaware of your towns altitude). Process the jars for the full length of time.
5. Remove the jars and let cool in a draft-free place for 24 hours. Check the lids for seal after 24 hours, meaning the lid should not flex up and down when the center is pressed.
6. If your jar is sealed, Congratulations you have just put up food for out of season, following in the steps of those who have lived before you, if not, some recipes say you can reprossess it again for the full amount of time. I am not comfortable with that for 2 reasons:
   1. Your food has sat out in the temperature danger zone (41 degrees to 135 degrees) for far longer then is adviseable (four to six hours is the safety time frame) unsealed.
   2. You are re-cooking your food item to death, and it will most likely taste mushy or bland because it has been over-cooked.
I advise you to just put it immediately in the refrigerator and use it within a week.

Have you water bath canned before? Feel free to leave some tips for newbies below!

From my Family, to Yours..

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Preserving Series: Water-Bath Canning: Peach Salsa

It is that time of year again! Time to put up all of this fresh local produce. We have been going to the local Farmers Markets and getting produce like some crazy people who are hoarding for the winter, partially because we are. (Seriously though, when I asked for 14 lbs of green beans the people in the long line at our favorite stand -Ashland Produce- looked at me like I was a crazy person.)

When I saw this recipe I knew we had to try it. I love peaches, like border-line love affair, love peaches (don’t worry the hubby is right there with me salivating over the delicious in-season peaches), and the hubby loves fruit salsa’s so I figured this was a match made in heaven.

And boy oh boy was I right. The only complaint that we have is that the original recipe has a kick to it. Like a huge kick. A little bit too much for us, though it is still delicious. If you like your salsa hot and spicy here is the link to the original recipe. If you like it somewhere between mild and medium use my recipe below (we did a two times recipe -see link above- which is why we don’t have enough peaches etc, we will definitely be making more though).

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Peach Salsa

Yield: About 7.5 pints, if you use larger peaches there will be a little more.

12 c fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, and small diced, about 15 medium peaches

1 large sweet onion, diced

6 tbsp lemon juice

3/4 c lime juice

6 jalapeno, deveined, seeded, and finely chopped

3 large green peppers, seeded and finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

6 tbsp cilantro, chopped

3/4 cup honey

1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and make sure that they are well-mixed.

2. Place into prepared jars, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace.

3. Follow the rest of my water-bath canning steps here.

4. Process the pints for 20 minutes, up to 1,000 feet above sea-level, 25 minutes 1,001-5,999, and 30 minutes if you are over 6,000 feet about sea-level.

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And it’s ok if you have a little bit of extra salsa just plop it in a small jar and put it in the fridge, like we did. It is still delicious, you just want to use it within a week.

Let me know what you think below, and if you loved it as much as we do! What are you putting up this season?

Preserving Series: Water Bath Canning: Applesauce Revisited

I was all set out to purchase this wonderful, full-size, great deal, water-bath canner yesterday morning from Kings, a great discount store that I just stumbled upon recently. You know I’m all about discounts right?! But as I picked it up to carry it to the register (imagine a very pregnant lady trying to carry a pot as round as her belly as well as a purse. It was hilarious!) I noticed that it said not for use on glass cooktops. Well life being what it is, it just so happens that where we live now has a glass cook top. So, I did a little reasearch and found out that they can indeed break glass cooktops, as well as their being other hiccups including sensors going haywire and so on. So not wanting to break the stove, I decided to go the route that I went last year. Another time I will purchase a wonderful huge pot to make canning go that much faster!

For now I am just using a large stockpot with a spaghetti insert to can my items, but there is also something new out there to new canners called the Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit that you can purchase for just over ten dollars from Amazon. You just need to make sure that it fits in your own home stockpot and this is a great tool for Canning Beginners! The image below is from Amazon.com.

Anyways, on to the Applesauce! Let me just tell you though that yesterday was truly a canning experience!

We canned all the jars on the baking sheet and the full box just below!

11 hours, 4 full batches, and a ton of canned Applesauce later I fell into bed exhausted, but happy. I sent my awesome hubby to bed about an hour earlier, because he had to wake up early for work. Hopefully between my applesauce loving husband, and our dear sweet little man getting closer to making his appearance each day (EEK!!!), we will have enough applesauce to last us until next canning season. I’m certainly crossing my fingers! I used the canning recipe that I talked about here, 8 months ago. I also did some minor updates to the recipe from things that seemed to work easier for us this time around!

For us this was also a really great deal, because we were able to get the apples for free! Our landlords (My hubby’s Aunt and Uncle), have apple trees that they were not using, and they said that we could have as much as we wanted. So we paid for the price of the sugar, lemon juice, and the canning lids. That was a steal!! We are super excited and thankful to them! And as payment we are giving them some Applesauce! Have you come across any great deals like this?

I hope that you are getting everything all ready for fall!

As always From my Family to Yours…

Preserving Series: Water Bath Canning: Applesauce

This week has been loaded to the brim with so many things to do and fix. At the end of last week our water heater went out, and we have been working with management in our apartment to try to get the problem solved, (it’s been tricky especially when things were happening that management insisted was NEVER supposed to happen, turns out it does happen, only rarely). Today they are coming to “fix” the problem, hopefully this is it because, it turns out it’s really hard not having hot water. Then we set a goal to finally finish all of our Thank You cards from our wedding, I know it’s been a while, but better late than never right? Plus I’ve had several meetings across, the board, so I am sorry this post is coming to you a little later than intended. But you may remember me mentioning that I was going to make applesauce, with those beautiful apples that I got from the BB a couple of weeks ago, here. Well we did! And it was a long day of canning, that my sweet husband helped me with, but we are now stocked up on applesauce for the next little bit. Let me also say that the only official canning equipment that I have jar grabber (proper name, I know…) and a plastic tool that helps get the air out of the jars and also helps measure the space from the filling to the top of the jar, otherwise known as the head space. I someday want to get a pressure cooker but that will be a little ways away. For now, I only do water bath canning and I use a large pot with my spaghetti insert, I’m hoping to get a smaller round cooling rack to stick on the bottom of my pot, but for now this works just fine.  This is a recipe that I found on the Ball Canning Website, but it is adjusted it to our tastes, I hope that you enjoy it as well!

Applesauce*

Updated September 27, 2012

12 lbs Apples, peeled, cored, quartered, and treated to prevent browning** (you will need about 36 medium apples***)

Water

Sugar, optional, to taste

4 Tbsp Lemon Juice

Cinnamon, optional, to taste

8 (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

1. Prepare jars, lids, and canner as instructed here.

2. In batches, combine the apples with enough water to prevent sticking in a large sauce pot. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 20 minutes, until the apples are tender (time will depend on the variety of apple and it’s maturity). Remove the apples from water and let the apples cool slightly,about five minutes, and reserve the water. Keep the water/apple juice mixture heating, and as it heats it will continue to reduce down, and thicken.

3. Transfer apples, in batches, to a food mill or food processor fitted with a metal blade or use an immersion blender. Either way make sure you add some of the water/apple juice mixture, that you softened the apples in, add just enough until the applesauce is saucy and smooth enough for you, this will also help the food processor and mill to produce fine even sauce. Then puree until the mixture is smooth.

4. Return the apple puree to a new sauce pot, if doing in batches and add in the sugar (we used around 2 cups) if using, lemon juice (required), and cinnamon, if using (start with a very small amount, a little goes a long way). Now taste the applesauce at this point. Do you like it? Does it need something? More cinnamon, more sugar? Now is the time to add it. Then bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Make sure the lid to the pot is nearby and that you are outfitted properly for the task, for safety reasons. (This can be tricky because from my experience applesauce doesn’t boil, it explodes, so be careful!)

5. Ladle hot applesauce into hot jars leaving 1/2-inch head space.

6. Process the jars in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove the jars and cool. Check the lids for seal after 24 hours, meaning the lid should not flex up and down when the center is pressed.

*This recipe makes about 8 (16 oz) pints. You see a quart in the picture above because I used more apples and didn’t have enough of the pint jars.

**To prevent browning, place apples in a mixture of 1/4 c lemon juice and 4 cups of water.

***You can use any kind of apples you want, but a mixture of both sweet and tart creates a unique flavor, worth trying.

This is delicious applesauce, and we hope that you enjoy it as much as we do, and that your week was a little less crazy then ours was.

From my family to yours…

Happy Canning!