Canning fruits, vegetables, and meats is extremely rewarding.
Caning is a great way to preserve the fresh taste for the out of season times you have a craving.
Canning know how
Canning is very rewarding, true. It is also an activity that requires advance planning and attention to detail at all points in the process as health and safety issues are at play. Not all foods are equally suitable for canning. There is the matter of what food can be safely canned an how to do it before considering the required equipment looking for tested canning recipes.
The most important thing, and this cannot be stressed enough, is to make sure that there is an airtight seal on whatever container you are using. This will keep the flavors of you goods locked in place and while keeping the food safe for you to enjoy later.
How to can fruits and vegetables
The benefits of having a garden are second to none. Coming in from a hard day of work and pulling out a jar of homemade jam, just makes everything better. There is absolutely nothing better than homemade canned goods. Something about knowing you put your time and effort into making something your friends and family can enjoy, just brings a sense of accomplishment, and the compliments don't hurt either.
Once you have toiled to create the best sauce or jam and enjoyed the first batch over a warm plate of pasta or spread out on a steaming hot biscuit, you are left with one dilemma. How should you preserve your precious prize? One way would be to toss it in a zip-lock bag and hope that it tastes as good as when it was made. Why play Russian roulette with your raspberry marmalade and the snap-seal of some plastic bag when canning is obviously the way to go.
Canning is a great way to store your savory sauces and other tasty treats for later use. Canning works because it heats food to kill bacteria while sealing them in a glass or metal container. This process prevents them from spoiling. When having canning supplies handy when you make your sauces or jams, just means that you can keep more of your food fresh for use during the off-season.
Generally, fruits are canned using a boiling water canner. However, fruits like tomatoes (yes, they are actually considered fruits) and applesauce can be canned in a pressure canner due to the pH levels in the fruit.
Fruit does tend to discolor if it is canned naturally, which can be prevented by adding some lemon juice or vitamin C to some water and then placing the fruit in it. Sometimes, fruits need to be packed in simple syrup. There are a few different variations on syrups ranging from light to heavy, but they all use the same ingredients in different amounts.
While some fruits can be canned in a boiling water canner that is not an option for vegetables. Because they are generally more dense and do not contain as much self-preserving sugars as fruits, they must be canned at higher pressure and temperature in order to keep the integrity of the food.
It is extremely important, when canning vegetables, that you remove all of the air bubbles that tend to get caught in the nooks and crannies between pieces and around the sides of the jar. Unlike fruit, many vegetables don't conform to the shape of the jar or can. This can be done easily by running a spatula around the inside of the jar between the glass and the produce.
Canning meats can be a difficult task because there are so many different issues to take into consideration. Just as with cooking meats there is always a possibility for undercooked meats to contain bacteria and other harmful issues. This makes following a recipe that much more important when canning meat.
Meat is a low acid food, which means that it always needs to be canned using a pressure canner. This will make sure the temperature is high enough to kill all bacteria, spores and toxins that are naturally prevalent in low acid foods. A weighted gauge pressure canner is your best bet because it allows for more accurate monitoring of the internal temperatures, ensuring the meat is canned with the least possibility for spoilage.
Cutting the meat across the grain, into strips, is the best way to make sure the meat stays together during the canning process. Remember, there will be high pressures and high temperatures and the last thing you want is your canned meat turning in to a pile of mush when it comes time to break the seal.
You can also cut the meat into 1 inch cubes if you plan on using it in a stew at a later date. It helps to remove as much fat and gristle as possible because those two items can cause the meat to taste extremely "gamey" or prevent the proper seal on the jars.
Cooking your meat before canning is a necessity. Again, using a recipe for this will help out until you get comfortable with the meat canning process. Then you can play around with ingredients and how to prepare the meat in the first place.
Meat can be canned without being cooked first. It is a technique called cold packing. This is where the uncooked meat is stored in a jar and covered with broth or water to allow the meat to cook evenly within the jar as it is heating up.
Especially if you plan on canning fish, you need to follow the recipe for canning. Paying close attention to the time and pressure needed to can each type of meat is extremely important. It is also important to see how to pack the meats. For instance, fish should be cut so it will fit long-ways, with no scales, head, tales or any other body parts. Of course as with everything, the higher quality food you start out with, the higher quality it ill be once it is finished.
Keep your meat either in strips or small cubes so you have the highest quality canned meats around without turning them into mush. Finally, be sure to keep the jars stored in a cool, dry place to prevent loss of seal or spoiling.
Canning food is a great way to keep it for winter supplies. Make sure you have everything you need, including a tested recipe so you can have the best possible outcome when canning that food.
Canning today, is as easy as it ever has been. It's nothing like the old days when it took a whole week to can one section of vegetables from your garden. Today, a whole garden can be completed in a day or two.
High acid versus low Acid
It is important to know the acidity of the foods you are trying to can. Some foods have a high acidity, while others are extremely low. Knowing the acid level of your food gives you the knowledge of how to make sure they are safely canned. High acid foods can be safely canned in a boiling water canner, while the low acid foods can only be canned safely in a pressure cooker.
Low acid foods, strangely enough with a pH higher than 4.6, cannot stave off the harmful bacteria at low temperatures, like those found in a boiling water canner. These low acid foods are things like vegetables, proteins, sauces and soups. These must be canned in a pressure canner that reaches at least 240 degrees Fahrenheit.
High acid foods, with a pH lower than 4.6, can safely be canned in a boiling water bath because their natural acidity helps to kill and prevent the bacteria that can form. The lower temperature is enough, combined with the natural acidity of the food, to be safely preserved. These types of foods include fruit, jams, jellies, relishes and acidified tomatoes.
It is important to follow the instructions on the recipe exactly. Any deviation in technique could lead to spoiled foods or food that doesn't taste right because too much salt or acid was used. Things to remember are times in the pressure canner or boiling water bath, how much acid to add to the can and the right amounts of spices to be added. This will preserve the taste so the foods taste the way you want it to when opened back up.
Use proper materials
Make sure the can is properly cleaned, the flat has not been used and the band is not rusted or warped in any way. It is important to use proper techniques when canning, otherwise the seal may not hold or certain bacteria may be incorporated into the food. Using the right types of canner for the job is also important. For example, having a pressure canner, which does not hold a proper seal, may make it difficult to get a proper seal on the can or can keep the food from reaching the proper temperature for it to preserve correctly.
Canning is much easier today, but there are still certain rules you must follow in order to properly preserve your favorite foods. Knowing your food, following the recipe and instructions and using the right materials is a great way to make sure your canning will work the way it should. Keeping it simple is the easiest way to make your canning as quickly as possible because it helps reduce the amount of mistakes being made that can spoil your food.