Canning 101, help me please!

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  • Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - 01:14pm

    #1

    cat233

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    Canning 101, help me please!

Calling on all of you canning experts. 

I searched this site high and low, but can’t seem to find a canning 101 lesson.  I went to Canning Pantry  http://www.canningpantry.com/index.html … but really have no idea where to begin.

Does anyone have a book they recommend, too many on Amazon to know what is best?  What basic supplies do I buy to get started?  What should one never buy or try to can?  What can be reused, what can’t?

Thank you for your advice in advance,

Cat

 

  • Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - 02:17pm

    #2
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Canning 101, help me please!

Hey Cat,

I can every year as part of "get ready for winter" prep for my folks. The method we use is the propane pressure cooker, because we do a bit of meat and fish too, but if all you’re doing is vegitables, you can also use the "water bath" method.

The only one I’m familiar enough to speak on is the Pressure Cooker, so we’ll look at that…
It’s really a pretty simple process with just a few requirements and caveats:

Equipment
– A pressure Cooker with Pressure gauge
– Ball or Mason Canning Jars (Reusable)
– Sterilized Lids (Cannot be Reused)
– Fastening Rings (Can be Reused)
– Tongs for removing the Jars

Ingredients for your recipe:
Generally, the "recipe" for what you’re canning will require kosher salt, water and a variety of spices, if that’s your thing.
We have Ball’s "Blue Book" of canning – which despite it’s awkward title is a wonderful resource for recipes. It probably has close to a thousand pages.

Once you’ve set up the cans with the appropriate amount of water and cure/spice or sugar if you’re doing fruit, and sterilized your lids (To do this, we just boil them lightly for about 10 minutes); Fit the lids onto the jars, then place the rings on the jars, taking care not to overtighten. Make sure that there isn’t any dirt, mold or air-bubbles in the jar you’re going to can.

Before you fire up the Pressure Cooker, take and place the jars inside; and fill about 3-4 inches of water… enough to cover the jars about halfway. You don’t want them submerged.

Next, fire up the pressure cooker, and allow the pressure to build. Once it reaches the desired pressure, keep it steady by scaling back the amount of gas being used, and keep a close eye on the guage. When we can, someone sits with the cooker the whole time – for safety and to be sure that the pilot doesn’t go out.

Generally, for fruits and vegis, we’ve done 5-7lbs of pressure for 30 minutes, and for meats, 10lbs for 90 minutes.

Don’t’s:
Do no – for any reason – take the lid off while there is any pressure in the cooker.
Don’t let children, or clumsy people aroudn the cooker. Knocking it over could be a diaster.
Be very cautious when removing the jars – they’ll be very hot, and can burst if handled roughly.
Let the jars sit until they cool.

By the way – I just found this link – which is much more in depth and helpful than my post:
http://farmgal.tripod.com/index-2.html

Cheers!

Aaron

PS – a word of wisom, the prep work involved is sometimes more of a headache than the actual canning process. I did a batch of pears last year that were nearly brown by the time I got them into my cans, between washing, peeling, quartering and preparing (see, boiling sugar water) the juice.

Do small batches first to bring your skill set up, is my advice for the first timers.

  • Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - 02:28pm

    #3
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    Re: Canning 101, help me please!

 Aaron,

Thank you for all useful the info, nothing better than advice from the experienced.  Suppose I will keep Dogs away from the pressure cooker!

Cat

 

  • Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - 03:01pm

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    Re: Canning 101, help me please!

Aaron,

You are an amazing font of information, my friend!

First the gun thread, then gardening thread, now this.

With all this knowledge under your belt, are you sure you’re not really older than me and just posted some young guy’s picture to fool us all? Wink

  • Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - 03:01pm

    #4
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    Re: Canning 101, help me please!

Cat, if it makes you feel any better, I canned for the first time last fall, grape jelly from a neighbors grapes, with my daughter, and it was much easier than I thought. I think I may even have used the site Aaron posted, as it looks very familiar. But the box of pectin we used had excellent directions in it as well. We water bath canned and all the jars sealed well, though I had a momentary freakout when I was taking them out of the bath as the lids were still concave and I thought I’d botched it. But as they cooled, the seal formed and sucked the lids down and all was well.

We bought a dozen smaller jars (pint?) with lids and rubber gaskets, a couple of packages of pectin and went for it.

That said, DH’s 99 year old grandmother cans crab apple jelly in anything she can get her hands on and pours wax over the top to create a seal. So, she’ll send us jelly in old marinated artichoke jars. I actually didn’t partake of any of the last batch, because the seals weren’t looking thick or complete. I think it’s more work that she can do these days. 🙁

  • Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - 03:34pm

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    Re: Canning 101, help me please!

Sam,

You’ll find me decidedly ignorant on many of lifes topics =)

Still so much to learn.
Thank you for the compliment,

Cheers!

Aaron

  • Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - 03:45pm

    #7
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    Re: Canning 101, help me please!

Go with the 23 or 24 quart cooker .. they have some on ebay around $100 incl. shipping HERE is one

 

  • Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - 03:50pm

    #8
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    Re: Canning 101, help me please!

The book we use as a reference is the Blue Book by Ball.   According to it, the boiling water bath method is recommended for fruits, tomatoes and  other acid foods as well as jams and jelles, etc.

Pressure canning is recommended  for other vegetables and meats.

  • Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - 04:49pm

    #9
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    Re: Canning 101, help me please!

The Ball Blue Book is great.  Another very rich source is Canning, Preserving and Freezing Cookbook published by Home Economics teachers in 1975.  I just checked and found 9 used copies on Amazon.  The first two chapters discuss techniques and needed utensils and equipment.  This book is primarily for fruits and vegetables and has an amazing variety of recipes.  I borrowed it from a neighbor last summer and finally returned hers when my ordered copy arrived.

  • Mon, Mar 30, 2009 - 05:15pm

    #10
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    Squash?

I read conflicting opinions on canning squash (pressure canner).  Some say ok, some say it is potentially dangerous.

Anyone with firsthand experience?

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