It is the high season of canning. And it’s great to hear from students in my classes about their challenges, successes, and even questions when something isn’t going quite right. Thanks, Loree, for sharing with me your pictures of tempting cherry pie filling, boozy peaches and strawberry jam. As a newbee to the world of canning, Loree has pushed onward, using creditable recipes. These have come from Marisa McClellan’s books and webpage, Food In Jars. Smart to start with one of the best and one of the most accessible food writers!
That’s one of the tips I share in my classes. Make sure you spend the first year (or more) tapping into the wealth of those experienced food writers/authors that have populated our bookshelves and websites. I’ve also made up several of Marisa’s recipes and loved everyone of them. Find out more about Marisa and her books here: www.foodinjars.com.
Loree is challenging herself this weekend with my Vidalia Onion Relish, which I adapted from So Easy to Preserve, a book I refer to as the “Bible of Food Preservation.” While knee-deep in my own canning these past couple of weeks, I have made a special point of jotting down some of the tips that keep jumping through my mind. Many I have gleaned from others; some from just the happenstance of discovering something in my own kitchen. So in random order with no pre-ordinaded outline, here are a few.
♥♥ Start a Canning Notebook of your own, if you haven’t already! This is something I hand out in all my classes to all my students. It has all the basics of canning instruction in it. And then I start adding recipes. I use a three-ring binder to make it easy to add. I copy from the cookbook I might be using (you are not violating the copyright if you aren’t sharing it) or recipes I download from the web.
And then I make notes all over it – the actual yield, what variety of produce I used and perhaps the source, what I varied in the recipe, did I change or add spices or herbs, what kind of sugar did I use (since I’m always improvising with maple syrup or agave or organic raw…). Then when I open a jar six months later, I make notes again – what did I like about it, what surprised me. Many of my recipes have notes from the 6,7,8 batches I’ve made over the years. SOOOOO helpful the next time I go to do that recipe again!
♥♥A while back, I switched from the “eco-wash” that I’ve been buying at the store. These are generally made of citric acid and safe for fruits and veggies. I now make my own after reading about using vinegar as a kitchen sanitizer. Yup, it’s also used in restaurants and was prescribed in my Better Processing Class that I took at UGA awhile back. What do I like about it? I always have a large bottle of vinegar on hand for pickling and other uses; it’s kids and humans safe; it’s dirtcheap; it smells better than bleach! It can be used for washing produce as well as cutting boards, counter tops, sinks, you name it …even bathrooms, floors, etc. Proportion? 1/8 cup to 16 oz water; 1/4 cup to 32 oz water. Put in spray bottle and you are ready to go. I use it for all my produce now by simply spraying them, then rinsing in clean water. No residue, no lingering smell, totally food safe!
♥♥And just a reminder. Removing bands from jars before storing is a good thing. Not only do you have them available for recycling on your next batch of jars, but you are better able to tell when a jar has lost it’s seal in the pantry. Or when you go to use it. The lid coming off easily in your fingers will quickly tell you if the jar has become unsealed in the past. Discard, of course!
More tips coming … stay tuned. And Happy Canning!
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