Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

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Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by pyratemime » Tue Mar 09, 2010 8:54 pm

My wife and I are starting to cook more and one of the things that she makes often and in great quantity is marinara sauce and she has mentioned wanting to do is make her own salsa. As she has dabbled in making these things she will often freeze the left overs in single large containers which makes it difficult to use in the future because we have to thaw the entire container and then refreeze the entire remains. I have suggested over the last several months that we start saving jars and then using them to can smaller portions of anything we make along these lines. She, to date, refuses to take this approach for vague reasons of it being unsanitary or some such.

I have two questions at this point. First is where can I go for information that I can use to educate my dear wife on the safety and utility of the method of preserving her delicious concoctions. Second is it advisable to use cleaned jars from other foods for canning or is it better to buy new jars and reuse them?
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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by airexurb » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:06 pm

http://www.freshpreserving.com/

this is something that I want to learn how to do as well. I've heard that the Ball website is pretty good, though I have heard horrific things about their salsa recipe
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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by DarkAxel » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:45 pm

Here's a little background so you can evaluate my facts: Raised on a farm since I was eight, Helped the parents with canning since 1990.

1. Home canning is safe. I still have canned green beans that my grandparents canned in 1993, and they are still good. If you keep canned goods away from light and heat, they will keep.

2. Anything successfully canned in the home is heated to temperatures needed to kill microorganisms.

3. Used jars CAN be used again IF they are properly cleaned with steam or boiling, and new rings and lids are used. (Some folks where I live even reuse the rings. I don't).

4. If the canned product becomes cloudy or discolored (when it has been stored in a cool, dark place) it has spoiled.

5. There is no real difference between commercial canning and home canning, except the storage medium (Can v. Jar) and variety (Most commercially canned goods come in few varieties).

Canning falls into two basic categories. I don't know the names for them, so I will describe them.

The first: food is boiled at a temperature above that which would kill microorganisms, then it is placed into jars/cans that are then sealed. As the glass heats from the food, the microorganisms in the jar are killed, and the rubber seal on the lids melts to seal the jar, while some thermal effect (please name it to me, anyone!!!) makes the popping sound that announces a sealed jar. This is most commonly used for tomato juice (and things made with tomato juice, like pizza and spaghetti sauce), and other foods with a high acid content.

The second: Food is placed in a jar, lids and rings are affixed, then placed inside a pressure cooker and pressure-cooked until all of the jars are sealed (some will have busted from heat). This is most commonly used for foods with a low PH like beans and potatoes (adding an acid like aspirin or citric acid helps here, too).

Like I said above, I am by no means an expert. I can't name all of the scientific crap that goes along with the concept of canning, I just know what has worked in the past for my family and me.
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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by Bubba Enfield » Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:15 pm

darkaxel wrote:Here's a little background so you can evaluate my facts: Raised on a farm since I was eight, Helped the parents with canning since 1990.

1. Home canning is safe. I still have canned green beans that my grandparents canned in 1993, and they are still good. If you keep canned goods away from light and heat, they will keep.

2. Anything successfully canned in the home is heated to temperatures needed to kill microorganisms.

3. Used jars CAN be used again IF they are properly cleaned with steam or boiling, and new rings and lids are used. (Some folks where I live even reuse the rings. I don't).

4. If the canned product becomes cloudy or discolored (when it has been stored in a cool, dark place) it has spoiled.

5. There is no real difference between commercial canning and home canning, except the storage medium (Can v. Jar) and variety (Most commercially canned goods come in few varieties).

Canning falls into two basic categories. I don't know the names for them, so I will describe them.

The first: food is boiled at a temperature above that which would kill microorganisms, then it is placed into jars/cans that are then sealed. As the glass heats from the food, the microorganisms in the jar are killed, and the rubber seal on the lids melts to seal the jar, while some thermal effect (please name it to me, anyone!!!) makes the popping sound that announces a sealed jar. This is most commonly used for tomato juice (and things made with tomato juice, like pizza and spaghetti sauce), and other foods with a high acid content.

The second: Food is placed in a jar, lids and rings are affixed, then placed inside a pressure cooker and pressure-cooked until all of the jars are sealed (some will have busted from heat). This is most commonly used for foods with a low PH like beans and potatoes (adding an acid like aspirin or citric acid helps here, too).

Like I said above, I am by no means an expert. I can't name all of the scientific crap that goes along with the concept of canning, I just know what has worked in the past for my family and me.

I'll add a few thoughts. Home canning is safe, as long as it was canned safely. I'm a boiling water canner. My food (jam, salsa, relish, applesauce, peaches, pickled eggs) is heated according to recipe, and then placed in HOT jars that have been in a 200deg. oven since I washed them. Then I put on the lids and rings, also clean and hot, and only fingertip tight. As each one is filled it goes in the boiling water bath. Basically a huge enamel pot, with a rack so the jars aren't resting right on the bottom. That pot has been sitting on the burner for near two hours by the time the jars go in. When the last jar of the batch is in, the water level has to be over the lids. Then the bath is brought back to a boil, at which point the timer goes on. Time varies according to food type, and I add a bit to compensate for my elevation. (Water boils at a lower temperature the higher you go, or something. I'm not in the mountains or anything, but get above 1000' ASL and you need to adjust.) When the timer goes, usually 14 to 17 minutes, the jars come out (use a jar lifter) and sit out of any draft to cool.

Boiling water canning means I can can fruit, stuff with vinegar in it, or tomatoes. Pressure canning allows you to do vegetables, meat, etc. I know people do can by putting hot food in jars and that's it, and the jars probably seal. But the food may not have spent enough time at an adequate temperature to kill every organism in it.

I think the OP was referring to re-using mayo jars or such, as opposed to Ball jars. Canning jars can be re-used a hillion times, if they're not chipped. Lids and rings get replaced more often, judge each one when you see it. My Mom made all our jam growing up, and put it in glass peanut butter jars with metal lids. She then poured a plug of melted paraffin wax on top of the jam, and let it set before lids went on. She never used a canning bath, and we never got sick from jam. But I use nothing but canning jars now. They're so awesome because the mouths are wide, the lids tell you if they're sealed, and replacement parts are widely available at next to no cost.
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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by ZombieGranny » Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:13 pm

Try this website, National Center for Home Food Preservation - http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_home.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Get The Ball Blue Book, it's known as the 'bible' of home canning.
http://www.acehardware.com/product/inde ... =109359114" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by Westbound » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:14 am

Look up and purchase the Ball Blue Book for canning. It covers everything.
You will have to use Mason jars to can, used commercial jars will not work. You have to replace the lids (which are dirt cheap) but can reuse the jars and rings.
Depending on what you want to can, there are two methods. The first is the "Water Bath" method. This just uses boiling water. You can only use this for foods that are high acid or high sugar (tomatoes, pickles, preserves, jellies, etc).
The other is pressure canning, which requires a pressure canner (available at Wal-Mart for around $60). This will allow you to can low acid foods.
If directions are followed properly, there is no safety issue. When you do it right, you stand the same chance of getting sick as you would from store bought cans.

You can do a google search for Jackie Clay. She is a homesteader in Alaska that writes a blog and articles for Backwoods Home. She is regarded as the foremost expert on home canning.

Cost is another approach you can take with your wife.
If I use my own tomatoes, onions, and peppers, I can put up a quart of salsa for under $1.00 when using a brand new jar. If I already have the jar, I can do it for around 10 cents. The jars will last forever, so you can expect many uses. My grandmother has jars in use that are at least 30 years old.

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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by Real_Ale_Act » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:43 am

Canning is cool and I love it...I can't contribute to what has been posted above about resources. But I do have this:

That having been said, another solution to your bulk marinara (or stew, or whatnot) problem might be to portion it before you freeze it. Freezer bags or smaller containers.
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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by RealZombiesAreSlow » Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:57 pm

That's something that my family has done for a while in lieu of canning vegetables per se. We do big batches of marinara, tomato soup, or squash soup and then just can it. Keeps everything nice and portions out quick meals when you need them.

We haven't tried this yet, but at some point in the future I would like to try canning stock. That way I can just do one large batch of stock at a time and can it for the entire year.

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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by Bubba Enfield » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:07 pm

Westbound wrote:You can do a google search for Jackie Clay. She is a homesteader in Alaska that writes a blog and articles for Backwoods Home. She is regarded as the foremost expert on home canning.
I seem to think she used to write articles in American Survival Guide back in the nineties. Those articles were a big inspiration for me to start canning.
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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by mbaz73 » Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:54 am

We have started canning in my family as well. The wife will make big batches of tomato sauce and can those as well as salsa. We are going to start hitting the PYO farms this summer and starting picking strawberries, etc for our first foray into preserves.
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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by kaizen » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:08 pm

It is the first year for us to can too assuming the garden produces. I don't know why but I'm finding myself very interested in teaching my daughters the self sufficient knowledge of thier great grandparents. Unfortunately, granny and paw never taught me. So, I'm stuck learning to can and cure meat from the internet. Weird.

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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by midgetyaz » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:56 pm

ZombieGranny wrote:Try this website, National Center for Home Food Preservation - http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_home.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Get The Ball Blue Book, it's known as the 'bible' of home canning.
These are great resources. I also got Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods.
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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by Shadowsbane » Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:46 pm

+1 to the ball book of canning.


Some higher end pasta sauces come in mason jars, so occasionally I get those. But throw my own lids on them.

Walmart and biglots seem to always have a ton of jars lids and whatnot around spring time. I always stock up on several dozen of each when I can.

You can also use plain concentrated juice for most jellies. Try to find the ones without added sugar though. I ended up making about 6 jars for roughly $2.50 a set last year. That included the bands sugar juice and pectin.

Just be warned if you find an older canning recipe. Tomatos used to have a lot more acid than they do now, so when canning them you have to add more to keep it safe. (Vinegar works good for tomatoe products lemon juice for fruit.
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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by leadpulaski » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:28 pm

My folks use to can, I remember mom to use to can a lot of green beans and carrots. Tomatoe sauce and stews. Just thinking about it takes me back :)

With the garden and all my wife wants to learn this fall and I am definately in favor of that.

I scored pretty big at a yard sale yesterday. Picked up a pressure cooker for $5! Can't wait to try it out.

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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by ZombieGranny » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:43 pm

Please make certain it is a pressure CANNER, not just a pressure cooker if you want to can in it.
Pressure cookers don't have enough mass to keep the heat right according to the canning instructions.
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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by mattsilf » Fri Mar 26, 2010 9:21 pm

I just ordered the Blue Book. We grow veggies every year and end up wasting a lot. I decided this year i would learn how to can. I looked on EBAY for canners and they are pretty affordable. I've been trying to steer my spending more in the direction of preparation and away from firearms lately.

I remember when I was a kid, my grandparents had a whole pantry full of homegrown canned goods. My grandmother would just grab a jar off the shelf and make it up. I didnt much appreciate that back then, but I sure do now...

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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by blueeyeddevil » Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:58 pm

Bump, because I'm preparing to start canning in the next couple weeks. Walmart & FRY's has a bunch of canning stuff on sale right now.
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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by TheChemist » Thu Jun 17, 2010 2:45 pm

I started canning a year ago, and All American Pressure Canners are imo the best out there. They're a little more pricey then the ones at Wal-Mart, but the construction is much better.

Cheaper canners have a weighted steam valve, which is basically just a weight that rattles over a hole in the lid when the steam builds up. This causes quite a fluctuation in pressure. The AAPC's have the spring loaded regulators to keep internal pressure at a constant.

Also, watch for the psi rating they advertise. I used a 10psi canner for a couple months and had a few jars go bad every batch. I then got a 15psi all american pressure canner for christmas and have yet to have one spoil.

And whatever you do, do not let it run out of water! Breaks jars, then the contents get stuck to the bottom and smell like ass whenever you use it again.
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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by bystander » Wed Jun 23, 2010 3:01 pm

Regular jars can be used for canning, but are more prone to breaking because they are not tempered glass. They also are more "iffy" on the rims as far as being uniform and thick enough to make an effective seal. I have used mayonnaise jars by the dozens, but losing the bottom out of a jar when it cracks coming out of the canner is no fun, messy, and can lead to burns.

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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by WY_Not » Tue Jul 06, 2010 11:50 pm

Anyone know the difference between the "Ball Blue Book" mentioned below and the "Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving"? ie is one more detailed than the other? Which one would compliment a pressure canner better? Ordered the "Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving", a Presto 23qt pressure canner, and accessories earlier today. Can always pick up the "Blue Book" if I need to.

Haven't canned since I was a kid helping Mom and Grandmother and figured it was time to take it up again. Was eyeballing the All-American 921 but just can't spend that much at the moment, can always upgrade later.

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ZombieGranny wrote:Try this website, National Center for Home Food Preservation - http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_home.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Get The Ball Blue Book, it's known as the 'bible' of home canning.
http://www.acehardware.com/product/inde ... =109359114" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: Canning your own food, my burgeoning journey

Post by scarnucci » Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:02 am

TheChemist wrote:I started canning a year ago, and All American Pressure Canners are imo the best out there.
I wholeheartedly agree. Best feature IMHO is that there is no gasket needed to seal the lid. Sturdy clamps hold the cover to the bottom.
TheChemist wrote: Cheaper canners have a weighted steam valve, which is basically just a weight that rattles over a hole in the lid when the steam builds up. This causes quite a fluctuation in pressure. The AAPC's have the spring loaded regulators to keep internal pressure at a constant.
Are you certain of this? My AAPC uses a regulator weight. Here is their online parts catalog:

http://www.allamericancanner.com/allame ... rparts.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I find no mention of any spring loaded regulators. They just use the weights.

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