How does one begin to learn how to can?


#1

hi all- i would like to get into canning for both health and economic reasons...my grandma canned for years and years and i inherited her canners and spoons and such...anyway, i would like to begin to learn how. it may be too late this year, but if not, i would like to put up some tomatoes yet this year. can anyone help me, or suggest a good short, book to teach me? my mom will help, but honestly, she hated growing up on a farm and it seems like almost everything she learned she has forced herself to forget! thanks in advance...twk


#2

amazon.com/Ball-Complete-Book-Home-Preserving/dp/0778801314/ref=pd_sim_k_1

I've heard good things about the Ball Blue books on canning. I've been looking into doing this myself as well. Good luck!


#3

Canning is so easy and is very fun! It is a great way to get the most out of summer produce, and nothing is better than a jar of peaches in December.

It is not too late to start, (for New York) peaches are in season, apples and tomatoes will be here soon. Jelly and jam make great gifts as well.

The book recommended is a really good book, and one that I started with. The most important thing I think is cleanness. All jars lids should be cleaned before you start and kept in hot water before you fill. Depending on what you want to can you may need a pressure cooker, but that book is really helpful with all that information.

Good luck! Canning is really a lot of fun


#4

I agree, get the Ball Blue Book, it explains everything in detail.

Also here is a great site Pick Your Own. They have directions, recipes, and about any other way you can preserve food.


#5

[quote="mommamia, post:4, topic:209174"]
I agree, get the Ball Blue Book, it explains everything in detail.

Also here is a great site Pick Your Own. They have directions, recipes, and about any other way you can preserve food.

[/quote]

Yes....and pickyourown.org also has great information on how to can safely, including how to choose equipment and methods.

One quote from the site:

***According to the USDA:

"Canning recipes prior to 1990 should not be used. Many old recipes do not include instructions for processing foods. The foods are canned by the open kettle method, sealed and stored. This method for canning, the open kettle method, is not recommended for it presents a serious food safety hazard. All high acid foods should be processed in a water bath canner and all low acid foods in a pressure canner. "***

Note the date: 1990, not 1900! In canning lore, that's practically yesterday!!

IOW, even if you had learned directly from your grandmother and had many successful years of canning experience under your belt since then, there is some very important information out there for safe food preservation that you'd be nuts not to learn and follow. Pick Your Own has done their best to have an up-to-date informational site that has kept up with the science of food preservation. It's thorough and yet not so technical as to be inaccessible. I'm very impressed with it.


#6

For my first run at canning I just followed the directions that came with the canning pressure cooker. It really is not that complicated, and that is coming from a girl who never had a mom that would can or a grandma to watch. good luck to you! You can do it!


#7

[quote="EasterJoy, post:5, topic:209174"]
Yes....and pickyourown.org also has great information on how to can safely, including how to choose equipment and methods.

One quote from the site:

***According to the USDA:

"Canning recipes prior to 1990 should not be used. Many old recipes do not include instructions for processing foods. The foods are canned by the open kettle method, sealed and stored. This method for canning, the open kettle method, is not recommended for it presents a serious food safety hazard. All high acid foods should be processed in a water bath canner and all low acid foods in a pressure canner. "***

Note the date: 1990, not 1900! In canning lore, that's practically yesterday!!

IOW, even if you had learned directly from your grandmother and had many successful years of canning experience under your belt since then, there is some very important information out there for safe food preservation that you'd be nuts not to learn and follow. Pick Your Own has done their best to have an up-to-date informational site that has kept up with the science of food preservation. It's thorough and yet not so technical as to be inaccessible. I'm very impressed with it.

[/quote]

I so wish I had this site when I first started canning!! I never saw anyone can anything in my life, my grandma was a definite city girl :D All I had was the ball blue book, tons of food from our garden, and a toddler and one on the way. During our traveling years I didn't do any canning (of course). When I started again I found this site, and it has so much great information.

I do however still use my Ball Blue Book, in fact its still sitting on my desk from my peach preserves I put up last week. Now looking for something to do with pears, I don't want to make jelly, because I am lazy and don't want to strain it, so maybe some jam? But my food mill got rusted out in a flood, so maybe I'll just let the kids eat them!


#8

[quote="EasterJoy, post:5, topic:209174"]
Yes....and pickyourown.org also has great information on how to can safely, including how to choose equipment and methods.

One quote from the site:

***According to the USDA:

"Canning recipes prior to 1990 should not be used. Many old recipes do not include instructions for processing foods. The foods are canned by the open kettle method, sealed and stored. This method for canning, the open kettle method, is not recommended for it presents a serious food safety hazard. All high acid foods should be processed in a water bath canner and all low acid foods in a pressure canner. "***

Note the date: 1990, not 1900! In canning lore, that's practically yesterday!!

IOW, even if you had learned directly from your grandmother and had many successful years of canning experience under your belt since then, there is some very important information out there for safe food preservation that you'd be nuts not to learn and follow. Pick Your Own has done their best to have an up-to-date informational site that has kept up with the science of food preservation. It's thorough and yet not so technical as to be inaccessible. I'm very impressed with it.

[/quote]

I'm Italian American and every August of my childhood was spent canning tomatoes. 3 days worth of work for a year's worth of tomate sauce. Water bath canner? Would that be the way my mom did it, each mason jar would go into a pan of water, the top part of the jar would go on, we would weight for a suction sound...then put on the ring.

As a small child my job was to test the pop on the jar, if the jar top would pop, I had to give that to my mom to redo.


#9

[quote="Mary_Gail_36, post:8, topic:209174"]
I'm Italian American and every August of my childhood was spent canning tomatoes. 3 days worth of work for a year's worth of tomate sauce. Water bath canner? Would that be the way my mom did it, each mason jar would go into a pan of water, the top part of the jar would go on, we would weight for a suction sound...then put on the ring.

As a small child my job was to test the pop on the jar, if the jar top would pop, I had to give that to my mom to redo.

[/quote]

I think what you are talking about is the "open kettle" method. This method is considered unsafe!! In a water bath canner, the jars with lids and rings already on are put into boiling water (enough to cover the jar) and a lid is put on the pot and the jars are boiled ("processed") for a certain length of time.

According to the site

Note: Some people don't even boil the jars; they just ladle it hot into hot jars, put the lids and rings on and invert them, (this is called "open kettle" processing). Open kettle process is universally condemned by all of the authorities (USDA, FDA, Universities - Clemson, UGa, Minnesota, WI, Michigan, etc,.) as being inherently dangerous and conducive to botulism. It does not create a sterile environment; it does create the ideal environment for botulism to grow.

I knew an older lady who insisted that I should can my tomato sauce that way, but I knew from my Blue Book that wasn't safe.


#10

[quote="syr1572, post:3, topic:209174"]
Canning is so easy and its very fun and rewarding! It is a great way to get the most out of summer produce, and nothing is better than a jar of peaches in December.

It is not too late to start, (for New York) peaches are in season, apples and tomatoes will be here soon. Jelly and jam make great gifts as well.

The book recommended is a really good book, and one that I started with. The most important thing I think is cleanness. All jars lids should be cleaned before you start and kept in hot water before you fill. Depending on what you want to can you may need a pressure cooker, but that book is really helpful with all that information.

Good luck! Canning is really a lot of fun

[/quote]

Yes, home-canned peaches in winter - a true taste of summer! It has been a few years since I canned, and when I did it was a regular part of my lifestyle. My mother never canned, but her mother did, but she wasn't around to show me. My neighbor got me started one day when she asked me to help her make strawberry jam, which is about the easiest thing to make.

It was another neighbor who introduced me to a very very easy grape juice recipe. Soon it was a favorite annual trip to pick grapes in the beautiful Naples, NY hills every year. I would pick bushels, with my son's "help", and bring them home and can many, many half--gallons of juice. I have pictures of grapes filling the kitchen, and finished jars cooling on tables. We had juice for all year. I made a few quarts of grape-pie filling one fall, as grape pies are the rage here in the fall. That was labor-intensive, cooking it down and removing all the seeds.

Speaking of removing seeds - I love my Victorio Food Strainer. It helps a lot with tomato sauce and so many other things. One year I made pints of raspberry sauce. :) It really is a worthwhile investment, if not the first year, then soon.

My Ball Book is dog-eared. I wanted to see if I could can everything. I would drive to the Amish produce auction (near PennYan) and bid on bushels of things and come home and can it, following directions in the Ball book.

You'll need a pressure canner to can most other vegetables but you don't need that right away. The regular water bath canner will get you far, and it does the tomato sauce. There is so much you can do with it. Take your time, make sure you have the reccommended tools - jar lifters, potholders (it tells you in the Ball Book) lined up; work neat and organized, and enjoy the process!

I was never happy with my canned corn, so I froze that every year. I was never happy with canned green beans, either, so I just didn't can them. But last year my friend from the country had a bumper crop, and she was having the same problem with her canned beans (tough) so we researched it and found for success with canned or frozen beans you need to blanche and can (or freeze) as soon as you pick them. So, they must be done small batches daily if you are garden-picking (you can't wait a few days till you have a good pile and then can).

My husband was a hunter, and brought home a lot of deer, and wanted me to try canning it. Meat requires a pressure cooker, and I followed the directions in the Ball Book. I wanted it to be good, for all the work, so I came up with a long recipe for a BBQ sauce that was to die for (I had made it with beef before). After that it was a favorite, and I made it every year - one year I canned four deer! It was so easy the rest of the year to pull out a jar of venison, shred it, heat the whole jarful on the stovetop, and have the most savory venison BBQ, good enough for company! That year especially it was always a part of a meal package for shut-ins and new Moms at church.

Those are good memories. I have moved 4 times in 6 years, bringing and storing along my canning supplies from those canning years. But I haven't canned once since, as my lifestyle changed a lot suddenly, and though I missed the things of old, I had to concentrate on the needs of the new. But I heard in the news the other day that we will be having a bumper crops of grapes this year. Maybe my now-teen son will go picking with me, and maybe he will want to help me make juice. And a bridge can be made between the old life and the new.


#11

[quote="mommamia, post:9, topic:209174"]
I think what you are talking about is the "open kettle" method. This method is considered unsafe!! In a water bath canner, the jars with lids and rings already on are put into boiling water (enough to cover the jar) and a lid is put on the pot and the jars are boiled ("processed") for a certain length of time.

According to the site

I knew an older lady who insisted that I should can my tomato sauce that way, but I knew from my Blue Book that wasn't safe.

[/quote]

I remember now. She did the part I described first, when she would fill the jars, after the rings were on she'd put a batch in a large pot and boil them.(we haven't made canned tomatoes since I was married....) We never not boiled the jars or put them upside down. Though a non-italian / non-cook friend of ours put tomatoes garlic and onion in a blender, then put them in a jar....and was surprised to find out they were no longer sauce when she opened the jar later that week. :eek:

But I do rememeber checking the pop up parts on the jars. That was the "fun" part.


#12

I took a course at the County Extension SErvice in 1970 and used that information for years. My daughter is taking a similar course in her state now, and notes much of the information I received is now outdated, so I would not rely on any books, articles or other information prior to about 1990. I would also avoid old used jars, tops and other supplies and purchase new. Above all never use jars not specifically made for the type of canning you are doing. Research other options like freezing and dehydration as well.


#13

[quote="EasterJoy, post:5, topic:209174"]

Note the date: 1990, not 1900! In canning lore, that's practically yesterday!!

[/quote]

Lol, I had read 1900, I'm glad you made the distinction!

I would love to can, but I am soooo afraid of messing it up and botulism.

Dh went to meet an Amish family (friends of someone we were looking to do business with) on a business trip and brought home a jar of blueberries (yum!) and a jar of deer meat (eeek, looks like lighter raw ground beef in a jar). The sight is not morning sickness friendly....


#14

[quote="lifeisbeautiful, post:13, topic:209174"]
Lol, I had read 1900, I'm glad you made the distinction!

I would love to can, but I am soooo afraid of messing it up and botulism.

Dh went to meet an Amish family (friends of someone we were looking to do business with) on a business trip and brought home a jar of blueberries (yum!) and a jar of deer meat (eeek, looks like lighter raw ground beef in a jar). The sight is not morning sickness friendly....

[/quote]

Don't be afraid of Botulism; you really can't go wrong by following the directions in the Ball Book. When the lids pop-in you know you've got a seal. (in spite of warnings to use only proper lids, my neighbor, to be thrifty, when she ran out of canning jars and still had more juice to can, would, on her mothers advice (what had canned for years) "recycle" store-bought apple juice jars when she ran out -- the white lid, if you notice, has a rubber seal! The lid would pop-in, so she would know it was sealed. I am not reccommending that, but I tell it so you know its not hard to can safely.

Jam or fruit or fruit sauce is a great thing to start canning with. Its really easy, and its so rewarding to see your first batch of finished jars lined up on the counter!

Yes, plain canned venison does not look too appetizing. I had seen it that way and though assured it was good (one woman I knew put a piece of bacon in with the venison for flavor) I didn't want to spend all that time canning meat in the pressure canner for a product that didn't look appetizing. Thats why I canned it in a savory sauce (explained above).


#15

[quote="Eliza10, post:14, topic:209174"]
Don't be afraid of Botulism; you really can't go wrong by following the directions in the Ball Book. When the lids pop-in you know you've got a seal. (in spite of warnings to use only proper lids, my neighbor, to be thrifty, when she ran out of canning jars and still had more juice to can, would, on her mothers advice (what had canned for years) "recycle" store-bought apple juice jars when she ran out -- the white lid, if you notice, has a rubber seal! The lid would pop-in, so she would know it was sealed. I am not reccommending that, but I tell it so you know its not hard to can safely.

Jam or fruit or fruit sauce is a great thing to start canning with. Its really easy, and its so rewarding to see your first batch of finished jars lined up on the counter!

Yes, plain canned venison does not look too appetizing. I had seen it that way and though assured it was good (one woman I knew put a piece of bacon in with the venison for flavor) I didn't want to spend all that time canning meat in the pressure canner for a product that didn't look appetizing. Thats why I canned it in a savory sauce (explained above).

[/quote]

You do have to follow the directions, and not mess around with the recipes. In particular, don't make changes in a high-acid food that could either lower the overall acidity or leave pockets of a low acid environment (like an onion in a jar of tomatoes) that make the entire batch a candidate for a low-acid canning method. You also don't want to introduce dense bits that are more resistant to heat transfer and would call for a longer heating time to any recipe, unless you know how to compensate for the change.

It isn't brain surgery, though. You can do it safely by carefully following the written directions.


#16

Like Mary Gail’s freind [above*]:" Though a non-italian / non-cook friend of ours put tomatoes garlic and onion in a blender, then put them in a jar…and was surprised to find out they were no longer sauce when she opened the jar later that week. :eek:" Yup, that’ll be a mess!

Good expert advice - for the creative canner! But as you say - follow the recipes and the directions in the Ball Book and you can’t go wrong.


#17

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