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Jul 28, 2008 09:16 PM

Help I am writing an article

I am writing an article for a class about canning at home. My angle is the economy and the prices of food. That the food prices are driving people home to the dining room table. The angle I am taking is that the downturn in the economy is forcing people to eat at home. I want cooks to know that there is an alternative to buying prepared foods at the store. My idea is that canning soups and chillies will help families eat healthier and better foods.

Any suggestions would be helpful.. Thanks so much in advance for your help!!!

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  1. Just curious, but are you also going to discuss freezing? I find that discussing canning with people who are accustomed to buying prepared foods often leads to a glazed, disinterested look...they hear canning and think "hot steamy kitchen, lots of work". But I've had better success talking about freezing things like berries, veggies, and pesto as a way to get started. Doesn't last AS long, but once people get the idea, it seems they are willing to at least consider putting up some tomatoes or pickles.

    Just a thought...

    2 Replies
    1. re: bflocat

      Thanks, I think I will at least introduce freezing as an alternative method for food storage. I don't freeze much because we have a side of beef and lots of pork, and that takes up our entire extra freezer.

      1. re: kprange

        Second the idea of freezing. This time of year we love to scour the local countryside on the weekends stopping at farmer's markets. We just put away 15 lbs. of tart, sour cherries and will soon be putting away 20 lbs. of peaches. I also try to put away fresh, local corn on the cob - works pretty well if you blanche for short period first. I love my FoodSaver and I highly recommend if you discuss freezing that you advise people to use some sort of vacuum sealer to protect their investment. We also buy bulk meat, chicken, seafood at Costco or Sam's Club and the freezing/vacuum sealer method helps make that useful for a small family.

    2. Great idea...I would 'can'/bottle/freeze anyway,for taste and environmental reasons but it is clear that the economy will play a larger role in a new generation's activities.

      I don't know if I have anything interesting to add, but Barbara Kingsolver does: at your library,they will probably have a copy of 'Animal Vegetable Miracle'. Also, there is a (sadly now out-of-print) series called the Farm Journal Cookbooks that have 2-3 editions on preserving.

      And, don't stop with chilis and soups...tomatoes, chopped, whole or crushed and bottled, with or without basil, are the basis for sauces, stews, bean dishes and my personal 'bargain basement' favourite "Eggs in Purgatory".

      Then there are apples, peaches, pears, berries (but perhaps better frozen, think about a bigger freezer if you are really getting into economies of scale).You have the quick makings of cobblers, brown-betties, crisps, grunts, pies etc.

      And, don't forget chutneys, flavoured vinegars and oils and fancy jams/jellies to give as gifts: that is real savings if you have a lot of friends, families to buy for.

      Finally, (I am from Newfoundland!) there is moose, but you probably don't want to go that far...

      Best of luck, eh!

      1. I would suggest you search this board for posts on canning and preserving, and contact those posters who actually do this regularly. While your idea is good, you need some input beyond that which you will get on any message board, regardless of how good that message board is (and I'm a total devotee of chowhound). Ask in your community to find farmer's markets, check with your local Slow Food group, find a local CSA. All of them will have references to people who have canned food for years, and can talk to you directly and answer any questions you have. Maybe they will even show you how. My first experience with canning came just about this time of year, and I luckily stumbled upon an expert in motion.

        1. There's some great info out there on a lot of the websites for the various universities in the Upper Midwest, the University of Minnesota, for instance.

          I think there's a lot of fear about canning, the botulism or whatever, etc. And furthermore, there's a fear of pressure canning (I recently took a class on canning and freezing and, honestly, even the instructor seemed a bit timid about pressure canning) and cooking under pressure in general. So, I think it might be helpful to talk about the differences between waterbath canning and pressure canning, with the advantages of the latter --even for foods that can be canned in a waterbath like tomatoes--being that it's faster. Also, draw the distinction between a pressure canner and a pressure cooker. I didn't know there was a difference. The advantages of canning over freezing is that it doesn't take any additional energy to store them and you don't lose everything when the power goes out.

          I think a listing of "what you need to get started" would be helpful. Jars, lids and rings, obviously. On your stovetop: small saucepan to boil the lids, big pot to boil the jars, canner (either pressure or waterbath), pot of hot water for blanching. Nearby: ice bath, jar lifter, one of those magnetic wands to lift the lids out of the boiling water, towels, damp cloth to wipe the lids, timer, ruler to measure headspace, funnel, canning salt.

          I think it's good to talk about places where you can get a good deal on large quantities of produce to can and how to know how much produce you'll need for your canner. I had no idea how many green beans one had to buy to can 7 1 quart jars.


          1. for an intro canning class i highly rec: the complete book of year-round small batch preserving


            it's really rad for beginners because the batches are small, and the recipes are many times very easy. there are a few microwave recipes, for example. the recipes are interesting & unintimidating, and since the quantities are small-- the idea of using a couple of cans of jam in the pantry, rather than a dozen pints of pickled beets or jarred peaches-- is more managable to first timers, who may not have a ton of storage space in their pantries. the smaller batch sizes are also great for folks who have small gardens or are csa members or farmer's mkt shoppers. check it out!

            7 Replies
            1. re: soupkitten

              Okay, so, dumb question based on my EXTENSIVE canning experience (3 jars of green beans, this past weekend) it seems to me that aside from prepping the vegetables themselves (washing, chopping, blanching, etc.) a huge part of the time involved in canning is the time it takes to get all those pots boiling so you can sterilize the jars and the lids, etc., not to mention the time under pressure (or in the waterbath, depending on what you're doing), so, it felt to me like a real bummer that I only did 3 jars instead of the full 7 my canner would fit.

              When you say, "small batch" sizes, is 7 jars of beans considered a small batch to you?


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                agreed TDQ, the boiling & sterilizing is the major PITA factor in canning-- though ime you can use fresh-from dishwasher jars & utensils, and i am a *huge* fan of using the powdered one-step sanitizing solution that dh & i use in homebrewing, to lessen the PITA. you just mix it in a bucket or sink of water and can sterilize everything(!) safe and no need to rinse (locally in msp, it's available at northern brewer on grand ave, if you want to try it for your next canning foray).

                maybe the title of the book should be "complete book of year-round DINKY batch preserving"-- because a lot of the recipes are just for a couple of jars of chutney or pickles or jam. by comparison, 7 jars would be *huge.* yeah it's a little rinky-dink, but there are usable recipes for refrigerator pickles & freezer jam as well as the fully-processed water bath stuff. the book's approach is more suited to the angle suggested in Nyleve's post below, because the recipes tend to be more elegant and "gourmet" rather than simply aimed at preserving the bounty of huge fruit and veg harvests, like the older farm preserving recipes. admittedly, i don't dabble around in this book, with its small batch sizes, as much as i do with say, "ball pickles" etc. but i still think it would be a good intro for folks who have never considered canning as something they'd like to do, and it might get them into doing a little canning. maybe check out the book if you see it at the library or used bookstore, i was really surprised at all of the stuff it covers!

                1. re: soupkitten

                  Huh--I've never heard of that sterilizing powder stuff. I will have to look into that because not only is it a PITA and time waster, etc., it's also what heats up the kitchen so oppressively. The pressure canner is dreamy from that perspective. It mostly keeps its steam to itself.

                  Thanks for that info! I will keep an eye out for the book.


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    You can find sterilizer powder or tablets at restaurant supply stores. Or ask at your local pub what they use for glasware. I'm not a canner, but I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned a couple of ounces of bleach per gallon of water as a sterilizer.

                    1. re: yayadave

                      i prefer the one-step (that is the brand name, one-step). home brewers use it to sterilize bottles and other brewing gear. like cheesemaking implements, everything in home brewing must be strictly sterile. among the one step's attributes: 1) not blue 2) tasteless 3) does not leave a tacky film 4) does not dry your hands into flaky dry splitting crocodile skin after using it for upwards of 45 mins. as opposed to bleach &/or sani-tabs, used in pubs & bars (i was a bartender for 10 years, did my own dishes behind the bar a *few* times, can evaluate). it is more expensive, but probably worth it for home canners.

                      1. re: soupkitten

                        One Step sounds like a winner. Where do you get it?

                        Never mind. I can take a hint.

                        1. re: yayadave

                          Yayadave-- i am sure you can get one step or its equivalent at the homebrewer store/supply nearest you-- i just plugged northern brewer to TDQ since we both happen to live in the same town. but i think/hope it's a common product everywhere, you shouldn't necessarily have to get it shipped! :)