I'm going to be canning this year for the 1st time and...
- Den Jan 31, 2010 11:24 AM
We're doing a very ambitious garden this year and while I'm sure we'll give stuff to friends and family there will be plenty to can, especially tomatoes. I have access to all the canning equipment, including a huge pressure canner. I'm looking for good resources to learn and would really be thankful for any links or advice you may be able to provide.
This past year was my first year canning. I got the Ball blue book and it was a terrific primer. For procedures and the like you can also check out the USDA's website on home preserving.
Also do a search of the Home Cooking board here. There were lots of discussions of what safe procedures are and recipes and all sorts of good conversation; mostly I think it was this past summer/fall. I got some excellent ideas (most notably Morwen's spiced peaches which ended up being a real hit here).
Check with your county agricultural extension office to see if they offer any demonstrations or classes. It used to be an annual event. They will be listed in the phone book under the name of your county. Google extension home canning. This is one of the links that came up and looks very informative:
I second the Ball Blue Book. It's as plain and un-glitzy as it gets, but it has the basics that you need to get a good foundation.
First learn to can simple stuff, like tomatoes and jams/preserves. The high acid, high sugar stuff.
The most important thing is to follow the recipes exactly. Do not freelance!!!
Some of the instructions make food lovers cringe, like using bottled lemon juice, but they are there for a reason. (The acid level of the bottled stuff is consistent and that of the tomatoes may not be.)
Just because something has a lot of tomatoes in it doesn't mean that you can assume that it can be processed in a water bath. All the onions, peppers, etc. may lower the acid content.
Cutting sugar sounds great, but it may cause jelly not to jell, or interfere with preservation.
Once you get the hang of it, then you can experiment. Until then, follow directions.
Look for canning jars at garage and estate sales. You will save a lot of $$$$.
Adding to the book library, The Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving, U.S. Dept of Agriculture (2008.)
Ball has a newer book, Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (2006.)
Congratulations on the canning adventure, it's fun, so worthwhile and it'll keep you busy.
As Making Sense wrote, follow directions and do not freelance.
I have the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and like it. It has plenty of pressure-canning recipes and instructions. Pressure-canning is the best way to go, IMO, because you don't have to ruin the flavor of your beautiful tomatoes with bottled (!!) lemon juice like when you water-bath can.
I'm so glad that more people are getting into home canning! After bread baking (and only *after* because I bake bread more often) I find canning to be the most rewarding, even therapeutic, skill I've got. Best of luck with all of it -- I hope you find it to be as satisfying and enjoyable as I do! :)
I concur with the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving - the Ball Blue Book is a canning yearbook that comes out every year, sort of like a magazine. The book is a best of Ball Blue Books, and it has some interesting recipes in it. I do canning demos at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market in the summer, and this is the one book I recommend every new canner get first. You can learn lots of canning info from the National Center for Home Food Preservation http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/ too. I would start off by boiling water canning to start, because you need to learn the basics. Then, if you are comfortable with that, you can move on to pressure canning. Most vegetables are better frozen than canned, though. I am of the mindset that canning tomatoes really isn't worth the effort. I only can things that I can make better at home for less money. IMHO canned tomatoes that taste great can be bought at the store for a good value so I don't waste my canning efforts on them. They are a ton of work - seeding and peeling takes a lot of effort! However, other things made from tomatoes like salsa, ketchup and other sauces I can at home because it is a much better value. If you are interested, check out my stuff on my blog about it:
Hope this helps! I love canning....
Wow mom, I just looked at your blog and you are a canning machine! I don't think I'll achieve your level but have reason to try. This year the garden has grown, so to speak, to about 7,500 square feet with 1,000 square feet of tomatoes and 500 square feet of basil. The thing is really a small farm. One thing you could probably provide a lot of guidance on is how to can pesto sauce which is the intent for most of the basil this year. Please let me know.
If you've never done it before, I'd stay clear away from anything involving a pressure cooker or non-acidic ingredients for the first year. Learn the basic techniques first before you work with something that can kill you if you get it wrong.
Jams, marmalades and pickles of various sorts are a good place to start.
Canning is SO convenient. When I figured out how much time I could save, I started making large (instead of normal) batches of meatballs in sauce, chili, gumbo base etc. and canning the excess for convenience food. So many things aren't any good after freezing...