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.