Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Preserving the LOVE

Here is my homemade squash pickles, dill pickles and zucchini relish
When I was a little girl, my grandmother, Doris had a huge garden. She would make picallily and jams and I was intrigued with the intensive process of canning. She explained that when she grew up you had to use and save everything. People had very little money and preserving your garden is just what people did.
Today, it is sort of a novelty. I learned how to can and preserve from my mother in law when Devin was a baby. Although the process takes hours - even a full day at times, it is magical. I love the feeling of putting back food for my family for the winter. My kids love to help and their favorite part of the process is when the tops seal and "POP!" once you remove them from the hot water.
I love using organic, fresh ingredients in everything I can. If you think it is too difficult, or that it isn't safe, you are wrong! It's easy and very safe and once you experience it, you may experience the historical feeling of nurturing your family in a special way. Every time you pop open a jar, pride fills your heart.

How Canning Works

Courtesy of Mother Earth News

The Science. The more you learn about food science, the more confident you’ll be in the kitchen. This is true for all kinds of cooking, but is especially helpful with food preservation. When you preserve food, you are either trying to freeze time or to encourage specific bacteria to proliferate and crowd out harmful bacteria. Canning is all about freezing time.
With the simplest method of canning — water bath canning — you fill jars with acidic food such as tomatoes, berries or cucumbers in vinegar, cover them with lids and boil them in an open pan of water until a seal forms under the lid. This action forces air out of the food and out of the jar and creates a vacuum in an acidic environment in which bacteria will not thrive.

Water bath canning can provide you with a number of delicious foods, including jams, jellies, whole tomatoes and pickles, and it’s a great place to start. A more advanced method is pressure canning. It requires a little more skill and some specialized equipment, but it will unlock a wide world of food and flavor options. If you want to put up the main ingredients for many meals, rather than just supporting players and condiments, you’ll need to get into pressure canning. To read about these methods in more detail, check out Learn to Can For Homegrown FlavorWater Bath Canning and Pressure Canning: ExplainedHow to Can Using the Boiling Water Bath Method and How to Home Can: Raw-Packing vs. Hot-Packing.

The Equipment. You can get by without all of the fanciest canning-specific equipment, but you’ll need a few inexpensive basics, most of which are widely available used. A pot that holds enough water to cover whatever size jars you want to use with a little extra room for boiling water is key. Jar lifters are also extremely handy, and of course the jars are a necessity. If you’re serious about putting up a wide range of foods, you’ll also need a pressure canner. New ones can be pricey, but shop around for used options. Your local extension agency should be able to test old pressure canners to make sure they’re still functioning safely, and it’s a good idea to perform this test once each canning season.
The Ingredients. Use only the best, freshest and blemish-free produce, spices and herbs. Buy seasonally to find the best deals. Talk to farmers at farmers markets to see what they’ll have when, so that you can plan your canning time accordingly. Consider making bulk purchases with other canners in order to save even more money. 
The Process. It’s Sunday morning and you’ve just collected your best specimens of perfectly ripe produce. Your clean jars, like ducks in a row, are lined up on the counter and your equipment is at the ready. The next few steps are easy. (1) Prep the ingredients. (2) Fill the jars. (3) Wipe the rims. (4) Screw on the lids and bands. (5) Boil. (6) Remove and cool until you hear the satisfying pop-pop-pops of the seals forming. 
About Safety. There’s no reason to be afraid of canning, because ensuring safety is entirely possible. The basic rules of sanitized canning are simple and practical. That said, it’s important to follow those rules and to use pre-tested recipes. If you decide to experiment with canning recipes, you’ll need a pH meter, and you can learn more about that and all the other important canning concepts at the National Center for Home Food PreservationSee also: Are Old Canning Recipes Safe to Use?

Read more here. 

Last night I canned Tiff's favorite soup! Sweet Potato, Leek and Carrot.
Also, I had TONS of green tomatoes that I needed to pick before the first frost so I made green tomato chutney. There is also a large jar of sweet and sour lemon pickles, which my whole family loved.

~Peace & Love, Dayna & the Sparkling Martin's 

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