Gardener123
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Canning, how hard 1 - 10?

I have always wanted to try canning what I grow but never have. I'm an EXCELLENT cook, and yet the thought of canning intimidates me some. Is there a good thing to try first when canning, sort of a no fail canning project, LOL?

I used to make 5 gallons a year of stewed tomatoes for freezing, but that isn't the same, I know.
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Dillbert
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canning is duck simple. it takes more time than the freezing route, but whatever. frankly, having done a lot of both, I personally feel freezing produces the best end results for quite a lot of vegetables. the downside of freezing is you need a freezer and you gotta' pay the electric bill. jars on a shelf don't incur monthly KW usage.

canning requires excellent hygiene and scrupulous attention to detail of the best time and temp techniques.

essentially all vegetable canning is currently recommended via a pressure canner (i.e overgrown pressure cooker)

do not dig out the Ball canning guide from the 50's and think that's current.

the old boiling water bath was fine in its day; the boiling point of water has not changed, but tomatoes (for example) have changed. today's hybrid varieties are bred for low acidity - so once canned the acidity level may not be sufficient to prevent growth of botulism.

pressure canners achieve a temperature that will kill the botulism spores, boiling water baths will never reach the required temperature.

canning is not hard, not a lot of mystical techniques involved, just pay attention to the details and follow the best practices.

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My understanding is that hot water bath canned high sugar preserves are the safest and easiest to start with. :D

So thats where I started. Then I moved ahead to vinegar brine pickles, and eventually to tomatoes. I follow the recipes in the new edition Ball and some other books as well as read up on the latest published recommendations, including adding acid (lemon juice or citric acid) to tomatoes, etc.

My next phase is pressure canning. 8)

Gardener123
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Ha Dilbert.....

I actually have that book, but also a Ball book from just a few years ago, so I guess I will try to dig up the new one.
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I do water bath canning of tomatoes, pickles, and high sugar preserves/ jams/ jellies. It has all gone well and is definitely not hard. As people noted, just be sure you boil the jars before you put stuff in them and keep everything clean. Other veggies I freeze. A lot of times, I don't freeze raw veggies, I make them into things (pesto, lasagna, soup, casseroles, etc) and freeze that. It does take up a bit more room that way, but I like the results.
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If I were telling someone else how to can and I am extremely scrupulous about cleanliness and very careful about any non-acid veggies, I would tell them to get the newest canning books also. However I've wondered why so many of the directions have changed over the years. I always pressure canned all veggies and meats according to the old books (now your suppose to presser them longer) but jams and jelly's were poured hot into sterilized jars, sealed and turned upside down for 30 min. Not water bathed. My dill pickle recipe is not cooked at all, the same as sauerkraut. Also a lot of the relishes were not canned, just pured hot into sterile jars and sealed. A friend gave me a new Ball book and the recipes and directions are so scary now I doubt if I ever would have started canning. I'm going to do some research and see if the new way is safer and necessary. I don't want to poison use but it is hard to change the way you've done something for over 30 years.
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Ozark Lady
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Jams, jellies, and relishes are a great place to start.

You do need a modern recipe. And... you need to know your elevation.

Your elevation does affect how long you need to process jars.

Canning pickles is easy, making edible pickles is another story. I no longer even try for decent pickles. Relish is easy, but be sure you follow a recipe exactly, because with not enough high acid foods or vinegar added they can not be boiling water canned and must be pressure canned.

Pressure canning is not difficult, but it is time consuming.
Once you get going, you will find that canning is a lot of fun.
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LA47
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Okay! I'm glad I did some investigating. You should definately use the newer canning books and follow the instructions. I will be tossing my older ball canning book and use the new one only.
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ElizabethB
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I preserve figs every year. Last year I canned (jared) tomatoes. I have also done pickles. YEARS ago I found a canning kit at WalMart. The pot, rack, tongs and magnet stick all in one kit. Don't know if they still have that. Yes more labor intensive than freezing but some things just do better canned. I tried both with my tomatoes and the frozen maters did not last as long. Canning also alows for dding seasoning. The figs are a mix. Most canned but some partially peeled, tossed with sugar and frozen. Have to use them fairly quickly even with a manual defrost freezer. Hate freezer burn.

This link has some good info applicable to all regions.

:oops: wrong link. Be right back with the correct one.

Just some basic info

https://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/food_heal ... fruits.htm

Good luck

BTW - I am big time lazy when it comes to preservation of fruits and veggies. I do love my fig preserves and I am glad I canned some of my wonderful tomatoes last summer. The pickles I can live without. They were good just not something I want to spend that much time and effort on. Now my pickled jalapenos are a must do again also sweet banana peppers.

My complaint with freezing veggies with a high water content is that they get mushie. Onions, peppers, maters. Can't brown or wilt them if they have been frozen.

Love my veggies, love to cook and love to eat. Grateful for skinny genes. I am disgusting. I can eat any thing and every thing - no high colesterol, no high BP and maintain weight at 130 - 135 lbs. Yeah - thanks Mom. Good genes.
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Re: Canning, how hard 1 - 10?

Cook like you always do except instead of serving it for dinner put it in jars to be canned. Cook in large quantities. Cook a large pot of corn, green beans, carrots, tomatoes, etc. put it all in jars. It is easy.

It is easier than you think. Cook food first, then put it in clean jars, screw on the lids, then put jars in a water bath or pressure cooker full of water, heat it for the correct time and pressure, let it cool, label the jars, put them in the pantry.

I use to help my grandmother and mother can and I have been doing it myself since about 1974. Get a canning book then give it a go. Make up your own short cuts the book will tell you to do things that you do not need to do.

Jars need to be clean with no chips, nothing special like the books say. I put clean jars in my pantry then next summer I rinse out the dust at the kitchen sink they are ready to use. No need to boil jars or lids like the book says.

Tomatoes are full of air so cook them first or your finished jars will be half full. Strain out the skins no need to dip tomatoes 1 at a time for 15 seconds to peal off the skins like the book says that is too slow it will take you all day to can a few jars.

Tomatoes can be canned in a water bath all other vegetables need to be canned in a pressure cooker. No need to add extra vinegar like the book says. No need to add salt either.

Salt will help vegetables hold their color. So what. Leave it out. If someone in the family can not eat salt your can not remove salt later.

Get a book that is direct and to the point. Some authors add lots of extra stuff it makes the book bigger, thicker, lots of extra reading and the buyer thinks it is better. You don't need a bunch of unnecessary reading. Pictures are good if you need them.

Short cuts save time. There is bacteria in the food, on your hands, on your counter top, in your jars, in the air, no need to double or triple your work. Once the cooked food is in the sealed jar in the pressure cooker for the required time bacteria is dead. Bacteria won't be any deader if you do all that extra stuff like boiling jars.

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Re: Canning, how hard 1 - 10?

Gary350 wrote: I use to help my grandmother and mother can and I have been doing it myself since about 1974. Get a canning book then give it a go. Make up your own short cuts the book will tell you to do things that you do not need to do.

Jars need to be clean with no chips, nothing special like the books say.
In the last 39 to 40 years (i.e., since 1974), not only has science increased its understanding of how food grows, various soil microbes, and so on, but previously non-threatening bacteria have become antibiotic-resistant and even the foods themselves have changed. Threats to food safety have increased; how many cases of salmonella, E. coli, and hepatitis were reported in the '70s in vegetables, fruit, and meat? These days, many more of them are, and in produce, which used to be considered "safe."

Last week's newspapers and news sites reported on berries sold at two very large chains of stores being the source of a hepatitis A outbreak. Yesterday's news site and today's newspaper reported that a local pharmacy technician at an unrelated store who went to work, perhaps not knowing he/she was contagious, provided those "bugs" an additional way to spread. Many people had to get new prescriptions because of the possibility of contamination.

Therefore, "short cuts" are not a good idea. Jars need to be intact, no cracks or chips, and as close to sterile as you can get them. The glass jar part can be run through the dishwasher and allowed to air dry. Do not touch the jars until the food is ready to be poured into them. The screw-on bands can be placed into a pan of boiling water. Turn the water off as soon as the bands are submerged and, again, do not touch them until you're ready to screw them onto the filled jars. The flat part of the lid can be hand-washed with good old hot, soapy water, rinsed with hot water, and then placed in another pan/container of boiling water which, again, is turned off as soon as the "flats" are submerged, there to wait until the jar is filled with food.
Gary350 wrote: Tomatoes are full of air so cook them first or your finished jars will be half full. Strain out the skins no need to dip tomatoes 1 at a time for 15 seconds to peal off the skins like the book says that is too slow it will take you all day to can a few jars.

Tomatoes can be canned in a water bath all other vegetables need to be canned in a pressure cooker. No need to add extra vinegar like the book says. No need to add salt either.

Salt will help vegetables hold their color. So what. Leave it out. If someone in the family can not eat salt your can not remove salt later.
I won't go into recipes in this post because the original question was, How difficult is canning? but I will say that 1) there are ways to get the skin off of many tomatoes (a panful of them!) at once, 2) they must be canned according to directions, and 3) if the recipe says "add acid," then add it. The acidity of tomatoes in 1974 was probably higher than it is today, whether we're talking about hybrids or heirlooms (non-hybridized varieties). Acid (also referred to as "the pH level") helps kill both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria.

Pressure canning raises the effective temperature inside the jars, killing different types of bacteria above and beyond those susceptible at 212 deg F (100 deg C). The most important one is Clostridium botulinum, commonly referred to as botulism. Some forms of botulism are odorless, so prevention through absolute cleanliness in the kitchen is the best defense.
Gary350 wrote:Get a book that is direct and to the point. Some authors add lots of extra stuff it makes the book bigger, thicker, lots of extra reading and the buyer thinks it is better. You don't need a bunch of unnecessary reading. Pictures are good if you need them.

Short cuts save time. There is bacteria in the food, on your hands, on your counter top, in your jars, in the air, no need to double or triple your work. Once the cooked food is in the sealed jar in the pressure cooker for the required time bacteria is dead. Bacteria won't be any deader if you do all that extra stuff like boiling jars.
Pictures help many people understand, at a glance, what the text is telling them to do. For a newcomer to canning, it may be difficult to envision precisely what an author is trying to convey with a written explanation. A photo or illustration/diagram (whether on the web or in a book) definitely helps! :)

Short cuts do not save time if that "saved" time later ends up being spent in the emergency room with a case of raging...uh...food poisoning or, heaven forbid, hepatitis, either of which can cause death in young children or immune-compromised individuals. Cooking may kill most of the bacteria in the food, but washing one's own hands, wiping the counter off (with hydrogen peroxide, if you're really paranoid about what's been on the counter), keeping the utensils the food is being stirred with clean, and keeping the jars, screw bands, and "flats" scrupulously clean as well are all additional--and crucial--steps in safe home canning of foods.

Anyone who has bottle-fed a baby can safely can foods; anyone who has successfully brought off Thanksgiving dinner can safely can foods. If one's home-cooking skills are limited to raw salads, sandwiches, and cakes from a box, home canning (I believe) should probably be started with the real-life assistance of an experienced, safe home canner.

I myself learned canning from books and am also by nature cautious when it comes to food cleanliness! (Food going bad when I can't smell it?! Yikes! :shock: ) I have canned the following produce and products made from them:

--tomatoes
--peaches
--plums
--figs
--pumpkin
--apples (2nd place at county fair for my Gravenstein apple butter!)
--nectarines
--quince
--bananas

Maybe a couple more, but those are the ones I can dredge up out of my brain ATM.

Cynthia H.
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ElizabethB
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Re: Canning, how hard 1 - 10?

Added comments. I have a vacuum sealer. I recently harvested a large amount of green beans from my garden. I cleaned and snapped the beans then scalded them in boiling water for 3 minutes. The beans were still bright green and crisp. I packaged them in vacuum sealed bags and put in the freezer. G hunts and fishes and I have my garden so we have 2 20 cubic foot upright freezers in his shop. They are NOT self defrosting. Yes it is a pain to defrost the freezers on an annual basis but food last much longer than it would in a frost free freezer. I am waiting for my tomatoes to ripen. I make a lovely chunky tomato sauce with fresh basil, onions and garlic that cans beautifully.

G loves pickled jalapeno peppers and sweet banana peppers. He adds that to his salad and omelettes. I boil the jars, lids and rings but cold pickle the peppers. I use white vinegar, sea salt, garlic and, onion. I do my canning the old fashioned way - I do not have a pressure canner. I can fig preserves, tomato sauce, blackberry jam, pickled peppers and a couple of times I have made both sweet and dill pickles.

I well remember my Grandmother salting meat in large crocks. Mom still has some of my Grandmother's crocks. My grandparents lived in the country and for many years had only an ice box - no refrigerator, no running hot water. Water for baths and laundry had to be boiled on the wood burning stove. Meats, vegetables and fruits were preserved either by salting or canning. The methods may be considered obsolete but we never had a problem with food born illness. No e-Coli, no salmonella, no botulism. Not even a plain old stomach upset. Kind of funny that outbreaks of these deadly diseases are more prevalent in this "modern" age than it was when things were much simpler.
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Re: Canning, how hard 1 - 10?

>>these deadly diseases are more prevalent in this "modern" age
my grandparents had a huge garden; they "put up" all the vegetables to keep them and their guests - they ran a large hunting / fishing lodge for a long time. the "pantry" was and entire room wall to wall floor to ceiling (like 18 ft ceilings...) shelves of canned goods.

to provide meat, my grandfather raised/slaughtered rabbits during WW2 rationing. took my grandmother fifty years to consider eating another rabbit....

so - as you asked.... why didn't everybody get sick?

they never irrigated the vegetable garden with water from a sewage ditch. this is what happened where a CA grower got their irrigation water cut off, and the farm foreman decided to pump water out of the local ditch - which was a human/cow sewer. one field of lettuce, thousands of people sick all over the country.....

when livestock was slaughtered, it was carefully butchered; there was no industrial engineer timing them with a stop watch insisting "process X" took too long.
today people buy / can / put up / freeze / use / eat produce from who knows where....and as proven again and again with mass food borne illness outbreaks - "produced" intentionally / willfully / accidentally completely ignoring common sense and practices. and a number of outright illegal operations.....

there are some interesting factoids. for example pork and trichinosis. up until recently the FDA had standing recommendations to cook pork to ashes. why? well, back in the day estimates are some 30% of the USA human population was "infected" by the trichinosis worm/parasite.

most folk lived "down on the farm" so one infected pig infected ten other pigs in the barn which subsequently infected 100 other pigs.... you get the idea - and the pigs were slaughtered and eaten by humans who got infected. so "regulations" came into being and over many years the infected people problem has essentially disappeared, except for wild game and really weird situations.

all the regs/laws only apply to interstate stuff, so actually the problem elimination is a combination of mass production - regulated - and "the kids left the farm" - i.e. a severe decline in homespun food production due to the fact that - gosh, the population got citified, no body left on the farm to eat the old sow.....

and other things changed. today's hybrid tomatoes have far less acid than "your granny's tomato" - some people decline to accept the effects of progress, not much to do about that.

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Re: Canning, how hard 1 - 10?

Hardest part is finding a place to store everything once you get going. It is very addictive and you will soon be canning everything. The food is so much better fresh from your garden to the jars!

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Re: Canning, how hard 1 - 10?

OK, so I was looking in my house and found a Ball Blue book from 2006..... is that new enough?
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Re: Canning, how hard 1 - 10?

Wow

I was just browsing through some old threads and came across this one.

I have been canning for a few years now and this thread looks like it could scare the pants off of anyone that thinks about trying it.

The TRUTH is, be clean follow up to date recipes and it is not very hard. No real shortcuts no skimping on times and you will have some nice bottles when your done.
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Re: Canning, how hard 1 - 10?

I'm a canning junkie!!! It is very easy! Even when you follow ALL the directions. Once you start, you won't be able to stop!

This year I'm going to (if I get a nice crop...looks promising!) try to do fermented pickles verses vinegar brine pickles. I'm VERY excited about it!

I'm a sterility freak... AND, I have REALLY enjoyed this particular thread. I buy cook book and canning books like some women I know buy romance novels.
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