By Camille Rhoades
I have so many memories of picking apricots from that huge tree in my grandparentsí backyard. I canít say I loved the process as a child, but now I miss it. We would pick, clean, prepare, and can them.
Canning Procedure Basics
Mom and Grandma were at the head of the efforts, and I was mostly just a grumbling kid. The canning didnít stop with apricots. Anything we could get our hands on at a good price would be canned and used throughout the year.
As much as I grumbled back then, I now find myself wishing for the taste of those wonderful canned fruits and vegetables. The canned fruit I purchase at the store just doesnít taste like Grandmaís fruit. And my momís homemade salsa is so yummy! It just canít be matched by grocery store versions. Those fresh ingredients, the best picks off the tree, and all canned with Grandmaís special touch. So if I love it so much, why donít I have a storage room full of my own stock? One word can answer that Ė intimidation!
Thatís right, even growing up around that, I am absolutely intimidated to the point that I have never done it for my own family. So, for those of us that find this procedure intimidating but interesting, where can we start? He are some pointers and guidelines to get us started!
1. Use the best, top quality ingredients. Preserve fruits and vegetables at their peak of ripeness.
2. Use current, tested recipes. Recipes should include:
The appropriate heat processing method for the type of food being canned
Specific processing times for the specific food and jar size you are using
Appropriate headspace for the food and jar size
3. Follow manufacturer's directions regarding preparation of mason jars.
4. Fill hot jar with prepared recipes, leaving recommended headspace. Remove air bubbles by sliding a nonmetallic utensil between food and glass and pressing gently on food to release trapped air.
5. Wipe jar rim and threads with a clean, damp cloth removing any stickiness. Center hot SNAP Lid on jar.
6. Apply screw band just until fingertip tight (meaning apply band securely using your fingertips-not the full force of your hand). Do NOT over-tighten.
7. After processing, remove jars from canner and set upright on a towel in a draft-free place. Do NOT retighten screw bands or check for seal while jars are hot.
8. Cool processed jars upright for 24 hours.
9. After 24 hours, check seals. Sealed lids curve downward and do not move when pressed. (Reprocess or refrigerate any unsealed jars.) For all sealed jars, remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired.
10. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place. For best quality, use home canned foods within one year.
Those tips should be enough to get us all started! For more detailed information and recipes, the internet has a wealth of information on this topic. May I suggest that you invite a friend or family member and make this activity about friendship rather than just canning.
Also, try some of your familyís tried and true recipes first. Then, when you get it right it will taste just like grandmaís, and yours may just be the most popular kitchen in the family for a while! And above all, have confidence! Before you know it you will be cooking up canned goods just like Grandma and enjoying your efforts all year long!
* DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions! Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *