Canning is a time honored tradition that seems to be making a comeback. Not so long ago, people canned out of necessity. They needed to stock their pantries in order to survive the winter. There was no local food store, no Johnnies, to hit up on “try before you buy Fridays”. But there are people who continue to can, and we do so because we choose to can. It brings out that “pioneer woman meets Martha Stewart” in all of us. Ok, maybe not in all of us? But I do like that I can make my own salsa, my own way, without all of the chemicals and preservatives. I think it’s an economical practice. And, nothing tastes as good as locally grown, harvested in season, homemade products.
But, canning does comes with a few risks. Just make sure to follow the basic safety requirements. Botulism or food poisoning is probably the biggest risk you face when canning your own food. If you following good canning instructions, than your risk of botulism is no different than consuming commercially canned food. So, don’t skimp on cooking time or sanitation. The rules are there for a reason. And if you aren’t sure about the basics, there are plenty of websites online that you can use to double check your facts and figures.
Johnnies carries most of the supplies that you need for canning. Canning jars, lids/rings, “jar tongs”, canning racks, funnels, large pots and labels.
One of the easiest vegetables to can is tomatoes. Wait a minute, maybe tomatoes are a fruit? Who knows. I do know that my family loves salsa. Every year I run out of my homemade salso before the return of local tomatoes in July. So every year I can more salsa.
This year: 28 pint jars. Let’s see how long it lasts.
6 lbs. fresh tomatoes (about 18 medium) or 6 (14.5 oz.) cans of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup white or cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon crushed, dried red pepper (more or less depending on how much of a kick you want….)
1 T. parsley
1/2 cup dried onion flakes
2 T. dried, minced garlic
2 T. canning salt
1 T. black pepper
If using fresh tomatoes, wash and scald 3 minutes in boiling water. Dip into cold water. Cut out cores, remove skins and chop coarsely. If using canned tomatoes, do not drain liquid.
Combine tomatoes, vinegar and seasonings in a large pot and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
Sneak a taste, at this point ’cause the salsa is ready to eat.
1) Pour into freezer containers and let cool. Store up to 1 year.
2) Pour hot salsa into clean, sterilized pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch space at the top of the jar. Tightly cap each jar when filled. Process 40 minutes in boiling water bath. Test jars for airtight seals according to manufacturer’s directions. Store up to one year. (If jars do not completely seal, refrigerate and use within one week.)
This recipe should yield approximately: 7 pint jars.
Cucumbers are another really easy thing to can. Actually, maybe this is more about pickling than canning because I don’t actually process them in a boiling water bath. (Which, in my opinion, is the worst part of canning anything.) So when it comes to cucumbers, we are really talking about making pickles. We love both sour pickles (warning, these are really sour!) and refrigerator (sweet) pickles.
Here are our recipes for both.
1 quart of apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup mustard seed
2 quarts of cucumbers
Thoroughly wash pickles. Cut off the ends and cut into spears. (If your cucumbers are on the small size, feel free to leave them whole.) Fill jars with pickles.
Boil vinegar, sugar, salt and mustard seed. Pour hot liquid into jars one at a time. Capping each jar tightly one at a time. This should be enough heat to allow the jars to seal.
This recipe should yield about 5 pint jars.
1 qt. vinegar
1 qt. sugar
1/3 cup salt
1 1/2 tsp. celery seed
1 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
1 1/2 tsp. turmeric
approximately, 2 quarts of cucumbers
Mix all ingredients but the cucumbers and onions together until the sugar is dissolved. This mixture does not have to be heated. Fill quart jars with thinly sliced, unpeeled cucumbers. Slice one onion into each jar. Fill jars with syrup mixture; cover with lid and store in refrigerator. Keep refrigerated. Can be stored for several months.
This recipe should yield 2-3 quart size jars.
I would put canning green beans in the “more advanced” category on the canning scale of difficulty. Green Beans are a low acid food. So, in order to can them properly, you have to process for a really, really, really long time. (Unless you have a pressure cooker, of which I know nothing about. But I do know that the cooking time is less. You might have to consult another “expert” for this information.) Once the beans are cleaned, snapped, and packed in jars……fill the jars with water and add a 1 teaspoon of salt per quart jar. Wipe jar rims and cap with a lid and ring. Then, add them to your canner. Turn up the heat. Once the water is boiling, you must “process” in the boiling water for 3 hours. Yeah, 3 hours. So, make sure you have enough propane (if you’re using your grill burner) or that you don’t have anywhere to go for awhile. But, believe me when I say, they are so worth the time and effort.
Johnnies has this little tool specifically for cutting the tips off of your green beans. Once you get the hang of it, it works pretty quickly.
My pantry is stocked for the winter. Full of the homemade goodies that we love so much.