Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Canning Produce for the Winter( if it makes it that long!)



Here in Florida I am lucky to have a fresh garden most of the year, summer being the leanest because of the heat.

So, canning usually happens when I have excess to harvest.  I like to do small batches as they can be done quickly when you only have an hour.

But being from the North, I sure miss my New York and New Jersey tomatoes and peaches. So this year I decided to bring them back from New York after our trip there. I bought them from my favorite market in Oneonta, Annutto's Farm Stand.

I bought one box (1/2 bushel) of peaches and 2 boxes of Roma tomatoes (25 lbs each).  They lasted 3 days without refrigeration while we drove home to Florida.

When I got home after 4 weeks away, I had a harvest of hot peppers waiting for me here. So I made hot sauce to can while I was at it.

Although canning is so satisfying to the soul , it is work and one should plan on hours spent if buying bulk or if your garden produces bulk.

Here's what I "put-up":
   19 pints Lite Raw Pack Peaches
   4 pints Cinnamon Peaches, 2 with a hot pepper added to test!
   8 pints Seasoned Tomato Sauce (with garlic, oil, onion and salt and pepper only)
   14 pints Stewed Tomatoes
   6  6 oz. jars of Hot Pepper Sauce made with Cubanelles, Pasillas, Serrano, Fish, Bulgarian and Ancho peppers and vinegar.

I did it in batches over the weekend, spending 2-3 hours at a time, total time about 8 hours.

Canning is easy and not to be afraid of, success is a given if the basic principles are followed:
  1. Cleanliness is #1 priority.
  2. Get a basic book on caning like the Ball 'Blue Book Guide to Preserving"canning Book and READ it first.
  3. Get a canner with a rack and the tool kit. Makes easy work of canning!
  4. Start with small batches to learn.
  5. High acid foods like fruits (tomatoes are a fruit) can be canned in a hot water bath.
  6. Low acid foods like most veggies and meats have to be canned in a pressure canner.
  7. Clean your jars and lids with soap and water even if new.
  8. Sterilize jars and keep hot untill ready to fill.
  9. Leave correct space in top of jar, called "headspace".
  10. Remove air from jar and clean edge of jar with damp CLEAN dishcloth before putting on seals and lids handtight.
  11. Process for required time for the recipe, usually 10-25 minutes, keeping 2 inches water over jars.
  12. Cool and wait for that magic POP which lets you know you have a good seal!
  13. After cooled, check for seal by pressing center of lid (should no longer give).
  14. If any jars have not sealed, just put into frig and use those first. I have canned many times and have always had good seals.
Try it, the taste is so much better than store bought because your produce was at the peak of ripeness!

The Canning Kit