Archive for the ‘Canning’ category

Jam, jam, jam

September 19th, 2011

I have broken another canning barrier and moved from pickles to jams.  With what seemed like an overabundance of fresh BC fruit in the stores, it was hard to resist.  The ripe smell of blueberries, peaches and plums drifted through the air of the produce section, and I was helpless to resist. I came home with two bags full of fruit and set about putting up a dozen jars of jam – six blueberry, six plum.

Biscuits and jam

The plum jam comes from a recipe by Julie van Rosendaal on Parents Canada.  It starts out as big chunks of firm, golden plums with purple skins, and ends up a soft, ruby-hued jam.  The blueberry jam is made with lemons and honey and comes from Tart and Sweet: 101 Canning and Pickling Recipes for the Modern Kitchen.

Tea time

I’m still thinking of making a few more batches of jam to see me through the winter.  I’d like to have enough stashed away so that I can give some away at the holidays, maybe take some out to the coast for my sister.  I think I’ve put every single canning book on hold through my library, so we’ll if inspiration strikes.

Dilled pickles

August 22nd, 2011

First taste of this year's pickles

This year’s canning has once again expanded by a single vegetable.  The first year I taught myself to preserve veggies in jars, I started with a simple green bean pickle.  The second fall’s canning included a batch of spicy cauliflower pickles.  2011 has brought five pounds (so far) of dilled cucumber pickles, along with the usual batch of beans.  For some reason, I’ve always been afraid to make a batch of these standbys.  Canning wasn’t something I ever watched my mom or my grandma do each year, so every new batch of preserves begins with a spoonful of trepidation.

After putting up five jars of stubby Hutterite cukes, I’m not sure why I was so scared of these.  The process was just as simple as my standard bean pickles, and the results, tested early this weekend, were sour, crispy and farm-picked fresh.  I can’t wait to see how the flavours evolve over the winter and am thinking of filling another ten jars this weekend.

5 pounds of pickling cucumbers, washed but left whole
5 tablespoons of pickling salt
10 big heads of dill, gone to seed
15 cloves of garlic, peeled but whole
5 tsp whole black peppercorns
white vinegar
cold water

The night before you’re going to pickle the cucumbers, toss them in a big bowl of ice water and leave them in the fridge overnight.  This should help them stay crispier after being canned.
The day of the canning, start by sterlizing 5 wide mouth mason jars.  I boil mine for 10 minutes in my giant canning pot, but you can use a dishwasher with a sterlization setting.
While the jars are bubbling away, immerse the sealing lids into a pan of hot, but not boiling water.
Get all your ingredients ready to go so you can quickly stuff the jars while they are still hot.
Pull the jars out of the canner, pour out all the water and line them up, ready to stuff.  They’ll be very, very hot, so you’ll want to use heavy potholders or silicone oven mitts to hold onto them.
For each jar, put in 1 tbsp of salt, 2 heads of dill, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp of peppercorns and then stuff with the cucumbers.  You want to pack the cukes in as tightly as possible to stop them from floating in the liquid.
Once the jar is stuff, fill halfway with vinegar, them the second half with water, leaving an inch of headspace at the top of the jar.
Remove a lid from the hot water, screw on the band tightly and set aside while you fill the remaining jars.
Once all five jars have been filled, lower them carefully into a canner full of boiling water. Make sure the water covers the tops of the jars by at least an inch.
When the water has returned to a boil, start the timer and process the jars for 10 minutes, plus additional time depending on your altitude.  I let my jars boil for 20 minutes, them pull the jars out and let them cool overnight on a doubled-over teatowel.
If the jars have sealed correctly, once they’re cool, the lids of the jars should be sucked in towards the pickles, and shouldn’t make a popping sound if pressed in their centres.  If you have any jars that haven’t properly sealed, you can keep them in the fridge and eat them over the next few weeks.  Otherwise, solidly sealed jars should keep for ages in a cool, dark space.

For more detailed canning information, I find the Bernardin site is an invaluable resource.

Note: You’ll notice I don’t boil my brine before adding it to the jars.  This is how I’ve done my pickled beans for three years running, and I find they stay extremely crisp and have had no problems with pickles going bad.  The important part seems to be the amount of salt and the 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water in each jar.  If you feel more comfortable using a hot brine, by all means, go ahead.

Pickled Beans

September 9th, 2009

beans

So I got it into my head to try some canning this fall. The veggies at the market have been glorious this year – huge cauliflowers, long, snappy beans, piles of potatoes and carrots everywhere. I’d been reading a bunch of canning and preserving cookbooks from the library, and finally settled on Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It: And Other Cooking Projects by Karen Solomon. She’s got some fantastic recipes in this book – homemade marshmallows (on the list to try), crackers (tasty and easy to make with the Kitchenaid pasta roller), pickles, jams, cheese… the list goes on and on, and everything looks so tasty.

pickled beans

Her pickled bean recipe looked easy enough, and with confirmation from Irma Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking, I was ready to go. The hardest part of the canning process was waiting for the water to boil, so I’ll be putting up a lot more jars of goodies over the next few weeks. Now I just need a bigger pantry to store them all in…

3 lbs green and yellow beans
12 cloves of garlic
6 big, fresh dill flowers
3 tbsp peppercorns
6 tsp salt
3 cups vinegar (approximately)
filtered water

For the exact canning procedure, I’ll let you refer to either Solomon’s or Rombauer’s books. My basic method was to prep the jars and lids in boiling water, then divide the ingredients in 3 and fill the jars. The lids were screwed on, the jars popped back into the canner full of boiling water, and 15 minutes later (due to the altitude) I had 3 very hot jars of pickled beans.

Some good online pickling guides:

  • Well Preserved
  • Bernardin (Canadian site)
  • National Center for Home Food Preservation
  • Canning Primer
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