Friday, November 5, 2010

Food Canning Made Easy

Food canning is a great way to preserve seasonal vegetables and fruits. Think about all the pumpkin you have available after Halloween decoration! Also, canning produce can save you some serious cash.

Proper canning practices include simple steps.
• Use only high-quality foods which are at the proper maturity and are free of diseases and bruises.
• Use the hot-pack method, especially with acid foods to be processed in boiling water.
• Don’t unnecessarily expose prepared foods to air. Can them as soon as possible.
• While preparing a canner load of jars, keep peeled, halved, quartered, sliced, or diced apples, apricots, nectarines, peaches, and pears in a solution of 3 grams (3,000 milligrams) ascorbic acid to 1 gallon of cold water. You can get ascorbic acid in several forms in the grocery store.

Hot-packing is the practice of heating freshly prepared food to boiling, simmering it 2 to 5 minutes, and promptly filling jars loosely with the boiled food. The juice, syrup, or water to be added to the foods should also be heated to boiling before adding it to the jars. This practice helps to remove air from food tissues, shrinks food, helps keep the food from floating in the jars, increases vacuum in sealed jars, and improves shelf life.

Before every use, wash empty jars in hot water with detergent and rinse well by hand, or wash in a dishwasher. Jars should be kept hot until ready to fill with food. Submerge the clean empty jars in enough water to cover them in a large stockpot or boiling water canner. Bring the water to a simmer (180°F) and keep the jars in the simmering water until it is time to fill them with food.
Fill the sterilized jars with food, add lids, and tighten screw bands.Do not retighten lids after processing jars. As jars cool, the contents in the jar contract, pulling
the self-sealing lid firmly against the jar to form a high vacuum.

Store the jars in a relatively cool, dark place, preferably between 50° and 70°F. Can no more food than you will use within a year.

Source: USDA

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