Thursday, August 09, 2012

Canning 101: Preparing for Food Storage

A lot of people enjoy gardening and consider it a hobby. For others, it is all about preparing for an event. Whether you are concerned about a natural catastrophe occurring and cutting off your food supply or you are more concerned about a financial doomsday crisis, gardening can be the lifesaver for you and your family. Canning the vegetables and fruits you grow can keep your family well-fed for several years. The key is learning the proper way to can them.

Tools needed
Pressure Canner: This large pot actually has the ability to pressure cook as it can reach much higher temperatures than a pot on a stove can normally reach. It is also the perfect tool in which to boil your jars of food in before sealing them.
Large Pot: This will be used for boiling some of the preserves and fruits you can, as well as pickled vegetables.
Canning Jars with Seals: Mason jars that come with sealed rings and lids are the safest method of preserving your food.
Funnel: This will be used to fill the jars.
Tongs: These will be used for lifting hot jars from the pressure canner or pot.
Cloth: You will need several clean cloths for wiping down the jars and lids for the safest and cleanest storage.

The Canning Process
The first step you need to take is sterilizing process by boiling all of the jars and lids for at least ten minutes. While you can remove the jars, you should leave the lids in the sterilized water just to be certain that they do not accidentally get contaminated. Once your jars and lids have been sterilized, you can determine which foods you are going to can first. Tomatoes are often a great thing to store as they can be used in a wide variety of different dishes. To can tomatoes, you will need to be concerned about improper acid levels turning them brown. To reduce browning, simply add a little bit of lemon juice to the tomato mixture.

You may also wish to pickle some vegetables. Cucumbers, beans, zucchini, and onions are all popular vegetables to be pickled, but the truth is that you can pickle just about everything. In case of a doomsday event, the more options you have for you and your family will keep the taste buds happier.

If you are going to pickle vegetables, you need to make a pickling solution made up of a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water, along with pickling salt, and some spices, such as garlic. Once the pickling solution is boiled on the stove, you can then add it to the containers that you have filled with your vegetables to be pickled making sure to only fill up to about a half-inch from the top of the jar. This is part of the next step.

If you or your family members have a sweet tooth, consider also canning some fruit jams and jellies. Jams are typically composed of fruit, pectin, sugar and lemon juice. With jams, the sugar acts as the antibacterial agent.

When your vegetables or fruits are ready to be poured in the jars, you will find that your funnel comes in very handy. Simply fill the jars and then pour whatever liquid you are using, either boiling water, pickling liquid, or juice. Again, the liquid should be at least a half inch from the top. Once it is filled and there are no air bubbles, you can then place the seals and lids on the jars. Afterwards, wipe down with a clean cloth to remove any debris that may be on the outside of the jar and lid. Processing the jars in the pressure cooker is the next step, and the key to success is to make sure that you have enough water to cover the jars completely. They also must be placed in the pot in a way that they do not touch each other. Each vegetable will require a different time period in the cooker, and this is something you will need to research for each vegetable you prepare. Once the processing is done, use the tongs to pull out the jars for cooling. In this step of the process, you will hear them pop as this is the jars sealing themselves, this is the sound of a successful canning. Last, you simply need to label each jar and store in a cool, dry place. Canning 101 may sound like a lot of work, but the truth is that the results are worth it. In a scenario where you cannot get to the store for fresh food or you fear for your safety when leaving your home, the results of your canning can be what keeps you and your family comfortable.

I’m Vanessa and I wrote this guest-post on behalf of PartSelect, online retailer of household appliance parts.

Photo Credits:
Canning
Pressure Canner

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