Thursday, November 14, 2013

Crazy for Canning!

Well hello blog!  It's been a while.  I'm sorry I've been cheating on you with my latest obsession in food preparation and preservation. 

It's true.  I'm officially obsessed.  Who knew that canning was so fun and satisfying !  I have been a canning fool, spending entire days in the kitchen, and neglecting things like my blogs, my chores, and basically anything else that doesn't have to do with cooking.  Between my dehydrator and canning, I've been a busy girl!  So how about I share my accomplishments with you, my trusty blog audience.

First off, I always figured canning was for, shall I say, old.... fashioned, kind of people.  Why should I care about canning stuff?  I'm not into jam so I guess canning isn't for me.  Do you find yourself thinking this way too?  Well, what I have learned is that canning is super easy!  It IS however a little time consuming.  

Here's why I love canning:

I KNOW what's going into my food.  Unlike when you buy food off the shelves at the grocery store, I can be certain what I am eating.

I KNOW how old it really is.  Sure, food has expiration dates on them when you buy jars of things at the store but when were they actually made?  How fresh is it?

I can buy super deals in bulk and can a bunch of things at once to save money in the long run.  

It saves for a very long time and doesn't take up space in my refrigerator or freezer.

I have emergency food on hand in case of a disaster.

When I'm ready to cook a meal, it's convenient to have food at my fingertips that only needs heating up or tossed in a dish.

How To Can

So how do you can something?  Well first off, there are two basic ways.  The first is the most common and simple to do, even if you don't have fancy tools.  It is water bath canning and is best used for acidic foods with a Ph lower than 4.6.  Always make sure you are following recipes that insure you have enough acidity for this method.

The second is pressure canning.  I do not know much about this method yet but I hope to learn after Christmas.... wink, wink.  Maybe Santa will put one under the tree for me this year.  

I have made a quick video on the basics to water bath canning.  You can also check out the direction on the Ball website for more tips and tricks, do's and don'ts.

Check out the Ball canning directions from their web site HERE.

Things (and recipes) I've canned so far:

  • Crushed Pineapple - same technique as the chunks, but smaller jars
  • Applesauce - In my fabulous canning book, Canning For A New Generation, it suggests to use many different varieties of apples for a full, complex flavor.  Bonus:  I didn't need to add ANY sugar because it was so sweet and flavorful.
  • Apple Juice - I used all of the leftover skins and cores from my applesauce, plus about 4 extra apples and just juiced it all.  To get extra juice out of it, I then boiled the pulp in a large pot of water and then strained out the chunks.  Because it was a little more diluted, I did end up adding a little simple syrup to mine.
  • Ketchup - more on this in an upcoming post
  • Pasta Sauce - I used this recipe from Wellness Mama, then added a tbsp of lemon juice in the bottom of each jar when I canned it.
  • Pizza Sauce - For my pizza sauce I added some tomato paste to my pasta sauce to make it thicker and a bit more basil and then cooked it down a bit before canning.  This time, since I used half pint jars, I only added 1 tsp of lemon juice to the bottom of the jars.
  • Salsa - There are tons of salsa recipes out there.  The one I used was not fantastic but I hope to get it right next time!  Since it is also a tomato based sauce, you simply need to find a recipe you love and then add lemon juice to the jar to make sure the acidity is high enough.

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