Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Lost Art of Food Preservation

For the entertainment of my old, (literally speaking), friend Tony C, for informative reasons to those beginning this process like me, and for a mere journaling of my experience, I thought it worthy to share what I have learned during my first year canning. This is something I would have never imagined myself doing…just like having three children in three and a half years. I would have laughed with Tony C at the mere suggestion. However, times and people change and here we are with canned jalapenos, blueberry jam, tomatoes, and green beans from our very own garden. (Well, not the blueberries, they came from Rabbit Eye Orchard.)

Later in this series of posts, I will share the specific ways I go about canning the above mentioned. But today, I would like to share just some basic information about how we, The Franklins, go about canning. Much of my canning know-how came from this lady…

Also know as Granny Ann. Granny Ann has been doing this more decades than I’ve been alive. She does things a little different; but, it works and for us we’ll feel it is the safest option. (More on that later.)

Here are some tools we use in canning:

  • Pickling Salt (aka, just PLAIN salt)
  • Magnetic lid “grabber”
  • Jar Tongs
  • Spatula and headspace measurer
  • Funnel
This is how we do most of our canning.

By using this method, we save a bit of money on the power it would take to complete this process on the stove and the amount of heat it would produce in already smoldering weather. And again, this is the way Granny does it. Papaw Maney actually use to can over an open fire. Imagine that. I should add that many things can be canned just using a large pot on your stove. We’ve used that method on jalapenos. The first time because we didn’t have our water bath canner and the last time because we ran out of gas! This method worked fine.

Before starting on the specific foods we preserved, here are some helpful hints that I learned this summer. Jars and bands can be reused. Flats, or lids, cannot. Each year you will need new ones to ensure your jars seal properly. I throw my lids in a pot of water on the stove to heat them while I prepare the food. I place my jars on the stove over my warmer to warm them so there will be no shock from going from cold to really hot during the processing of the food. Another way to do this is place them in the oven on a low setting. This would be ideal if you were using a lot of jars. I believe around 150 degrees is recommended. (Honestly, I haven’t taken that much precaution in warming the jars and have been fine. I’m assuming this could cause your jar to break in certain conditions.) Although I don’t know why, you’re supposed to get “air bubbles” out of the jar. I’m still not sure I do this sufficiently?? It would help if I knew why I was supposed to do this.

This leads me to “safety” issues. First, if you choose to can on your stove and it is a glass top be careful. Nana has a friend whose stovetop was broken due to the weight of canning on it. I also know of ladies who have never had a problem. Just a warning in case you don’t know. I personally err on the side of caution and choose not to can several quarts on the glass stovetop. Second, we choose not to use a pressure canner. Accidents are a huge possibility when using a pressure cooker for canning. Granny says Geneva got her hand almost clear cut off and Betty was picking beans out of her curtains months later after a jar exploded. Granny said she stopped using a pressure canner when that happened to Geneva. I did have some reservations about this at first. Especially since all my friends were using pressure canning; however, after much thought we decided what we were doing was safe and fine. I’ll go into more of those reservations when I get to how we can our green beans.

So, all that being said…I look forward to inviting you into my kitchen. Join me tomorrow when I talk about an easy option to preserve tomatoes.


Persis said...

I've never done canning. Maybe I'm intimidated by all the boiling water, but I'm looking forward to reading your posts.

(I wonder if removing the air creates the vacuum seal which keeps bacteria from entering the jar?)

Ma said...

Now that looks like a lady who knows food preservation:)

I'll be checking in on the rest of your posts!

Petra said...

I will have to echo Ma on that one! :-)