Canning Tips for Improving Your Food Culture
Canning has become a popular part of the slow food movement which is a growing alternative to fast food. With a few tips, your canning process can become a heck of an arsenal in improving the food culture in your house. If you haven't done a lot of cooking, don't worry, and be brave, it is very rewarding. After all, even experienced cooks should read up on the process they are going to do.
First, read multiple recipes. Read reviews on the recipes to make sure there aren't any problems, especially omissions and just plain yuck-i-ness to contend with. It is much more likely to get a great recipe when someone else has kitchen tested it for you. Also, check the USDA recommendations on what you are canning and follow their guidelines carefully (certain things have a tendency to harbor botulism, particularly green beans). Many .gov sources are there for your safety. But, don't let this scare you off, it is simple to can well, and simple to see when something has gone wrong, too.
Other than safety recommendations, little details like removing the blossom ends of cucumbers because they contain an enzyme that makes pickles soggy (not something you are likely to figure out by yourself), but there are additional tips all over the Internet. Other things you might figure out, but it sure is easier if you don't have to. For example, peach jam is very sweet if you use very ripe peaches. However, if you cut the peaches with a few green ones, you get better flavor. Green peaches, however, don't peel well with blanching like ripe ones do, so don't use really green ones. Also, add the lemon peel as well as the lemon juice, it gives the jam even more zest. I'm assuming these tips work for the sugar-free versions as well, although I've only kitchen tested traditional peach jam.
Canning with a boiling-water canner couldn't be easier. Other than the need to keep from burning oneself, it is as simple as making sure the boiling or near boiling water in the canner is an inch or two over the level of the tops of the jars. Most recipes call for 10-15 minutes of submersion, so just follow the recipe's instructions.
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