I usually opt for seasonal fruits and vegetables when I cook. Though there are times when I'd like to enjoy my favorites all year round. Consequently, I've recently discovered canning, a method of preserving food that has been around for quite a while. This method is a great alternative as it also saves me money at the grocery, where fruits and vegetables outside of their season tend to fetch a hefty cost. In addition, I'd rather avoid canned foods from the grocer as unnecessary, synthetic preservatives are often used. Preparing your own, however, would mean that you'd know what exactly is in your food.
How to go about it:
1. Purchasing fruits and vegetables: When certain fruits or vegetables are in season, stop by your local farmers market and stock up on fruits or vegetables you wish to 'can'. 10 to 20 cucumbers, for instance, could fetch for less than $7 when they are in season.
2. Collecting the jars you need: When getting started on canning, the first thing you need to consider is the jar. Mason jars are a good option, and their seals are reusable. Other jars, such as reusable mayonnaise or salad jars may be used in the 'water bath' method, but not in the 'pressure cooker' method, as such jars cannot stand high temperatures.
3. The water bath method: This method simply involves placing the jar in a boiling pot of water till it is sealed. This method is perfect for beginners. It's also ideal for high-acid foods such as jams, jellies, salsas, fruits, fruit fillings, sauces and tomatoes. The pressure cooking method allows for the jars to reach an even higher temperature and can be used for the sealing of low-acid foods such as meat, fish, poultry and vegetables.
4. Executing the water bath method: You will need a funnel, jar thongs, canning rack, magnet stick and head space measuring stick.
Step 1) Wash and sanitize the jars in warm, soapy water or in the dishwasher. Place the lids in boiling water.
Step 2) Prepare the recipe and fill your jars using a funnel.
Step 3) Place the lids on the jars.
Step 4) Use the rack to place the jars into the boiling water and boil for the required time.
Step 5) Use tongs to remove the jar from the boiling water and allow it to cool. To make sure that the jars have sealed properly, you should be able to press down the middle of the lid and not hear a 'pop' sound.