Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Traditional Way of Preserving Food

The most widely known and used way of preserving food is canning. Canning was first discovered in the 18th century in France when Napolean Bonaparte offered a cash award of 12,000 francs to anyone who could find a way to successfully preserve food to keep it fresh for his armies, who were then fighting in a war. After fifteen years, Nicolas Appert, a confectionist and brewer, was the one to succeed. He put fresh foods into glass jars, corked them, and them heated them to certain high temperatures by boiling them. The cork seal kept bacteria out, and the heating process killed off the bacteria inside the jar that would have ruined the food.

The same basic process is used today. This process kills the bacteria without destroying the nutrients in the food. Fruits and vegetables are canned at the peak of harvest, which is also when they are at the peak of their nutrition. Since very few nutrients are lost in canning, canning a very good way of food preservation.

There are two basic ways of canning foods, pressure canning and hot water bath canning. Which method you use depends upon the recipe and the type of food you are canning. If you want to can a certain food, you should find a recipe for canning that certain food and follow it. However, the steps following for preparing the jars before hand are the same.

STEP 1: As when dealing with any type of food preparation, wash your hands and any surface you will be using. Make sure you keep your hands clean during the whole process. Even touching a non-food item warrants another trip to the sink to wash!

STEP 2: Wash the jars, seals, and rings in hot soapy water and sterilize the jars. To sterilize them, boil them for 10 minutes. Add an additional minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level. Place the clean, sterilized jars upside down on a clean towel. Place another clean towel on top of them to keep the dust off.

STEP 3: Prepare the food you are planning to can according to the recipe for that particular food. Different types of food have to be processed different ways for canning.

STEP 4: Fill the jars. A funnel will make this easier for liquids or small chunks of food. For larger foods, such as green beans, arrange them so you can fit the most in. Add the preservative the recipe calls for, usually salt, sugar, or a type of acid, like lemon juice. Pour any liquids, syrup, or brine in that your specific recipe calls for. Leave a space, usually 1/8 of an inch to an inch depending on the recipe, at the top of the jar.

STEP 5: Run a long plastic knife around the edges of the jar, and shake or gently tap it to remove any air bubbles that have accumulated.

STEP 6: Carefully wipe the rim of the jar off with a clean, damp cloth. If the rim is not clean, it will not seal properly.

STEP 7: Boil some water in a saucepan and remove it from the heat. Place the seals in the water and leave them for a minute so the seals can soften. Make sure they do not get stacked on top of each other.

STEP 8: Remove the seals from the water with tongs or a magnetic lid wand. After the seal is placed on top of the jar, tilt the wand to release the seal. DO NOT touch the seal with your hands.

STEP 9: Put the ring on the jar, and tighten it. Process the jar according to the recipe you choose to follow.

** For specific information on using your pressure canner, refer to the instructions for your specific canner. Follow the directions for canning specified in each recipe.

You also use the same basic method of handling the processed jars afterwards regardless of whether you use a pressure canner or hot water bath.

STEP 1: Remove the jars using a pair of jar tongs, and place them on a clean towel.

STEP 2: Cover all the processed jars with another clean towel to keep the draft off of them.

STEP 3. Listen for the wonderful "POP!" that tells you that your treasures have been sealed inside.

STEP 4: Check each seal by pressing the middle of the lid down. If it presses down or pops back up, it is not sealed properly. Immediately refrigerate any unsealed jars.

STEP 5: Wipe the jars down to clean any residue off from the canning process.

STEP 6: Label each jar according to their contents and the date they were canned.

For a more detailed explanation, see this article on "Instructionables".

My 6 year old helping to
pick apples last year.
(Note: This recipe can be doubled, tripled, or more.)


* 6 apples
* 3/4 cup water
* 1/4 cup sugar (optional)
* 1 tsp ground cinnamon


* Pick or purchase your apples. Find fruit that is ripe and as blemish-free as possible.
Our tree gave us
a lot of apples!
* Prepare the jars according to the above directions.
* Wash, core, peel the apples.
* Cut them into chunks ( about 1" by 1").
* Put the apples and water into a pot, and bring them to a boil.
* Boil for 15 to 20 minutes until they are soft. 
* For chunky applesauce, simply mash them with a potato masher; for smoother applesauce puree the cooked apples with a food processor. We made some each way. My husband prefers the smooth sauce, whereas I prefer the chunky. Return the sauce to the pot to keep it hot.
* Slowly add the cinnamon and sugar, tasting it between each addition. the amount of each that you add will be dependent on the type of apples you use and your personal preference.
This is only a portion of our bounty!
* Using the funnel, carefully fill your jars with the hot applesauce according the directions above. Leave 1/2" of airspace at the top. If you only fill the jar to the neck, where the line is for the start of the threads, that should be 1/2".
* Bring the water in your hot water bath canner to boiling.
* After removing the air bubbles, cleaning the rim, and placing the lids as directed above, lower the jars into the canner one at a time using your tongs. The water should be one to two inches above the top of the lid.
* Boil for 20 minutes.
* Remove the processed jars and cool as directed above.

(You will need to figure out how many quarts of tomatoes you want to can and prepare accordingly.)


* 3 lbs tomatoes per quart jar you wish to can
* 2 TBSP concentrated lemon juice per quart jar
* 1 tsp salt per quart jar
* 1 tsp sugar per quart jar 


* Pick or purchase ripe tomatoes.
* Prepare the jars as directed above.
* Dip tomatoes in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, until the skin begins to split.
* Quickly place them into ice water for 2 minutes.
* Remove the core and peel the skins, which you can now easily peel off with your fingers. 
* Cut the tomatoes into quarters.
* Place some of the quartered tomatoes in a large pot and crush them with a potato masher, while heating rapidly.
* Gradually add the remaining quartered tomatoes, stirring constantly. You should not have to crush the remaining tomatoes.
* After all the tomatoes are added, boil gently for 5 minutes. Stir constantly.
* Fill your clean, hot quart-sized canning jars with your hot tomatoes, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.
* Add 2 TBSP lemon juice, 1 tsp of salt, and 1 tsp of sugar to each quart jar
* Remove excess air from the jar by running a spatula or bubble freer between the tomatoes and the side of the jar. 
* Wipe jar rims, and cap the jars with properly treated lids. 
* Screw on the bands.
* Place in the hot water bath.
* Bring water to boiling, and boil for 50 minutes.
* Remove and cool cans according to the instructions in this blog.

Author of "The Fanatics"

No comments:

Post a Comment