Thursday, January 7, 2010

Canning and how not to be afraid

I know the time of year for canning is now long gone but I got to do some last weekend. It's a good thing Zucchinis seem to last forever! Well, mostly anyways ...

So without allowing myself to waste perfectly good ENORMOUS zucchinis I scoured my canning book for a recipe. I won't bore you with the details but I want to tell you why you don't need to be afraid of canning. Think of it as 3-4 easy small steps depending on what you're doing.

1) Prep ~ Usually for relishes means something is going to be cut up and sitting in a pot with pickling salt overnight & then rinsed off the next day. ~~ So you cut up what you need, throw it in a big stock pot or something stainless steel that will fit it all - sprinkle & mix in the recommended salt & go to bed. SUPER easy right!!

2) Sterilize Jars ~ The next day ~ The recipe tells you how many jars you need - make sure you have them cleaned then set them on a cookie sheet & throw them in an oven set on about 200'F - They can sit in the oven all day if you want to - I just do it first because once I start cooking whatever is in the pot, my mind is on other things. Meanwhile take the snaplids (just the thin round metal part that seals to the jar) and throw them in a saucepan on a back burner on low, just to heat them (no need to boil) - again these can sit there all day as long as there is water in the pan. Oh ya & fill up your canner (the BIG black pot with the wire rack in it) with water and put the burner on medium heat - this sucker takes a while to boil.

3) Cook your mixture ~ If you soaked it overnight make sure it's rinsed well and most of the water has been squeezed out. Add additional ingredients such as sugar, vinegar & spices. Cook for length of time recipe suggests.

4) Pour into Jars & Process ~ Take jars out of oven about 5-10 minutes before cooking is finished to allow them to cool a bit. ~ crank up the heat on the canner to get a boil going~ Once jars cooled slightly (you'll know they are cool enough if the mixture doesn't sizzle when you pour it in) ~ fill jars - remember to add enough liquid to cover the solids ~ wipe jar mouths ~ fish snaplids out of the saucepan and put in place, tighten snapring into place (only handtighten) then place in canner & 'process' as suggested - processing just means boiling them for 'x' amount of minutes.

When processing is done take them out of the canner and let them cool upright on the counter. As they cool the jars will start to 'pop' which means they are sealing - This is a good thing - it means you & your family won't get salmonella poisoning when you finally try whatever you just made.


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