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Canning (XP from WC)

Does anyone can (that's silly, I'm sure someone does!)? Thinking of the summer coming up and all the yummy things, I'd love to be prepared to stock up! I've never canned anything before and would especially love to can tomatoes into tomato paste, sauce etc since that's what I mostly buy for my pantry.

I'd love some tips on recipes and equipment. Thanks! 

Re: Canning (XP from WC)

  • Canning is so much fun, and the quality is awesome.  I'm eating home-canned peaches right now, and they taste like August.  I didn't know August had a taste, but it does! You should start with the Ball Blue Book, it's what everyone uses to can.  It has the USDA approved recipes to water-bath can and pressure can everything.  We bought this water-bath canning set and this pressure canner.  You can get canning jars from any grocery store.  I recommend stocking up when they go on sale, we're constantly running out of jars.

    ETA:  I am more than happy to answer any specific canning questions you have, like "what type of tomatoes should I can for sauce?" or "can I can commercial-type sauce (with onions, garlic, spices, etc...)."  Just ask!

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  • I started canning last year and I got a water bath canning set for cheap at the hardware store. I have made several different kinds of preserves and applesauce.

     

    For PP - I'm going to start other things this year and would love to know what kind of tomatoes you used and also how you did the peaches! We pick peaches around here. Do you leave the skin on?

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  • image rubyiu:

    For PP - I'm going to start other things this year and would love to know what kind of tomatoes you used and also how you did the peaches! We pick peaches around here. Do you leave the skin on?

    Hi!  We used the most plentiful and therefore cheapest tomatoes at the Farmer's Market, called 'Celebrity'.  They're a meaty hybrid for slicing.  So our tomato sauce turned out more watery than if we had used a "paste-type" tomato, which are designed to make sauce out of.  We saute onion and garlic, then add the sauce and a lot of herbs and let that simmer for awhile until it's the right consistency for pasta sauce.  Paste tomatoes would probably make thicker sauce, but then we'd be paying more for homemade sauce than what the good sauce costs at the supermarket.  We about broke even with supermarket prices using 'celebrity.'  'Roma', 'San Marzano' and 'Amish Paste' are common types of paste tomatoes.  We asked our organic produce vendor about a month ahead of time (so early july) for 2 bushels of celebrites once the tomato harvest overwhelmed them in August (they call it "the great tomato flood").  2 bushels made (I think....) 18 pints of sauce.  We live in a townhouse so we can't grow enough tomatoes to be able to can.

    We went to a PYO farm for peaches too.  You do have to slice and pit them before you can them.  That was a ginormous PITA last year, but totally worth it.  This year we bought better supplies.  A Zyliss Soft Skin Peeler and a Peach Pitter, both for less than $20.  I expect canning peaches to be much quicker this year, as I want to can much, much more of then.  We picked 2 bags of peaches (I think the bags at our orchard were half-peck sized...) which made 6 quarts of peaches.  We're eating our last quart now Crying

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  • Start looking in thrift stores / Goodwill-type stores and at garage sales now for cans! You'll have to buy new lids and rings, but as long as the jars aren't cracked or chipped, it's greener and WAY cheaper to buy them used. If you wait til July or August to start looking, you won't have any luck- they'll be all snatched up (at least in my experience)!
  • The most important thing about recipes is to get current versions and follow them EXACTLY. It's dangerous to improvise while canning because it can alter the pH of the final product which can leave you susceptible to food poisoning.Old recipes (and I'm talking decades or more old) may not have current recommendations included. The library usually carries new-ish copies of the Ball Blue book. University extension websites are also great.

    If you want more room to try creative things, freeze instead.

    I don't can much, but my mom cans lots of fruits (raspberries, saskatoon berries, crabapples, peaches, pears, plums, etc.), jams and jellies, pickles (well, those don't need canning, really) and even meats like fish and chicken (but those should be pressure canned and frankly, I don't really like them). Mom grew up in a world without electricity, so she still preserves things the way her mom did out of sheer necessity.

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  • image tokenhoser:

    The most important thing about recipes is to get current versions and follow them EXACTLY. It's dangerous to improvise while canning because it can alter the pH of the final product which can leave you susceptible to food poisoning.Old recipes (and I'm talking decades or more old) may not have current recommendations included. The library usually carries new-ish copies of the Ball Blue book. University extension websites are also great.

    Thank you for mentioning this, this is VERY TRUE.  You cannot improvise while canning.  I like having our own copy of the Ball Blue book b/c I can write things in it so I remember later.  For example, I wrote in the strawberry jam portion "bring to ROLLING BOIL (cannot be stirred down) for 1 minute, or the pectin will not set."

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  • I have a few recipes and canning tops on my blog.  http://www.ecofriendlyandfrugal.com/  And select "Recipes-Canning" on the right explore bar.
  • For tomatoes, I use roma because they are very meaty and don't have a lot of seeds, so they make a good sauce. For peaches, I have instructions here. You can see a full list of things that I can here. I also have recipes for all of my cannded stuff in my blog.
  • I much prefer the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving to the Ball Blue Book.  I wouldn't bother with the Blue Book if I had it to do over again.

    image
  • http://pickyourown.org/allaboutcanning.htm

    I get most of my recipes from here.

    I have done salsa, spaghetti and dilly beans.  I also made applesauce and apple butter.

    I lost one can of salsa...which made me sad faced. I went down a few weeks ago and the seal had popped.  It smelled like summer.  I was SO disapointed!  I have three jars left.  I think it was Supergreen who had mentioned that once you can and they are sealed to take the rings off so you can notice if they spoil and man am I ever glad I did that!!

    The applesauce was really fun.  I have a TON of it.  I then cook it down into apple butter later throughout the winter which gives me something to can over the winter.

    I totally want to try peaches now!

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