Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tackle it Tuesday - Canning 101

A lot of people have asked me if I could teach them to can. I am able to do that and would love to do that. Canning is not difficult and most anyone can learn to do so by reading instructions in a book or online. In fact, I'll give some instructions here regarding the canning of the sweet and sour zucchini pickles, I did up today. Monday I canned Italian style crushed tomatoes and green beans. They both were canned in the pressure canner (the recommended process). Tonight I will can some more tomatoes and possibly more pickles (bread and butter this time?).

The pickles recipe goes like this:

Fill seven clean and sterilized (boil in water for a few minutes - be very careful) pint jars with chunked zucchini (you can go ahead and use some of that large, overgrown squash growing in your garden) with a few pieces of celery and a few small chunks of yellow onion. Spoon over that 1 teaspoon of dill seed (or 1 head fresh dill). 

Make brine in a large pot: 4 cups sugar, 4 cups vinegar (can use white or cider), 2 cups water, 1/2 cup salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved and bring to a boil over high heat.

While brine is coming to a boil, get your lids and bands ready. Place lids in a small pan and cover with water. If you have a large mouth jar, be sure to use large mouth lids. If using regular, of course use regular lids. I have both in every batch for some stupid reason. Bring the water and lids to a boil. Turn off heat and leave lids in water for 10 minutes or so.

When brine is ready, take off heat and ladle over pickles, using a funnel to reduce making a mess on the rims and jars (and countertop). Fill to about 1/4 - 1/2 inch from top of jar. Then, taking a plastic knife or canning tool made for the job, remove air bubbles by plunging the knife around the pickles. Taking a clean, wet dish cloth, wipe the rims of the jars thoroughly. Place lid on top of jar and screw band, making sure the screw band is tight.

Place jars in a boiling water bath canner (filled about half-way with hot water and a splash of white vinegar and placed on the burner). Make sure the jars are completely covered with water. If they are not, add water with a pitcher or bowl to cover jars. Cover the canner and bring to a full, rolling boil. Set the timer for 15 minutes after the water comes to a boil. When the timer goes off, turn off heat. Carefully remove the lid. Wait for a few minutes and then remove jars to a towel on a close counter by using a jar lifter made for canning jars. Be careful not to knock the other jars or you might break a jar. Jars seal on their own - do not press the center of the lid down or place a fan on the jars in an attempt to hurry the process. If any jars are not sealed 24 hours later, place in fridge and use it a month later. 

The next day, remove screw bands and test seal. Label the jars with the date. These pickles are not good until a month or 6 weeks later. Store in a dark, cool place for the winter, but they should not be frozen.

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