Canning Stuff - WHEEEE!!!

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by mygrayfarm, May 14, 2004.

  1. mygrayfarm

    mygrayfarm Well-Known Member

    Apr 12, 2003
    Hi, folks!

    My husband got me a "canning kit" for my birthday - it has the boiling-water canner, rack, funnel, jar lifter, jars...and I can't wait to try it out!

    I was only planning on using it for tomatoes so I don't need the steam-pressure canner (yet!) I also don't want to wait until my tomato patch is producing. I thought I'd get some tomatoes from the grocery store and try those out rather than take the chance of waiting for my home-growns and ruining them.

    I have the Ball Blue Book - I'm reading it and salivating this morning - but are there any expert canners out there who can throw a few tips or tricks my way? Please bear in mind that I have NEVER canned before, or even seen it done.

    Actually, I blush to admit, my husband is the cook of the house. My culinary skills are limited to the odd bowl of Cheerios and a mean tuna salad. So please be basic and do not worry that you will insult my intelligence (such as it is.)

    Cheers, and Happy Friday!

  2. mary,tx

    mary,tx Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 4, 2002
    I'm sure your Blue Book will tell you what, but I believe they now recommend adding something to compensate for low-acidity in the modern tomatoes when water-bathing them. I pressure can mine, so I don't know the procedure.
    Canning is a lot of fun when you get the hang of it. I'm canning extra milk this morning. I guess only someone else who cans would understand how nice it is to lift out those jars, and hear those "pops" that tell you it's just made the seal. :)

  3. ginnie5

    ginnie5 wife,mom,taxi driver,cook Supporter

    Jul 15, 2003
    Near Charlotte NC
    can tomatoes from the grocery store. But then again I am a tomato snob. Now if you have a farmers market near you that might work. I have NEVER gotten a tomato at the grocery store that was worth even feeding the chickens. I have two jars left from last year and plan on using them this wek. There is nothing else like the smell of good canned tomatoes. All I do is waterbath mine. Haven't had any problems with them. I don't add salt to anything I can...high bp and don't need it. Everything works fine. Dunk your tomatoes in boiling water first. The skins will just peel right off. When i first started canning I tried actually peeling them :eek: took way to long. Now I can get a bucket of tomatoes in jars in no time.
  4. The Funny Farm

    The Funny Farm Active Member

    May 12, 2002
    It's gotten to the point where I can everything in the pressure canner just because I know its safer. That being said... I'd feel pretty safe using open kettle for all your jams and jellies etc because they have added sugar which inhibits bacterial growth. Be really clean about everything you use- jars, lids, hands, utensils. A lot of the newer breeds of tomatoes are bred to have less acid and thats why they recommend pressure canning them now. Your Ball book (I think) says to add an acid like vinegar to each jar of tomatoes. Cider vinegar tastes better to me. When you use home canned stuff be sure to open it and then boil it for 15 minutes for added safety. If you follow the directions its hard to make something inedible so just jump in and do it! If you don't like it, next time vary your recipe and keep trying! Theres something very satisfying about looking at all those jars of food you put up..... specially on that first cold snowy day in winter!!! Most of all have FUN!
  5. Mrs_stuart

    Mrs_stuart Well-Known Member

    Dec 23, 2003
    I add a Tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of salt to a quart of tomatos and just water bath them. I have never has a problem.

  6. SaS58

    SaS58 Well-Known Member

    Dec 5, 2002
    NW TN
    I always add lemon juice (the bottled kind) to my tomato's and they never taste lemony, but they do taste so much fresher than store canned tomato's.

    I would have to agree with the other's about not canning the store bought tomato's. I don't think you would be very pleased with the results.

    Good luck and you should know that canning can be very addicting, LOL!
  7. MomInGa

    MomInGa Well-Known Member

    Mar 30, 2004
    Thats a super gift mygrayfarm :) You will have to let us know how you like it.
    I need to get something like that myself. Maybe a pressure cooker if I get the nerve up. (grew up hearing horror stories about those so have a bit of fear of them. Silly, I know...)
    I have put lots of jelly up, but the old fashioned way and without the proper tools. Makes it a bit hard and takes longer. Primarily muscadine jelly.
    Since we moved though and have gardens we are setting up, I am in high hopes of much more good foods to come.

    What a nice husband you have! Enjoy :)
  8. seraphima

    seraphima Active Member

    Feb 13, 2004
    That is a great gift! I love canning and do a lot. I started with easy things like tomatoes, peaches, and jelly, and now pressure can cases of salmon and many other things.

    One of the great things about canning is that you can make the best Christmas and other occaision presents! All through the year I look for canning jars at the thrift shops and garage sales, and I save a bundle. Small canning jars bought new cost as much or more than big ones, because i think the manufacturors know you will likely give them as gifts.

    I save clean canning jars on one shelf, and when it is full, pack them in boxes and seal them in a plastic bag. That saves a lot of time when i want to can in the summer, because I don't have to wash a lot of dusty glass.

    One easy thing to make is herb vinegar- look on the web for recipies, but you can easily improvise. When the vinegar is ready, just heat to a boil, pour in the jar and seal. Yum, and another good present.

    Hope you enjoy your new hobby!
  9. mygrayfarm

    mygrayfarm Well-Known Member

    Apr 12, 2003
    Thanks for all your comments! I agree, my husband picked a great gift ( a little birdie told him to...)

    We're actually kind of lucky here produce-wise - one of our grocery stores buys produce from local farmers, so it's usually pretty high-quality. However, I will buy from a roadside stand first - I'd rather put the money directly in the farmer's pocket.

    I'll let you know how I do!
  10. Burbsteader

    Burbsteader Well-Known Member

    Aug 6, 2002
    Western WA
    Just wanted to add my congrats. :D
    Canning seemed like so much hard work to me at first, but it's not too bad once you get the hang of it. Last year I often did batches on my own whenever I had extra produce. There is something really satisfying looking at a row of freshly canned jars that you did yourself.
    Even more satisfying is opening a jar in the middle of a dreary winter day and savoring a bit of summer. :D

    I just want to add, please, please, please follow safety guidelines carefully and don't use old recipes that don't jive with the Ball Blue Book guidelines.

    (PS- MominGA, don't rule out the pressure canner. I really don't care for the DIAL gauge kinds, I really feel more comfortable with the WEIGHTED gauge type. I have 2 Mirro brand pressure canners and really like them. The weighted gauge allows me more flexibility and I don't have to hover and watch the dial, I just have to keep an ear out for the sound of the weight rattling. I usually just sit near the kitchen with a good book while I wait for the canners to do their thing. :) Plus the weighted kind don't have to be calibrated like the dial type. Those are supposed to be calibrated yearly.)
  11. nodak3

    nodak3 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Feb 5, 2003
    You can get very pretty canned goods (and strange looking spaghetti sauce!) by mixing yellow and red tomatoes in the jar.
  12. evilbunny

    evilbunny Well-Known Member

    Apr 17, 2004
    I finally found a large size canner last year. I got the pressure canner. Around here the only ones most of the stores has are the 8 "quart" size. I didnt ever think they looked big enough to put a quart jar in let alone have water above them.

    The one I finally got was a 22 quart. It looks huge but I still cant double decker the quart jars. I can the pints.

    Last year I got the canner so late in the year I only did @ 20 jars of tomatoes. My salsa and one batch didnt turn out. I'm not sure, they all sealed (popped) but within a few days they unpopped. You could see the clear juice start turning milky color. I'm not sure what I did wrong.

    I keep saying I am going to do this or that in it but havent. might try chicken hind quarters since they are on sale for 69 cents a pound right now. I'm going to look on the web for a recipe but if anyone has one that is for canned chicken please pm me.

    I can picture jar after jar of food on my shelves, now just to get to it.
  13. Grandmotherbear here- what a wonderful gift! I also was self taught with the help of the Ball Blue Book. I had waterbathed jams and jellies for years without the help of a lid wand or jar lifter. Amazing how much easier it is with the proper tools!!BTW I add BOTH 2T lemon juice and 1-2 T vinegar to my water bath tomatoes and it makes some of the best spaghetti sauce and chili you ever tasted! BUT when you buy your pressure canner go for the large size. Mine is supposed to take 4 quarts- I got the smallest one of th metal-to-metal seal type at Grandfatherbear's request- but it only takes 2 quarts and 2 of the classico jars (26 oz). After laboring to produce a batch of food to can, and waiting 90 to 120 minutes for the pressure canner, I wish I would have more to show for all the effort.... I have about 12 jars of 29cent /lb chicken leq quarters put up. I boiled them with boiullen, deboned and skinned, and followed the instructions in the Blue Book. Looking forward to chicken and dumplings later!!
    Run your finger over the rim of second hand jars to check for nicks/dents which would render them unfit for canning use.

    And I found my jars sometimes made an initial seal but then lost it within 48 hours if I had overfilled it and it had boiled over. Some of the contents pushes beneath the lid before the seal forms and then microscopic bits of food cause teensy places where it didn't seal- microscopic bacteria then enter and and your seal is lost. You can tell when food has leaked into the canning water by its (the canning water)appearance and smell when you open the canner..

    Anyway, have fun with your present!!!
  14. Bailey

    Bailey Well-Known Member

    Jul 3, 2003
    That really does sound like a great birthday gift. I'm looking out for one myself. I will be heading the advice of some on here to look for the weighted pressure canner. I've made the jam such as peach, apricot, jalapeno and strawberry. I made a batch of bread and butter pickles a couple of days ago...but beyond that, I'm a I'm excited to get the canner so that I can be safe. I should get my hand on the ball book too, I suppose.

    Have fun and let us know some of the things you try in it first.
  15. zathrus

    zathrus Member

    May 11, 2004
    You can't beat the taste of home canned tomatoes, you'll be hooked once you try it. It can be time consumming, but what isn't that is worthwhille? Like many here, my wife and I use a pressure canner for everything, but using a hot water bath for
    tomatoes is fine as long as there's enough acidity. I'd follow the recommendations of many others on the forum and add either lemon juice or vinager. Also, like many have remarked, the key to good canning is clean jars that are free from chips. We
    always check the rim of the jar and wipe it with a damp cloth before puttin the lid and ring on the jar. This reduces the failure of jars that do not seal to about 1 in 100 or less, by our experience.

    Keep the hot water canner for tomatoes and other "high acid" foods but also invest in a pressure canner. We buy beef arm roasts when they are on sale for $1.29/lb or less or pork roasts, cut them into 1/2 - 3/4 inch cubes, season them, and add about 1/4 cup of water. Comes out like it's been in a crock pot all day and is NEVER dry! You get about 1lb of meat in pint jars, and in our canner we can fit 19 pint jars! Definately worth the time and effort. Good luck on your tomatoes!

    Sean Johnson