Would You Like To Learn How To Can?
It is a very good skill to have. I spent a lot of time learning this skill from my Grandma in Kansas when I was young, and from my Amish neighbors in Indiana once I was grown and married. I am now 40 years old and have had a lot of practice. Most of the canning will turn out great, but a few items will not. But don’t get discouraged. As you practice it, you will see it is a simple process that gets repeated about the same way each time you do it.
There are basically two kinds of canning: a water bath method and a pressure canning method. Water bath is used for items that have a lot of acids such as fruits, jams and jellies, pickles, and such. Pressure canning is used for items low in acid such as meats, broths, soups, vegetables, etc.
However, I learned from my Amish neighbors everything can be done using the water bath method, though the Health Department and books on canning do not recomend it. But for the Amish, this is the only way to can. So if it takes an hour in a pressure canner, the Amish achieve canned beef or chicken in two and a half hours in the water bath. This was a surprise to me. But I ate at their tables many times and the food was always delicious. So it is possible to use only the water bath method though the pressure canner is a safer and more standardized method for some foods. The biggest reason for using a pressure canner is to prevent botulism. Botulism is a deadly an aerobic bacteria that will live in food that has not reached the right tempurature for the right amount of time. So even though your jar looks sealed, it can be undercooked and provide an environment for botulism to grow. But in all the years I worked with the Amish, I never knew any to get botulism poisoning.
I owned an All American Pressure Canner. It was awsome and very affordable. It allowed me to can 7 quarts and/or 14 pints at a time. I also owned two water bath canners. They also process around 4 half gallons and/or 7 quarts and/or 14 pints at a time. Each of these products come in larger and smaller sizes depending on your canning needs and the size of burners on your stove. And I owned thousands of canning jars. These are available to buy at local stores for around $8 dozen, but I aquired most of mine from garage sales, auctions, and from letting people know I would buy their used jars for $3 a dozen. Sometimes I found adds where people were just giving them away.
For many years I lived in ranch houses with no basement or seller. I used a spare room to store my canning in, otherwise my cabinets would overflow. I bought wire shelving units that could hold several hundred pounds per shelf. I lined the four walls with these units and got busy filling them. I hung a thick blanket over the window to keep out sunlight. However the best method of storing your canned goods is in a basement or cellar where the is little temperature fluctuation and little light.
My Amish neighbors canned over two thousand quarts a year. Most of the vegetables and some of the fruits come from their own gardens. The larger families, with over six children, canned even more. So I got busy trying to reach a similar goal.
I also grew a large garden, and I bought the rest of the items I didn’t grow myself. Each season I would likely can three bushels of peaches, three bushels of pears, two bushels of apples into sauce and one bushel of apples into apple juice and apple pie filling, 15 gallons of grapes into juice and jams, 30 lbs of blueberries, 20 lbs of cherries, 10 lbs of rasberries, 15 gallons of local honey ( I kept this raw, just put into jars) 15 gallons of tomatoes into sauce, and 5 gallons of tomatoes into other soups and salsa, three bushels of green beans, 21 quarts of bean soup, 21 quarts of beef broth, 21 quarts of chicken broth and would do more during the year if it looked like my supplies were running low, 40 lbs of turkey sausage, 40lbs of turkey thighs (this make a good and quick BBQ meal), 50lbs of hamburger (this is really fast to make meals like sloppy joes and spaghetti), 2 bushels of cucumbers into dill pickles, one bushel of cucumbers into bread and butter pickles, 14 pints of relish, 14 quarts of Chow Chow, and too many jams and jellies to mention. I learned to can milk, both goats milk and cows milk ( this is quick for using in gravy, making candy, and items calling for evaporated and condensed milk). I also ran into a situation with baby animals and had to use my canned milk to feed the animals until I was able to get fresh milk for them. I tried making a lot of things that I ended up not liking such as canned carrots or canned potatoes.
I had a friend whose parents lived in Northern California and they caught a lot of salmon every year and canned it themself. I was given some as a gift and it was so good. Much better than canned salmon from the store. I never did can any fish, as it suited me fine to keep it in the freezer, but I did want to try canning fish chowder such as clam chowder someday.
Over the years I learned to dehydrate fruits and vegetables and grains and vacume seal them in canning jars. You can even do this to beef jerkey. It works great for spices and herbs too. I also seal in things I buy in bulk such as sea salt, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and much more.
On the farm, we raised a lot of our meats and had them processed by our butcher for the freezer. I eventually learned to can meat broths and would ask the butcher to save as many of the knuckle and marrow bones as possible so I could use them in canning. I also bought items like turkey sausage and turkey thighs from the Amish in 40lb boxes for canning. I loved canning chicken for chicken and noodle soup, but word to the wise, don’t can the bones. Sometimes I would want to make skip the deboning part and cram the whole jar full of legs, or thighs, or breast, or other parts meat, bones and all. But the chicken bones become brittle and difficult to work with after canning and it makes it hard to have a bone free soup.
About an hour or so from where I lived in Greens Fork Indiana, there was a produce auction in Brookville every Wednesday morning.
I often drove an Amish person needing a ride to the auction. I would shop and shop till I filled my van. I took home what I needed and I drove around the Amish farms and sold the rest. I could buy 40lbs of bananas for $5 or 100 lbs of potatoes for $5. I bought trays of strawberries that would cost over $3 in a grocery store for 25 cents each. I could buy 50lbs of carrots or a bushel of green beans very cheap. I would take my surplus from farm to farm and almost always ran out before I could get to 10 farms. There were 100 farms or more. I always told my husband, I could easily sell a large truck load every Wednesday afternoon, if I had more time and a big truck to haul it in. Anyway it worked out for them and for me.
As I learned about health and nutrition and the benefits of enzymes and live bacterias, I reduced the amount of canning I did.
I still canned many things, especially broths, beans, and jams, etc. but I tried to make fresh soups, fermented condiments, and keep my vegetables and meat fresh or frozen to preserve the nutritional benefits vs. canning. I don’t suggest anyone make the majority of their diet from dead canned foods. But it is fine to use canned food as a small part of your overall diet.
You see, even though I loved working with the Amish people, I learned over the course of 15 years or so, that their diet wasn’t that healthy. It was only fresh when they could harvest something from the garden in the summer. Three months out of the year, they basically ate meals from canned food and bread, and desserts, and this resulted in a lot of health problems for them. After several generations of this type of eating, they are experiencing a lot of health issues that mainstream America is having, including obesity, rotting teeth, infertility, genetic diseases, tumors and cancers.
When we knew we were moving from the farm to the city and had limited space to put things, and moving across the country, I decided to pass on my canners and all my supplies to a family with six kids who were learning how to homestead. I though that when I needed it again, I would be able to replace it and start over. I didn’t know how soon we would be able to afford some land and have a garden again. I gave my jars away too, there were three young Amish families just starting out, and I gave them each many laundry baskets full of jars to help them get started.
I truly miss the farm, the garden, and the canning that occupied so much of my time. It was a joy to see the rewards of my labors. I had so much canned goods that it was easy to give a case of canned items to other families when I wanted to, and to share lots of baskets of homemade goodies with relatives at Christmas. Having company stop over unannounced was no problem because a bounty of goodies could come out of my pantry to help build a beautiful and delicious meal in minutes.
Here are some good recipes and links to websites to help you learn how to can.
I have a small garden this year. My sister sent me some seeds as a house warming gift to raise in my new garden. She sent me seeds for baby pumpkins. The kids and I had fun growing these, and we made a tasty snack by roasting and salting the new seeds we harvested from our pumpkins.
If you have pumpkin in your garden and you would like to preserve it for pumpkin deserts, here is an easy recipe.
Use ripe pumpkin or other winter squash such as butternut.
Wash the surface. Cut it in half. Remove the seeds.
Place skin side up on a greased cookie sheet.
You can use foil if you want to make clean up easier. Especially if you don’t have non-stick pans, the juices of the pumpkin will carmelize on the pan and may be hard to get clean later.
Bake at 250-300 degrees for 45 minuts or until tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Remove skin and discard it. Cut the pumpkin into chunks. If you want you can freeze it at this point instead of canning. If you plan to can it, fill your steralized jars to about 1/2 inch from the top. You can add a 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt if you wish. Wipe the top clean and put on the lid and ring.
Put the jars into a pressure canner with about two inches of water in the bottom. Follow your manufacture’s directions on this. Put on the lid and tighten down. Put the guage on the lid. Follow the manufactures directions for each of these steps. Heat the canner until the guage reaches about 12 lbs of pressure. Process the pumpkin or squash keeping the pressure at 12 lbs for about an hour and a half. Then turn off the heat. Allow the pressure to decreas to 0. Remove the guage and then the lid. Remove the jars with canning tongs and place on a soft towel to cool. Check the lids about 12 to 24 hours later. If the lid is sealed, then put the canned pumpkin into storage. If it is not sealed, be sure to refridgerate it and use is in a great pie or other desert.
Melinda’s Chicken Broth (So Easy)
Want the best tasting chicken broth for quick meals.?
First make a batch of chicken broth. Into a large pot I throw a whole chicken or parts including chicken bones, onion with the skins, potatoes, celery, carrots, bay leaves, garlic, sea salt, and some whole cloves (about 1 per gallon of broth) and fill within a few inches of the top with well or spring water. Using the bones will give the broth a delicious flavor and more nutrition. I often did this same recipe with a left over Turkey carcass after a big Turkey dinner.
I bring this pot of ingredients to a low simmer and cook for as long and strong as I want my broth and add water as needed to keep it from boiling dry. After about 2 hours of cooking I remove the meat from the bones and save for another recipe. I have cooked the broth for four hours, and up to two days on low in a crockpot. The longer it cooks the more minerals you pull from the bones and it makes a full flavored broth. Some people will add a 1/4 cup of vinegar before cooking to help extract even more minerals.
When the broth has cooked to your liking. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool to almost room temperature. Then strain out everything and keep only the liquid.
Into clean steralized jars, using a funnel if needed, laddle in the warm broth. Fill the jars to 1/2 inch of the top. Wipe the rims clean. Cover the jar with the steralized lid and screw on the ring. Place the capped jars into your presure canner with approximately two inches of water in the bottom. Go by the dirrections of your canner as each brand of canner is different. Put on the lid and the pressure guage according to your manufactures dirrections.
Slowly heat the canner to the recommended pressure, in my case it was 10lbs of pressure for about 25 minutes. Then shut off the heat. When the pressure guage reads 0 then remove it and remove the lid according to manufactures dirrections. Use canning tongs to remove the jars and set on a soft towel for 24 hours. If the seal is good, then put the jars into storage. Use within a year, however I have been known to keep them much longer if the seal remains intact.
This canned broth is great for all kinds of quick meals. I use it for chicken and noodles, soups where the base is broth, to cook rice or noodles in, etc. Also adding more herbs, galic, and sea salt it becomes a home remedy to cure the common cold and keep the chills of fever away. It is delicous sipped from a coffee mug, when an infection is fighting your body and you need something to strengthen you for the fight.
How To Can Pickles:
I found this blog about canning on seed buzz and I wanted to share this post. This young woman has done a very good job of describing the process of canning pickles. She shows you what equipment is needed and has very nice pictures taking you step by step. Plus she is from Kansas and lives on a farm. I am from Kansas from age (0 to 23 ) and have lived on many farms, in Kansas and Indiana. So we have this Kansas/Farm thing in common.
I have a Ball Canning Book, as well as several other canning books. However, the Ball book is great. I would recomend everyone get one. This has so much good information and tips for processing food for the freezer, dehydrating, and the canner. These are available in lots of stores and usually cost around $5 It is well worth the investment. If you know of someone getting married, giving them this book with some supplies makes a really nice gift.
Here is the Ball website with a list of 112 canning recipes and lots of training methods and tips on the right/safe way to can :