I’m scared out of my mind to do this, so if anyone does any canning I’d like to hear your preferred jar sterilization technique as there’s a few options out there and I don’t know which is best.
Don’t worry Jeff, it’s actually very easy to can vegetables! I grew up on a farm and watched/helped my mother can many times. My parents were children of the Great Depression, so we always had a large garden and canned, canned, canned all summer long.
The easiest method to sterilize jars is simply to place them (and the lids) in boiling water, then let them drain on a towel nearby until you’re ready to use them. Assuming you’re using the Water Bath method of canning, this will do two things: sterilize the jars, and pre-heat them for the bath. Ball has a neat little guide on water bath canning here: https://www.freshpreserving.com/water-bath-canning.
Canning may seem stressful at first, but it’s actually lots of fun in small batches. Trying to do too much at once can freak you out and greatly increases the chance of screwing something up. Just take your time and you’ll do fine.
Edit: Forgot to ask, what are we canning?
Yeah, sterilization is as easy as boiling water. (Sorry to be trite.) But do follow a recipe to make sure you have enough acid or sugar to avoid botulism.
Yeah I do the submerge in boiling water sterilization, along with the lids. Then once ready to add stuff, pull them out and place on a towel. Add apples or pickles (what we usually can) and go.
Canning is easy! Just make sure you’re following the recipe correctly as was mentioned, so that you’re getting the right stuff in the jar to make sure your veggies/whatever are going to be properly preserved. And make sure you’ve got a pot big enough for your jars to fit in and be completely covered in water. You better post pics in the cooking thread! :)
I have sun sugar cherry tomatoes, normal tomatoes, cucumbers for many kinds of pickles, and I’d like to do sauces as well. Peppers and 5 more kinds of tomatoes are coming. This was what I harvested yesterday from my self watering containers and raised beds so I didn’t want to waste it.
What concerned me is going through the Internet some people said to do water baths, others to bake the glassware in the oven, and a third group said to microwave them. I tried water bath but was a bit overwhelmed with trying to coordinate to get the pickles into the glassware within a minute of them coming out of the water bath. Are you saying I have time? Like I can sterilize the jars, put them aside for a while and then pour the hot pickle concoction into them? I’ve been scared of botulism since I was a little kid so I just imagine their spores floating around, landing in my pulled jars before I can get them covered.
Thanks for the help :)
So when I boil the jars in the giant pan, you throw the lids in there too? I tossed the rings in there but then simmered the lids in a separate saucepan for 10 minutes. Did I misinterpret you’re not supposed to do lids in a roiling boil?
So we have a big boiling pot for canning. I sterilize the jars in thereon a rolling boil.
We only dunk the actual lids briefly, to cleanse them. The rings we submerge thoigh.
Don’t over think it! You can use the same pot and water to boil the jars that you’ll use for the water bath. Just take them out of the pot and set them on a towel next to your prep area to dry. Ideally you’ll want to use them immediately, and you can do the rings and lids at the same time.
Pickles are super simple and easy to do. I usually set the water bath pot with the jars, rings and lids already inside on to boil. While that’s coming up to temp I’ll get my pickling solution ready. After the water bath comes to a boil I let the jars simmer for 2-3 minutes, then pull everything out to drain on a clean towel next to my prep area (using a set of tongs with silicone tips helps as wet jars and metal tongs can be slippery). You might want to use a smaller saucepan to boil the rings and lids as its easier to retrieve them (just pour them into a colander). As the pickling brine is getting up to temp I start processing everything into the still warm jars, then it’s right back into the water bath.
Although you’re right to worry about botulism, as long as everything is clean you should be okay.
Put the glassware, rings and lids in the boiling water and take them out to dry. Yes, as they dry they are technically becoming unsterile…it won’t kill you.
Stuff that cans badly…how to put this nicely…usually lets you know.
I would suggest Pickles aren’t easy. Think about a pressure cooker because vegetable soup is spectacularly easy and tastes great in the wintertime. I’m just sayin…If I were you I would make a few pickles and a lot of soup. I’ve probably canned15-20 seasons and I still don’t care for my pickles.
It’s the right time of year for sweet corn. It cans well and tastes great in the cold of winter. Again…not in a waterbath.
One possibility for the cherry tomatoes is to dry them–we borrowed a friend’s dehydrator when my wife was pregnant and had a tomato aversion and dried pints and pints of them, and they lasted very well (I’m the fridge or freezer) and are super delicious.
I’ve only made refrigerator pickles, but they are amazing.
I did buy a pressure cooker canner because I wanted to can beans and other non acidic foods. I would love to can many different kinds of soups. Can you do cream based soups too? Maybe not possible or good, but making my own chicken corn chowder would be fabulous.
I’m so glad you brought this up. I can’t possibly eat 2 lbs of cherry tomatoes a day which is the rate they’re coming in right now. Are all food dehydrators the same? I have a chest freezer so I would need to freeze them (my fridge is stupid dinky). What do you put them in to freeze?
I would not try a cream based soup, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. One of the sad days is when our last can of beans is eaten. I actually prefer home canned beans to fresh.
Another option to keep in mind for shorter term storage is quick pickling. It’ll only keep vegetables for a month or maybe a bit longer but it also doesn’t require nearly as much effort. I’ve made some damn good dill pickles that basically just involves stuffing cucumbers into a jar, stuffing in some dill/garlic/mustard seeds/etc, covering it all with a vinegar/salt brine and letting it sit for a week or so in a mason jar just sealed by hand and not boiled at all. So you might try that to cut down on the amount of stuff you have to can in the more stressful way? Only downside is that they need to stay refrigerated.
Uh, I can’t speak too much to food dehydrators. We borrowed one from a friend several years ago and another one from from my in-laws recently. They both worked! The one we have now is a Nesco Snackmaster, though when I looked at their website it seems there are way more models than there should be, but that’s the free market for you. I can’t imagine that any of them wouldn’t work.
For freezing (we also have a chest freezer, got it a couple months before lockdown, which was lucky) we do either glass pint mason jars or gallon freezer bags, depending on how much we have. Then we put them in the fridge when we want to eat them and you can just throw them in pasta, pizza, sandwiches, anything really. I also like to just eat them directly (which is also true for un-dehydrated cherry tomatoes).
Seconded. Similarly freezer jams, though I don’t see any fruit on that beautiful table above. You can also just freeze tomato sauce, though if you do freeze any liquid in a jar, make sure it has straight sides at the top, as opposed to the usual kind that taper in at the top, as I’m told it can crack the glass if it happens to freeze in the constricted part before the wider part, or something.
Another approach for the big tomatoes, since you mentioned your chest freezer, is to freeze them raw. We would do this (leaving them with the peel on), and then when you take them off the cookie sheet to put into bags, move to the chest freezer. When you thaw them out the skins come off (whatever, IMHO) and they’re still great for e.g. tomato sauce then.
@jpinard when the tomatoes really start to ripen, we make tomato juice. I add some sriracha to heat it up. Then I can it in quart jars.
We can apple sauce, jams and jellies, too. I too grew up in a household of Depression era parents and their parents were all immigrants, so being frugal and using everything was how we were raised.
My some dangerous outcome from canning was using my iPhone to time the water bath and got water from my hands into the phone and wrecked it. So don’t do that.
The other thing is for the things that can tolerate it, like the things we can, is to bring them to a boil before putting them in the sterilized jars. A little lemon juice on top helps to prevent nasty stuff from forming.
Oddly enough, we sort of treasure the stuff we can cause it takes a lot of work, so we have a bit of a backlog. Now we give this stuff away for Christmas presents mostly and keep a few things for ourselves.
Here’s the recipe I used for the quick pickled dills I made. You can find the pics in the cooking thread if you dig back far enough. Looks like I was a little off on some of the time frame, 2 weeks for them to be ready which means they probably last more like 2 months in the fridge if not more?
COLD PACKED PICKLES
ABOUT 4 POUNDS PICKLES
8 CUPS WATER
8 DILL HEADS
6 CLOVES GARLIC
2 CUPS VINEGAR
½ CUP PICKLING SALT
1 TEASPOON RED PEPPER FLAKES
4 TEASPOONS WHOLE MUSTARD SEED
MIX THE VINEGAR, WATER AND SALT IN A POT HEAT IT TILL IT DISOLVES AND LET COOL
PUT HALF THE DILL IN THE BOTTOM OF A CLEAN 1 GALLON JAR ADD THE MUSTARD SEED AND HOT PEPPER FLAKES.
CUT THE PICKLES IN TO QUARTERS OR PRICK HOLES IN THEM. START TO FILL THE JAR WITH PICKLES WHEN FULL PUT THE OTHER HALF OF DILL IN AND CLOSE LID. If quartered they will be ready in 2 WEEKS IF PRICKED GIVE THEM A MONTH