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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Canning, Preserving and Dehydrating / How Can I Streamline the Canning Process?
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    How Can I Streamline the Canning Process?

    3KillerBs
    Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:31 am
    Food.com Groupie
    I'm fairly new to canning and am finding it very difficult to find enough time to go through the long, involved process. Yesterday it took me all afternoon to process one, single, 7-jelly-jar batch of hot pepper relish (Sure-Jell package insert recipe -- which said it made 6 cups so I prepped 7 jars in case of errors and ended up with an extra cup of jelly in a plastic container in the fridge).

    Prepping the peppers and actually making the jelly wasn't the problem. I prep hot peppers to freeze fairly often. The combined prepping and cooking couldn't have taken more than an hour if that long.

    The problem was all the time required to get all the canning equipment cleaned out of storage, to get the lids and rings into their pot of boiling water, to get the jars cleaned out of storage then filled with hot water, to get that big pot of water and a teakettle up to boiling, and to get absolutely everything lined up where it was going to be needed with everything that needed to be hot hot at the same time.

    I ended up so stressed that I've still got a sink full of hot pepper contaminated pots, pans, and food-processor parts left for today.

    The good news is that all 7 jars sealed. The bad news is that if I charged for the time spent at the rate I was being paid at the factory job I was just laid off from those half-pints of pepper jelly would be worth their weight in gold.

    How can I streamline this process so that I don't have to devote an entire half-day to half a dozen jars of jelly?

    Also, is it OK to let jars sit for a little while before processing in the hot water bath so that I could have made a batch of hot pepper jelly and then a batch of strawberry jelly and processed both sets of jars at once? My canner would easily hold a dozen jelly jars.
    Molly53
    Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:46 am
    Forum Host
    3KillerBs wrote:
    I'm fairly new to canning and am finding it very difficult to find enough time to go through the long, involved process. Yesterday it took me all afternoon to process one, single, 7-jelly-jar batch of hot pepper relish (Sure-Jell package insert recipe -- which said it made 6 cups so I prepped 7 jars in case of errors and ended up with an extra cup of jelly in a plastic container in the fridge).

    Prepping the peppers and actually making the jelly wasn't the problem. I prep hot peppers to freeze fairly often. The combined prepping and cooking couldn't have taken more than an hour if that long.

    The problem was all the time required to get all the canning equipment cleaned out of storage, to get the lids and rings into their pot of boiling water, to get the jars cleaned out of storage then filled with hot water, to get that big pot of water and a teakettle up to boiling, and to get absolutely everything lined up where it was going to be needed with everything that needed to be hot hot at the same time.

    I ended up so stressed that I've still got a sink full of hot pepper contaminated pots, pans, and food-processor parts left for today.

    The good news is that all 7 jars sealed. The bad news is that if I charged for the time spent at the rate I was being paid at the factory job I was just laid off from those half-pints of pepper jelly would be worth their weight in gold.

    How can I streamline this process so that I don't have to devote an entire half-day to half a dozen jars of jelly?

    Also, is it OK to let jars sit for a little while before processing in the hot water bath so that I could have made a batch of hot pepper jelly and then a batch of strawberry jelly and processed both sets of jars at once? My canner would easily hold a dozen jelly jars.
    Gosh, it shouldn't take that long to make and process jelly, friend. I'm sure that once you get more practiced at preserving, the time it takes to accomplish will be reduced significantly.

    I wonder if it wouldn't be more efficient for you if you used a smaller stockpot as a BWB if you're going to can in small batches? All you really need is one big enough to hold the jars covered by about an inch of boiling water and the ability to protect the bottom of the jars from coming into direct contact with the pot.

    Henry Ford found that a production line was the most efficient way to assemble cars. I suspect it wouldn't be any different for preserving. I found some hints online to help keep the process as streamlined as possible:

    Purchase supplies ahead of time. You will need enough jars and lids, pectin, and sweetener for the amount of fruit you have. These items never expire and can be purchased at almost any grocery store.

    Read the recipe before you start. Find one that you are excited about and read it through a few times before even washing your fruit. If you start cooking before you have read the entire recipe, you will likely skip a step or make a mistake. There are few things as disappointing as a batch of jam that will not set. Save yourself the frustration; read the recipe!

    Prepare fruit ahead of time. Only the best-looking fruit and vegetables should be used for preserving. Bruised or blemished fruit could potentially contaminate your jam. Cull any overly ripe fruit and cut out any seeds, stems or pits, then be sure to store in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

    Assemble everything before you start. It's no fun to stop in the middle of what you're doing to run to the store to buy a bigger canner because boiling water is spilling out of the makeshift pot you've been using. Sterilize jars, lids and rings before you get going. Keep jars heated: Hot jam cracks cold jars.

    Line up your equipment. Basic canning equipment consists of a hot-water or pressurized canning pot with removable rack; canning jars lids and rings; jar lifters or tongs for taking jars out of boiling hot water without burning yourself; instructions; and the ingredients for the recipes you're making.

    Team up. The work goes faster if you pair up with one or more helpers. It's more efficient and fun. Working with other people helps with thinking, workload and social-ness.

    Take notes. Before putting away recipes and canning equipment for the season, jot down notes on what worked, what didn't, recipe ingredients or measurements you tweaked, and anything else you'd do differently next time. Little reminders will jog your memory so that next year when you pull everything out again, you'll have a head start.


    Prep work is always tedious. Keep the jars warm in the oven and the lids in a pot of simmering water. Likewise, if you're making multiple batches, I don't see why one couldn't keep the filled jars in a hot oven until ready to process all of them in a BWB.

    HTH

    Maybe some of the others will pop in and let you know their tips and tricks. icon_smile.gif
    Luray
    Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:02 am
    Semi-Experienced "Sous Chef" Poster
    I make the product ahead of time -- chop fruit, combine ingredients, etc. -- as much as I can the day before.

    If my dishwasher is at least half-full and has enough room for the jars I need, I run the dishwasher to clean and heat the jars. The cycle -- I set it to a high temperature wash and heated dry -- takes about 90 minutes, so in that space of time I can wash the lids and pop them into a pot of hot water, clean off the countertops and lay out towels for the finished product to cool on, cook anything that needs cooking, fill the canner, etc.

    When I'm doing something labor-intensive like skinning tomatoes, etc., I make sure it's all done before I start the dishwasher.

    I often plan my canning around when the dishwasher needs running. icon_wink.gif
    tasb
    Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:08 pm
    Food.com Groupie
    Like everyone stated, when you are starting out it is daunting, everything seems to take longer.

    I start off by filling the canning pot with water and putting that on to heat, then wash the jars and lids, put them on it sterilize, keep the sinks full of water, then start measuring and putting out ingredients. Make the recipe, and get it into the canner. Once I get the jars into the canner I start cleaning my dishes. And I always end up washing my jar lifter, even though I still need it to get the jars out of the canner. And start another batch if I am doing multiple batches.

    I always use lots of dish clothes, one for washing everything, and a different one for wiping jars. I have an old bath towel that is used for cooling the jars.

    I really don't think you can put a price on home canning. I never really compare the prices to what I could buy. This week I have plans on making Fruit Cocktail in Extra Light Syrup for my kids' snacks. I finally did take a sneak peak at the prices of the store bought stuff, at $1.50 for 4, I probably would save money by buying those, as I paid $19 for 9 kg peaches, not counting the cost of pears, maraschino cherries, grapes, sugar. But they will be lower sugar. Less garbage will be generated in the end as we will only be throwing out the lids, where as the store bought, there is cardboard packaging, plastic cups and lids.

    I do know I more than likely save money on jam, as the store sells 1 cup jars of jam for $3, and there is little variety in jams on the store shelves. There may be multiple brands but they all sell the same kind. No "fancy" types unless your are willing to pay for the gourmet price.
    3KillerBs
    Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:24 pm
    Food.com Groupie
    I appreciate the advice.

    It sounds like the best I can ever hope for is to get a single batch of jelly down to 2 hours.
    tasb
    Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:25 am
    Food.com Groupie
    I just finished up a canning session. I made 2 batches of Summer Fruit Cocktail in 2 1/2 hours. That was pushing hard, the first batch took the longest, as I was assembling everything, just over 1 1/2 hours from start to jars cooling. The second batch was done just under 1 1/2 hours. I started as soon as the first batch was in the canner. If I had washed all the jars before hand then it would have taken less time for the second batch, but I didn't have enough room to get them going.

    I did a total of 36-1/2 cup jars, with some leftovers for the kids to eat so they aren't opening jars right away. The recipe stated it would make 5 pints.
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