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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Canning, Preserving and Dehydrating / Planning Canning
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    Planning Canning

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    Molly53
    Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:16 am
    Forum Host


    If you are just now thinking about joining the trend in our communities to can food this summer, start by checking your equipment and supplies. Proper equipment in good condition is required for safe, high quality home canned food. Planning ahead can save you time, money, and frustration with home canning. Make it a happy, successful canning season by getting prepared before your harvest is ready. Text highlighted in red are clickable links.

    If you're just beginning to learn how to preserve food, you may find this PRESERVING/CANNING/DEHYDRATING GLOSSARY to be helpful.

    Five Tips for Planning Your Canning Season
    1. Plan what you want to preserve for the coming year. You should only preserve the amount of food you will eat or give as gifts in one year – this is not a food safety issue. Properly canned foods will maintain their peak nutritional quality and appearance for something like two years, although they're edible nearly indefinitely.
    2. Know your limits. Are you new to canning? Pick only one or two items to preserve so you are not overwhelmed the first year. Keep storage space in mind too – unheated garages and hot attics are not places to store canned foods. Please see WHERE TO STORE HOME-CANNED GOODS and ORGANIZING YOUR PANTRY for some great tips.
    3. Check your equipment. Make sure you have all of the parts to the canners including the jar racks. If the gasket on your pressure canner is cracked or stiff, replace it now.
    4. Choose your recipes. Become familiar with what you are going to do so there are no surprises in the middle of the process. We have NEARLY 2000 TERRIFIC CANNING RECIPES in our db.
    5. Make sure you have the latest canning recommendations for optimum, shelf-stable storage safety – just because you can buy it in the store does NOT mean that you can necessarily make it at home. Also, some canning recipes in our db are either heirloom/family (possibly using outdated methods) or are from other countries, which may not follow US home food preserving guidelines.

    TIPS TO REDUCE STRESS DURING CANNING SEASON

    Plan what you want to preserve for the coming year
    Ask yourself these questions:
    •What was popular last winter?
    •What is still sitting on shelves now?
    •What was the family’s least favorite canned item last year?
    •What was a pain in the neck to put up?
    •What was best received as gifts?

    People will ask how much they should can of what. The answer is that it's completely individual and unique to your family and you'll need to do a little figuring for yourself. Here is a basic starter on how to do this.

    Maybe you kept a canning journal recording how much you canned of each item by pints and quarts, keeping the notebook conveniently in your canning pantry so as not to forget to record things. At the end of canning season, notes of how much was used and what was leftover were recorded. Anything left over gets transferred over to the next year's canning list and marked as leftovers. Why do this? Most of us have limited space so we want to make the best use of the canning pantry. If we find out we don't use 30 quarts of tomatoes, we don't want to store that many OR to take all the time that quantity needs when we could be doing something else.

    Most cooks stick to a few basic meals on a regular basis. Sit down and look at your menu plan (or if you haven’t got a plan, look at what you ate for the last couple of weeks). Yours may look something like this: poultry, beef, pork, soup or salad (depending on the season) vegetarian, sandwiches or easy fixes, beans. That covers seven nights or one week.

    Then, plan the meals around the week’s guideline. If, for example, you have a bean night every week because you love them and they are a budget saver, you'll know you need to can 52 meals' worth of beans. If you eat them with pickles, relish or chow-chow, you'll know you'll want to can something on the order of 26 pints of those items. Your family may enjoy spaghetti every two weeks, for another example. That means 26 meals' worth of spaghetti sauce.

    If you eat green beans once a week on average, you'll need about 2 quart jars to feed 6 or so. Some weeks you may not eat green beans and some weeks you may have company and need extra, so this is an average. Green Beans ~ 40 weeks x 2 jars = 80 quart jars (fresh green beans are available for about 12 weeks of the year).



    The next thing to consider is what is in season and what can you do with it. Here's a very basic chart:
    Canning Schedule~Fruits and Vegetables by Season~Northern Hemisphere
    •April
    Strawberries
    •May
    Rhubarb
    Strawberries
    Asparagus
    •June
    June Apples
    Beets
    Broccoli
    Brussels Sprouts
    Cabbage (early variety)
    •July
    Blackberries
    Cherries
    Beans
    Tomatoes (early varieties)
    Turnips (Sow now)
    •August
    Apples (early varieties)
    Elderberries (early varieties)
    Peaches
    Corn
    Peppers
    Tomatoes
    •September
    Apples
    Elderberries
    Grapes
    Beef
    •October
    Potatoes (dig after frost)
    Sweet Potatoes
    Turnips
    Beef
    •November
    Pork

    FRUIT AND VEGETABLE YIELDS FOR HOME CANNING

    The next thing to decide is how you like to eat each item you will be canning. For example, corn or tomatoes…
    Your family may like whole kernel (for corn chowder and other soups), cream style for the table, and on the cob (which involves freezing). When it comes to tomatoes, it's very easy to go through several hundred pounds of them, so you'll want to prioritize based upon your family's needs: spiced tomato juice, plain tomato juice or stewed tomatoes, salsa, spaghetti sauce, sloppy joe sauce, pizza sauce and catsup.

    Check your equipment
    A pressure canner (not a pressure cooker....see PRESSURE CANNER V. PRESSURE COOKER for more information) is essential for canning low-acid vegetables, meats, fish, and poultry. Two basic types are available. One has a dial gauge to indicate the pressure inside the canner; the other has a metal weighted gauge. Dial gauges must be tested for accuracy before each canning season. For information on testing a dial gauge, click on TESTING PRESSURE CANNER GAUGES. Check the rubber gasket if your canner has one; it should be flexible and soft, not brittle, sticky or cracked. Also make sure any small pipes or ventports with openings are clean and open all the way through.

    If you are shopping for a pressure canner, one word of caution: beware of auctions and garage sales. When purchasing a used pressure canner, make certain all parts are accounted for and in good condition. It is nearly impossible to find replacement parts for older models. It would be a shame for you to be left with a large flower pot because some of the parts were missing on a used item. Also, there are lots of “antique” canners out there – ones that are no longer manufactured or that are unsafe to use. If you know what you are looking for and are certain that the canner has had good care, a “sale” canner may be okay for you.
    PRESSURE CANNER REPLACEMENT PARTS

    A boiling water canner is needed for canning other foods such as fruits, pickles, jellies and jams. A boiling water canner is just a pot big enough to cover your filled jars with an inch or so of water. If you don't want to invest in one, almost everybody has a big stockpot/dutch oven in their pots and pans cabinet. Use that for processing half-pints and maybe pints, depending on how high the sides are. If using this pan, make sure to place something in the bottom to prevent the base of the jars from direct contact with the bottom of the pot (otherwise, they may break from thermal shock). Keep an eye out for sales on BWB canning pots. Garage sales and charity shops are also good suggestions. If you cannot find the inside rack, don't worry. You can wire old jar rings together or put a teatowel in the bottom to prevent the glass jar bottoms from coming into direct contact with the bottom of the pot. If you already have a water bath canner or buy a used one, wash out with soap and water or vinegar. Check for any rust spots and make sure jar rack is still welded together.

    Both pressure- and BWB-canners should have a rack in the bottom to keep jars from touching the bottom of the canner.

    Inventory your jars and decide if you need to buy new jars this year. If you were to use just one jar of canned goods a day, that would require 365 jars in your stockpile or something like 32 cases of jars. At an estimated cost of $8 per case, that is an initial approximate investment of $256. As you pick up a case of jars, make it a practice to pick up at least 2 boxes of replacement lids ($1 ea. average).

    You may be comfortable purchasing a couple of cases of jars every month or so to build up your stock, but you could also search for a jar supplier and buy a pallet of them at a quantity discount. Click on BULK PRODUCTS ~ JARS, LIDS & PECTIN for quantity sources and pricing.

    After you have your jar supply built up, you can just pick up lids as you need them. Jars will last a long time, not wearing out, merely being subject to the occasional accident. If you average the cost of a case of jars over a 10 year period, they are quite a reasonable investment (.80 cents per case) while the lids for that same case over a 10 year time actually are more pricy ($10).

    Inspect the jars you already have on hand for nicks, cracks or chips, especially around the top sealing edge. Nicks can prevent the sealing compound on the lids from sealing. Very old jars can weaken with age and repeated use; they break under pressure and heat. Consider investing in new jars if you need to, and watch for specials at the stores. New jars are a better investment over time than buying used jars at yard sales or flea markets. Mason-type jars specifically designed for home canning are best. Jars that use two-piece self-sealing metal lids are the recommended container in USDA guidelines.

    xxxx

    The ideal situation every canning season is new flat lids. The sealing compound around the rim is intended for one-time use only and can deteriorate in storage. They should ideally be used the same year you purchase them from the store, but they will remain usable for up to five years properly stored. According to Ball/Jarden Brands "We suggest purchasing new lids each canning season and storing any lids that may not be used in a cool, dry place away from ultraviolet light. It is important to store lids away from sunlight and excessive heat. It is also important to rotate your supply of lids, using the leftover lids from the previous season first. The lid sealing compound will be good after 5 years, but the lid coatings do deteriorate after several years for various reasons and may not provide the chemical resistance needed for high acid and acidified food packs."

    Used lids should be recycled, re-purposed or discarded (see THOSE USED CANNING LIDS for some great ideas) icon_smile.gif . The screw bands are re-usable if they are not bent, dented or rusted.

    Be sure to look at the instructions for what you want to can well before you are ready to prepare the food. You may need time to purchase some ingredients and small equipment that are necessary to prepare food exactly as the directions indicate. There are a few products in the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, for example, that use a modified corn starch called CLEARJEL, which is only available through mail order for most locations.

    Check expiration dates on pectins and other ingredients and throw away any outdated foods. Also check your spices, smell them to see if they have a good aroma, if not, toss those and buy new. As with any food preparation, begin with the best quality supplies you can.

    It's stock-up-on-canning-supplies season at many stores. For canning supplies/equipment, you'll need:
    PECTIN for jams/jellies. For sugar-free preserves, consider using POMONA'S PECTIN
    Sugar (for jams/jellies/preserves and sweet pickles)
    Canning salt, for pickles (sea salt and table salt can negatively affect the appearance of your preserves due to additives)
    Bottled lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid/ascorbic acid (for tomatoes and pickles) Fresh lemon juice has unreliable pH levels.
    Jars
    Lids and bands
    Sharp knives and cutting board
    Narrow rubber spatula
    Jar lifter
    Magnetic Wand (to pick the lids up out sterilizing water)
    Canning Funnel


    Nice to have (but not strictly necessary):
    Mandolin
    Food Chopper
    Foley Food Mill
    Canning Jar Brush
    Jar Wrench
    Measuring Ladles (they come in 2-, 4-, 6-, 8- and 12-ounce sizes). Available at specialty and restaurant supply stores.
    Apple Corer/Peeler
    Cherry Pitter
    Cut glove ~ Made of kevlar (bullet-proof police vest material) and available in five sizes from XS to XL. Invaluable for preventing slicing injuries and busting your knuckles on the grater. FYI, they are sold singly, not pairs (you don't need one on the hand holding the utensil). Available at specialty and restaurant supply stores. Approximately $20.
    Garlic Press

    A final must is reliable, up-to-date canning instructions
    Publications and information are available at your county Extension office, or on this website for the National Center for Home Food Preservation. The most recently revised edition is the USDA 2009 GUIDE TO HOME CANNING; all recommendations in this book are current. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service also sells So Easy to Preserve, a comprehensive book with information on all types of home food preservation. The order form for the book can be printed from www.soeasytopreserve.com. Directions for payment and mailing or faxing orders are on that order form.



    The Ball Blue Book is generally considered the bible of canning. You won't go wrong with a copy...they're available nearly anywhere canning equipment is sold for less than $10, on Amazon.com or on EBay.

    Please feel free to add a comment, suggest a recipe, make a suggestion or share a story! icon_smile.gif


    Sources:
    Mrs. Wages Checklist
    NCHFP/USDA Plan Ahead for Home Canning
    The Tuckaseegee Reader
    The Beginning Farmer's Wife
    Simple Bites


    Last edited by Molly53 on Sun May 26, 2013 4:06 pm, edited 2 times in total
    SarasotaCook
    Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:56 am
    Food.com Groupie
    Now, I don't can nearly as much as some people, but I did growing up, and I continue now and then, especially when I get a bargain deal from a local farm or our Farmers Market.

    Growing up we had a large garden in Northern MI, so canning beans, zucchini, pickled carrots, corn, pumpkin, we often made a variety of canned tomatoes; and mom loved pickled onions.

    Also in northern MI we had Strawberries and Cherries. Lots of jam, jellies, etc. Wild morels in the Fall, blueberries and raspberries too. So, as you expect. Lots of fruit preserves.
    ----------------------------------------------
    Now, living in FL for over 30 years, I don't can nearly as much; but what I can is usually much different as I don't have a LARGE garden.

    Mango, when in season ... You can't eat them fast enough.
    Mango chutney, preserves, and jam ... wonderful to can. I made a sweet and spicy mango salsa for friends last Christmas. Spicy jalapenos and a mix of sweet and spicy peppers with a mix of mango, papaya, and onion, delish!

    Same with papaya as well, chutney, and various preserves.

    I do grow lots of peppers, and also for Christmas last year I made a variety of pepper jellies, red and green pepper relish, pepper chutney and garnishes. I also made a sweet habanero jelly which was really neat.

    Also, from a local winery, I used the wine to make a wine jelly which turned out excellent. Perfect over crackers spread with cream cheese and nuts. Delicious!!

    When beans are in season ... I love can make my own 5 bean salad. So, I love to make a few cans up. Or just even pickle the yellow and green beans.
    I have also pickled zucchini which is fun for a side dish with grilled food.

    My latest find is the wonderful easy refrigerator pickles. SO, easy to make and so much better than store bought. I love them. I make 4-5 jars every 4 months; about 1 jar per month, and that is just for me. I love them.

    Last year I had a tomato bumper crop and made 5 jars of wonderful salsa. But for tomato sauce, I usually just freeze mine, I prefer that.

    Also, a corn salsa with a mix of peppers, tomato and black beans is fantastic canned and is a nice gift to give for Xmas.
    ------------------------------------------------

    I made a basket with homemade tortillas from a local Mexican Market, I added my salsa, plus my corn relish/salsa, and my mango salsa; a small tequilla lime jelly which I also made along with some Mexican crackers and some other Mexican cooking items. But my friends loved it. Basically a basket of salsas. Just something fun and a bit different.
    Bonnie G #2
    Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:29 pm
    Food.com Groupie
    Wow, some awesomme information and very informative. I am really interested in canning but have to admit to my skills being pretty hit or miss which of course makes for my fear of doing soething dangerous.

    Mostly I've done james or jellies and sometime even when I follow directions they just don't seem to jell right -sigh!! Have also tried salsa and tomatoes with good results and sealed jars but my fears are always there if they are safe to use.

    That said, this year I plan to continue with my efforts and attempt to expand my resources as I do have a fairly large garden and would like to use it to full avantage.

    Thanks so much for the info and I'd sure like to improve with this skill.
    SarasotaCook
    Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:39 pm
    Food.com Groupie
    I think the main thing is to pick a good reputable recipe. Not just a "fly by night" recipe. Maybe from a canning recipe book or from those on here who did a lot of canning. Also, make sure you have the right equipment and take the time to prepare your jars correctly. Don't skip that or try to take short cuts.

    Also, follow directions, the investment isn't that much if you do plan on canning.

    And for safety ... The seal will tell all. If you don't have that good seal; something did go wrong. And the proper prep really is what will give you that good seal. If you have that good seal, your food should be fine.
    Molly53
    Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:44 pm
    Forum Host
    Bonnie G #2 wrote:
    Wow, some awesomme information and very informative. I am really interested in canning but have to admit to my skills being pretty hit or miss which of course makes for my fear of doing soething dangerous.

    Mostly I've done james or jellies and sometime even when I follow directions they just don't seem to jell right -sigh!! Have also tried salsa and tomatoes with good results and sealed jars but my fears are always there if they are safe to use.

    That said, this year I plan to continue with my efforts and attempt to expand my resources as I do have a fairly large garden and would like to use it to full avantage.

    Thanks so much for the info and I'd sure like to improve with this skill.
    If you're at all nervous about canning, I'd recommend that you follow the recipes in USDA 2009 Guide to Canning, in It's So Easy To Preserve and in the Ball Blue Book, friend. They've been laboratory tested for optimum safety and success. We also have loads of experienced food preservers that are available for you to consult.

    Something that's not commonly mentioned in jam/jelly recipes is NOT to multiply the recipes. Failure to jell is a common result. It's best to make a recipe batch by batch. You can either re-make the failed jam/jelly using the Liquid Cement recipe in our db or you can re-purpose the syrup as a glaze for chicken/pork, a component of BBQ sauce, a dessert sauce over cake/ice-cream or as a pancake/waffle syrup.
    SarasotaCook
    Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:49 pm
    Food.com Groupie
    Very true, grams told me that. Make the recipe as is.

    And yes, Ball and other canning books for USDA standards are great. That is what I follow!!
    WhiteSnake
    Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:30 pm
    Food.com Groupie
    Wow, I haven't seen this much canning knowledge since I was very little and watched my Mother. And the best part about this thread..it isn't in 7 different languages in each paragraph. I plan to steal some of these ideas as fast as I can.
    SarasotaCook
    Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:36 pm
    Food.com Groupie
    I admit to not be the worlds greatest canner. But, I have had great luck just watching some of these threads and many recipes here on here.

    Just be careful to follow basic instructions and you'll be fine. I love my pickles every few months; I can't live without them. I also make salsa; and I love when mangoes come in to make my mango chutney. So good and easy. But make your local ingredients and it is fun. I always do the jellies and some special stuff for Xmas and my friends love it.

    Even freezer jam is great, and no special equipment needed. just a jar, berries and a few items. Great to have on hand an easy.

    And, if you have a neighbor who falls ill, or has surgery, etc. What a better way to take a jar of jam and some fresh biscuit to them. Easy and I'm sure well appreciated.
    Molly53
    Sat Mar 31, 2012 1:01 am
    Forum Host
    WhiteSnake wrote:
    Wow, I haven't seen this much canning knowledge since I was very little and watched my Mother. And the best part about this thread..it isn't in 7 different languages in each paragraph. I plan to steal some of these ideas as fast as I can.
    icon_lol.gif
    No need to steal, Whitesnake...consider the information a gift from us to you.

    I'm happy you found the thread informative.
    Tisme
    Sat Mar 31, 2012 6:47 am
    Food.com Groupie
    Eevn though we do thing's a little differently here..... but not a vast difference, this is great info Molly!
    I did pick up some wonderful tips and idea's.
    Thanks. Photobucket
    BILBY FOUND!


    Last edited by Tisme on Tue Apr 03, 2012 6:21 am, edited 2 times in total
    SmileyJannie
    Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:30 am
    Food.com Groupie
    I agree this site is a wealth of information. It is my number one "go to" for any food related questions. If I cannot find a post to answer my question, I have no problem asking on a forum. If people have an answer they will post it. I have learned so much. That being said....

    I cannot wait to start canning! I wish I could go from planting to canning and forget about the weeds in between. icon_lol.gif

    I can everything, if I have too much of something, I figure out how to preserve it somehow. For fund raisers I make baskets with home canned foods and people go crazy for it. I will make a jam/jelly basket and make a loaf or bread or angel bisquits to go with it. Another basket related to salsa. One basket I put one jar of everything I make in it.

    Fun times are a comin'!

    Jan icon_biggrin.gif
    cookie_mum
    Sat Mar 31, 2012 11:16 am
    Regular "Line Cook" Poster
    Hello, hello...
    After reading on the thread for which pressure canner to get. I went to check out the Presto canner here that came up on the google page I'd been looking at( soo many canner YIKES) I watched the video. Maybe I'm a bit naive, but it looks pretty easy if you learn the steps, right? Plus the pressure canner can produce acidic foods and less acidic foods. So I'll only need the one.
    I'm really psyched...Thank you Molly icon_biggrin.gif for inviting me. I really appreciate it. I found the information very eye opening. Maybe with so much info out there I had really made my mind up to stay away from the pressure cooker until I met someone who didn't mind me watching over their shoulder to learn.
    I've wanted to do this for a long time. Here is a book I thought looked interesting. But I want to get the basics first.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1603425462?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1603425462&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2
    Molly53
    Sat Mar 31, 2012 11:27 am
    Forum Host
    cookie_mum wrote:
    Hello, hello...
    After reading on the thread for which pressure canner to get. I went to check out the Presto canner here that came up on the google page I'd been looking at( soo many canner YIKES) I watched the video. Maybe I'm a bit naive, but it looks pretty easy if you learn the steps, right? Plus the pressure canner can produce acidic foods and less acidic foods. So I'll only need the one.
    I'm really psyched...Thank you Molly icon_biggrin.gif for inviting me. I really appreciate it. I found the information very eye opening. Maybe with so much info out there I had really made my mind up to stay away from the pressure cooker until I met someone who didn't mind me watching over their shoulder to learn.
    I've wanted to do this for a long time. Here is a book I thought looked interesting. But I want to get the basics first.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1603425462?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1603425462&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2
    That is a good book, friend. I've recommended it in several previous topics of the month (you can see all the past topics of the month by clicking on the WELCOME thread at the top of this forum's topics list and scrolling down to the bottom).

    If you're at all nervous about canning, I'd recommend that you follow the recipes in USDA 2009 Guide to Canning (free), in It's So Easy To Preserve and in the Ball Blue Book. They've been laboratory tested for optimum safety and success. We also have loads of experienced food preservers that are available for you to consult.
    Bonnie G #2
    Sat Mar 31, 2012 12:40 pm
    Food.com Groupie
    Hmmm, trying to alter the amount of the jelly just may have been my mistake. What about the sugar content; does it affect the outcome if it's reduced?

    ETA: Another good piece of info I learned here is that I'm not supposed to reuse the caps of the jars which I have been doing (told you I'm an amature) but will stop doing this at once. icon_redface.gif
    Molly53
    Sat Mar 31, 2012 1:04 pm
    Forum Host
    Bonnie G #2 wrote:
    Hmmm, trying to alter the amount of the jelly just may have been my mistake. What about the sugar content; does it affect the outcome if it's reduced?

    Think of jelly/jam making as a scientific formula. There's a fairly precise proportion of pectin to sugar to acid to fruit for optimum success. If you alter the proportions of ingredients, you're apt to get an unsatisfactory result.

    Regular pectin requires real sugar to jell. If you need to reduce the sugar for some reason, consider using a low-sugar pectin or no sugar needed pectin. Click on the pectin and Pomona's links in the first post to read more about them.
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