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Archive for the ‘Food Preservation’ Category

Home Canned Chicken

August 25th, 2014

1368801891946Many of us have memories of home canned chicken in meals at grandma’s house.  Preserving your own chicken isn’t too hard, you just need a bit of time and access to a pressure canner. If the canner has a dial gauge, you will want to have it tested yearly to ensure accuracy. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has recipes for canning poultry. Follow the directions as written and you will produce a safe and delicious product.

 

 

 

 

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Food Preservation, recipes

Consider Ketchup

August 21st, 2014

tomato sauceDo you have more tomatoes than you know what to do with this year?  Have you thought about canning your own ketchup?  The National Center for Home Food Preservation has three different ketchup recipes: Tomato Ketchup, Country Western Ketchup and Blender Ketchup   The recipes have several steps and are a bit time consuming but you will be rewarded with a special product that you can enjoy or share with others.  Consider ketchup this canning season.

 

 

 

 

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Food Preservation, Nutrition, recipes

Why did my canning jar break?

August 14th, 2014

There is nothing more frustrating than taking the time to pick, prepare, and can something and open the canner to find broken jars and wasted food.  Here are the top 12 reasons your jar might break boiling water bath cannersinside the canner.

  1. Using old jars. Antique canning jars are attractive but perhaps not the best choice for a product that is very labor intensive to prepare.
  2. Nicks or small cracks in the jar. Always check for small nicks or hairline cracks before filling jars.
  3. Not releasing trapped air bubbles inside the jar.
  4. Using metal utensils to release trapped air—this can cause scratches or weak spots inside the jar.
  5. Overfilled jars.
  6. Fluctuating pressure inside a pressure canner. Watch the gauge or listen to the “jiggle” of the weight to maintain a constant pressure.
  7. Reducing pressure too quickly. Resist the impulse to run cold water over the pressure canner after the processing time is up. That is a quick and easy way to destroy all your hard work.
  8. Placing hot jars into a canner of cold water.
  9. Forgetting to add water to the pressure canner.
  10. Forgetting to put the rack into the bottom of the canner. Jars bouncing around during processing are at a high risk of breaking.
  11. Setting your hot, already processed jars into a draft to cool.
  12. Screwing the bands onto the jars too tightly. Remember, finger-tight only.

Following canning directions carefully will help you avoid jar breakage.

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Food Preparation, Food Preservation, Food Safety

Top 10 Canning Questions

August 11th, 2014

During August, we get many calls and emails with canning questions. Here is our own top 10 list of canning questions.

  1. Someone in our family can’t have salt, is it ok to leave the salt out of home canned vegetables? YES the salt in these recipes does not help preserve the food.
  2.  Someone in our family is diabetic; can I leave the sugar out of canned fruits? YES, fruit can be sweetened with artificial sweetener after the jar has been opened—if needed.
  3.  I’ve opened a jar and discovered discoloration on the bottom side of the lid; is the food safe to eat? YES, probably. Acids and other compounds present in food can eat away at the underside of the lid and leave a dark spot. These foods are safe to eat.
  4.  If my jar doesn’t seal, what should I do with the food?  You have several options during the first 24 hours after canning. You can reprocess (open jars and refill to proper headspace, reprocess for entire recommended time), freeze the contents, or eat the food within 3-5 days. Refrigerate the jar until ready to eat.
  5. Is it really important to fill the jar according to the recipe? Is headspace really important? YES, the headspace is determined by the amount of expansion of the food inside the jar. Different foods have different headspace requirements. Too much food in the jar can cause loss of liquid inside the jar. Too much headspace can cause food darkening at the top of the jar. Either situation can cause failure of the jar to seal.
  6.  How long can I store my home canned food? For best quality use your food within the first year after canning. Storage in warm spots, sunlight, or damp areas decreases food quality faster.
  7.  Do I have to sterilize my jars? NO, if the canning process lasts longer than 10 minutes sterilizing jars before filling them is not necessary.
  8.  My jars lost liquid during canning, should I open them and refill them?  The lost liquid should NOT be refilled; food inside the jars remains safe but food outside the liquid will discolor over time. Choose to use these jars first. If more than half the liquid has been lost, refrigerate and use these jars in the next few days (2-3).
  9.  I know that the jars are reusable, but can I reuse the bands and lids?  YES for the bands, no for the flats (lids). The sealing compound will not seal well during a second use. Discard old lids.

And, finally one of the most popular questions we get every summer:

  1. My mom taught me to can using the open-kettle method; can I use this method today? NO, that method has not been recommended for over 40 years. You will not produce a safe product using this method. Choose scientifically tested recipes to produce a safe product.

Enjoy canning this summer.  Remember that we are ALWAYS happy to help with your canning questions and problems.

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Food Preservation, Food Safety

Tip for Freezing Pie

August 7th, 2014

 

 

imageThere is nothing better than a fresh, homemade pie. Fresh fruit is so abundant this time of year; it is nice to preserve that fresh flavor. It is easier than you think to freeze a pie and enjoy it later.

Directions for freezing a two crust pie:

  1. Make your favorite pie recipe as usual but remember to add an extra tablespoon of flour or tapioca. If you use corn starch as a thickener, add an extra half tablespoon. This will prevent boil over while the pie is baking.
  2. Do not cut vent holes in the top crust. You will do that at the time you bake the pie.
  3. Freeze your completed pie in the pan. Package it for the freezer.

An unbaked pie will have more of a fresh-fruit flavor than a frozen, already baked pie. If you are using a very juicy fruit, you may want to cook, thicken and chill the filling before filling the pie crust.

Directions for baking your frozen pie:

  1. Cut some vent holes in the top crust of the still frozen pie.
  2. Place pie onto a cookie sheet.
  3. Bake without thawing at 450° for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Reduce temperature to 375° and bake an additional 20-30 minutes or until the top crust has browned.

Enjoy

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Food Preparation, Food Preservation, recipes

Zucchini

August 4th, 2014

ZucchiniIf it seems like you have served fresh zucchini in every way you can imagine, consider freezing some this summer. The directions for freezing zucchini are really pretty easy.

Just remember that you will want to drain the shredded zucchini after thawing. Allow the excess liquid to drain without squeezing the squash. Plan to freeze in amounts about one and a half times the amount you typically use in a recipe. Then after draining you will still have enough for that loaf of  zucchini bread.

Spend Smart. Eat Smart. has a great zucchini pie recipe your family will enjoy. Try it this week.

 

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Food Preservation, recipes

Enjoy some pepper jelly

July 31st, 2014

1368801837438I’m beginning to harvest some of the peppers growing in my garden.  Now is a great time to make some pepper jelly.  It is really important to follow the directions in a tested recipe as the ingredients in this recipe are lower in acid than other jellies made of fruit.  My family really enjoys taking a jar of this jelly and pouring it over a brick of cream cheese.  This makes a really easy appetizer when served with crackers.  It also goes well with roast beef.

 

 

 

 

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Food Preparation, Food Preservation, recipes

Easy Recipe for Pickled Beets

July 28th, 2014

pickled beets

Pickled beets are another way to enjoy one of the lesser used vegetables. The process for making pickled beets is really pretty easy. Just remember that you want to leave one inch of stem and one inch of root on the whole beet when cooking them before beginning the pickling process. Leaving some stem and root intact prevents color loss in the beets; also called bleeding. After the beets have cooled, it will be an easy task to slip the skins off the beets.

Most pickled beets call for pickling spices. This is readily available at grocery stores, or you may choose to make your own. The Ball Blue Book contains an easy to follow recipe for pickling spice.

Follow this and any tested canning recipe exactly for best and safe results. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

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Food Preparation, Food Preservation, recipes

Canning Methods

July 14th, 2014

 

Canning JarsOne of the questions we often hear when folks are canning is: What is the difference between Hot Pack and Raw Pack? Obviously, the main difference is that one style involves totally raw food while the other method uses partially cooked food. Both styles of pack have benefits; select the best pack for the situation.

Raw Pack is often used when canning vegetables in the pressure canner. This is an easy method; clean and slice the fruit or vegetable and pack tightly into the jar. Air is often trapped between pieces of raw food and this air can be difficult to eliminate. Trapped air can cause a loss of liquid during the canning process, floating fruit, or discoloration of the food after a few months of storage.

Hot Pack foods are heated to a boil followed by simmering for about 5 minutes. Precooking shrinks the foods, allowing you to fit more food inside the jar. Air is not trapped inside the food (so fruit will not float) or between the pieces of food, which can cause loss of liquid in the jars. Also, the best quality of some foods, like pears, is obtained by using a hot pack.

No matter which pack you choose for your food, remember to always use boiling water, broth, or juice to fill the jars.

Happy canning.

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Food Preparation, Food Preservation, Food Safety

Pickling Carrots

July 10th, 2014

pickled carrotsSummer canning time is one of my favorite times of the year.  We get many calls from people learning to can or trying something new. It is fun to teach people proper canning methods. There are so many different options available to us with the recipes tested by the USDA, National Center for Home Food Preservation, Extension Resources, and the Ball Blue Books.

Pickled carrots are yet another way to serve a delicious and nutritious vegetable.  Carrots that are small, young, and tender produce a great canned product.  You may want to try pickling some of the first carrots you pull in the garden this summer.  The National Center for Home Food Preservation has this recipe available for Pickled Carrots.

Enjoy!

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Food Preparation, Food Preservation, Food Safety