Gardens popped up in a lot of new locations this year since everyone had more time at home and many garden supply stores sold out of plants and seeds. Now that gardens are producing, food preservation supplies are disappearing off store shelves.
Canning lids are few and far between. But remember, do not reuse canning lids! Do not use old, dented, or deformed lids, or lids with gaps or other defects in the sealing gasket. When jars are processed, the lid gasket softens and flows slightly to cover the jar-sealing surface, yet allows air to escape from the jar. The gasket then forms an airtight seal as the jar cools. Gaskets in unused lids work well for at least 5 years from date of manufacture. The gasket compound in older unused lids may fail to seal on jars.
Spring gardens may be bursting with fresh peas and carrots. So how can they be preserved beyond the spring season?
Both vegetables can be preserved by canning, freezing and dehydrating. Carrots can also be pickled. Always start with fresh picked produce at the peak of maturity for best results. Wash with water. Use small sized carrots, scrub and peel to remove areas where dirt and bacteria can hide. Edible pea pod varieties are best frozen. Green and English peas can be frozen, canned or dehydrated since they are removed from the pods.
If freezing or dehydrating peas and carrots, both need to be blanched to achieve the best quality, texture, color and flavor.
More new items will be on store shelves this year for canning, freezing a storage.
A new pint jar, called a Flute, can be used for canning, gifting, crafting, and drinking beverages. They have a regular mouth size with a wider bottom. The four jar pack includes lids and rings, the six pack is jars only to use as drinking glasses.
New Freezer Jars are plastic containers that are square in shape with rounded corners. They will be in 8 oz. and 16 oz. sizes. The lid is airtight and they stack easily to save space.
Canning food at home is a great way to preserve fresh food and reduce food waste. But, if problems occur, that food is wasted. Of all reported canning failures, 99% are due to user error. Here are the most common reasons:
Following old or unsafe recipes
Using untested recipes
Using old, unsafe family canning methods
Using the wrong jar size
Using improper processing methods for the food being preserved
Storing the canned food in the wrong type of location such as the garage, shed, crawl space, etc.
Adjusting the screw band too tightly
Not adjusting for altitude
Source: Newell Brands Inc., owners of Ball and Kerr products
Winter is here, but many people are planning now for gardening. While you study garden catalogs or websites, don’t forget to plan how you will preserve the produce this summer. Your edible garden can be preserved in many ways including canning, freezing, dehydrating, and pickling.
What freezer space do you have? Be sure to use up last year’s stash to make room for the new batch. Clean the freezer to remove stray food and spills from broken packages. To freeze food, follow freezing guidelines for each food and use bags or plastic containers designated for freezing to maintain best food quality.
Do you like to can your produce? If so, get up to date on current recipes and guidelines. For best safety and quality, follow tested recipes. Using older recipes and methods can lead to spoiled food, food waste, and foodborne illness.
Have you checked your equipment? Now is the time to get your dial gauge tested. Contact your local Extension office for testing. The canner brands we can test include National, Presto, Maid of Honor and Magic Seal. Inspect the canner for any wear and get parts replaced. Sources for replacement parts can be found at www.rrc.k-state.edu/preservation/canning.html.
Now is the time to get dial gauges tested on pressure canners. Here are some reminders.
Most Extension offices have the Presto Gauge Testing Unit. This can test pressure gauges on the brands Presto, National, Maid of Honor, and Magic Seal.
This testing unit cannot test All American pressure gauges. Newer models of the All American canner have both regulator weights (weighted gauge) and the dial gauge. (See top picture.) The weight is more accurate than the gauge and customers should use the weight in order to determine if they are at the needed pressure. If the weight begins to rock at the desired pressure and the gauge is off by more than 2 psi the company recommends replacing the gauge. The gauge is now used as a reference to know when the unit is at 0 psi and can safely be removed.
There are no science-based instructions to home can cured, brined or corned meats. Here is some information from Clemson University Extension.
“The texture of some cured, brined and corned meats is firmer than that of fresh meats; thus, heat penetration into the cured, brined or corned products might be more difficult. That would mean the process time would need to be longer and using the process for fresh meats would result in potentially unsafe product. Curing can make meat drier than fresh meat or can leave it with a higher salt level, then covering liquid could be absorbed into the flesh and penetration of heat into the meat would be much more difficult. Again, using the process for fresh meats would result in potentially unsafe product. On the other hand, adding salt, nitrite, nitrate and/or antimicrobial agents like nisin makes Clostridium botulinum more susceptible to heat and the required process time for some cured meats could be shorter. If so, using the fresh meat process would result in an overcooked product. Research on each product would be needed to determine a safe canning process.”
Summer is still in full force, but fall and winter are on their way! Soup is a great way to warm up a chilly day.
Canning soup can be done with ingredients that already have separate canning recommendations. This includes a variety of vegetables, dried beans or peas, meat, poultry, or seafood based soups. These soups must be pressure canned.
Caution: Do not add noodles or other pasta, rice, flour, cream, milk or other thickening agents to home canned soups. If dried beans or peas are used, they must be fully rehydrated first.
The University of Georgia has added a couple new resources to the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.
Onions are a popular vegetable to grow in the garden. Preserving them for later use can be done several ways including freezing, drying, pressure canning or using in a relish. For more information, see http://nchfp.uga.edu/tips/summer/onions.html.
Do you enjoy the tangy taste of oranges? Try this easier and faster recipe for Orange Marmalade. Read through the recipe. Do you know the definition of “albedo?” It is the white pith or tissue just under the outer orange layer. The albedo contains natural pectin so this recipe does not require added pectin. When cooking the marmalade, use the “jellying point” technique to determine when the marmalade is sufficiently cooked. The recipe is located at http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_07/orange_marmalade.html.