Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Safety When Canning and Making Preserves


southern girl
 Share

Recommended Posts

After reading Stellabella's post on figs where she mentions fig preserves I thought I would ask about preserves and canning...I have never tried it as I have always been afraid I would poison myself (or friends) with botulism. How hard is it to do? What are the most important things to remember so I don't make anyone ill? Any tips for making what seems complicated (to me :wacko: ) easier? And what would be the best thing to try first (the one with the best chance of success). Thanks in advance for the help!

Edit to correct spelling

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's the low-acid items that are the potential trouble makers. It you stick to making fruit james, jellies and preserves, you needn't worry. It you make very small quantities that you can keep in the refrigerator, you don't even have to worry about processing those properly, although it is not hard to do.

You hear a lot about pectin, in reference to preserving. Pectin is the substance that causes jelling. Certain fruits are high in pectin, others are low. Underripe fruit has more pectin than ripe fruit, as do the skins.

Apples, grapes, cranberries, currants and quinces have high pectin; apricots, blueberries, peaches, strawberries have low pectin. Nevertheless, strawberries jam is easy to make. Even the low-pectin fruits can be made to jell with enough cooking and boiling down of the juice, if necessary.

In general, the easiest type of preserve to make is jam. Before starting, bring a big, deep pot of water to the boil. Put the canning jars in the boiling water and keep them boiling for about 15 minutes to sterilize them.

To do it with the greatest degree of safety, use jars that come with a two-part lid, made by Mason or Ball. The actual lid is a flat metal disc with a rubber seal that presses against the glass jar. These are used once and discarded. The lids are secured by a screw-on metal band, once the jars are filled and the lids are placed on top.

You want to use somewhat less sugar (by volume) than quantity of fruit, say, about 3/4 cup of sugar for every cup of fruit. Use only perfect fruit, and cut it before cooking into appropriate sized pieces. Peel, if necessary, before proceeding. Combine the fruit and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan much taller than you think you need. Cook, stirrring until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to prevent the mixture from threatening to boil over. You will see why it is important to use a large enough and deep enough pan. The mixture will begin to thicken. To test to see if it has actually jelled (it can take from 15 - 40 minutes, depending on the amount of pectin in the fruit) dip a metal spoon into the jam, hold it tipped so the jam runs off the side and observe the drops. At first they are merely syrupy. At one point, two drops will form at the same time and drop together. (This is a thin jell.) Wait a little longer and the drops will form a sheet, for a thicker jelly. You can further test by letting a few drops drip into a plate and observing the thickness as the drops cool.

When you have your jam, remove the jars from the boiling water, drain and fill, using a wide-mouth funnel. Dip the jar lids into the boiling water and seal the bottles. Leave about 1/2 inch at the top. Put the sealed and filled jam jars back into the boiling water and cook further for about 15 minutes. This is called a water-bath process. (If you are making just one or two jars that you will keep in the refrigerator, this step is unnecessary, although sterlizling the jars is always a good idea, in my opinion.)

As the jars cool, if you have used a two part canning lid (Ball or Mason), there will be a loud pop, as a partial vacuum is formed and the lid becomes slightly concave. his is your assurance that you have achieved a good seal. If it doesn't happen, just store the jar in the fridge.

The above is the proper way to do it, but many people, including me, will just re-use whatever jar is handy and hope for the best, figuring that the acid and sugar are adequate preservatives.

Commerical pectin is available and people use it, but it requires more sugar and to me, the point of homemade jam is the intensity of the flavor that you simply do not get in a commercial product. I've never used pectin. If I find some especially delicious fruit, I very often make a jar or two of jam or jelly with it.

If you really are interested in canning and preserving, the basic book on the topic is the Ball Blue Book. Fine Preserving, by Catherine Plagemann with annotations by M.F.K. Fisher has some very good recipes, but I don't know if it is still in print. It does not go into the basics the wall the Ball Blue Book does. The Joy of Cooking also has detailed basic instructions.

If you plan to can non-acid foods, like mushrooms, or vegetables, theprocess is far more complicated and requires a pressure cooker for processing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...
It's the low-acid items that are the potential trouble makers.  It you stick to making fruit james, jellies and preserves, you needn't worry.  It you make very small quantities that you can keep in the refrigerator, you don't even have to worry about processing those properly, although it is not hard to do. 

You hear a lot about pectin, in reference to preserving.  Pectin is the substance that causes jelling.  Certain fruits are high in pectin, others are low.  Underripe fruit has more pectin than ripe fruit, as do the skins. 

Apples, grapes, cranberries, currants and quinces have high pectin;  apricots, blueberries, peaches, strawberries have low pectin.  Nevertheless, strawberries jam is easy to make.  Even the low-pectin fruits can be made to jell with enough cooking and boiling down of the juice, if necessary.

In general, the easiest type of preserve to make is jam. Before starting,  bring a big, deep pot of water to the boil.  Put the canning jars in the boiling water and keep them boiling for about 15 minutes to sterilize them.

To do it with the greatest degree of safety, use jars that come with a two-part lid, made by Mason or Ball.  The actual lid is a flat metal disc with a rubber seal that presses against the glass jar.  These are used once and discarded.  The lids are secured by a screw-on metal band, once the jars are filled and the lids are placed on top.

You want to use somewhat less sugar (by volume) than quantity of fruit, say, about 3/4 cup of sugar for every cup of fruit. Use only perfect fruit, and cut it before cooking into appropriate sized pieces.  Peel, if necessary, before proceeding.  Combine the fruit and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan much taller than you think you need.  Cook, stirrring until the sugar is dissolved.  Reduce the heat to prevent the mixture from threatening to boil over.  You will see why it is important to use a large enough and deep enough pan.  The mixture will begin to thicken.  To test to see if it has actually jelled (it can take from 15 - 40 minutes, depending on the amount of pectin in the fruit) dip a metal spoon into the jam, hold it tipped so the jam runs off the side and observe the drops.  At first they are merely syrupy.  At one point, two drops will form at the same time and drop together.  (This is a thin jell.)  Wait a little longer and the drops will form a sheet, for a thicker jelly.  You can further test by letting a few drops drip into a plate and observing the thickness as the drops cool. 

When you have your jam, remove the jars from the boiling water, drain and fill, using a wide-mouth funnel.  Dip the jar lids into the boiling water and seal the bottles.  Leave about 1/2 inch at the top.  Put the sealed and filled jam jars back into the boiling water and cook further for about 15 minutes.  This is called a water-bath process.  (If you are making just one or two jars that you will keep in the refrigerator, this step is unnecessary, although sterlizling the jars is always a good idea, in my opinion.)

As the jars cool, if you have used a two part canning lid (Ball or Mason), there will be a loud pop, as a partial vacuum is formed and the lid becomes slightly concave.  his is your assurance that you have achieved a good seal.  If it doesn't happen, just store the jar in the fridge. 

The above is the proper way to do it, but many people, including me, will just re-use whatever jar is handy and hope for the best, figuring that the acid and sugar are adequate preservatives.

Commerical pectin is available and people use it, but it requires more sugar and to me, the point of homemade jam is the intensity of the flavor that you simply do not get in a commercial product.  I've never used pectin.  If I find some especially delicious fruit, I very often make a jar or two of jam or jelly with it.

If you really are interested in canning and preserving, the basic book on the topic is the Ball Blue Book.  Fine Preserving, by Catherine Plagemann with annotations by M.F.K. Fisher has some very good recipes, but I don't know if it is still in print.  It does not go into the basics the wall the Ball Blue Book does.  The Joy of Cooking also has detailed basic instructions.

If you plan to can non-acid foods, like mushrooms, or vegetables, theprocess is far more complicated and requires a pressure cooker for processing.

Sandra, I had missed this great post by you.

Thanks! I process jams, jellies and preserves all the time. And your explanation has demystified this procedure.

I am glad the post was revived. It certainly will be helpful to many as we head into spring.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a question about pectin. I bought some a while ago to use for something or other, used a bit, and it didn't work out. Now I have an open package and want to use it up, but don't know for the life of me what to do with it. For some reason, the instructions make my head spin, and I usually don't have that problem. They're really quite confusing. So, any help by the teaspoonful? Rules of thumb?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have never used pectin, even when making jam from supposedly low-pectin fruits. The recipes I've seen that call for it use far more sugar than the non-pectin methods. The reason I like to make my own jam is that I can achieve an intensity of fruit flavor not usually found in commercial products. I like jam that tastes strongly of the fruit with which it is made, not of the sugar. Pectin jams are sweeter and blander than I prefer. If you really want to use up the pectin you have, follow a recipe that calls for it and don't worry about the theory. Maybe someone else can help you with a real answer, but I can't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No pectin. Fruit and sugar. And a good thermometer if you have trouble figuring out when it will jell enough. (Spoon a little onto a saucer and see how fast it runs when you tilt the saucer; if it gloms up and only runs a little, it's ready.) Otherwise, cook it to about 220ºF.

Fill as Sandra suggests; process if you want to keep them in the cupboard. I always keep my jars in the fridge anyway, so I don't bother with processing the filled jars. And I've never had my jams go bad (except for the one time I made it in the microwave; never again).

The only time I tried using pectin was in some green tomato-lemongrass conserve. Didn't work. But it makes a great fool, swirled into whipped cream. :biggrin: Now I have a package of powdered pectin, which fortunately says on the box that it keeps indefinitely.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lou and I had the opportunity to taste Suvir's celestial apricot jam last night at Awbrig and Allison's. Awesome.

A rich, deep golden brown, speckled with nuts (or seeds?) not sure. And some haunting seasonings that we can't immediately place.

C'mon, Suvir the Magician. Help us out!

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lou and I had the opportunity to taste Suvir's celestial apricot jam last night at Awbrig and Allison's. Awesome.

A rich, deep golden brown, speckled with nuts (or seeds?) not sure.  And some haunting seasonings that we can't immediately place.

C'mon, Suvir the Magician.  Help us out!

Thanks Maggie! If I had more, I would send you some in the mail. This jam is the most popular one after the meyer lemon marmalade. But there are some that crave it and request many bottles.

It is made with these very tiny apricots that come to the Union Square farmers market for a very short period. I use them and some sugar, and cook a long time. The jam then becomes nice and thick. It has apricot seeds in it. No nuts. In India we used bitter almonds.

And the spices are red chile (very little) and some black pepper. That is all.

If I am around this spring, I shall make a larger batch (not that I do not make a huge one already) and send some to you and some others that have wanted more.

You are as usual very kind maggie. :smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Suvir has mentioned bitter almonds. Is there a way to get them in this country? I've little energy anymore for smashing through to the apricot pits. (Or perhaps someone has a trick to extricate them.)

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Suvir has mentioned bitter almonds.  Is there a way to get them in this country?  I've little energy anymore for smashing through to the apricot pits.  (Or perhaps someone has a trick to extricate them.)

I know David Karp had done a story in LA Times about them. Maybe if you search their online archives you can find them.

There are sources for them. I am not aware what they are.

I bake the seeds till they are nice and dry. And then I crack them in my mortar and pestle one at a time. Just a few seeds can go a long way. It is worth the effort.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Ball Blue book is a great resource for the beginning canner. Another source of good info is the University Extension Service, probably located in your county seat.

Do follow the directions to the letter, don't take any shortcuts or add extra ingredients. Acidity, sugar content and heat levels are all critical elements, and messing around can hurt ya!!

The preceding message was brought to you by University of Missouri Outreach and Extension, the ultimate authority on most every damn thing, including canning. (We also know most everything about gardening, livestock, child rearing, small business development, agricultural engineering, septic tanks, community development . . . . ) :rolleyes:

sparrowgrass
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jars sold usually have good instructions as well as master canners in your area.

Make sure the lip of the jar is clean with no spillage.

Another tip I learned the hard way is only the Ball grey rubber lids are used without deterioration.

if your recipe has oil in it, i.e. marinara or salsa etc.

I have to hunt for these lids west of the Mississippi. I have found only one store in the nearby

area that sells them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has anyone had direct experience with steamer/juicers such as these? fcb68c69.jpg I recall my mother using one (back in the 50’s) and what beautiful, almost jewel-like juice it produced. My question is, what’s the down side with a steam juicer? Is it only good for juicing for jellies but not useful for making jams or preserves? How about juicing grapes for winemaking? Any hands-on information would help me make a decision to buy (or not!).

--------------

Bob Bowen

aka Huevos del Toro

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...

I picked up a flat of strawberries for $3 because I just couldn't pass up such a deal. Then I had to figure out what to do with all those strawberries. :hmmm:

I found this thread when I searched on making strawberry preserves. I am on my way out the door to try and find the Ball Blue Book at one of the used book stores. Thank you Sandra Levine for a great post!

I made two batches of strawberry preserves (using a recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook), one batch of strawberry custard ice cream, one batch of strawberry sorbet and I still have strawberries!

Lucky for me, I left some of the strawberries out on the countertop in a covered beanpot and they got moldy. I was happy to have an excuse to throw them away. :laugh: I still have a good quart of strawberries covered in the fridge and need to do something with them before they mold. :unsure: Or maybe not.

I'm thinking about making Strawberry Preserves with Black Pepper and Balsamic Vinegar.

One way or another, that will be the end of the strawberries!

- kim

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can always make strawberry syrup, you can freeze it and use it later for flavoring, ices, even with ice cream and seltzer water for a great soda.

I make a sort of thin cream Anglaise, crush the strawberries and fold into the mixture and freeze in an ice cream freezer. It has a different texture and mouth feel than sorbet or ice cream, rather rich. I also may add toasted and salted pecans as I like the flavor combination.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wasn't around when the previous post was put up. I have mentioned several times how much I enjoy my steam juicer. In fact I have a bunch of cranberries that need to be processed pretty soon. Perhaps a task for tomorrow.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Similar Content

    • By SobaAddict70
      I LOVE pickled ginger. In fact, in some instances, moreso than sushi or sashimi itself. When I was first introduced to sushi, it was my least favorite part of a sushi meal. Now it's the opposite.
      Besides sushi/sashimi, what other uses for pickled ginger are there? And how do you make your own? What goes in the pickling solution? Fresh pickled ginger (not premade) is undyed and a pale beige in color, whereas the premade version is a slight tawny pink.
      Any suggestions?
      Soba
    • By Smarmotron
      What sorts of mustards do you like? The type of mustard I like is pungent without a hint of sweetness (fie upon honey mustards), but not too vinegary. Inglehoffer's Stone Ground tends to be rather good, but it's got a little too much vinegar (overpowers the taste of the mustard). What sorts of mustards do you like? Any brands? Or do you make your own?
    • By Eldictator
      Any ideas on how I could put a honey centre in a jelly pastille
    • By Keith Orr
      Sorta Secret Aardvark Sauce (Habenero Hot Sauce)
      I thought I'd submit my recipe which is a clone of a locally available sauce here in Portland OR called Secret Aardvark Sauce.
      Sorta Secret Aardvark Sauce
      1 – 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes or roasted tomatoes chopped - include the juice
      1 – 14.5 oz of rice wine vinegar. Use the now empty tomato can to measure
      1-1/2 cups of peeled and grated carrots (packed into the measuring cup)
      1 cup of finely diced white onion
      1/4 cup of yellow mustard
      1/3 cup of sugar
      2 teaspoons of Morton’s Kosher Salt
      1 teaspoon of black pepper
      13 small Habaneros – seeded and membranes removed. (This was 2 oz. of Habaneros before cutting off the tops and removing the seeds and membranes)
      2 teaspoons curry powder
      1 cup of water when cooking
      5 or 6 cloves of garlic - roasted if you've got it
      Put it all in the crockpot on high until everything is tender. About 3 hours  Note: I used the crockpot so I don't have to worry about scorching it while it cooks. 
      Whirl in food processor – Don’t puree until smooth – make it lightly/finely chunky.
      Makes 3 pints - To can process pint jars in a water bath canner for 15 minutes
      I've thought about making this with peaches or mangoes too, but haven't tried it yet.
       
      Edited for clarity on 11/9/2020
       
      Keywords: Hot and Spicy, Carribean, Condiment, Sauce, Easy, Food Processor
      ( RG2003 )
    • By Sheel
      Prawn Balchao is a very famous Goan pickle that has a sweet, spicy and tangy flavor to it. 
      For the balchao paste you will need:
      > 8-10 kashmiri red chillies
      > 4-5 Byadagi red chillies
      > 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
      > 1/2 tsk turmeric powder 
      > 1 tsp peppercorn
      > 6 garlic cloves
      > 1/2 tsp cloves
      > 1 inch cinnamon stick
      > Vinegar 
      First you will need to marinate about 250 grams of prawns in some turmeric powder and salt. After 15 minutes deep fry them in oil till them become golden n crisp. Set them aside and add tsp vinegar to them and let it sit for 1 hour. Now, make a paste of all the ingredients mentioned under the balchao paste and make sure not to add any water. In the same pan used for fryin the prawns, add in some chopped garlic and ginger. Lightly fry them and immediately add one whole chopped onion. Next, add the balchao paste amd let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in the prawns and cook until the gravy thickens. Finally add 1 tsp sugar and salt according to your taste. Allow it to cool. This can be stored in a glass jar. Let this mature for 1-3 weeks before its use. Make sure never to use water at any stage. This can be enjoyed with a simple lentil curry and rice.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...