Yes, I Can!

Canned carrots with doe hill pepper harvest.

Canned carrots with doe hill pepper harvest.

This weekend I tried my hand at canning for the first time!  There is something so reassuring about it.   You just don’t dread the foreboding winter as much, when you know you are stored well for it.   Only had sea salt on hand and was supposed to use salt without iodine, which the sea salt naturally contains.   So, I added a few drops of vinegar and lemon in order to keep the color, but much less than I’ve seen done. I am waiting to see if the color will turn brown due to the iodine, or if the lemon and vinegar will do the trick.   I used the water bath method as I don’t have a pressure cooker, and I decided to precook lightly to kill germs beforehand rather than cold pack (which is raw uncooked veg.), and of course had to add some homegrown herbs and garlic.  Some herbs like oregano should, I hope, aid in the preserving process.  In the excitement I left a a darn bay leaf in the carrot brine, so one will probably be overpowered with it . I really enjoyed the process, even though I was quite nervous about it. All the tops popped like they were supposed to. One on it’s own, and the other two when I pressed down to test them, but they stayed down so they passed the test. The process does perplex me a bit.  I wonder how the water doesn’t seep into the top gap when being immersed, and only now figured out why there needs to be a gap in the first place after reading this book “Put ’em Up!”.  The gap is needed for the food expansion during the heating process. That leads me to another question.  So how come when it expands it doesn’t suck some of the exterior water back in? I am guessing it can’t do both at the same time. Who on earth figured all this out- the exact amount to leave at the top? And I wonder how far back it all started. The book helped me to understand the process more, and I like the way it’s organized.  I wish I could find some of those colorful tops in the book.  Important things I learned were:  fingertip tight means don’t use your knuckles to over tighten the tops as gases will not be able to escape , let the jars sit 5 minutes  after turning off the heat before taking them out, and do not  tilt the jars to get the water off the top when taking out the hot jars as the seal is not set yet.

Here is the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Put-em-Sherri-Brooks-Vinton/dp/1603425462

I also found a strange sooty film on the exterior of the jars and the inside of the canner that I am hoping is from the first use of the canner and not from the metal tin covers. There is not that much choice on the local market for canning tops.

Gee, now I don’t have to worry about food going bad.  It is quite comforting. The true test will be of course, when I open them up a month or two down the road.  I think I will be doing sauerkraut next, probably some tomato sauce with market tomatoes, and some fruits. These are more acid and therefore less risky and lend themselves better to the water bath method. Then, the only room for fantasy in the world of practical, will be for the playfulness of herbs, balancing the quantities and the tastes, and dreaming of just opening up a jar of home canned on a cold winter day.

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