LTH Home

The Romance of Canning

The Romance of Canning
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
     Page 1 of 15
  • The Romance of Canning

    Post #1 - December 31st, 2007, 5:43 pm
    Post #1 - December 31st, 2007, 5:43 pm Post #1 - December 31st, 2007, 5:43 pm
    The Romance of Canning


    When people inquire about my canning activities, I sometimes see a bit of romance creeping through. Are they dreaming of the farm ladies in their long aprons, trimming vegetables and gossiping around the table. Gleaming jars of finish product lined up with the sun filtering through. A blue ribbon from the County Fair respectfully attached to the best darned canned green beans in the region. What they rarely have a notion about is the work involved. While some of my canning friends garden or have spouses who garden, I drive out to the farms. It creates a layer of time, effort and learning resources nobody canning in an earlier era would have experienced.

    Just for your edification, I kept a diary of my canning related efforts this week:

    Wednesday: Telephoned a few farms I visit to determine what was at peak ripeness, which often translates into abundant and cheap. I was balancing in my mind toward making green beans or pickles and some tomato sauces. Green beans require quite a bit of handwork to snap beans. Pickles require a variety of preparations for dill (four week fermentation), 14-day pickles (a daily intervention for 2 weeks) and bread-and-butter (salting, chilling, pasteurizing). For the weekend preserver, pickles and green beans are big efforts with big rewards, though easier to do one at a time. My canning buddy married into an Italian family, she likes to have sauces for her children: roasted red peppers (not until September when they are abundant and cheap), marinara sauce, roasted tomato sauce, salsa and whatever catches our fancy. This year we are planning a batch of tomato sauce with WSM smoked tomatoes for fun.

    Friday: Cleaned the refrigerator vegetable bins, sharpened knives and took inventory of canning supplies. I went to the Costco, Farm Fresh and Jewel to get some ingredient canning staples of onions, sugar and canning salt. Could not find any Morton canning salt, which then put a visit to Woodman’s the next day on the agenda. Made arrangements for my canning buddy to arrive around 7 or 7:30.

    Saturday: Canning buddy arrives around 9 AM (yes, there is the plan and then there is what happens). By 9:17 we are out the door, the trip odometer set to the zero, cooler in the trunk and our day begins.

    10:02, 32 miles from home base, we arrive to Woodman’s to buy canning salt as well as dig through their cheese section for the Wisconsin parmesan’s recommended by Cook’s Illustrated. We enter through the bread section, which inspires a hot dog bun purchase with the Usinger’s beef frankfurters and veal knockwurst to be found later. Just cannot beeline in a grocery store when there is so much to see. Never did find the parmesan recommended, instead we bought Bucky Beaver parmesan for fun. We don’t leave Woodman’s until 10:59.

    11:50, 57 miles (with construction detour) from home base, we visit the farm stand we fondly refer to as, “The Hippies.” This farm, which I believe is a commune, is just east of Richmond. In addition to offering organik (sic) produce, they also sell furniture, clay garden pots and rugs. If you are out this way and value organik produce, then this is a must-stop because the prices are largely $1 per pound for heirloom tomatoes, new potatoes, several varieties of eggplants, onions, carrots and beets. I bought a softball sized beet for 50 cents, which will be grated to make a salad. I spent $12 for quite a lot of vegetables.

    Image
    Image
    Image

    For the first time ever, we met the organik farmer. We didn’t quite know who he was until he opened the honor-system cash box. Pulled out some money holding it out for inspection commenting triumphantly, “Who says there isn’t money in farming!” He gave us a verbal tour of the half dozen varieties of tomatoes. A few were specific to this farm, because some of the tomatoes had cross-pollinated creating some improved varieties. He did not use Luther Burbank’s method of hand pollinating. He simply planted tomato varieties adjacent to each other and let Nature do her thing. If he liked a tomato, then he kept the seeds for planting the next year.

    Image

    We had not had breakfast, because if we had left earlier, then it would have been at the Coffee Cup in Kenosha. Starting a bit late, this was cut from the agenda. Leaving the Hippie farm at 12:05 PM, we beelined to our lunch destination at Royal Oak Farms. We did pass some locations I planned to visit, but to give you a sense of distance from the Hippie farm: we passed Von Bergens in 12 minutes and 7 miles. Kammer Road leading to Hebron Apple Orchard was a mere 2 miles beyond Von Bergens, though to reach the orchard you drive an additional 2 miles. Royal Oak Orchards is an additional 5 miles, though you leave IL-173 to reach it. In downtown Hebron (stop sign), turn right onto Main St. At the very next street turn left onto Bigelow, then proceed a few miles to Royal Oak Orchards.

    12:30, 71 miles from home base, we arrive to Royal Oak Orchards. While lunch was our ultimate destination, I visited their farm stand first. I met the farmer/owner who when I inquired if crops were early this year, to confirm information my canning buddy had gleaned the week before. He launched into an analytical explanation why crops were one week early on average this year. We learned statistics are kept on how many days/hours over 50 degrees in temperature for 24 hours are maintained. Fifty degrees is the magic temperature for plants beginning to stir to life as well as pest eggs laid last fall begin to activate. Royal Oak Orchards is now part of the University of Illinois Extension statistical collection station for temperature readings as well as moth activity. The closest station is west of Rockford, otherwise there are none until mid-state.

    The moth he tracks we often meet when we slice an apple to find a worm aka moth larvae. At least 15 traps are kept and recorded at Royal Oak Farms, which are reported to the U of I Extension on a daily basis. For his orchard’s use, he will gauge by the moth activity if and when to spray for moths. While they are willing to tolerate the level of economic damage finding 5 moths in a collection trap. They cannot tolerate the economic damage when 50 moths are collected in trap, this triggers a spraying of the orchards. Kindly remember these are rough numbers to give you an orientation.

    I bought half a peck of early apples named Red Free. I passed on the peaches at $40 a half bushel, then proceed to lunch at their cafeteria. They no longer make their pies on the premises, rather someone local makes them to the their recipes. My disappointment vanished when I tasted their quality, double-crust chicken potpie. This was much better than many restaurant versions with minimal gravy, though filled with diced chicken, green beans, carrots, potatoes and pearl onions.

    Image

    We left with our minds and bellies filled at 1:32 PM.

    Driving east toward home, we stopped at an intriguing sign:

    Image
    Just to collect information for the future, I pulled into the farmyard with a welcoming committee of two barking dogs. I didn’t get out of car, waited a bit and finally tooted the horn waiting for their owner. A smiling lady came out who when we inquired about her chickens advise, “They are 7-8 pounds for $12, though all I have is already spoken for. These chickens are going to slaughter in a few days. I won’t have more chickens for maybe three months.” I got my name on the list for four birds.

    We were offered eggs, which I declined because my cooler was at capacity. I have a friend around Dixon who also raises chickens, so I knew a few practical questions to ask. “How long have your chickens been laying eggs?” It may seem silly until you know the older they are the larger the egg they produce. We then learned she raises a unique variety of chicken not usually considered commercially viable. More commercially suitable laying chickens lay their first egg at 3 months and continue for 5-6 years. Her chickens lay their first egg at 6 months and produce for maybe 3-4 years. Her breed choice was largely due their sweeter personality to allow the children in her life to interact without any problems. It was when she said her chicken’s eggs varied from pink, green and blue, I immediately found room in my cooler. These eggs aka Easter Eggs were a dozen for $1.50.

    Image

    As our conversation was winding down, I inquired what kind of meat was offered. “Meat? No, no meat, only ‘meat chickens’ are raised for slaughter. ‘Meat chicken’ seems to be a distinction from ‘laying chickens,’ which never crossed my mind.

    We did visit Hebron Orchards to check into their early ripening apples. We learned these early apples had been smaller than usual, but due to recent storm activity had all dropped to the ground. She advised in early September we should drop by.

    2 PM, 83 miles from home base, we arrived to Von Bergen’s for our major vegetables purchases. We bought two-25 pound boxes of plum tomatoes for $22 and two- Boxes regular tomatoes for $14. In addition, we got some corn to eat and some Michigan Peaches. I postponed green beans until next weekend, when I get the Moms to help snap beans around Mom2’s kitchen table. Several people can get the job done in an hour, which really helps to speed the process. My car was already loaded from my earlier purchases, the guys and I had to do some rearranging to make it fit.

    Image
    We left Von Bergen’s at 2:30 PM, then proceeded to make two more stops: Mike’s Grocery in Highland Park for carrots, red peppers and flat leaf parsley. Sunset Food’s hoping this may be high season for basil, which we were rewarded grandly.

    We almost got sidelined, though I had to remember I had quite a commitment in fresh vegetables that needed processing.

    Image

    4 PM return to home base for final trip mileage of 132 miles in 6 hours, 43 minutes.

    When I returned home, I immediately scrubbed down the kitchen sink, then filled it with one box plum tomatoes to clean. I started my fryer-slow cooker to boil water once I had nearly cleaned the second box of plum tomatoes. I dropped maybe a half dozen tomatoes into the hot water, then into my sink filled with cold water to shock and cool. Meanwhile my Mom was peeling carrots and garlic, that were chopped up by my canning buddy. As vegetables were chopped, then they were added to the stock pot. After canning buddy checked the plums, she insisted a green core be removed before they went to pot.

    6 PM – we dined on the Usinger’s sausages, sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes from the Hippies.

    9 PM – while the sauce was simmering, we went to Jewel for tapioca and tomato paste.

    Image

    10:30 PM – we finally began ladling sauce into freshly cleaned quart jars.

    While canning buddy stripped basil leaves for future sauces and pesto. I blanched and peeled 9 pounds of peaches. Once sliced, I had 3-1/2 quarts of peachs, which were mixed with sugar, lemon juice, salt and tapioca for three future pie fillings. These were packed in 1 quart freezer ziploc bags until this winter.

    1:30 AM went to bed with the following accomplished: 7 quarts and 9 pints marinara sauce with another quart to be processed with the next batch. Three pie fillings. Basil leaves for at least two batches of pesto sauce.

    Sunday … more!

    ***

    The above was written on August 12th. Canning resumed on Sunday and finally finished on Monday evening after work.

    The final production over two weekends:

    Basil/Pesto: several quart bags of frozen cubes.
    Green beans: 15 quarts, 8 smaller quarts*
    Tomatoes: 11 quarts, 1 pint
    Tomato juice: 7 quarts
    Marinara sauce: 15 quarts, 17 pints
    Peach blush jam (peach and raspberry jam): 7.5 pints
    Peach pie filling: 3.5 9-inch pie fillings

    In early October, I tried to get plum tomatoes but I was one weekend too late. For the first time in many years, I will buy plum tomatoes from the store. Next year it has risen to the top of my list of must-dos.

    I never made pickles because my pickle source didn't feel the crop was pickle worthy. I have enough to get by, though next year it will be on my must-do list, too.

    I was pleased with the sauerkraut to make more next year. The bonus was no foul odor, which was the sole reason for not pursuing it before.

    I can because I can. It is a considerable investment in time and money, though a time saver later on. Instead of many individual of batches of marinara throughout the year. I bite the bullet to make several stock pot quantities, which satisfies my needs. Unfortunately this effort is at the height of heat and humidity in summer, when it would be a much better winter activity. However you can make marmalade in winter, which is not ideal in summer.

    For those considering this effort, you now have a realistic idea of the effort involved.

    All the best,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #2 - December 31st, 2007, 10:21 pm
    Post #2 - December 31st, 2007, 10:21 pm Post #2 - December 31st, 2007, 10:21 pm
    Spectacular post to read on such a wintry night, Cathy - I'm jealous of both your prowess and your results.

    I assume you have a pressure canner? Next year, if you can, will you snap photos of the process once the cans are filled?
  • Post #3 - January 1st, 2008, 1:48 am
    Post #3 - January 1st, 2008, 1:48 am Post #3 - January 1st, 2008, 1:48 am
    Hi,

    I'll put it on my to-do list. This year I really only had two weekends available to can. I did as much as I could, which allowed no time to document much.

    I have a waterbath and two pressure canners. One of my pressure canners is a double-decker capable of processing 14 quart jars. I am hoping the double-decker will sit on my turkey fryer set-up, which Bruce suggested a few years ago. It would be perfect for doing green beans.

    Stay warm and happy new year!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #4 - January 1st, 2008, 11:09 am
    Post #4 - January 1st, 2008, 11:09 am Post #4 - January 1st, 2008, 11:09 am
    Cathy2...fabulous post! I come from farming family on my father's side. My grandfather had a huge vegetable garden and my grandmother used to can so they'd have produce all winter. That slowed down once they got a chest freezer and your diary makes it easy to understand why.

    I have early childhood memories of canning jars lining shelves in a small basement room at their house. As a young child I never made the connection between those jars and dinner. My grandmother had a small kitchen and always had dinner well into preparation by the time we got there. I wish I had helped her more often but through this diary, I can at least appreciate the effort she expended!
    "The only thing I have to eat is Yoo-hoo and Cocoa puffs so if you want anything else, you have to bring it with you."
  • Post #5 - January 1st, 2008, 1:16 pm
    Post #5 - January 1st, 2008, 1:16 pm Post #5 - January 1st, 2008, 1:16 pm
    Fun and inspiring!

    Did you do the smoked tomato sauce? I love grilled tomatoes, but I find that when I smoke them the smoke flavor is overwhelming (even if I leave on the skins to smoke and remove them when I take them out to cool).
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #6 - January 1st, 2008, 1:20 pm
    Post #6 - January 1st, 2008, 1:20 pm Post #6 - January 1st, 2008, 1:20 pm
    Hi,

    I never did the smoked tomatoes. This might have been accomplished in early October if Italian plum tomatoes were still available. I have roasted tomatoes in the oven for these sauce expeditions.

    I agree the smoke had the potential to overwhelm. However often when I do use these sauces, I add additional canned plum tomatoes to thin it out. We have found these sauces seem to concentrate in the canning process and need plain tomatoes added when preparing to eat.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #7 - January 1st, 2008, 6:12 pm
    Post #7 - January 1st, 2008, 6:12 pm Post #7 - January 1st, 2008, 6:12 pm
    Thanks for the post Cathy - definitely nice to think of summer's return on a blustery winter night. I love canning and judicious freezing as a way to satisfy Winter's cravings for Spring/Summer fruits and vegetables as opposed to buying exorbitantly overpriced and underflavored product flown from far away. I tend to stick with the jam/preserve/chutney variety - a wonderful gift for clients at the holidays. This year my bounty was:

    Blackberry-Bay Jam
    Strawberry Jam
    Raspberry Jam
    Heirloom Tomato Marmalade (fantastic on goat cheese - I had some this morning with Capriole's piper's pyramid)
    Red Pepper Catsup
    Apple Chutney
    Spiced Peach Preserves
    Cassis
    Rhubarb-Grapefruit Marmalade
    Blueberry-Cinnamon Preserves
    Grape Jelly

    I also usually make an apricot-lavendar jam, but it wasn't a good year for apricots. I'll definitely miss it as it's one of my favorites.
    MAG
    www.monogrammeevents.com

    "I've never met a pork product I didn't like."
  • Post #8 - February 28th, 2008, 10:23 am
    Post #8 - February 28th, 2008, 10:23 am Post #8 - February 28th, 2008, 10:23 am
    A brief homage to Cathy2 and her wonderful winter-timed post about summer preserving. I recently was given a book by M.F.K. Fisher who I only knew as the food writer of “The Art of Eating.” She is one of my favorite writers so I was very happy to find this new-to-me book, “Sister Age.”

    In one of the short essays, Fisher in her wonderful style talks about a pioneer woman who ran a cook-tent in the desert, serving forth the produce she had carefully grown in her garden and preserved. Fisher says Mrs. Teeters probably lived and died before 1918. She was:

    “…an Eastern Yankee who came out to the California sun after a Southerner shot her young husband in the lungs in about 1864. … Mrs. Teeters packed up and moved east to Indio, where she bought some land with a good spring on it and built an adobe cabin. She kept to herself, but had good Indian friends. She started a little garden patch and in season sold baskets of snap beans and tomatoes and a few foreign herbs to people who wanted them enough to come fetch them.

    "It got so she put up more and more of her garden stuff, in big jars that she had brought from Back East. She made summer pickles and relishes that kept for a few months, but mostly it was plain whole peeled tomatoes. From what I know of home canning and of summer heat on the deserts of Southern California, it is a miracle that such volatile supplies did not blow up or start flashing strange livid lights in the dark, or at least kill off everybody who tasted them. Mrs. Teeters probably used Kerr or Mason jars by the turn of the century as did every other frontier cook in this country…”

    “Mrs. Teeters began to lock up her little house as soon as the garden patch had finished its annual dance. She packed her wagon with jars of canned stuff and supplies, and headed down toward Death Valley or northwest toward 29 Palms. Once she decided to stop, she set up her own small tent and a kind of airy cookhouse, with the help of Indian friends, and then waited for business.

    "The cookhouse was actually nothing but a sturdy canvas roof that could be rolled back in sudden storms, with one side flap that could be moved according to wind and weather to protect a portable stove. This was sometimes a new fangled coal-oil burner and more often a small wood stove that heated well on scraps of sage-root and mesquite. Under the canvas shelter there was a trestle table that would seat eight men comfortable, with an extra bench for waiting, and a swinging lantern above."

    (If you would like to see an example of this type of movable tent, look carefully when your "3:10 to Yuma" dvd arrives from Netflix.)

    It seems…that once the camp was set up, no matter where, and from about 1870 until shortly before… 1917, word spread fast. Silent bleached men knew that they could head for the camp and sit under the lantern and eat good fresh honest-to-god food from Mrs. Teeters’ supplies and deft ways of dealing with them. No matter which direction she decided to head in, come the end of the summer picking and preserving, the desert rats knew where to find her, whatever piece of pure wind-clean land that she had pitched on.

    When I asked … what she looked like…Nobody bothered to tell…I see her as strong, certainly, but she could be tall or short. I am sure she was thin: women on the desert tend to dry up almost as fast as men. I suspect…that she remained exactly as her husband had left her, resolutely untouched by anyone else. What she apparently needed to do in her solitude was garner what her own land grew and then feed it to other hungry wanderers. This she did for several decades. I do not know how she was rewarded.”

    “It seems that she had a way with tomatoes, both in the wild hot soil of Indio and in her preserving, so that when she brought out a jar of them for three or four men who had drifted wordlessly toward her tent in January, say, they were as odorous and desirable as any girl ever forgotten. Mrs. Teeters would make a kind of minestrone from her supplies that you could stand a spoon in, mostly potatoes and then her foreign herbs and beans, and dried pasta a neighbor made for her in Indio. She had a way of simmering any meat the men would bring to her, like a tender young jackrabbit built like a kangaroo or a dainty antelope, and then dumping in a jar of her green beans and another of the tomatoes.

    “…Now and then she would hitch up and ride back to her place, to buy more hay for the horse, more supplies. She would pack jars from her stores into the wagon, and amble at her own speed back to the cook-tent and the wanderers who on their own silent signals emerged again from the silver-grey sands they had come to look like. She would have fresh flour for more biscuits, and the rest of that year’s harvest of preserves.

    As a self-appointed cook to desert rats, she knew how to get along without much but the plain preserves from her big jars, an onion if she had one, a handful of coarse brown sugar, a sprinkling of cloves and salt. Perhaps she put in a touch of drippings if there were any in her chosen hellhole. No doubt her brew was odorous and soupy, a fine thing to thicken with crumbled biscuits… and no doubt her cook-tent sounded as slurpy as a Japanese noodleshop when otherwise quiet men sat uninvited but welcome at the trestle table.”

    Fisher also has a comment about sources:

    “Mrs. Teeters as an Easterner probably gleaned her kitchen tricks from Marion Harland’s “Common Sense in the Household” and then Mrs. Roper’s “Philadelphia Cookbook” and finally Fannie Farmer’s “Boston Cooking School Cook Book.” …as an American she preferred tomatoes stewed with a little butter and cloves and brown sugar to the vinegar and gravy that Mrs. Beeton advised in England, in her “Book of Household Management.””

    Fisher really delights me. I think she is one of the best food writers or writers of any kind.

    Now, can we picture Cathy2 serving it forth from her pantry? I think she would have a following! Anyway, belated thanks, Cathy2 for your preserving post with its wonderful photos and timeline. --Joy
    Last edited by Joy on February 29th, 2008, 5:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #9 - February 28th, 2008, 12:16 pm
    Post #9 - February 28th, 2008, 12:16 pm Post #9 - February 28th, 2008, 12:16 pm
    Joy,

    Thank you for such a wonderful post featuring quotes from MFK Fisher. Joan Reardon of Lake Forest has a book coming out to celebrate the 100th anniversary of her birth in July.

    I thought you might enjoy this Nebraska frontier bakery:

    Image

    Thank you again for a lovely post with fingers to the past.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #10 - February 29th, 2008, 5:43 pm
    Post #10 - February 29th, 2008, 5:43 pm Post #10 - February 29th, 2008, 5:43 pm
    Cathy, thanks for the photo! It looks like a great franchising opportunity. I have to look into it.

    OK, here is a very old, extremely corny joke told very poorly in written form. I could not resist it after reading your "I can because I can" comment!

    A British executive is touring an American food processing plant. The American tour guide says, "We eat what we can and what we can't, we can!"

    The Brit thinks this is marvelously witty! He can't wait to get home to tell his buddies.

    When he gets back to England, he tells about the tour and then he says, "The chap said, 'We consume what we are able and what we cannot consume, we tin!"

    bwaaa haaa haaa I will stop now. --Joy
  • Post #11 - March 22nd, 2008, 10:07 am
    Post #11 - March 22nd, 2008, 10:07 am Post #11 - March 22nd, 2008, 10:07 am
    Hi,

    I am cleaning my desk. I found notes on 2008 prices of pickles and green beans.

    Green beans:
    $30/bushel and $15/half bushel

    Pickles:
    Small: $25/bushel and $13/half bushel
    Medium: $19/bushel and $10/half bushel
    Large: $16/bushel and $9/half bushel

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #12 - March 25th, 2008, 12:27 am
    Post #12 - March 25th, 2008, 12:27 am Post #12 - March 25th, 2008, 12:27 am
    Lovely post on canning, Cathy2. I confess, though, that I have never felt motivated to learn the canning art myself. I guess one ever-present concern is a fear of screwing up and killing my family (not, as Martin Sheen says in the Butterball Hotline episode of West Wing, that that's necessarily a deal-breaker).

    What I really want to do is find out where to buy other people's canned goods, so that I can eat more locally and support local businesses. My closest summer farmers' market, in Libertyville, doesn't have much of anything in the way of canned goods. Does anyone have any suggestions for where I should look for the fruits (and vegetables, and tomato sauces, and so on) of others' canning labors?
  • Post #13 - March 25th, 2008, 8:00 am
    Post #13 - March 25th, 2008, 8:00 am Post #13 - March 25th, 2008, 8:00 am
    I grew up in a family of canners. My grandmother and mom canned almost anything. However the failed to pass it on down to me and as they aged have given it up. I'd like to sort of revive it and learn more about canning. I've tinkered with jellies and jams and this year I'm thinking of tinkering with some relishes and chow chow.

    It is a very daunting task and I especially enjoyed this post because it details how canning is very time consuming but rewarding.
    One Mint Julep was the cause of it all.
  • Post #14 - March 26th, 2008, 3:04 am
    Post #14 - March 26th, 2008, 3:04 am Post #14 - March 26th, 2008, 3:04 am
    Cathy2 wrote:Joy,

    Thank you for such a wonderful post featuring quotes from MFK Fisher. Joan Reardon of Lake Forest has a book coming out to celebrate the 100th anniversary of her birth in July.

    I thought you might enjoy this Nebraska frontier bakery:

    Image

    Thank you again for a lovely post with fingers to the past.

    Regards,



    That is actually a picture of a NEVADA frontier bakery located in a small mining town near Tonopah, NV. The photo in from the Nevada Historical Society in Carson City, NV. It was featured in a recent Nevada Historical Calendar.
  • Post #15 - March 26th, 2008, 8:32 am
    Post #15 - March 26th, 2008, 8:32 am Post #15 - March 26th, 2008, 8:32 am
    MAG wrote: This year my bounty was:

    Blackberry-Bay Jam
    Strawberry Jam
    Raspberry Jam
    Heirloom Tomato Marmalade (fantastic on goat cheese - I had some this morning with Capriole's piper's pyramid)
    Red Pepper Catsup
    Apple Chutney
    Spiced Peach Preserves
    Cassis
    Rhubarb-Grapefruit Marmalade
    Blueberry-Cinnamon Preserves
    Grape Jelly


    BTW, MAG - your ketchup was recently featured on Gus's wonderful french fries for Corn Dog/Luther Day. Unbelievable - a perfect condiment for perfect fries. You should be proud.

    I discovered Sparky likes applesauce with bay; I'm intrigued by the Blackberry-Bay Jam...
  • Post #16 - April 11th, 2008, 3:27 am
    Post #16 - April 11th, 2008, 3:27 am Post #16 - April 11th, 2008, 3:27 am
    C2, I'm considering learning the art of canning this year to put by what I'm fantasizing will be a vast amount of veggies from my still-in-planning-stage garden. Your post is very helpful, and though The Wife seems resistant, I'm eying gear and imagining how nice it would be to have homemade tomato sauce all winter long. Must admit, the math of whether it's worth the effort eludes me, but I think it'd be fun to try.
    “We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
  • Post #17 - April 11th, 2008, 11:39 am
    Post #17 - April 11th, 2008, 11:39 am Post #17 - April 11th, 2008, 11:39 am
    The gear for canning tomatoes is simple and not expensive. You need a canning kettle, a jar lifter and a canning funnel, plus jars.

    However, canning is hot work, and unless you have a very big and prolific garden, you'll find that rarely do enough tomatoes come ripe all at once to justify getting the kitchen all steamy. It winds up being easier to freeze or dry small amounts of surplus ripe tomatoes.

    If a bushel of tomatoes is going cheap at the farmers' market, then canning can be worth the effort.
  • Post #18 - April 11th, 2008, 1:25 pm
    Post #18 - April 11th, 2008, 1:25 pm Post #18 - April 11th, 2008, 1:25 pm
    While not all toms come due at the same time, you can freeze them whole and can when you have enough of them or the time to do it. Last summer was hectic for me, so I froze my garden bounty and made the sauce in December.


    As for the cost, for those of us that can, it is the flavor and the fun of doing it. Yes, I can buy sauce for 10 cents on sale, but opening a pint of MY toms is satifying.

    Peppi- new kid on the block

    PS: Cathy2, woould you share the location of the "Hippie Farm"?
  • Post #19 - April 11th, 2008, 6:21 pm
    Post #19 - April 11th, 2008, 6:21 pm Post #19 - April 11th, 2008, 6:21 pm
    NOTE!!

    Many recipes for canned tomatoes are old, from when tomatoes were more acidic. They may not be safe for today's tomatoes. Make sure to get a modern recipe for canning whatever you are working on.
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #20 - April 11th, 2008, 6:37 pm
    Post #20 - April 11th, 2008, 6:37 pm Post #20 - April 11th, 2008, 6:37 pm
    leek wrote:NOTE!!

    Many recipes for canned tomatoes are old, from when tomatoes were more acidic. They may not be safe for today's tomatoes. Make sure to get a modern recipe for canning whatever you are working on.


    That's very interesting advice, leek. Wonder if applies as well to heirloom tomatoes as to the beefsteak variety at Dominick's.
    “We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
  • Post #21 - April 11th, 2008, 7:15 pm
    Post #21 - April 11th, 2008, 7:15 pm Post #21 - April 11th, 2008, 7:15 pm
    leek wrote:NOTE!!

    Many recipes for canned tomatoes are old, from when tomatoes were more acidic. They may not be safe for today's tomatoes. Make sure to get a modern recipe for canning whatever you are working on.


    which is why one uses the newer books :)

    all contemporary tomato canning recipes require the addition of citric acid(available in the canning section and drugstores) to the hot pack
    "Johnny thought when all purpose had been forgotten the world would end this way, with a dance. He slumped back in a corner, drew his knees up to his chin, and watched."-Derek Jarman
  • Post #22 - April 11th, 2008, 7:18 pm
    Post #22 - April 11th, 2008, 7:18 pm Post #22 - April 11th, 2008, 7:18 pm
    leek wrote:NOTE!!

    Many recipes for canned tomatoes are old, from when tomatoes were more acidic. They may not be safe for today's tomatoes. Make sure to get a modern recipe for canning whatever you are working on.


    The University of Illinois conducted an experiment on this notion of tomatoes and acidity. At various locations in the state, they planted heirloom tomatoes, standard contemporary varieties as well as those considered 'low acid.'

    Some heirloom varieties were tested to be lower acid than those cultivated to be low acid. Acidity in tomatoes simply varies with the cultivar. Because of this, you have to acidify all canned tomatoes:

    Acidification wrote:Acidification: To ensure safe acidity in whole, crushed, or juiced tomatoes, add two tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes. For pints, use one tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid. Acid can be added directly to the jars before filling with product. Add sugar to offset acid taste, if desired. Four tablespoons of a 5 percent acidity vinegar per quart may be used instead of lemon juice or citric acid. However, vinegar may cause undesirable flavor changes.


    You can waterbath can tomatoes and their juices. Once you begin making ketchups, salsas and sauces with other vegetables, then you have to pressure can. The recommended processing times in the USDA book are specific to ratio of tomato to other vegetables. Some herbs and spices get bitter tasting when pressure canned. I tend to leave things under-seasoned to allow more flexibility when preparing it later.

    Fruits and pickled vegetables can be waterbath canned. Some pickles can be pasteurized, which I highly recommend.

    PKramer wrote:PS: Cathy2, woould you share the location of the "Hippie Farm"?


    Several miles east of Richmond, IL on IL-173. Look for it on the north side of the road with some art, furniture and blankets for sale. I get the impression it is a commune.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #23 - April 11th, 2008, 7:36 pm
    Post #23 - April 11th, 2008, 7:36 pm Post #23 - April 11th, 2008, 7:36 pm
    Hi,

    Canning food is done when the vegetables are plentiful and cheap. This coincides often with the hottest times of year.

    The first year I learned to can, I waited until October to can. I showed up at Villiard's, which is now closed, to learn it was the season for Damson plums and Concord grape juice. They had a good laugh when I declared I wanted to do tomatoes and corn, which had already petered out.

    The next year I got under the wing of my friend Pat, who not only lived near Villiard's. She also lived near Titus' Farm, now the new location for the Lake County Fair. She would alert me when the first canning tomatoes were available as well as the corn. Through her guidance I learned the rhythm of the local growing season, which dictates what you will can from week to week.

    If you go out to the farms, then canning tomatoes are very worthy vegetables to collect. These are tomatoes at their peak of ripeness, they may have some cosmetic flaws and maybe edging toward getting spots. I have paid as little as $2-$8 for 10 pounds or more of tomatoes. I don't know if canning tomatoes are brought to farmer's markets or what price they may be offered. I suspect the real canning tomatoes stay closer to the farm with choice going to the market. To simply can a container load of 7 quarts, then you need 21 pounds of tomatoes. A tall order for most urban home gardens.

    I know people who do the processing of their canned goods on their patio. Bruce advised using a turkey fryer base for mounting your pots for canning. It is hot, steamy and once you are on a roll you just have to finish.

    I do can marmalades in winter, which can be very pleasant because it cuts the chill in the house. The strongest window air conditioner in our house is in the kitchen. This was a strategic plan to cut the summer canning heat and it cannot keep up.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #24 - April 17th, 2008, 3:00 pm
    Post #24 - April 17th, 2008, 3:00 pm Post #24 - April 17th, 2008, 3:00 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:You can waterbath can tomatoes and their juices. Once you begin making ketchups, salsas and sauces with other vegetables, then you have to pressure can. The recommended processing times in the USDA book are specific to ratio of tomato to other vegetables.

    Just to clarify -- any all-tomato product, including whole tomatoes, tomato juice and tomato sauce, can be canned in a water bath. It's only when you start adding other vegetables that you have to consider pressure canning.

    Even then, you shouldn't need to pressure-can ketchup, given a normal proportion of vinegar, and a great many salsas are safe if acidified.

    The USDA is highly conservative, and bases much of its advice on worst-case scenarios rather than actual instances of illness. This is the same agency that advises against runny egg yolks and rare ground beef.

    And they want you to put vinegar in kosher dill pickles, which is a shonda.

    Cathy2 wrote:Some pickles can be pasteurized, which I highly recommend.

    I suppose it's better than pressure canning, but ... ugh.

    I just leave pickles in their brine in the crock until they reach optimum sourness, then refrigerate.

    The risk if anything goes wrong is easy-to-spot moldiness, and I'd rather risk that than soggy pickles.
  • Post #25 - April 17th, 2008, 4:12 pm
    Post #25 - April 17th, 2008, 4:12 pm Post #25 - April 17th, 2008, 4:12 pm
    Thanks LAZ

    I water-bath can and go by the USDA...I don't have the equipment to pressure can. I was initially concerned as per the acidulation USDA regulations...and was pleasantly surprised that my tomato products didn't turn out overly tart.

    I'd definitely pressure can if I had the equipment, but my experiments last Summer with hotpacking have thus far turned out poifect. In fact, I need to eat 'em all up before the farmer's markets start.
    "Johnny thought when all purpose had been forgotten the world would end this way, with a dance. He slumped back in a corner, drew his knees up to his chin, and watched."-Derek Jarman
  • Post #26 - April 18th, 2008, 8:54 am
    Post #26 - April 18th, 2008, 8:54 am Post #26 - April 18th, 2008, 8:54 am
    LAZ wrote:The USDA is highly conservative, and bases much of its advice on worst-case scenarios rather than actual instances of illness. This is the same agency that advises against runny egg yolks and rare ground beef.

    And they want you to put vinegar in kosher dill pickles, which is a shonda.


    The USDA processing times are research based recommendations. This is not what you get from other sources.

    There is a cookbook author whose tomato soup concentrate canning recipe with vegetables, flour and such she recommended be water bath processed. I knew at a glance it was not suitable for water bath, but pressure canning. I contacted her to learn, "Not everyone has a pressure canner at home. I wanted this to be approachable." This was not a responsible answer.

    I was at a street fair in a small town. A woman was selling her book of family recipes. She had canned meat recipes that she recommended be water bath processed. When I asked her if it was safe, she replied. "My family has done this for 100 years without dying." I later learned these same people would also boiled their canned goods on the stove for 10 minutes before serving, which may have been their saving grace.

    Considering the side of effects of badly processed home preserved food as well as the cost in materials and time, then I would rather be conservative.

    LAZ wrote:
    Cathy2 wrote:Some pickles can be pasteurized, which I highly recommend.

    I suppose it's better than pressure canning, but ... ugh.

    I just leave pickles in their brine in the crock until they reach optimum sourness, then refrigerate.

    The risk if anything goes wrong is easy-to-spot moldiness, and I'd rather risk that than soggy pickles.


    I guess if you make a very small batch for personal consumption, then refrigeration is an option. I buy a bushel of pickles, which are fermented or pickled. I don't have refrigeration space to commit to that volume.

    The pasteurization is 180 degrees for 30 minutes. Water bath canning is X minutes of a rolling boil at 212 degrees. The pickles don't soften very much at 180 degrees, because they need a slightly higher temperature before they do.

    For the bread and butter pickles, I do advance preparation of salting to reduce the moisture and increase the crunch. In my opinion, these are pretty crunchy after Pasteurization.

    I have experimented once with lime and found it not to my liking. Sure the limed pickles were crunchy, but it was an artificial texture. Yet those who grew up with it, find it very attractive.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #27 - April 18th, 2008, 2:42 pm
    Post #27 - April 18th, 2008, 2:42 pm Post #27 - April 18th, 2008, 2:42 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:I guess if you make a very small batch for personal consumption, then refrigeration is an option. I buy a bushel of pickles, which are fermented or pickled. I don't have refrigeration space to commit to that volume.

    By the time I have to refrigerate, there aren't too many left. :)

    However, I think we're talking about different kinds of pickles. Bread-and-butter pickles probably do need more processing than pickles made from whole cucumbers, such as cornichons and dills. (We do the cornichons in small batches because we have always had trouble locating enough of the tiny cucumbers. I have grown them, but even so, quantities ready to pick at one time tend to be small.)

    If you make pickles in the fall, they do keep very well in a cool place such as an enclosed porch or garage. I've heard of apartment dwellers storing them in an insulated box on the balcony and even a window ledge.

    The USDA's research is good, but as I said, their advice is conservative. I agree their approach is best when it comes to low-acid foods where there's a risk of botulism, and that some old-fashioned methods are shockingly unsafe. (Or even new-fangled methods -- I continue to be surprised by the number of dangerous recipes I come across for garlic-flavored olive oil and pesto.)

    I don't always agree with the USDA on high-acid (or acidified) foods, pickles and jams and jellies. They are concerned with the longest possible shelf life; I am concerned with the best possible flavor.

    As mentioned here, I no longer give many homemade food gifts. However, when I do give away a home-canned item, I usually tell the recipient to refrigerate it -- even if it is actually shelf stable (most home-canned items are good up to a year). That 1) causes people who've been scared by home-canning disaster stories to trust the item more, and 2) helps ensure that they don't stick it on a pantry shelf and forget about it for more than a year.

    Here are more good resources for preserving advice:
    www.freshpreserving.com
    www.homecanning.com
  • Post #28 - September 28th, 2008, 10:29 am
    Post #28 - September 28th, 2008, 10:29 am Post #28 - September 28th, 2008, 10:29 am
    I am about to embark on my first canning experience -- tomatoes and/or tomato sauce. I do not have a pressure canner, and do not intend to purchase one, so everything I do has to be water-bath processed. I purchased the Ball Blue Book Of Canning, which I find has very confusing directions and/or inconsistent advice. For instance, it classifies tomatoes as both high and low acid. It also claims in the introduction that 212 degrees is the temperature to process high-acid foods, but in the actual directions for processing tomatoes, it recommends 180 degrees. I assume that 180 degrees produces better flavor, but is it safe?

    Also, many recipes call for the addition of bottled lemon juice to each jar -- blech. Has anyone used citric acid, in the form of a crushed Vitamin C pill, and if so, how much per pint/quart jar?

    Finally, I read above that the addition of other vegetables to the tomatoes may require pressure canning instead of a hot water bath. I only intend to make a simple sauce with the addition of butter and an onion, which will be removed after cooking. Is the addition of this onion enough to require pressure canning?

    I sincerely appreciate any help on these questions!
  • Post #29 - September 28th, 2008, 11:26 am
    Post #29 - September 28th, 2008, 11:26 am Post #29 - September 28th, 2008, 11:26 am
    Funny you should bump this thread, aschie - I just purchased 10 pounds of tomatoes for the purpose of canning today. I will also be water-bath canning.

    The Cook County extension office has an ask-a-food-preserver page, just like their Ask-a-Hort page. I sent in a question about adding fresh basil leaves to my canned tomatoes just today (wondering if A-they'll get gross or B-they'll be safe) They also had a waterbath-canned salsa recipe that I might try today; the recommendation for "canned acidified vegetables" is that you follow their recipes exactly, as the balance of acid to non-acid veg is crucial. I think there's also a stewed tomato recipe somewhere...

    The USDA has an entire site about canningthat contains specifics on using a boiling-water canner for tomato products.

    Not that there isn't quite a bit more information locked in the heads of those who've posted on this page.
  • Post #30 - September 28th, 2008, 12:00 pm
    Post #30 - September 28th, 2008, 12:00 pm Post #30 - September 28th, 2008, 12:00 pm
    My expertise on canning comes soley from watching my wife work her ass off canning tons of tomatoes and other stuff this last month or so. She really wrestled with the, which acid to add, for her tomatoes. I will say, first, that it is my understanding, is that tomatoes to be processed without pressure, need some acid added. So, you can use vinegar, lemon juice or citric acid--or put it better, I suppose, any of those would work.

    You can search the web for equivalencies between the three, a quick Google found me this guide.

    When my wife did her first batch of tomatoes, her instinct was that vinegar would be superior to bottled lemon juice, so she used vinegar. Since then, we have been told, that vinegar leaves the tomatoes with a slightly off-taste. Since she has now canned with vinegar and lemon, at some point I can give an opinion of which tastes better.

    From my observation deck (OK, I have helped with things like cutting tomatoes), canning is not so much intricate as just plain requiring a lot of work. It is not the canning process that makes canning a chore, it is all of the cleaning, stemming, seeding, crushing, washing, sterilizing, etc., needed to can.

    All that said, as I have mentioned on my blog, canning has two things going for it. First, it can be quite economical. It is possible now to obtain tomatoes at very cheap prices. Caputo's has been selling bushels (of quite excellent I should say) Michigan tomatoes for $16--that's a lot of tomatoes for $16. Second, canning allows the preservation and storage of food for those without room for an extra freezer. This is especially good for apartment dwellers. It may seem quaint or romantic to can, but there are good reasons to can as well.
    Last edited by Vital Information on September 28th, 2008, 12:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more