Skip to comments.Canning Made Easy
Posted on 08/09/2009 6:58:26 AM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
During the first World War, the U.S. government asked its citizens to contribute to the war effort by growing gardens. Americans rose to the challenge. The millions of quarts of provender produced by this astonishing effort not only fed American families, but helped feed starving people all across Europe. Humankind caring for humankind in a time of need an example the world could heed today.
Similar food shortages have occurred throughout the centuries. When Napoleon was faced with the problem of feeding his rapidly growing military, the French government offered 12,000 francs to anyone who could figure a solution. A man named Nicolas Appert, though not completely understanding why, discovered that by putting food into a bottle or jar, sealing the jar up tight and cooking it for a few hours, the food could be preserved for consumption later. Napoleons army didnt go hungry.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, flocks of free-thinkers sailed the ocean blue in search of a place where they could live free and govern their own lives. Once settled in their respective colonies, they too found daunting the challenge of having enough to eat. Through much trial and error, they discovered how to provide their daily needs and to preserve the precious leftovers for leaner times. Waste not, want not. The colonists learned how to take care of one another.
Preservation progress came at a cost, however. For example, it wasnt until the late 19th century that anyone knew about Clostridium botulinum, the soil-borne bacterium whose lethal toxin, sometimes found in improperly canned food, claimed countless lives. Likewise, pickled provender frequently went bad when cork stoppers or pigs bladders were used to cover the crocks and jars. Jams and jellies, sealed with brandy-soaked paper, often sprouted mold. But help was on the way in the form of a rubber-sealed glass jar.
Tinsmith John L. Mason couldnt possibly have known how his 1858 patent would permanently revolutionize family nutrition. His machine mass-produced threaded metal jar lids that, in combination with threaded-neck jars and rubber sealing rings, made it easy for virtually anyone to achieve a safe seal when canning. Masons canning jar and lid concept caught on immediately and opened the door for several improvements and modifications with familiar names like Ball, Atlas E-Z Seal and Kerr. Through time, the rubber seal has improved, as has the science behind the processing, but home canning is every bit as accessible today as it was in 1858.
You, too, can can
Before starting a canning project of your own, you should keep a few things in mind. It is best to gather only the produce you can work up in a few hours. This ensures optimum nutrition and quality. If possible, harvest early in the day.
Get your supplies out and check them over. Always use jars made especially for canning rather than old mayonnaise or pickle jars, and never use jars that are cracked or chipped around the rim. Use only the two-piece screw lids, never re-using the flat piece, as its protective ability is compromised once lifted off a jar.
Lids and jars should be sterilized before use by boiling for at least 10 minutes, leaving them in the hot water until they are needed.
The two canning methods in general use today make use of either a boiling-water bath or pressure canner for processing. The boiling-water system requires longer processing times and is suitable for foods with higher acid contents, while the pressure canner reaches higher temperatures faster and is suitable for virtually all food types. Once you have decided which fruit, vegetable or meat you want to can, be sure to educate yourself on the current recommendations for method, processing time and sterilization precautions for that produce. Your county extension office provides a wealth of information for your area, or you can go online to such sites as the USDAs National Center for Home Preservation
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The aspect of self-sufficency is wonderful, too. And now you know what to do with that free basket of zucchini or apples or grapes, etc. left on your doorstep!
(Never refuse free food!!)
I’ve heard that lids are not to be trusted to maintain a seal
if they are over two years old, is there any truth to this?
Mmmmmm — zuchinni-apple bread. Freeze what you cannot eat within a week.
Diana - you bet this deserves a Weekly Gardening ping! Thanks!
Hmmm....I’ve used lids for longer than that. I think it’s a conspiracy started by the people that want to sell you more lids, LOL!
When you hear the ‘ping’ of a jar sealing, no matter how old the lid, all is well.
I would imagine they’d wear out or get damaged eventually. Some people use new lids every year.
Your call, and I’m sure others will chime in with opinions on this. :)
I am swimming in zucchini! I plan on processing a lot of it after dinner tonight. Shred and freeze for use in sauce once the tomatoes rippen and for baking sweetbreads & muffins.
You’re saying you reuse yours? My wife uses new every year.
I’ve reused them. Check them carefully for any defects. I’ll reuse lids from green beans or peas (less acid damage) on tomatoes or pickles the next year. Some lids might last 2 or 3 years with rotation like that. However, always double check and be 100% sure the lid has “popped” before storing. Even though I’ve reused lids I’ve only had a failure to seal rate of probably less than 1%. Those that did fail were simply stuck in the fridge and eaten first.
Thank you for the ping, and thank you Diana, I also found a article about goats ( they have four...so far lol )that I was able to send to my daughter!
My wife, after checking with the local farm extension agent, said that new, stored lids shouldn’t be used if they are over two years old. Something about the seals dry out?
Is this correct or just BS?
I find it highly doubtful that in World War I, individual victory gardens in the US could have done much at all to feed Europe. Just common sense.
To start with, there is no uniformity in victory gardens, so there is no substantial amount of a given crop at a particular time that is ripe. Then that crop would have to be harvested and put on board a non-refrigerated ship for a nine day voyage across the Atlantic. Then once it arrived in a major European port, it would have to be shipped again to its final destination.
And for every “What if they did it this way?” alternative, there are still huge roadblocks to success.
Even making a successful victory garden at home takes a lot of prior planning and a lot of work. Most people grow easier crops like zucchini, tomatoes and herbs, that while enjoyable do not provide substantial nutrition. Instead, growing crops like potatoes and squash gives much more food value for the same area. They are also less prone to insect attack.
No more speculation. I’ll contact the manufacturer tomorrow about the lids. We do a lot of canning.
Pressure canning is not always faster.
The processing time itself will be shorter than the processing time for hot water bath canning, but the heat up and cool down time for the pressure canner are a must and add to the time.
My rule of thumb is to hot water bath can what is possible and only pressure can food that absolutely CANNOT be safely water bath canned.
We reused the Mason jars and rings but always bought new lids.
Every surface in the big kitchen would be full of hot jars and the lids popping as the contents cooled. If rain was coming and we did not close the windows fast enough some jars would crack when they felt the cool breeze.
In the wintertime she made the best tomato soup by heating a quart of tomatoes in one pan and milk in another pan. Then gradually add a few tomatoes to the milk and then mix it all together. Serve with a pat of butter on top. She always cautioned me that if I added the milk to the tomatoes it would curdle. I don't know why but I sort of remember a little baking soda in the mix, too. It's one of those things I took for granted but should have written down.
Maybe technically, but nah.... As long as the lid is not rusty, you can sometimes maybe get up to 10 years, like if a jar gets pushed to the back of the shelf..... ;)
It really is best to rotate stock, but two years isn’t out of the question.
I would skip the sugar and add mustard
I thought you meant lids on the jar. Ooops.
I date my lids when I buy the boxes but have never had any trouble with the seal.
I suppose the rubber gasket could dry out some if they’re too old.
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