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At home canning makes a come back

At home canning makes a come back
August 15
15:39 2017

’Tis the season for enjoying beautiful fruits and vegetables.

Tomatoes, peppers, onions, peaches, berries, plums … oh, it’s all absolutely glorious. You try to eat as much as you can when it’s fresh from the garden, the farm stand, or the farmers’ market, knowing that the season is ephemeral. Each day brings us closer to the end of the harvest.

You also want to preserve some of that sunshine-infused produce, because you can brighten even the coldest, dreariest winter day when you bring out a jar of summery jam or pickles.

Canning — putting foods up in sealed jars, with no need for refrigeration — is a great option for that.

It sometimes seems like a quaint, old-fashioned activity that Grandma used to do back in the day. But Patrice Powers-Barker, certified family life educator with the Ohio State University Extension’s Lucas County Maumee Valley office, thinks canning is having a resurgence.

“People are interested in learning and doing,” she said while stationed at the Sylvania Farmers’ Market on a recent Tuesday afternoon, offering information about canning and food preservation. She likens it to the Makers’ Mart phenomenon and particularly Millennials’ interest in hand-crafting items.

But people of all ages are taking up the hobby. They remember older relatives having canned foods “and they never paid attention” to the process, Ms. Powers-Barker said. But now they want to know how to do it themselves, and — especially — how to do it safely.

Canning is not difficult, and it’s a lot of fun. But it’s important to follow the recipes and procedures precisely, as there are risks.

Enzymes can promote spoilage and need to be inactivated, according to the Ball Canning Co.’s new book, Back to Basics. Bacteria and certain molds and yeasts can also be toxic when ingested. All are destroyed with heat when sealing pre-sterilized jars in a water bath canner.

Ms. Powers-Barker’s demonstration table offered a display of three jars that came with a warning that they shouldn’t be used.

The jar with a chip at the rim could fail to seal properly and allow bacteria to grow. “If you have one with a chip on it, use it for your flower bouquet,” she said.

Another, which had a fine crack in it, would be at risk of breaking. And the recycled spaghetti sauce jar was designed “for one-time use,” she said, and isn’t reliable. Ball and Kerr jars are “designed for home canning and being used over again,” Ms. Powers-Barker said in recommending these brands for safety’s sake.

Be sure to buy new lids for each use, even if you re-use jars from one year to the next. “We want a safe seal,” she said.

It is only necessary to secure the rings that accompany the lids to fingertip-tight and then remove the rings once the lids have sealed. They’re only “just to hold the lids in place” in the water bath, Ms. Powers-Barker said.

Connie Torrey, manager of the Sylvania Farmers’ Market, used to can.

“I can remember just having [the jars] set out and hearing that ‘ping ping ping,’ ” she said, referring to the satisfying sound the lids make when the vacuum seal is complete.

“A cat purring and jars sealing are my two favorite sounds,” Ms. Powers-Barker said, nodding and smiling.

When it comes to canning, remember: You can do it. Yes, you can.

Ginger Peach Jam

Serve this on freshly baked biscuits or use it in thumbprint cookies, as a filling for layer cakes, or as a glaze for chicken.

3 pounds peaches

3 slices fresh ginger (size of a quarter)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

⅓ cup water

2 cups sugar

⅓ cup crystallized ginger

Dip the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, and then submerge them in an iced water bath. When cool enough to handle, peel, halve, and remove pits. Finely chop each peach half.

Combine peaches with ginger slices, lemon juice, and water in a deep, non-reactive 5-quart saucepan or stock pot. Cover and bring fruit to a boil. Uncover and simmer for 10 minutes. Begin adding sugar 1/ 2 cup at a time, allowing the mixture to regain the simmer before adding more.

Continue to simmer the jam, stirring frequently, until the jam thickens. The temperature on a candy thermometer should rise to 212F and volume should reduce to about 4 cups. Keep the pan partially covered near the end to avoid spatters.

Mince the crystallized ginger. After skimming foam off the jam and removing the ginger slices, fold in the crystallized ginger pieces.

Fill hot, sterilized jars to within 1/ 4 inch of the lips. Wipe rims clean, attach lids, and screw caps on tightly. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, submerged by 1 inch.

Yield: 4 1/ 2-pint jars

Source: Adapted from Madelaine Bullwinkel, Artisanal Preserves

Country Chili Sauce

Use this sweet-spicy condiment as a barbecue sauce, for chili mac or sloppy joes, or slathered on a sandwich.

26 large tomatoes

2 large green peppers

2 large onions

1 ½ cups cider vinegar

1 ½ cups sugar

3 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon celery seed

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon cloves

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon allspice

Peel, core, and chop the tomatoes and place in a large, heavy saucepan. Wash, peel, and chop the peppers and onions and add to the tomatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat, uncovered, for about 1 hour or until reduced by half. Carefully transfer to a blender and purée in two batches, or use an immersion blender. Return mixture to the saucepan and cook, partially covered, over medium-low heat for 30 to 60 minutes or until mixture is as thick as you want. Stir frequently.

Pour the boiling hot mixture into 6 hot, sterile pint jars, leaving 1/ 4-inch head space. Place the lids onto the jars and screw on the bands just until fingertip-tight.

Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes, counting the time after the water comes again to a full boil.

Yield: 6 pints

Source: Adapted from Marcia Adams, Cooking from Quilt Country

Green Tomato Salsa Verde

FEA-canning15-7Green Tomato Salsa Verde

At the end of the growing season, this is a great way to use those last few tomatoes that don’t ripen.

2 pounds green tomatoes, finely chopped

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon table salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 to 2 jalapeño or serrano peppers, seeded and minced

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

⅓ cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)

Bring the first 5 ingredients to a boil in a large stainless steel or enameled saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cilantro and the lime juice.

Ladle the hot salsa into a hot, sterile jar, leaving 1/ 2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe the jar rim. Center the lid on the jar. Apply the band, and adjust to fingertip-tight. Place the jar in the boiling water canner. Repeat until all the jars are filled, then place the lid on the canner.

Process the jars 15 minutes. Turn off heat; remove the lid from the canner, and let the jars stand 5 minutes. Remove the jars and cool.

Yield: 5 1/ 2-pint jars

Source: Adapted from Ball Canning, Back to Basics

Quick Pickled Shallots

FEA-canning15-5Quick Pickled Shallots

Add some tart crunch to sandwiches, salads, burgers, and cheese or charcuterie boards with these easy-to-make pickles.

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

2 teaspoons fennel seeds (optional)

6 dried bay leaves

2 or 3 sprigs fresh herbs, such as thyme or marjoram (optional)

2 cups distilled white vinegar

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons kosher salt

1 pound shallots or red onions

Make a spice bundle by tying the peppercorns, fennel seeds, bay leaves, and herb sprigs in a square of cheesecloth. Place the spice bundle in a small saucepan and add the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes.

Slice the shallots as thinly and evenly as possible with a sharp knife. (Hand slicing is fine, but using a mandoline on the ⅛-inch setting is ideal.) You should have about 2 cups sliced shallots. Place them in a sterilized quart-size glass jar leaving 1 inch of head space.

Pour the brine over the shallots, leaving 1/ 2-inch of head space. Run a wooden skewer or chopstick, or a rubber spatula, around the inside of the jar to remove any air bubbles.

Wipe the jar rim with a damp clean kitchen towel, place the lids on the jar, and secure with ring, twisting to tighten. Process the jar for 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat, remove the jars with a lifter, and set on a kitchen towel on the counter to cool for 12 to 24 hours, or until they’ve reached room temperature.

Yield: 1 quart

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