Thursday, June 13, 2013

Canning Made Simple

Mint Juleps n Muddin: Easy Homemade Canning

Its that time of year. The time of year where Southern men start harvesting from their backyard gardens. And Southern women get the task of figuring out how to store all those vegetables.

Well, if you're like me, you grew up with your mom standing over a hot stove boiling jars, fruits and vegetables. I remember those days far too well to want to experience what my little mama did. Red faced, sweat rolling off every inch of your body, trying to get everything peeled and boiled, all while screaming at children as they fought over some petty crap. Oh no, that does Not sound like fun.

For years, I froze everything just to keep from canning, but I was limited as to what I could do with those items. With a little trial and error, I came up with a method that makes canning so much easier. So easy in fact, that you will not believe it.

Easy Canning so simple you'll laugh. Place all your jars & lids in the dish washer and wash.

Start preparing whatever you wish to can; jelly, pickles, tomatoes, etc.  Folks, I don't stand over a stove cooking this stuff unless I just have to. Tomatoes: put in a bowl, cover with water and stick it in the microwave for about 3 to 4 minutes; just long enough that the peel starts to wrinkle when touched. Depending upon microwave strengths, you may have to cook a bit longer. When the skin wrinkles when touched, pour water off tomatoes and run cold water over them. The meat of the tomato will still be hot, so be careful as you pull the skin off. De-core all tomatoes and dice each one into a large microwavable bowl. Microwave in 20 minute increments. Every time the microwave stops, stir. Reset for 20 minutes and continue this process until tomatoes are cooked down and juice is thick.

While your cooking the vegetable, your dish washer will finish washing. Now, turn it back to rinse cycle and run the jars and lids from there.

When your vegetables have cooked down and are ready to can, your jars and lids should be in the drying cycling in the dish washer. Pull out one jar & lid at a time and fill each to about a 1/2" from the top. Make sure the jars & lids are still extremely hot (you may need a towel or oven mitt to handle them). With a wet dish cloth, or wet paper towel, wipe off rim and band of jar, then place lid on top. Screw on band, but  Not  as tight as you can. Finish filling all jars, and using oven mitts, jar tongs, or a dish towel to pick up, place hot jars in large pot or pressure cooker. I used a pot.

In a your pot, with your jars, you will need to add water up to just over half way. Allow pot, with jars inside, to heat to a rolling boil. Boil jars for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the contents. Turn off heat and allow to cool. Its best to leave the pot, with the jars inside, to cool for about 2 hours before moving. Within that time, the water and jars will cool, and in most cases, the lids will seal. If, after the jars have completely cooled, you have any lids that still haven't sealed, they aren't going to, and you will need to refrigerate the jars to keep its contents from spoiling. Do not push down on your lids; allow them to seal on their own, otherwise you may end up with a false seal and your vegetables will go bad. Once sealed, tighten bands as tight as you can and store in a cool, dry place, as you would any canned goods.

The keys to canning are hot jars, hot lids, hot ingredients, filled to 1/2" from the top and clean jar rims and seals. Happy Canning.

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