More Canning Tips and Do's/Don'ts
Do not use overripe fruit. Canning doesn't improve the quality of food, so if you start out with low quality, it will only get worse in storage. Plus
Do not add more low-acid ingredients (onions, celery, peppers, garlic) than specified in the recipe. This may result in an unsafe product.
Don’t add substantially more seasonings or spices, these items are often high in bacteria and excess spices can make a canned item unsafe. I doubt whether increasing a spice from 1 teaspoon to 2 in a batch of 7 quarts will have any adverse effect, but use some common sense and don't go overboard.
Do not add butter or fat to home-canned products unless stated in a tested recipe. Butters and fats do not store well and may increase the rate of spoilage. Adding
butter or fat may also slow the rate of heat transfer, and result in an unsafe product.
Thickeners - With the exception of "Clear-Jel" which has been tested in USDA and university food labs, do not thicken with starches, flour, or add rice, barley or pasta to canned products – this applies to both savory products (such soups and stews), sauces and pickled items. Items that thicken products will absorb liquid during processing and slow the way in which the food heats. Under-processing and unsafe food could result.
ClearJel® starch has been tested in pie filling recipes - here's where to get it:
DO add acid (lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid) to tomato products when directed in the recipe. In 1994, food scientists proved the risk of botulism poisoning from canned tomato products, and acid is now added to canned tomatoes, even to those canned commercially. Lemon juice is widely available, but will add a sharp note to canned tomatoes; citric acid will change the flavor less noticeably, and vinegar is part of many recipes anyway. If necessary, you can balance the tart taste by adding sugar.
Heat process (water bath canning or pressure canning, as called for in the recipe) all canned items that will be stored on the shelf. Some recipes, especially those
for jams and jellies, instruct you to simply seal hot-filled jars, or to invert the jars as the final step. I know of no reputable source (university food science departments, the USDA, FDA, National Home Canning Center, etc.) that recommend either "open-kettle canning" or inverting jars as the final step, as unsafe final products may result.
Never process the jars in any oven (electric, gas or microwave). Steam canning is also, pretty broadly NOT recommended. There ARE a couple of manufacturers selling steam canners, but you'll find virtually no credible authorities recommending them, for a variety of reasons, starting with basic heat transfers properties of steam vs. water.
Increase water-bath processing times at altitudes of 1,000 feet or more to compensate for the lower temperature of boiling water at high altitude. I've tried to be sure to include the conversion charts in all recipes for this.
To prevent darkening: Some peeled or cut fruits (such as peaches, apples, nectarines) will darken when exposed to the air. Any of these simple treatments will help prevent darkening:
Use a commercial ascorbic acid mixture like "Fruit-Fresh", which is available at the grocery and drug stores. Sprinkle it over the cut fruit and mix well. OR
Put the cut fruit in a solution of 1 teaspoon ascorbic acid (vitamin C, available in a powdered form from the drug store) and 1 gallon water. Drain before canning.
Put the cut fruit into a lemon juice solution (3/4 cup lemon juice to 1 gallon water). Drain fruit before canning.
Canning jars. Use standard mason / Ball / Kerr (etc.) jars for home canning. Commercial food jars that are not heat-tempered, such as mayonnaise jars, often break easily (although, I've had great luck with "Classico" brand quart spaghetti jars. Note that the Classico's manufacturer does not recommend reuse of their jars: here is what they say on this page). Sealing also can be a problem if sealing surfaces do not exactly fit canning lids. Be sure all jars and closures are perfect. Discard any with cracks, chips, dents or rust. Defects prevent airtight seals.
Do not use jars larger than specified in the recipe, as an unsafe product may result. It's almost always ok to go smaller. Generally speaking, quart jars are the largest size you should use.
To remove scale or hard water films on jars, soak several hours in a solution of 1 cup vinegar (5 percent) per gallon water. Keep the jars warm until ready to fill (to reduce breakage from thermal shock).
Prepare the two-piece metal canning lids by washing them in water and following the manufacturer’s instructions for heating the lids (some need to be covered with hot water for a minute or more - in steaming, but not boiling water)
The flat lids can be used only once, but the screw bands can be reused as long as they are in good condition. Read Do not reuse lids from commercially canned foods.
Check jars for seals within 24 hours of canning. Treat jars that fail to seal properly as if they are fresh (refrigerate and eat soon).
More tips for boiling water bath canning:
Fill the canner at least halfway with water. A little practice will help you to know how much water you will need to start out with to ensure the jars will be covered by at least 1 inch of water.
Preheat water that is added to the jars (when called for) to very warm but not boiling (around 140 degrees F) for raw-packed foods (the lower temperature helps to reduce jar breakage) and to boiling for hot-packed foods.
Put the filled jars, with lids and rings on, onto the canner rack and use the handles to lower the rack into the water. Or you may fill the canner, one jar at a time, with a jar lifter. Obviously, you'd need to be quick, or the first jar could be in the bath for substantially longer than the last jar you add. If you don't use a jar rack, then a flat rack on the bottom helps to reduce break. One of these comes with each canner.
Always add more boiling water, if needed, so the water level is at least one inch above the tops of the jars.
Turn heat to its highest position until the water boils vigorously, and then set a timer for the minutes required for processing the food.
Cover the canner and if necessary, lower the heat setting to maintain a full but gentle boil throughout the processing time. Generally, I find I need to keep the burners on high.
If one burner doesn't produce enough heat to keep the water boiling, you can usually straddle two burners with the canner.
When the jars have been boiled for the recommended time, turn the heat off and use a jar lifter to remove the jars and place them on a towel in an area that is not drafty, leaving at least one inch between the jars during cooling.
Do not retighten the jar lids - it may break the seal.
Do not leave the jars in the boiling water after processing time is done, because the food will become overcooked.
Check the jar seals 12-24 hours after processing for leaks and broken seals. Just press down on the lid. If it seals, it will be sucked down tight. If it did not seal, it will flex and make a popping sound each tip.
To store, remove the screw bands and wipe the jars clean. Otherwise, the rings may rust tight to the jar!
Any jar that fails to seal can be reprocessed in a clean jar with a new lid. Reprocess within 24 hours. Generally, it is better to refrigerate the jar and use it within several days. The jar may also be stored in the freezer if the headspace is adjusted to 1-1/2 inches to allow for the expansion of the product.
More Canning Tips and Do's/Don'ts
Culinary Creations by (and for) Families
Encouraging kids to get creative in the kitchen is a fun way to make great memories, meals and moments together. And for more than 10 years, Jif(r) has inspired parents to creatively collaborate with their kids in the Jif Most Creative Sandwich Contest(tm) for the chance to win a $25,000 college fund. Last year's top entries ranged from a sweet and spicy sandwich to satisfying snacks and dreamy desserts. Inspire your family with these delicious recipes or check out www.jif.com for even more creative options.
Green beans are no longer a plain side dish for dinner. Here are some fun, kid-friendly recipes to try at home to help encourage your kids to eat a healthy serving of green beans.
"Florida green beans are great with a dip. Try them with hummus, ranch or any of your favorite dressings," suggested Justin Timineri, Executive Chef and Culinary Ambassador, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
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Fresh Tips for Game Day Dips
When family and friends gather together to watch the game, loading up the table with a variety of easy-to-grab, flavorful appetizers is a winning plan. After all, casual food and good times are what game day is all about.
In the world of appetizers, dip is king. From savory to sweet, this simple tailgating party addition can take on flavors that span the globe, or that are as American and as beloved as the gridiron game itself.
Raising the Bar on Healthy Smiles
Sports drinks, energy drinks and those must-have morning coffees all have one thing in common - they typically contain an abundance of sugar or sugar-alternatives that are harmful to the health of those pearly whites. Another beverage, whose ingredients can also wreak havoc on your smile, is always the life of the party - the cocktail.
"Selecting healthy, natural superfoods with specific functions improves the ability of our body to create that beautiful smile we all desire," said Dr. Ken Banks, AACD cosmetic dentist and contributor to the recipe collection.
According to recent studies, cocktails infused with wholesome ingredients can improve immunity and offer a tasty tonic for teeth. The next time you are looking for refreshment, seek beverages that use fruits, vegetables, grains, and other superfood ingredients.
There are few things more enjoyable than biting into a rich and delicious chocolate dessert. By using a more robust flavor like that of dark chocolate, show-stopping desserts can be crafted right from your own kitchen - and it is easier than you think.
Getting kids back to school each morning can be exhausting and feeding them a good, hot breakfast often gets put on the back burner. Start them out right with easy, wholesome meals full of the protein necessary to fuel their day.
A protein-rich breakfast - one that includes lean ham or pork sausage - reduces daily hunger, increases daily fullness, improves morning blood sugar control and leads to less latter-day snacking, according to a recent study by the University of Missouri. That means teenage boys and girls who chronically skip breakfast have a new, tasty weapon in the fight against obesity. Studies show as many as 20 to 30 percent of adolescents in the United States skip breakfast, which is a habit associated with excess body weight.
Spicy, Sweet or Zesty
Spicy, sweet or zesty, it's never been easier to enjoy the crisp, tangy taste of homemade pickles. And with recipes like these you can preserve perfect pickles for any palate.
Here are a few tips from the pickling pros at Mrs. Wages to help you give your cukes a kick of great homemade flavor:
Master Mediterranean Grilling
Abundant plates of fresh vegetables, delicate fish from the nearby sea and splashes of olive oil are all hallmarks of traditional meals found in the Mediterranean.
The Mediterranean diet has been embraced for thousands of years by those living along the Mediterranean Sea, and is now followed around the world as consumers discover its delicious flavor components and researchers uncover its countless health benefits, including helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes according to a study conducted by The New England Journal of Medicine.
Grill Up Flavor
Every big, juicy steak deserves to be seasoned with an equally big, bold flavor. Next time you fire up the grill, layer on savory goodness with spices and marinades. They bring out the natural flavor of steaks, ribs, roasts, burgers, chicken and fajitas.
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