Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Yes, You Can! Carrots!

Today during lunch, I walked through the Pike Place Market. I like Wednesdays at the Market. Those are the Farm Days.

On Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays the local farms bring their wares. Today I was able to find carrots that traveled no more than 50 miles. Now other than the carrots I grow in my front yard, you can't get any more local.

I did grow carrots this season, but I did not grow enough to can for the winter, so I am supplementing my crop with those of a local farmer. Four dollars for a couple of glorious bunches. The stall worker asked if I wanted to top the leaves, but I give those to the chickens for a treat, so I said, "No. Thank you!" and was on my walk back to the office.

I love a beautiful carrot and these are some lovely carrots, and sweet!

I cut off the tops and threw them to the chickens who happily and noisily noshed on the greenery.

I scrubbed the carrots down and then gave them a peeling, scrubbed them down again and plopped them into a bowl of cold water as I got the jars and lids ready.

 I gave the peelings to the chickens which made them even happier! I like happy chickens, that means they lay happy eggs which make my belly happy!!
In the meanwhile, I had started getting my jars ready. I give them a quick wash and rinse and then plop them in my big pot full of water and bring them to a boil and then drop the temperature to med to just keep them hot and sanitized. In a small sauce pan I put my lids in to boil.

I like canning veggies in pint jars because I feel that is the right amount for two people most of the time. Less waste than opening a quart and then not finishing it. Others might prefer quarts.

I like my carrots diced in the round, others like sticks. It is a preference thing, do whatcha like.

I will usually slice my rounds about a half inch thick. Does that mean they are all a 1/2 inch? No. Some are 3/4 of an inch and others are 1/4 inch. It all evens out.... (bad joke, sorry)

Anyways, I get my carrots sliced up and I put a kettle on to boil. I figure if I do not have to ladle hot liquids if I don't gotta then I wont.

I pour my carrots into a hot empty jar (sadly I do have to add the empty jar part...) and pack them in tight until they squeak.. Then I add about a half teaspoon of salt and poor in my hot water from the kettle. Easy Peasy!

 Now, the important part.  Make sure to read this.

Vegetables in order to be canned safely must be pressure canned.

If you have not added any kind of acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar and are simply strait canning vegetable with a water base then the vegetables MUST be processed in a pressure canner in order to make sure all pathogens and bacteria have been killed.

A water bath canner will work for jams, jellies, pickles, pie filling and such because fruits are generally high in acids, you have added an acid; such as vinegar or lemon juice, or you have used a large quantity of sugar. These factors retard bacterial growth on these items.

Unfortunately with vegetables they are lacking in acids and in order for them to be safely canned only the high heat and pressure of a pressure canner will sufficiently kill the natural bacteria that can grow out of hand.

If you do not have a pressure canner make pickles. Do not attempt to water bath can vegetables. You will usually hear of one or two families in the news every year that have got extremely ill because of badly canned green beans.

And now that I have sufficiently scared you...

You will now process the cans at Ten lbs in your pressure canner! For pints you will need to process them for 25 minutes at ten pounds and for Quarts, 30 minutes.

Make sure to read the instructions for your pressure canner. Most now-a-days are very easy to use and you should have very little fear of the exploding pressure canner of olden days. The ones made in the last 30-40 years are very safe. Be a little wary of your grandmother's pressure canner though, the ones that have clamps. As long as you keep an eye on the pressure you will be fine.

Do not try to remove the lid when it is still processing or until the pressure gauge has dropped down to zero. When you go to take the lid off, do not be surprised if it makes a POP sounds.

I tend to remove my jars once the pressure has been released and let them cool on the counter. Other people leave them in the pressure cooker to cool down inside. Both work.

Be very careful, the jars are scalding hot and will be for a while. You will know that you are properly sealed once you hear the ping of the lid and the top is firm. The sounds of the pop/ping of the lid sealing is one of my most favourite sounds.

When you are ready to pop open your canned carrots in the winter, look into the jar closely. Is there any growth along the top or sedimentation that looks iffy on the bottom? When you pop open the jar does it smell funny? If there is ANY doubt, throw it out.

Botulising yourself is not fun. Don't even chance it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Yes. You Can Can!!

  • Kody - You are a brave woman. My mom recently got a new pressure cooker and she's still afraid it's going to explode.
  •  Me - The newer ones dont explode as often as the old ones. This is the one that Andy gave me and although it has a quirk or two, it works pretty darn well! I'm less afraid of it exploding than the jars breaking because I can't see them....
  •  Kody - Is that a pressure canner or cooker? Or is it the same thing? We just can with a hot bath, I know no other way.
  • Me -  If you are canning veggies, you HAVE TO USE a pressure canner/cooker (same difference) Veggies do not have natural acids to kill botulism, so in order to be safe you have to pressure can vegetables. Jams, jellies, pie fillings you can do in a water bath because you usually add sugars and most fruit already have a high acid amount
  • Me - You usually will hear about someone getting really sick from home canned foods a couple times a year and the most common thing they get sick from is improperly canned green beans.
  • Kody - Remind me to never eat canned veggies unless they come from your house.
  • Me - Pickled veggies you can do in a water bath because you are usually using vinegar which adds the acid you need
  • Kody - I've only ever canned fruit, Applesauce/butter, or jam.
  •  Me - Try veggies! Just borrow your mom's canner! Go in on it with friends, easy peasy and safe as long as you follow the rules. This is an awesome website for dat shit:
    The National Center for Home Food Preservation is your source for methods of home food preservation.
  • Kody -  I need to get my blueberries picked this week and get some apples for Applesauce.... I'm a little behind. :)

    I want to do pickles!
  • Me - Bill Pace in Bellevue has 25lb boxes for $25 I believe... But your local fruit stand should have cukes, too.
  •  Kody - I'm going to check Country Farms tomorrow. I'm out of canning jars - I use them to store my dry bulk stuffs.
  • Me - LOL! That is very good too!!
  • Andy -  I am SOOOO glad you didn't blow your head off!!
  • Me -  ME TOO!!!!
  • PJ -  I just picked some green beans from my garden (that's right...i'm all growin' veggies n shit), so it's good to know that I now have to get all the canning stuff. *sigh*
  • Me -  If you need to borrow a pressure cooker, just holler
  •  PJ - Is it possible to pressure cook meat in a jar?
  • Me - Actually, yes. You can a lot of meats raw and they will cook as they are being sealed
  • PJ -  Good to know. I've started making home cooked meals for the dogs to wean then off of kibble and to help Josie's allergies. I just freeze the batches, but it would be nice to just leave them unfrozen.
  • PJ -  Can you just bring the pressure cooker over and teach me? PLEASE TEACH ME!!!!
  • Me - Happily