Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Facebook CanningUSA Page

Hello, We have created a new Facebook page for CanningUSA.com. Please like the page and we'll keep you updated on new articles and formats at CanningUSA.com;

Thursday, May 26, 2011

CanningUSA Changes

We are in the process of updating our website software. It's been very time consuming. We will start using the blog to inform you of changes.

Today, we added instructions on how to can pie filling without ClearJel by adding in the thickener after opening. The instructions are in each recipe at CanningUSA.com

Monday, July 27, 2009

Canning Processing Methods Follow-up

I should have mentioned that canning low acid foods in a water bath canner is dangerous. The links in yesterday's post should answer any questions about this.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Canning Processing Methods

The canning season is in full swing now. I've canned cherry jam, cherry pie filling, infused cherries, blueberry jam and apricot jam. I'll be canning apricot pie filling this week. Now that tomatoes are good and cheap, I'll be moving into several tomato sauces in the next week or two. Tomatoes are really good here this year!!!

We've had a number of inquiries about when to use a pressure canner. One of which was from a user who had problems with applesauce batches that did not seal during processing. The applesauce should have been processed in a hot water bath, but she had thought that it would be better to do it in the pressure canner.

It's very important to process using the correct method (hot water bath or pressure canner) and headspace. Most of you know that things expand when heated. The hot water bath, used for high acid content foods, processes at 212 degrees Farenheit, while the pressure canner processes at 240 degrees. The additional heat of the pressure canner is what caused our inquirier's applesauce to expand beyond the allotted headspace, between the cap and the jar, inhibiting a good seal on the jar.

There are four easy to read pages at CanningUSA.com that explain the differences between the two methods and are highly recommended reading. For seasoned canners, you might find it helpful to review these pages at the beginning of each canning season plus your pressure canner manufacturer’s instructions.
Canning using the Hot Pack or Cold Pack Method
Processing with a Water Bath
Processing with a Pressure Canner
Altitude Time Adjustments

In addition, our free videos are designed to teach you how to can in a progressive manner in terms of canning difficulty. We highly recommend mastering Video 1 before moving onto Video 2, etc. Once you’ve mastered all six videos, you should be able to can just about anything that is safe to can at home.

Video 1, Canning Jams is the simplest and focuses on the use of a hot water bath. Videos 2 and 3 teach how to can fruits and tomato sauces, also using the hot water bath. Video 4 is the introductory video for the pressure canner and Videos 5 and 6 will teach you how to can more complicated foods with the same pressure canner method.

All recipes at CanningUSA.com refer back to the appropriate video and contain a link to the appropriate page with a reminder of the method.

Happy Canning!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Comment Reply - Infused Cherries

The following comment was posted yesterday:

Maria-Mercedes said...

I have a question about the infused cherries. Do you serve them on their own or in alcohol? And what do you do with the left over alcohol?
I'm very interested in making some infused cherries once they come into season here in NY!

P.S.: I hope you post more recipes and canning videos! I have made your chili and pot roast and they were delightful, but I haven't been able to can your recipes yet.

Since it's difficult to view our responses to comments, I'm putting it in a new post. This comment has a couple of items for which we receive a number of e-mails so I thought I'd address it publically.

We receive a lot of e-mail at the address at CanningUSA.com. I read each one and try to personally respond. All e-mails are appreciated, we get some really kind ones and the ones that have questions help us build a better site due to items where we could have provided better information. We've been thinking about posting some of the questions and responses at the blog, to help everyone.

We removed infused cherries from the alcohol and serve them in lieu of a digestive after dinner or a luncheon. The can also be removed, pitted and used in cakes. The leftover alcohol can be used in cakes or served as a digestive.

Cherries are just starting to come into season here, so they are expensive. I’ll wait until the end of June when they are at their peak and least expensive. I’m on my last two jars of infused cherries and will need to make a dozen or so one quart jars which could last me a couple of years.

My basement has been torn up for over two years with some structural work and renovation we’ve been doing on our 150 year old house. It’s a big project. We had to tear out all the basement ceilings to run new electrical wires up the the ground floor, and pipes for radiators – it has never had central heating! It’s actually a half basement with nice windows and two separate outside entrances, so we’re putting in insulation, central heating there too, three rental studios, four bathrooms a nice pantry and wine cellar.

We’ve been doing as much of the restoration as possible ourselves. So far, it’s been a four year project and we’ve got about a year to go. I designed the kitchen on the ground floor myself and will be able to can in it this year! If you’d like to see exterior photos, please visit VillaHutton.com.

Due to the difficultly with storage during the construction, I haven’t been canning very much so I’m out of just about everything. We’re down to four jars of jam, so I’ll have to make several and am beginning to plan for it. I intend to make cherry jam in June, apricot and peach jams in July, blueberry and a couple of plum jams in August and finish off with fig jam in the autumn. I’ll also can some pears and figs poached in wine and perhaps put up some peaches and pears if they are good this year. I’ve still got to think about tomatoes and whole meals too.

Our canning videos were designed as instructional aides for the different types of canning processes. The notion was that if you view all the videos in sequence, you should be able to can just about everything that’s safe to can at home: the recipes change, but not the processes. So, if you want to can tomato sauce with meat in it, the process for canning is about the same as the whole meals video. Each canning recipe at CanningUSA.com is linked to the appropriate video to show the correct canning procedure. If you are a novice to canning, we recommend that you just focus on water bath canning the first year with videos 1, 2 and 3 and progress to videos 4, 5 and 6 the second and third year.

I have given a lot of thought to additional videos (if I survive this restoration project!) and believe there are some that could be eventually added; one for pickling and the second for meat confits and perhaps sausage making. For pickling, we never addressed it when we filmed the videos because the canning process is actually covered. Meat confits, or meats packed in lard, are very time consuming and diffiult; although, worth the effort. I’ve even thought about taking a whole pig and showing how to can all of it, my inspiration being from an elderly couple who do it every year.

Not to ramble, but I just returned from a two week tour of the northern lake region of Italy, plus Portofino, Lucca, Bologna and Milan. It was quite beautiful. If I ever get the opportunity to go back to the lake region, I’ll probably try to focus on Lake Como by spending one night in the city of Como and then working my way northward on the ferries visiting villas and gardens. I’d already visited Lucca a couple of times and would like to spend more time there visiting the surrounding villas as some have exceptional gardens.

The food in Italy is always good. I’d spent a month there before our restoration project began to learn how to make pastas, which would also make a super series of videos!!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Fresh Asparagus Tips

Fresh asparagus is in season and at its lowest cost for the year. I like both white and green asparagus. The difference is that the white has been covered with soil and not exposed to light, so it doesn’t turn green. White asparagus is a bit milder in flavor and sometimes requires peeling. For recipes, I use both interchangeably depending on what seems to be the freshest and best value at the farmers market. Note: when choosing asparagus at the market, look at the bases to ensure they aren’t dried out. When storing asparagus, keep the base ends in water.

Fresh Asparagus Soup – for two.

Use one bunch for two people. Prep time - 2 minutes.

  1. Cut the asparagus into 1/4 inch lengths and set the tips aside.
  2. Bring the cut pieces to a simmer in 4 cups of chicken stock (or water with two chicken bullion cubes) and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the tips and simmer an additional five minutes.
  4. Salt and pepper may be desirable for taste, but the seasoning in the stock or bullion should suffice.
  5. Add 1/4 cup condensed milk, or sour cream or crème fraîche. To avoid lumps with the latter two, it’s easiest to remove a bit of the stock from the soup into a coffee cup when the tips are added, let it cool while the tips are simmering, beat in the sour cream or crème fraîche, and then add it back to the soup at the end of the cooking time.

Blanched Asparagus

Blanched green asparagus make a super appetizer or starter served with a horseradish sauce. It can also be served as a salad drizzled with a salad dressing of 1 part Dijon mustard, 1 part red wine vinegar, 1 part diced shallots, a dash of sugar and a little fresh sage, or roasted red bell pepper sauce.White asparagus can be served with red wine vinaigrette with finely diced shallots.

  1. Bring salted water to a rolling boil and add trimmed whole asparagus. If you have a blanching basket, use it.
  2. Once the water returns to a rolling boil, let the asparagus simmer exactly 3 minutes for fine, 4 minutes for medium or 5 minutes for thick asparagus.
  3. Plunge the asparagus into the coldest water possible and let it remain until it is fully cooled.
  4. Remove it from the water and pat dry with a lint-free towel. You may refrigerate it until serving.
See the following additional recipes at CanningUSA.com

Roasted Asparagus

Roasted Asparagus Quiche

Roasted Asparagus Risotto

Asparagus Omelet - follow the method for a basic mushroom omelet, substituting asparagus for the mushrooms covering the asparagus during simmering for about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Exploding Pressure Canner

I had a friend who told me her old weighted gauge pressure cooker nearly exploded the other day. She went into the kitchen and noted that there wasn't any steam venting either from the steam valve or the safety valve (there was no safety fuse). She turned the pressure cooker off and gently opened the pressure cooker and had a burst of steam, which burned her. She had been cooking green beans (I don’t know where she got fresh green beans in early April), overfilled the pressure canner and there were pieces of green beans blocking both of the vents.

So, what could we do to avoid this?

  1. Review often and strictly adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations. I review them every year at the beginning of the canning season. If the manufacturer has a website, then visit it and make sure you have any updated information. If the manufacturer’s instructions aren’t available, then consider getting a new pressure cooker or pressure canner.
  2. Don’t overfill a pressure cooker and following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  3. Stay close to a pressure cooker or pressure canner and monitor it often. I set my kitchen timer and check mine every five minutes during the first half hour and then every ten minutes thereafter. If you have a weighted gauge canner, this can be done by ensuring a mild and constant flow of steam is leaving the pressure canner. A dial gauge canner is a bit easier as it tells you the exact pressure within the canner. If the pressure increases beyond the desired pressure, reduce the stovetop heat setting. In the case of my friend Christine with a blocked gauge, the pressure reading would have dropped to zero; although the internal pressure was quite high, or I guess we should say explosively high. This should be remembered because a faulty or blocked gauge will give a false reading and not indicate the actual pressure.
  4. NEVER open a hot pressure canner or pressure cooker. Let them cool down completely before opening. When canning, I normally just let it sit overnight and then open it the next morning - what's the hurry?
  5. Only use a pressure canner or pressure cooker that is listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). UL develops rigorous and voluntary safety standards using their expertise and representatives from the industry for each product for which they publish safety standards. The manufacturers then send their products to testing laboratories to ensure they comply with the applicable standard. Once the product is approved, the manufacturer is permitted to apply the UL label. UL visits the factories, usually on a quarterly basis, to verify the products manufactured and labeled are identical to those that were tested.