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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Steam-Pressure Canning

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Low-acid foods must be processed in a steam – pressure canner

In order to destroy all bacteria, their spores, and the toxins they produce, low-acid foods (meats, poultry, sea foods, and vegetables) must be heated to a temperature of 240° F and be held there for the time specified by the recipe. Following proper canning procedures is critical for successful steam-pressure canning.

Steam-Pressure Canner Features
Lid - Locks or clamps securely onto the base and may be fitted with a gasket, vent pipe and safety valve.

Gauge - Dial or weighted, the gauge measures the pressurization of the canner.

a. Dial Gauge - must be tested for accuracy prior to each canning season. If the gauge registers high by 1 lb. or more it must be replaced. Should the gauge be inaccurate, all of the bacterial spores that emit toxins may not be destroyed during processing. Your county Cooperative Extension Service or the manufacturer of the canner will be able to tell you where to go to have your gauge tested for accuracy.

b. Weighted Gauge – exhausts small amounts of steam during the entire processing period. The movement of the weighted gauge during processing indicates pressure is being maintained at the selected pounds of pressure. The weighted gauge does not require testing for accuracy.

A three-piece weighted gauge and some styles of a one-piece weighted gauge have adjustments for 5, 10, and 15 pounds pressure. A one-piece weighted gauge that does not adjust for different pressure levels is designed to process only at 15 pounds pressure. When using a one-piece weighted gauge that processes only at 15 pounds pressure, follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Canning Utensils
Jars –Canning jars come in many different sizes. Choose the size appropriate for the job you are doing.
Select only jars that have “Mason” written on them. These jars have been tempered and can with stand the high temperature (240° F) that is need to process low acid food.

Lids and Bands –come in a case when you buy new jars or you can buy them separately. You can use your bands over and over again but lids cannot be used for processing more than once.

Jar Lifter, jar Funnel, Bubble Remover, and Lid Wand, are not essential utensils but they do make your job a lot easier. When you are canning you are dealing with very hot water and food and these items help keep you safe if used right.

Step by Step Steam-Pressure Canning
1. Put canner rack inside canner base. Add 2 to 3 inches of water. Heat water to a simmer (180° F).

2. Prepare recipe using a tested recipe from a reliable canning source.

3. Place lids and rings in simmering water. Use enough water to cover them. Allow them to simmer for at least 5 minutes to soften the gasket on the lid.

4. Fill jars with food and add liquid if necessary.

5. Eliminate air bubbles using your bubble remover or plastic knife by pressing the food toward the center of the jar. Rotate the jar and do again. Do this about 3 times.

6. Wipe rim of jar with a damp towel to remove any particles of food, syrup or salt.

7. Place simmered lids and rings on jars and tighten slightly.

8. With a jar lifter, place the prepared jars in the pressure canner.

9. Tighten or seal the canner lid to the base.

10. Set your heat source to high and open your petcock or take your weighted gauge off of the lid of your pressure canner.

11. Your pressure canner needs to vent for 10 minutes.

12. When steam starts to escape the vent or petcock, let the canner vent for 10 minutes.

13. Place your weighted gauge on your lid or close your petcock and wait for the pressure inside the canner to build up to the proper amount of pressure for your altitude. Once it has reached the correct pressure reduce the heat low enough to maintain proper amount of pressure.

14. Set the timer for the amount of time called for in your recipe.

15. When the processing is done. Turn off the heat source and wait 5 minutes before opening the canner.
16. Unlock canner and remove the hot bottle with a jar lifter and place on a protected surface.

17. Allow to cool for 12-24 hours undisturbed.

18. Label and store in a cool dry place. If the jar did not seal, place in the refrigerator and use within 2 to 3 days.

If you live above sea level you must adjust the amount of pressure according to your altitude.

Altitude of Feet     Weighted Gauge     Dial Gauge
0 to 1,000                10                           11
1,001 to 2,000         15                           11
2,001to 4,000          15                           12
4,001 to 6,000         15                           13
6,001 to 8,000         15                           14
8,001 to 10,000       15                           15

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Water Bath Canning

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Boiling water bath canning has been around for years and is a safe method of preserving high acid foods.

Water Bath Canners
Water bath canners are usually aluminum or porcelain covered steel that include the pot, a metal rack and lid. A canner can be found during the canning season in most hardware stores or food storage places. If you shop around you may find one at a garage sale for pennies or you might have a neighbor or family member that has one that is not being used anymore. They are fairly easy to come by. To ensure safe canning, the canner must be deep enough that at least one inch of briskly boiling water covers the tops of the jars during processing. Dome steam canners are also available to use for processing high acid foods but USDA does not recommend using them so they will not be discussed in this article.

At the start of each canning season, check your canner. Make sure the enamel is not chipped or deeply pitted. If your rack has become corroded, you may want to submerge it in distilled vinegar to remove all of the hard water deposits. If it is too corroded consider replacing your rack, they are not much money.

How they work
The boiling water bath method works by submerging your filled jars of food in hot water. The heat is transferred to the product by the boiling water which surrounds the jars. The food is then processed for a certain period of time. Following the recommended processing times ensures that molds, bacteria, or yeast have been destroyed.

Types of food to process in a boiling water bath
Only high acid foods such as fruits, jams, jellies or foods that have a pH of 4.6 or lower (pickles, sauerkraut, or relishes) can be processed in a boiling water bath canner. Most tomatoes and tomato products also fit into this category if acid is added to the food (lemon juice, citric acid, or vinegar).

How to pack the food in the jar
Hot Pack – The hot pack method is generally preferred when the food being canned is relatively firm and handles well. Precooking the food makes it more pliable, permits a tighter pack and requires fewer jars. Food is first cooked in brine, syrup, juice or water. Fruit canned without sweetening is always hot packed. The hot pack method is preferred for nearly all vegetables, meats, poultry, seafoods, and most fruits. In the boiling-water method, food that is hot packed usually requires less processing time than raw packed because it is already hot when it goes into the canner.

Raw Pack – Foods that would be delicate after they are cooked, such as whole peaches, are usually easier to handle if they are raw packed. The food is placed into the jars while it is raw. It should be packed firmly but not crushed. Boiling brine, syrup, juice or water is added if additional liquid is needed. There may be some shrinkage when the food is processed, causing some foods to float to the top of the jar.

Sealing the Jars
1. It is important to get as much of the air out of your packed jars as you can. Insert a plastic knife or a bubble remover in between the food and the jar. Press the food toward the center of the jar. You will see some bubbles float to the top. Rotate the jar about 3 times and continue to do the same process of removing the air.

2. Place your lids sit in simmering water for 5 minutes. This softens up the gasket so when the lid comes in contact with the jar rim it will create a good seal.

3. Place your lids and bans on your filled jars and finger tighten.

Successful Canning
1. Fill the canner halfway with water.

2. Preheat water to 140 degrees F. for raw-packed foods and to 180 degrees F. (simmering with steam) for hot packed foods.

3. Prepare lids and bands

4. Prepare jars using the hot pack or cold pack method.

5. Tighten lids onto jars and place them into the canner rack with a jar lifter and use the handles to lower the rack into the water.

4. If the water does not cover the jars add more water so the water is about 1 inch over the top of the jars.

5. Cover with the canner lid and turn heat to its highest position until water boils vigorously.

6. Set a timer for the number of minutes required for processing the food. (Check tested recipes for specific times) Lower the heat setting to maintain a gentle boil throughout the processing time.

7. Add more boiling water if needed to keep the water level to above one inch of the jar lids.

8. When jars have been processed for the recommended time, turn off the heat and remove the canner lid.

9. Remove the jars using a jar lifter. Place on a towel covered surface, leaving a 1-inch space between the jars during cooling. Keep away from air drafts and let the jars cool at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours before checking the seal.

10. If any of the jars have not sealed place them in the refrigerator and use within 24 hours.

11. Before storing the jars remove the bands and wash the entire surface of the jar. Then store in a cool dark place.

Canning is a great hobby plus it gives you a sense of accomplishment and a sense of security and is a great way to enjoy summer fruits during those cold winter months.

Altitude Chart for the Boiling Water Method
(Altitude in Feet - Increase Processing Time)
1,001 to 3,000 - 5 minutes
3,001 to 6,000 - 10 minutes
6,001 to 8,000 - 15 minutes
8,001 to 10,000 - 20 minutes

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Get Ready to Can

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Preparing canning equipment before canning season
There is nothing more frustrating than having your green beans already in the bottles ready to be pressured when you remember that your gasket needed to be replaced this year. You run to the store only to realize that they do not carry it. It would have been better to have checked it out early in the season so it was ready to go when you needed it.

Water bath canners
1. Look and see if there are any holes in the enamel. If so plan on replacing you canner.

2. Look at your wire rack, if it is corroded prepare a solution of vinegar and water to get rid of the hard water deposits. If the rack is bent out of shape or corroded so badly that you cannot clean it up consider replacing it.

3. Examine your lid and make sure that it fits properly and that it also does not have holes in the enamel.

It is very important do these things if you have an older canner that has been passed down.

Steam-Pressure Canners

Steam-Pressure Canners have a few more parts to check but it is not hard. Use only canners that have the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) approval to ensure their safety.

1. Check the inside of your pot. If it has darkened you can remove the discoloration by placing 1 Tbsp. cream of tartar per quart of water in the canner. Place the lid on the canner and bring the water temperature up to boiling. Pressurize the canner to about 5 lbs. Then turn off the heat and let the pressure drop to zero. Loosen the lid, but do not remove it completely. Let the canner stand for 45 to 60 minutes, then drain, rinse and dry.

2. Make sure you have a jar rack so the jars are lifted off the bottom of the canner during processing.

3. Make sure that your lid is in good condition. Check your gasket and pressure plug and make sure that they are flexible but fit tight. If it is brittle it will need to be replaced.

4. If you have a dial gauge have it checked at the Cooperative Extension Office to make sure it is in proper order. Even if your gauge is one degree off it can affect the end product. Having you dial gauge checked is very important to do every year.

5. If you have a weighted gauge, check it over and put it through a vinegar and water rinse to remove the hard water deposits that have collected inside the gauge.

6. Check your petcock by turning the lid up to the light. You should be able to see light through the opening.

Another important item you will need is a current canning guide. You can obtain these at many retail stores during the canning season or at your County Extension Office.

Steam Juicers
Steam juicers really do make your job easier when it comes to extracting juice from apples grapes cherries etc. If you have forgotten to clean it up before storage here are some tips to get it ready for this coming season.

If the water pan has collected hard water deposits or sediments caused by minerals in the water, remove them by using one of the methods below. Add two capfuls of lemon juice or vinegar and 1 cup of water to the water pan and boil away the stains. Wash in warm soapy water, rinse and dry thoroughly. Rub a lemon half against the sediment. Wash in warm, soapy water, rinse and dry thoroughly. Use a stainless steel cleaner. Wash in warm, soapy water, rinse and dry thoroughly.
Check hose and clamp and make sure they are in good condition.

Food Strainers
Food Strainers come with several parts so check to make sure that you still have all the parts from the previous year. Basic Living carries many of the parts if one is lost or broken. Check over all the parts and make sure that they are clean. The end of the screen and along the seam where seeds and skins may get lodged are troublesome areas. A small stiff brush works best to clean those spots. Before using your strainer this year apply a drop of vegetable oil to the rubber seal ring on the drive shaft if you haven’t already done that.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Severe Storm Strikes South East America

Pin It CNN reports that there are at least 15 dead from the storm that raged in the South East U.S.
Click here to read more.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Summer is coming! Is your car prepared?

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Summer is coming! It's a great time to go on road trips with family and friends. Are you going to the beach? Are you traveling across the country? Where ever you plan on going, there are some things you should keep in mind before starting your car and taking off.

When going on long trips it is important to keep in mind that the road conditions will not be the same throughout the entire trip. For example, in April, it may be 80 degrees in the southern states while in the northern part of the country it is still below freezing sometimes. When you plan for these big trips it is important to have some basic emergency preparedness items in your car to make your trip a peaceful one.
Here are a few things to get you thinking about your automobile emergency preparedness.

Flat Tire
It is a common problem that could happen to anyone at anytime. We know a couple who, on their way back from their wedding, blew a tire on the interstate. It doesn't matter if you are newly weds, single, or have been married for a long time it could happen to anyone. It is a good idea to have a quick flat repair tool to help you fix it quickly. It is also just as important to check your spare tire from time to time. Make sure it has air in it.

Engine Oil
It not only serves as a lubricant for moving parts, it also serves as a cooling system to keep the engine from getting too hot. When a car runs without engine oil, the heat of the engine will cause the moving parts to melt and eventually lock up. It costs thousands of dollars to install a new engine. So, save yourself the trouble and always keep a spare bottle of engine oil in your trunk.

Dead Battery
Most of us have done it at least once. Leaving the lights on only to find your car powerless the next morning. Having a jumper cable in your trunk will help you solve this problem easier than if you were to wait for someone with jumper cables to drive by (and stop to help you). Don't count on others to be prepared to help you. If you don't know how to jump start a car, learn it before you find yourself in that situation.

Getting Stuck
Changing road conditions sometimes could come as a surprise and you could find yourself stuck somewhere. Whether it be snow, ice, sand, or mud, a simple tow rope could save you a lot of trouble.

Owner's Manual
Different cars have different needs in emergency situations. The best place to learn how to deal with problems concerning your car is in your owner's manual. Study it and become familiar with your car as part of your emergency preparedness. It is also good to keep it in your car, so you can refer to it when you find yourself in emergency situations.

As you prepare for a great summer vacation, keep in mind a few basic automobile safety and preparedness tips and give yourself one less thing to worry about when you take off.