Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mistakes of a Rookie Canner

Canning is a great way to control your food supply.  You control every aspect, such as: what you can, what goes in your cans, what if any chemicals are used.  Pair up canning and gardening and you have a master combination.  With everything there are failures.  Here is a list of mistakes that I and others have made with canning. 

1. Label Everything
     I thought "I'll remember whats in them" or "We'll eat it before long, I don't need to label anything".  Big      lie!  I just dumped about 15 jars out because I couldn't remember when they were canned or what I canned in them.  What a waste of food!

2. Don't use cute abbreviations
     For the same reasons as above.  You are not going to remember what they mean.  When labeling use the Full title and date of what you canned.

3. Clean the Jars
     As the cans are bubbling in the Water Bath or are being steamed in the Pressure Canner there are times when some the juice leeks out.  Called siphoning.   Although not a big problem, the fruit or veggies will be fine, it can cause a problem on your jars.  For one they are sticky.

4. Clean the threads on the Jars
     Take the ring off and wipe down the ring and threads on the jar.  If the jar is sticky it had to come from somewhere.  Blame siphoning.  Another great point for cleaning the jars after they have set for 24 hours is they will be easier to open later.  If more then juice has siphoned you could have food molding in the space between the ring and threads.  yep you guessed it I've found mold on my jars.

5. Don't Can What You Don't Like!
     Nothing in the store will beat the taste of fresh picked and canned fruits and veggies.  NOTHING.  Canning just keeps the goodies from the garden going all year long, but if you hate beets why would you can them?  Or grow them for that mater.  Don't get me wrong, I have a spot in the garden just to try new veggies, but I only grow enough for fresh eating.  There might be enough to can a load of pints (9 pint jars).  This way jars are not used to hold food that we are not going to eat, and I don't waste water, energy or space on something we are not going to eat. 

6. Always follow Directions
     Did you know that if you make jelly wrong you will have syrup?  yes I've made syrup.....  So follow directions.  One little screw up can make a huge difference later.

7. Use the proper Equpiment
     A water bath canner for fruit and a pressure canner for everything else.  A Pressure Canner is not the same as a Pressure Cooker....  Water bathing meat is not safe!  So use the proper equipment.  You don't want to poison your food.  Most of us can because we don't want all of the chemicals in our food.

8. Scrape the Foam
     No one wants to eat a jar of foam from jam or jelly.  Scrap it off, its the cooks cut!  Besides there shouldn't be that much foam.  If a little gets in to a jar its no big deal, but I just threw away a full jar of foam jam. 

9. Some Projects can wait for Winter
     Most of your garden veggies need to be picked and canned when they are in season, so summer.  There are some projects that can wait for winter, for example meat and beans can wait for winter.    No need to stress yourself out trying to can everything at one time when something can wait.  Besides, Thanksgiving and Christmas is when turkey and ham go on sale.  Wait to can ham and beans when the ham is on sale. 

I hope this helps keep you from making some of the mistakes I did.  There is no need to fear canning, but with a few tips your will have jars that look wonderful and are filled with wonderful things for later. 

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